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 maybe you’ve become stuck in the same old format and want to shake things up a bit. Why not try converting your league into a Keeper League? 


The Standard Keeper League is our go-to recommendation for a drastic, yet easily implemented change to spice up your fantasy football 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 and hopefully put an end to the shuffle of needing to find new league owners each year.


How It Works

Nowadays, Keeper Leagues are fairly common in fantasy football. But for those unfamiliar, in this format, league owners are allowed to keep players from their previous season’s roster on the current year’s roster. This way, league owners can continue to brag about that midseason pick up from last season who turned out to be a stud in the playoffs.  


In a Standard Keeper fantasy football 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 this year? 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 the league owner’s roster by your league site. This makes it really easy because when it comes time to draft, each team will already have one player sitting there smiling on their roster. The draft will then carry on in the 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, don’t fret. In this case, during the draft, league owners are required to select their keeper in the first round of this year’s draft. After the first “keeper round” is complete, continue to draft as usual. Easy peasy. 


Keeper can even work in auction leagues. 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, league owners 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, require all league owners to 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 superstar player by continuously keeping them year after year. To avoid this unfortunate scenario, we recommend you 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. This brings us to our most recommended way to play a Keeper Fantasy Football League, the Rounded Keeper Rule.

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 […]

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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 […]

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Make your own rules.