Thursday, January 20, 2022

Fantasy Baseball: Top 50 keepers for 2022 based on 2021 ADP

Fantasy Baseball: Top 50 keepers for 2022 based on 2021 ADP

If you have to factor “value” into your keeper decisions, this list is for you.


Some keeper leagues are as straightforward as it gets. All you have to do is keep your best players. You don’t have to weigh the draft picks or dollars you’d be forfeiting by keeping one player vs. another. There are simply a certain number of keeper slots, and you simply fill them with whatever players you don’t want to lose someone else.

These rankings aren’t for those leagues.

If you play in such a league, I can direct you to another list: the redraft rankings. Sure, you might give some deference to youth or upside, but that’s more of a dynasty approach. If you’re turning over more than half your roster and retaining only a handful — say, 4-5 players — then as a general rule, the players you’re keeping are the players who’ll do you the most good right now. And if you’re keeping them all at the same cost, then yeah, the redraft rankings should work fine.

But these rankings are for those other keeper leagues, the ones that do require you to forfeit picks or dollars in relation to where you drafted the player. There may be some sort of markup — let’s say a player you drafted in Round 14 can be kept in Round 11 — but there may not. Unfortunately, I can’t tailor these rankings to every variation of this keeper format, so here are my general priorities, beginning with the highest:

  1. Potential for impact. Studs are what set you apart in Fantasy, particularly in leagues as small as 12 teams, so the most surefire studs — the first-round types, basically — don’t require any sort of discount to keep. Granted, this line of thinking depends somewhat on what the rest of your league decides to do, but presuming everyone subscribes to it, then what good is retaining your first-round pick? The players you’d be looking to use it on are themselves being kept. Forfeit a generational talent, and you may not get a chance at another one.
  2. Extent of the discount. This one is the most obvious of the priorities. Would you rather use your 10th-round pick to keep Teoscar Hernandez or your third-round pick to keep Aaron Judge? Straight up, you might prefer Judge, but if keeping Hernandez also allows you to draft someone else at Judge’s level, then it’s obviously what you should do.
  3. Degree of assurance. Discounts are great, but how confident are you in the player you’ll actually be keeping? It goes without saying that Mookie Betts is a more trustworthy pick than Cedric Mullins, but the former might cost you your first-round pick while the latter might cost you your last-round pick. How you weigh one vs. the other depends on the precise setup of your league, but these rankings presume you have only a handful of keeper slots, which means you need to make them all count.
  4. Youth and longevity. Sure, age matters. It doesn’t matter as much as it would in a dynasty format, but it matters particularly n conjunction with the extent of the discount. You could lock in an up-and-comer at a low rate for years to come. Even with a markup of three rounds every year, you’ll be looking at a whole decade of Wander Franco discounts if the starting point is Round 24. The specific setup of your league also makes a difference here, but keep in mind there are precious few low-cost keepers for whom you can project so far ahead.

Again I can’t tailor these rankings for every variation of this specific keeper format, and for every league that’s existed more than a year, you’ll also have to consider players locked in at lower costs from previous drafts. I can’t account for any of those. Here, the presumptive starting point for keeper cost is 2021 ADP, using FantasyPros data for Roto and CBS Sports data for H2H (points). The depicted round number presumes a 12-team league.

It’s an attempt to jam a highly individualized scenario into a one-size-fits-all box, which makes it quirky and imperfect. I acknowledge this. Better, then, to treat it as more of a rough guide than gospel truth.

But enough throat clearing …

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