Fantasy Scrambler: Keeper Draft Review

Fantasy Scrambler

Another week of preseason action concludes with an efficient and well run keeper league draft.

Thanks to Commissioner Jake Donahue (of for providing the “War Room” and the laptops.

For those of you who have not participated in a keeper league, let me enlighten you on some of the nuances which make this such a fascinating way to play fantasy football. As the name implies, each team is allotted a certain number of “keepers” in which owners retain as opposed to redrafting every year.

For example, my keepers this year included Peyton Manning, Randall Cobb, and Ray Rice. These players were allocated as my first three draft picks, which I believe is a pretty good foundation to build the rest of my team on.

Once I filled out my roster with starters and quality backups, I turned my attention to those players who are considered “sleepers”. Late round picks who are highly talented and early in their careers, yet are unproven at the pro level. These players must be targeted as opposed to proven veterans because you never know which one of these late-rounders may break out to become next year’s keepers. You want the guys who will be studs for years to come instead of vets who may only have one or two more seasons left as fantasy producers.

Our Keeper League Trophy
Our Keeper League Trophy

Some of these players I drafted include:

Chris Givens, the Rams’ 2nd year receiver who last year set an NFL rookie record by catching passes of 50 or more yards in five consecutive games.

Kenbrell Thompkins, New England’s rookie wide receiver who is quickly becoming Tom Brady’s favorite target behind injury-riddled receiver Danny Amendola and sidelined tight end Rob Gronkowski.

Jordan Cameron, 3rd year tight end for the Browns of whom Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner said “has shown in both (preseason) games he’s capable of making big plays”.

These are the types of players that every owner should be targeting once they have filled out their rosters with “known” commodities. Hidden gems with huge upsides!

Another strategy that can be employed in every type of league is “handcuffing”. This is where you select a starter’s backup in the event that the starter goes down for a significant time due to injury. It is an insurance policy usually reserved for running backs because they take the most punishment during the course of a long and arduous NFL schedule.

I implemented this tactic by handcuffing Ray Rice with his backup on the Ravens, Bernard Pierce. Pierce showed what he was capable of last year during Baltimore’s late season push to the Super Bowl. He rattled off runs of 78 and 43 yards in two separate games highlighting surprising speed to go along with a bruising running style. If Ray Rice goes down (God forbid), I feel good knowing that I have his replacement waiting to take the reins.

If you are unable to snag, or just don’t believe in the backups for your own RB’s, you can target other owner’s star running back’s handcuffs, i.e. Rashad Jennings or Ben Tate. Jennings is Darren McFadden’s backup in Oakland, and, as we all know, McFadden is brittle to say the least. Meanwhile, Tate may be considered the best handcuff in the league because he produces even if Arian Foster isn’t sidelined with injuries. Now that Tate is cleared of the nagging injuries that plagued him last year, coupled with the fact that 2013 is a contract year for him, I expect big things from Houston’s talented backup.

This strategy can be used in two ways. You can either draft backups with the intent of playing them if the starter gets hurt, or you can use them as trade bait when the desperate owner of an injured starter comes begging.

Just one more preseason game to go before the real season starts. I, like all of you, am anxious to get my fantasy squads on the field to see if all of my offseason preparation has paid off.


Brian Maahs
Brian Maahs is an avid sports fan, fisherman and youth football coach. When he's not reviewing Portland's best sports bars, he's usually researching fantasy football or planning his next fishing trip.
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