Keeper leagues are the tweener of the fantasy world (as I explained in a previous article.) You can’t quite play a keeper like a redraft OR a dynasty league. Identifying what players to target in keeper leagues can be a difficult proposition, as the value of players differs greatly based on how many players you keep each year. What kind of player you can realistically target in a four keeper league is much different than the kind of player you can target when seven players are kept. Ultimately, you should be targeting players much like a dynasty owner looking to land the next Julio Jones, but at the same time you can rarely afford to sit on a guy for more than a year. To that end, here are some guys you can target in your keeper leagues. Some of these guys are injured or aging vets, some are young disappointments, and some are young guys who haven’t blown up yet but could. The suggestions are split into three categories based on how many players your league keeps each season. The list stops at seven-eight keepers, as once you move beyond that you are essentially playing a dynasty league and can treat it as such.
Three-Four Keeper Targets
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Disappointing – that’s the easiest way to sum up Hill’s 2015 season. He showed all kinds of talent and production in his rookie season, going for 1100+ yards and nine touchdowns, but then 2015 happened. He has talent and a good situation, and might be gettable.
Martin’s career trajectory is actually quite similar to Hill, and perhaps he’s an example of what Hill could regain in the future. People were frothing at the mouth to pick up Martin during and after his 2012 rookie campaign, but he lost his luster after two down years in a row. Written off by many, he’s had a strong comeback year, and he has the talent.
Yeah, I know. I wrote an article specifically about why you should avoid Hyde earlier this year. But you should also know that I did recognize his talent, I was just scared silly of his price and situation. Well, after a big start followed by a bigger fizzle, he might be available. He didn’t do anything to lose the job, and the offensive line in San Francisco can’t get any worse – can it?
There can be no doubt about the talent. But the fact is that Charles had another major injury this year. His owner may be scared of his age, the knee or even the production of Charcandrick West in his absence. I believe Charles still has at least two more years of solid production, in a run-heavy offense tailor-made for his talents.
He has loads of talent. His injury and the situation in Miami haven’t really given him a shot to shine. Nobody knows what will happen in Miami going forward, but I believe Parker has the talent to be a big part of whatever that direction may be for the Dolphins.
Yes, we’re looking at another injured, aging veteran. But we learned this year just how important Nelson is to the success of the Green Bay offense. They will welcome him back with open arms next year, and when he’s healthy he can be one of the best. There’s also a good chance his owner will let him go.
Nobody has taken Benjamin’s job in Carolina – not even close. Cam Newton has shown growth at the QB position this year, and he will love to get Benjamin back for 2016.
Brown is an extremely dynamic wide receiver who’s shown quite a bit of growth this year. No, he hasn’t become the top receiver in Arizona, but this is a fantastic offense, and there’s a fair to middling chance that Michael Floyd is gone next season. He could be a strong keeper for years to come.
Five-Six Keeper Targets
With this many keepers in a 12 team league, you’re looking at 60-72 players kept. This is where you might see some value in keeping a quarterback and/or tight end.
I know, you’re nervous about the injury and the history of running backs in New England. Well, Dion Lewis was doing things in that offense that no other back had done before. He’s a great combination of between-the-tackles running ability and sparkling route-running and receiving ability. He will have a prominent place in the Patriot offense for years to come.
Another disappointment here, he started out the year a house of fire, but from week two on he’s been a wet blanket – a wet blanket that can’t seem to hold onto the football. But he has explosive playmaking ability, and there’s a good chance that Abdullah gets more playing time.
Yes, many of us got burned by Charles Johnson and you may be reluctant to take a shot at another Vikings wideout. Diggs has shown fantastic production in his rookie year, and he’s already a focal point for that offense – and if that offense can continue to improve, Diggs could really produce.
No, he’s not the main guy in the Jacksonville offense, but he’s shown tremendously consistent performance week after week. This could be a great one-two punch for years, so get a piece of it now. The Allen Robinson one is out of reach, but the Hurns two could be had. This offense is on the right track.
Here’s another good example of a WR2 who is really producing – and producing with consistency. He’s been a great complement to Brandon Marshall this year, and I believe these two may be together for at least a couple more years. Decker has never been a sexy option, but he’s really getting the job done in New York.
It took a while, but here’s our first quarterback entry. With so few keeper spots, I am reluctant to keep a quarterback, but you also don’t want to find yourself keeping a WR3. Wilson has a very high floor, though he doesn’t have a massive ceiling. But keeping him could allow you to focus on other positions in the draft, as you’ll have a guy you can plug and play.
This is certainly a gamble. Graham was already having a very sub-par season (for Graham anyway.) But the good news is he was starting to come around and look a little more comfortable. He also looked to be finally developing some chemistry with Wilson. But then he became one more high-profile player with a season-ending injury.
Seven-Eight Keeper Targets
Yes, things are getting tighter. We’re now looking at between 84 and 96 players being kept. The more keepers you have, the closer you get to a dynasty feel.
I won’t lie. Duke is one of “my guys” and has been. I love his combination of pass-catching skill and ability to run the ball out of the backfield. The Cleveland backfield is a mess, but my gut says that it will clear up late this year and in the off-season, and Duke will arise as the centerpiece. When I see the way he moves on the field I just see a guy who knows how to play football.
Here’s a little Johnson and Johnson to start this round. If there’s one thing we’ve learned about Andre Ellington it’s this – the guy just can’t stay healthy. Johnson is getting a shot to be featured, and he has the physical talents to succeed – but can he play the game like his frame suggests he should?
Though he’s fallen back down to earth a bit since Forte returned, Langford looks to be the likely successor in Chicago. And it’s very possible he takes the job over officially next season.
A first round pick going to a prolific offense, it looked like a slam dunk. Then football happened. Agholor has looked like he’s out of his element, but things could turn for him in Philadelphia.
The ultimate wildcard – Gordon could be world-class or nothing. But if he does hit, you’ll be keeping him for years to come.
He looked like a rookie early, but he looks more and more like the real deal. The more keepers, the more likely you should consider the right quarterback. Winston could be yours for some time.
He has all the physical tools you’d like in a tight end, he just needs the opportunity. He had some great performances while Antonio Gates was out this season. It’s enticing to wonder what he could do full-time.
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