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Fantasy Baseball Keeper League Strategy for 2024: Let’s Talk!

Normally in these strategy articles, I share my incredible genius and you walk away astounded at my knowledge and comfortable with the idea that you have seen greatness… or something like that. This one’s gonna be a little different. Yeah, I’m gonna share some of my takes on Keeper League Strategy. I have been playing in keeper leagues for over 18 years and I’ve learned a lot over that time. I’ve seen what works (first hand), and I’ve seen what doesn’t (unfortunately, also first hand).

Here’s the thing though. There are a lot of different ways to succeed in keeper leagues. In fact, there’s a virtual Baskin Robbins of keeper league flavors and no one way to win any of them. There are just too many variables to offer up all of the answers in one article. So rather than me telling you how to win keeper leagues, let’s just call this a discussion on Keeper League Strategy. I’ll do my talking here in the article. You chime in down below in the comments. Deal? Cool, let’s get started.

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Keeper League vs. Dynasty League

I’m not sure what the entries are in Webster’s Dictionary, but here’s how I delineate keeper leagues from dynasty leagues. In Dynasty Leagues you can keep as many players as you want for as long as you want. In keeper leagues, you are limited to a certain number of keepers for a time period limited by a contract or incremental salary increases. There are also plenty of hybrids out there with all levels of in-between. For our purposes, we’re going to assume you can only keep a limited number, and there is some form of limitation on how long you can keep each player.

Keeper League Strategy

Now let’s get into the meat of this discussion. I’ll share some of my thoughts on the best ways to run a successful keeper league team. Then you can tell me where I went wrong in the comments.

Player Age in Keeper Leagues

I see way too many people overemphasize age in keeper leagues. Players can have similar stats, but they value a 23-year-old twice as much as a 28-year-old. Certainly, age is a consideration, but I’m not worried about a player’s age until they’re in the 33-year-old neighborhood. And even then I’ll take a chance if there’s a discount built in. My basic take is that if you’re thinking more than three or four years ahead, you’re thinking too much. Stop thinking Meat, you’re hurting the team.

Age does take on more importance if you have the ability to keep a player for extended contracts. In one keeper league I’m in, you get the player for three years at his auction price. After year two you can extend him up to four more years, but his price tag jumps $5 for every year you extend him. For example, I had Ronald Acuna Jr. at $5 as I drafted him as a minor leaguer. Eventually, I had to make a decision whether to extend him or not. I of course extended him the maximum of four years. Starting in year four his salary was $25 (4 years X $5 plus initial cost). If Acuna were a pitcher I may not have extended him to the max. Injuries are so much more of a factor for pitchers that I am a bit hesitant to extend more than two years.

Prospects in Keeper Leagues

The level of planning changes a bit when your keeper league has a minor league component. Of course, you have to think a little more long-term. Still, I rarely consider a player below A-Ball. The minor league rosters in most keeper leagues are pretty limited. So rather than draft a player I may have to wait four years for, I focus on players likely to arrive in the next couple of seasons. There’s just too much that can go wrong over the course of a player’s minor league career to invest so much time when roster slots are scarce.

Which Positions to Keep

This is one area where I probably differ from most keeper league managers who generally don’t target catchers or closers as keepers. Catchers tend to suffer more injuries and the wear and tear often take a toll on their production. Meanwhile, closer situations change all the time. Job security for all but the elite closers is almost non-existent. I acknowledge these issues but take a different angle.

All of the keeper leagues I play in use an auction to acquire players. I absolutely hate getting in bidding wars for the last good closer or fighting over a catcher who can barely hit over .250 with 10 homers. For this reason, if I can grab a cheap catcher or luck into a bargain closer, I will not hesitate to keep them. In fact, during the latter parts of each season I target setup men I think could move into closer roles soon. I’ve “lucked” into $5 closers more than a few times doing this. It’s nice not to worry about saves heading into an auction. It’s also nice to bring up elite closers for bid and watch other people’s money fly off the table.

Keeper League Inflation

If you’re in an auction keeper league you know all too well what keeper league inflation is all about. Because so many players are kept at values well below their worth, there’s way too much money to go around for the talent that’s available. Players can easily go 50% or more over their normal values. There’s no way to prevent this from happening. It’s part of the nature of keeper leagues. You do have to deal with it though.

The first step is to form your dollar values for all the players in your pool like it is a redraft league. Then for all the players kept you subtract their keeper prices from their projected price. The sum of these differences is then added up and redistributed to the rest of the player pool. This is where inflation comes from.

I’ve seen way too many analysts suggest you just allocate that excess money out to the rest of the player pool on an even percentage basis. For example, let’s say there is $250 to allocate to what should be $200 worth of players. Some would say you just multiply the dollar values for all available players by 1.25. The math works out, but reality is gonna kick you in the huevos if you take this approach. The rest of your league doesn’t think this way. No one is going to pay more for a player under $5 or so. The bulk of that excess money is going to the top half or third of available players.

So rather than figure out inflation by a flat percentage, I suggest you figure out how much extra money there is and manually allocate it predominantly to the top couple tiers at each position. In fact, if there’s a shortage at a certain position or in a single category, weigh that even more. If you just figure inflation at an even percentage, you’re going to end up with a lot of $3 players for $5 prices… and a whole lot of money left on the table.

Two Types of Keeper League Owners

In my experience, there are basically two types of keeper league owners. The first type builds a nice base of low-priced keepers and when the time is right, trades most of them for expensive stars in an attempt to win that year. This type of manager tends to succeed in cycles. There will be a few years of competitive teams followed by a couple of years of rebuilding. I’ve admittedly fallen into this category for a lot of my fantasy life.

I’ve worked on becoming the second type of keeper league owner over the last couple of years. This type of owner has competitive teams year in and year out. A few years ago I had just finished a successful two-year run and had very few decent keepers. I could either try to scrap for an unlikely money finish or I could start building what I hoped would be a long-term successful team. This time I chose the latter. I made some great trades for Acuna and Trea Turner in my NL league and a bunch of young pitching studs in my AL league.

It paid off immediately in my NL league. I led the league for much of the year before things faded and I had to settle for second place. The key is that I didn’t mortgage my future for a shot at first. I did sell off a couple of lesser keepers, but I kept my core. I’m not completely comfortable with not doing whatever it took to grab the title, but the reality is that it might not have worked anyway and I would be rebuilding all over again. As it happened, I did win the league the next year with that same core and a little more luck on the injury front. Hopefully, I have the patience to stay the course. I may not. If I think trading off a top keeper will ensure a title I will still probably go for it. It’s in my nature.

Building for the Future Using a Stars and Scrubs Approach

Most years I feel like I have a chance to compete and I will do my best to do just that. Some years however you know there’s no shot. In this case building for the future takes priority over winning now. The conventional wisdom is to spread the value around and hope to land some good values late in the draft. This can work, but I think there’s a better way to do it.

In years that I’m convinced there’s no way I can contend, I use a Stars and Scrubs approach. I spend a lot of money on elite players I know other people will value highly. Of course, that means many of my other players will have to be purchased for very small salaries. That’s okay. That’s where keepers come from.

It doesn’t end there though. Those high-dollar players I purchased at auction are going to be on everybody’s wish list during the regular season. Starting from Opening Day on I’m going to start trying to extort the very best keepers and prospects from teams that want to win it all this year. So in addition to the low-priced players I bought at auction, I’m hopefully adding the cream of the keeper crop. This is how I built that NL-Only team a few years back with Acuna, Trea Turner, Rhys Hoskins, Aaron Nola, and several other elite keepers.

Now the key for me will be to use those keepers to win leagues and sell them off when the time comes but to maintain a competitive team throughout the process. That is a much harder dance to do, but if I want to consider myself a top keeper league owner, I have to be able to do it.

Your Keeper League Conundrums

So that’s my take on some of the issues we all deal with in keeper leagues. I’ve won a lot of titles, but I’ve also had to endure some tough years. I’m hoping to get rid of some of those valleys in the next few years while still winning my share of leagues. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. What keeper league strategy do you employ? Looking for suggestions on your current roster? Whatever it is, let’s keep these comments active and we’ll work together to build a better tomorrow… I’ve always wanted to end a column like that… It was kind of a letdown.

For more keeper league content check out my Fix for the Dump Trade Dilemma, and my 8 Keys to Building an Awesome Keeper League.

For more of the great fantasy baseball rankings and analysis you’ve come to expect from FantraxHQ, check out our full 2024 Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit! We’re here for you all the way up until Opening Day and then on into your championship run.

Doug Anderson is a 15-year veteran of the Fantasy Sports industry. His work has appeared on,,, and, as well as in the pages of USA Today’s Fantasy Baseball Weekly and various other magazines. Doug participates in both LABR and Tout Wars, the two preeminent expert fantasy baseball leagues in existence. Doug was formerly the Executive Editor at RotoExperts and is now the Managing Editor here at FantraxHQ. You can follow him on Twitter @RotoDaddy.

Fantrax is one of the fastest-growing fantasy sites in the fantasy sports industry, and we’re not stopping any time soon. We are the most customizable, easy-to-use, and feature-rich platform in the industry, offering the greatest fantasy experience for your dynasty, keeper, redraft, and best ball leagues. Fantasy sports doesn’t sleep, and neither does Fantrax, with seasons running 365 days a year. Take your fantasy leagues to the next level now at!
  1. Boom Boom says

    I have amassed a fair amount of young talent over the last few years, but now have a bit of a decision to make. I can only keep 5, no draft stipulations, no limit on years kept. 8 team h2h points league

    Julio Rodriguez
    Ronald Acuna Jr.
    Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
    Trea Turner
    Bryce Harper
    Bobby Witt Jr.
    Yordan Alvarez
    Shane McClanahan

    I generally value hitting more than pitching, and I do consider age (perhaps that is an error) but I was thinking of going;


    Not sure about dropping Trea obviously, but age 30 season after a big contract…I feel these 5 are all rare talents at a young age hopefully setting up a core for quite some time…. thoughts?
    Am I just “thinking too much?” so hard to drop any of those 5 young stars in the making in a keeper….

    1. Doug Anderson says

      This is a nice situation to be in! A lot of this is going to differ depending on the scoring format. In most points leagues pitchers are the biggest contributors, but I do have concerns about McClanahan’s health. I think the five you list are very good. I’d probably lean Turner over Witt, especially if strikeouts are a penalty. But I’m not sure there’s a wrong answer here.

  2. Gary Kloehn says

    Twelve team roto snake draft. Six keepers at last years draft position +1. We are using the KDS and I would opt for a late pick in Round 1. I have the following options:
    1. Judge (1)
    3. Verlander (3)
    4. Realmuto (4)
    5. McClanahan (5)
    11. Bieber (11)
    12. Witt (14)
    17. Julio Rodriguez (18)
    Judge, Witt and Rodriguez are locks. I am leaning towards keeping Realmuto, McClanahan and Bieber. Your recommendation?

    1. Doug Anderson says

      My first impulse is to let Realmuto go because I think Verlander is still pretty elite. BUT, I get why you’d want to keep one of the top three catchers. If it’s a one-catcher league I definitely let Realmuto go. In a two-catcher league I think you’re in pretty good shape either way.

  3. ChemBro says

    If you’re not playing in a dynasty single-league with strict keeper and farm roster limits, an annual auction format with salary cap, and a 20-game minimum position eligibility in force on draft day, then you are playing in some sandbox versions of this faux reality.

    1. Doug Anderson says

      Not a fan of in-season salary caps as it limits trading, but I like your way of thinking 🙂

  4. Jose A. Hernandez says

    Collier did a Bryce Harper and graduated High School early and played in Jr College at 17 and did well. He got drafted an killed it at the Reds training site, but he is still 18. Melendez is 23 and a HR machine. His big question mark, is where does he play. He is a 1b/dh type, that has played some 3b.

  5. Jose A. Hernandez says

    Scoresheet Baseball, can keep forever, NO contract (salary).
    You mentioned about keeping younger players. I inherited 3B Cam Collier. Who I expect is about four years away.
    I am thinking of dropping him. I need the spot to add a reliever that I can use this year.
    I am keeping LHP Kyle Harrison, 2B Miguel Vargas, 3B Brett Baty, SS Ronny Mauricio, 1B Ivan Melendez.
    What is your opinion in this situation?

    1. Doug Anderson says

      I’d have to research Collier and Melendez a little more to give a detailed answer, but if talent levels are remotely close I choose the player that is closer to the Major Leagues. Too much can happen in just a few years and sadly many leagues don’t make it for the long haul.

  6. Bill says

    Auction/ROTO 5×5 standard league, 12 team, Yahoo. I can keep up to 5, and cost is last year’s price + $5. Auction budget is $300.

    I think I’m set with the first 4:
    $10 – Mullins
    $10 Reynolds
    $8 Haniger
    $8 Peralta

    I’m agonizing over the last keeper. My options are:

    $10 Ohtani (pitcher only)
    $25 Woodruff
    $29 Albies
    $54 Tatis (this is where I’m torn…).

    Do you agree with the first 4, or no?
    On the last keeper, do I take Ohtani (biggest discount from projected cost) or Tatis (most expensive, but will I end up bidding $75 or more to get him back, given the $300 budget?)? Or Woodruff, who I could see returning a higher value than his projected cost. Albies is projected for less than my cost, but idk if that gets thrown out since there will be up to 60 keepers taken out of the draft pool.

    Been playing over 20 years, but this is my first year in a keeper league, and I’m just not sure about the strategy given the variable above. Thoughts?

  7. Darian says

    Interesting that you bring up the catchers. I can keep Salvy for $17 this yr (can freeze next yr at the same price). Curious your thoughts on that? I am leaning towards going with an $6 Pablo Lopez or $17 Marcus Semien instead just due to age and normal catcher risk. Last year Realmuto was the high mark in our auction for $20 so not sure I get the value out of keeping him either. 12 tm, 5×5 roto.

    1. Doug Anderson says

      It is a tough call. I’m a bit leery of Semien with the change in home ballpark, so I still go PEREZ if you have a chance to compete this year.

  8. dude says

    Was competitive, but due to some injuries made some trades last year to acquire some cheaper and younger talent, with an eye on competing this year. I think I’m close. 12 team, keep 15, 5×5 roto keeper league. We don’t have an auction, but a 17 round draft, where 1st round players are $17, 2nd $16. Players then get a $5 raise each year. The only time salaries come in to play is when we submit our 15 keepers each year, $320 limit.

    We start; C, 1B, 2B, SS, 3B, IF, 4 OF, DH, 5 SP, 3 RP, 1 P.

    I think I’m pretty set on these 12.
    1B Alonso $20, Tork $10
    2B Albies $22
    SS Bichette $21
    OF Arozarena $15, Reynolds $15
    SP Sale $22, Fried $20, Peralta $16, Alcantara $15, McClanahan $15, Rogers $12

    This puts me only at $203

    Options for Final 3 spots
    C Varsho $15
    2B,SS,Of Lux $15
    SS Adames $15
    SP Verlander $15, Severino $10
    Prospects (Trade bait) J. Lowe $15, Miranda $15, Duran $10, Leon $8

    If I can’t make a trade, Varsho, Adames, and Verlander or Severino are the one’s I’m thinking about. Who would be your targets? And can this team compete for title?

    1. Doug Anderson says

      I think I might go Varsho, Verlander, and Severino. Here’s my reasoning. Adames is gonna be a marginal player at your IF slot. You should be able to at least equal his production in the draft. Verlander and Severino have obvious question marks, but if they return to previous levels there’s no way to get that in the draft. And looking at this roster I think you need at least two of Verlander, Sale, and Severino to pan out for a serious chance at the title.

      1. dude says

        Thanks for the thoughts on this. I had thought about both Verlander and Severino so I would not have to think about pitching in the draft, but wasn’t sure who would be my 3rd.

        I’ve been talking to the Judge owner a bit. He wants Arozarena, prospects, and Severino. Do I pull the trigger on that? If so, who are my last 3 with Judge replacing Arozarena?

        1. Doug Anderson says

          Tough call on the trade. I actually think there’s a bit more left in Arozarena. But if you did that, I’d keep Varsho, Verlander, and I guess Adames, though many would argue Lux.

  9. Roger J says

    First year adding keepers to our league, we added 2. We can only keep 2 players, and we have randomized snake draft format:
    2B Ozzie Albies
    OF Andrew Benintendi
    OF Rhys Hoskins
    1B Paul Goldschmidt
    OF Charlie Blackmon
    SP Trevor Bauer
    SP Noah Syndergaard

    1. Doug Anderson says

      With just two keepers, I’m not so risk-averse and future value is not all that important. I keep Goldschmidt because first base is kind of ugly. And I keep Syndergaard because of huge upside. You can’t really go wrong with any of these names though.

  10. Diane says

    I have to rebuild my pitching staff after finishing last in pitching in a 10-team, NL-only auction keeper league. Pitching will be relatively thin this year, with most elite pitchers off the board. So far, the only keeper on staff that I am sure about is Robbie Ray, who I have for $5. I have two pitchers who I am unsure about:
    Chris Archer $25
    Ross Stripling $10

    I will be keeping 7 offensive players for a total of $72, with a total budget of $260. The total roster is 23 players, including 9 pitchers. This leaves me with between $148 and $183 on draft day to draft 13-15 players. Here are the starting pitchers projected in the top few tiers who will available:

    Given how thin it is, I worry that Archer’s draft day price would be inflated, even though I value him closer to $18. Stripling has a lot of upside, but that is weighed against the pitching depth of the Dodgers and the risk he’ll wind up in the bullpen. I plan on spending what it takes for Nola, which I expect will be close to $40 given the supply issues. What do you think of Stripling and Archer?

    I think there is a lot of upside on some pitchers expected to be cheap this year, but it seems like a lot of risk to rely on them for more than 1 or 2 spots. I will use 3 or 4 spots for relievers. Pitching categories are W, Sv, K, ERA, WHIP.

    1. Doug Anderson says

      This sounds like the leagues I mainly play in. I am not a fan of Archer or Stripling at those prices. Personally I wouldn’t keep either. You need too much pitching to spend a lot on Nola, so I might target Taillon who is on the rise, then maybe Bumgarner who everybody seems to be down on. Lower level pitching I’ll be targeting this year includes Julio Urias, Brandon Woodruff, Corbin Burnes, Collin McHugh. Is Chris Paddack owned? He’s looking like a future stud. Might be able to squeeze some value out of Brad Peacock… It’ll be hard to pile up wins and Ks, so I would focus on ERA, WHIP, and try to finish top 3 in saves… Hope this helps. Every keeper league is different so it’s hard to give definitive answers.

  11. Marc says

    Can keep one player at round drafted in the year before:

    Bryce Harper – Round 2
    JT Realmuto – Round 11


    1. Doug Anderson says

      Tough call. I’d expect most elite players to be kept, so it might be hard to get a player like Harper back again. Think I’d go with him even with the discount on Realmuto.

  12. Dustin Emola says

    Thanks Doug!

  13. Dustin says

    16 team keeper league. You can only keep a guy for 2 years, so the keeper options below are only for this year and must be sent back next year. I’m having trouble picking 2 out of these 3:

    Eloy Jimenez – $1
    Tim Anderson – $7
    Corey Seager – $15

    I’ve gone back and forth on many variations considering injuries (seager), time spent in the majors (Eloy) and average/lineup position (Anderson) but would appreciate some thoughts! Thank you!

    1. Doug Anderson says

      Yeah, a lot of extenuating circumstances. I think I’d take the safety of Anderson along with the upside of Jimenez. I expect him up within a month. They are also the two cheapest options which let’s you spend a bit more in the auction.

  14. Alex Street says

    Great article. Really the only helpful strategy piece I’ve found so far, thanks so much.

    I’m in an AL only league and tanked last year while ending up with some nice young guns.
    With 5 keepers (5 yr max), I’m sure about two of mine:

    Vlad Jr. $1 (B)
    Andjuar $5 (B)

    But I’m wondering who you would take for the other 3 from these top 7 I’m sitting on.

    Miggy $13 (B)
    Osuna $10 (Y)
    Moncada $7 (C)

    Andrus $10 (Y)
    Bauers $2 (B)
    Adames $1 (B)
    Tucker $8 (B)

  15. Doug Anderson says

    I think May will end up with the most saves when it’s all said and done, but agree Parker isprobably given a chance as well. I like White quite a bit, so I think I’d probably do that deal.

  16. TraderBro says

    Awesome stuff Doug! I’m currently employing the cheap closer strategy as I enter a rebuilding phase and it’s looking good so far. Grabbed Leclerc early on last year hoping he could harness his command and paid off big. Also got lucky with a $5 May. It’s not even a month before the draft and teams are already asking about closers!

    So my question is, would you trade May right now while he has the “closer” status? I was offered Pineda B6 and White B3 so im quite tempted. I can definitely see the Twins employing some sort of committee or using Parker since he has experience in the roll. This is a AL only 5×5. Thanks!

  17. Andy Hanks says

    One problem we have in 12 team Roto 6×6 is keeping players involved who are at the bottom. It is difficult to move up if you are out of it by June. We have 5 keepers for two years. HTH League with mostly same owners is way more competitive through season.


    1. Doug Anderson says

      One thing I’ve seen help on that front is to give say the 7th place first pick/additional keeper etc… Reward 7th, 8th, 9th ahead of the last place finisher… In the end it’s still about owners. Tell the deadbeats to get out. It might hurt short term, but in the end it’ll be better.

  18. James REED says

    Does Fantrax offer a discount for a league that has both a NL & AL league? Our league is in its 37th year and we play NL champs VS AL Champs for WS. We have been with Fantrax for several years but considering a change. What would be your best offer?

  19. Ryan M says

    Liked the article! Especially the last half. I traded away quite a bit to win a championship last year. I’m in a keeper league, we keep 4. I have 6 what’s your take on who I should keep?
    Thanks for your time.

    1. Doug Anderson says

      Nice problem to have. I think it will be very important to have two elite pitchers this year, so I keep Sale and Buehler. Then I go with J.D. Martinez and Acuna. I’m lower on Correa than most and while I love Bryant, he’s not quite what we want him to be IMO.

  20. Sonny Trinidad says

    Doug, fantastic read as i rarely see articles about auction keeper strategy so i really appreciate it. I pretty much who i want to keep but have a few dilemmas on a few and wanted to get your thoughts. 12 team auction keeper league $260 with a $3 increase each year and can keep player forever. Can Keep 5 plus 1 minor Leaguer (no $3 adder for minors player)

    Current $ Value with $3 Adder

    Daniel Murphy-$9
    Mike Moustakas-$6
    Andrelton Simmons-$1
    Michael Brantley-$3
    Nick Markakis-$3
    J.D. Martinez-$19
    Jackie Bradley-$1
    Kris Bryant-$13
    Didi Gregorius-$6
    Luis Urias-$3

    Minor Leaguer-Fernando Tatis-$3

    Gerrit Cole-$29
    Edwin Diaz-$17

    1. Doug Anderson says

      Just 5? I want more 🙂 I want two elite starters this year so I’d keep Snell and Sale for sure. On offense is where it gets tough. I’d keep J.D. Martinez and then make a choice between Daniel Murphy and Kris Bryant. Most would keep Bryant, but I really like Murphy in Coors. If your league used more keepers I’d for sure go Bryants as he’s younger, but with just 5 keepers every year, they they shouldn’t be too hard to come by, so I go with Murphy. Most probably would not.

  21. Sandman says

    Good Article.
    Cheap closers are fantasy gold.
    If you are going to dump; be the first to dump. One year was in 2nd place mid June. But I knew the dump trades were coming and my ceiling was prob 4th or 5th. I have no interest in 4th or 5th place money. Dumped the stars for prospects and keepers, finished about 7th but won the league two of the next three years.
    Zig when everyone else zags. Most owners in my leagues were spreading the wealth. Had a lot of success going stars and scrubs. Can replace your scrubs on the waiver wire. But when other owners began to follow with a stars and scrubs approach, it was time for me to spread the wealth. Being the contrarian has always come naturally to me.
    I play in AL only auction leagues. With half the teams tanking, it is not a good time to have to embark on a full rebuild. Teams are not spending so the player pool has a lot DHP guys (draft/hope &pray) If it comes to that, this might be the time to settle for a minor award & retool rather than bottom out.
    Thanks, Doug, for ur insight. Have been following (and usually nodding) with of the articles.

    1. Doug Anderson says

      Great takes. Love to talk deep league stuff.

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