My Commish Rules

Standard Keeper

A Rule About Keepers

So you have found a league full of reliable idiots who come back year after year for the friendly (or cutthroat) banter-filled excitement that is the fantasy football season. But you are stuck in the same old format and want to shake things up a bit. The Standard Keeper Rule is easily the go-to for a drastic yet easily implemented change to spice up your league. Sick of parting ways with your roster at the end of every season after becoming emotionally attached to those who propelled you into the playoffs? Not so good at goodbyes? 


With the Standard Keeper format you can welcome back that top pick with open arms.



Keeper leagues are fairly common but for those unfamiliar, in this format, owners are allowed to keep players from their previous season’s roster so that they can continue to brag about that midseason pick up who won them the league. 


In a Standard Keeper league, one player on an owner’s roster at the end of the prior season is available to be deemed “kept” prior to the draft of the upcoming year. Feel free to make rules around which players may be kept and for how long. Can a player drafted in the first round last year be kept? Can an owner keep the same player for consecutive years? Our recommended answers to both of these questions usually would be “no”, but we’ll leave that up to you and your leaguemates to decide. 


Typically, kept players will automatically be placed on team rosters by your league site so when it comes time to draft, each team will already have one player. The draft will then carry on in typical fashion, in whatever fun order was decided by one of our Draft Order Randomization Rules, which a knowledgeable Commissioner like yourself would already be privy to. If for some reason your league site doesn’t already do this for you, owners could just be required to select their keeper in the first round of this year’s draft then continue to draft as usual thereafter.


In auction leagues, keepers work similarly. In this format, players kept year-to-year typically cost the same to draft as they did in the previous year. Under this format, instead of your keeper taking your first round draft slot, your auction budget for this season’s draft would be automatically reduced by an amount equal to your kept player’s auction cost in the previous year.


Nuts and Bolts

  • Prior to the draft, owners will choose one player from their previous year’s roster to carry forward onto this year’s team. 
  • Be sure to come to agreement on any potential limitations your league may want to institute before final keeper decisions are made. 
  • Come draft day, this selected keeper will already appear on the owner’s roster.
  • On most sites, players who are chosen as “keepers” are automatically selected in the first round. If not, all owners must select their keeper with their first round pick. 
  • After this hypothetical first round, the draft should continue as normal.

Change Ups

Keeper leagues have become basically ubiquitous in many fantasy football circles at this point. So to mix up the format a bit, try these change ups:


Keepers should be announced to the whole league prior to draft day, so that other owners have some time to develop an adequate draft strategy that excludes all kept players. If you like to play guessing games and make it more challenging, have all owner’s secretly select their keepers and only unleash the list a couple minutes before draft time. 


Once you’ve got all owners on board with the Standard Keeper rule after a couple seasons, see the Multiple Keepers Rule to up the stakes and allow owners to keep more than just one player.


Sometimes in keeper leagues, an owner can effectively lock up a player by continuously keeping them year after year. If this happens, you can institute a cap on the number of years a player can be kept consecutively by one owner or by steadily increasing the “cost” of that keeper. For more on this keeper format, see the Rounded Keeper Rule (which is the mycommishrules-preferred keeper format).


Related Rules

Multiple Keepers

So you have grown tired of your Standard Keeper league and want to up the ante? This format is for your greedy little owners who were not satisfied just keeping […]

Read More »

Rounded Keepers

Keepers leagues have become a common league practice. In a standard keeper league, you are able to carry over a certain number of players from your previous year’s roster to […]

Read More »