Evaluating Keeper League Trades

May 22, 2016
Evaluating Keeper League Trades

One mistake that I consistently see from new keeper league owners is trading away too much value in terms of draft picks to upgrade one of their keeper players.

Let's say that you're in 1QB-2RB-3WR-1TE PPR league where you keep four players year-to-year. Using our Top 200 rankings, you can get an idea of each player's worth. Your fourth keeper is Giovani Bernard, who is approximately the 50th-most valuable player in the league. So he's a borderline keeper, given the league settings and scoring system. One of the other owners in the league offers you C.J. Anderson for your 1st round pick. Do you take the deal?

An inexperienced owner may believe that since Anderson is a 3rd-round pick in redraft leagues, he's definitely worth a 1st-round pick in a keeper league (which is really a 5th-round pick since each owner keeps four players). But when evaluating a keeper league trade, it's important to look at the incremental value that you're getting by keeping Player A instead of Player B. In this scenario, Anderson is the 30th-most valuable player heading into 2016 drafts, so he is definitely an upgrade from Giovani Bernard. But in this case, the additional incremental value is not worth giving up your 1st-round pick.

According to the Player Potential Grid, used heavily by 4for4 founder Greg Alan, Bernard has a value of 179 points compared to Anderson’s 285 points, for a difference of 106 points. (Keep in mind these are not fantasy points, just points applied to player ranks and draft picks heading into a draft.) Scrolling down we see that the 67th pick is worth 105 points. That means that upgrading from Bernard to Anderson is worth about the same as pick 6.07, or pick 2.07 in your league, due to the four keepers. So the other owner is asking for too much in return for Anderson.

The other thing to keep in mind is that the other owner is trading Anderson away for a reason. Either he doesn’t like Anderson and would instead rather keep a lower-ranked player or he has too many keepers and is faced with cutting Anderson at draft time and getting nothing in return. So if you’re the one trading for Anderson, you’re in a position of power, especially if you have a decent keeper like Bernard as your fallback option.

According to Greg’s chart, Anderson may be worth a 2nd-round pick in your keeper league (which equates to a 6th-round pick), but I would start negotiations at a 4th-round pick and see if you can settle on a 3rd in exchange for Anderson.

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