Ask The Commish: How Many Keepers Should We Have?

By Reginald James
Reginald James

First time commissioner here. I’ve got eight teams going into the season. We draft next week. Two people I work with have asked to join. I really want to stick with eight, but I’m not sure if I should turn someone away if they really want in. Is there a difference strategically going from eight to ten that I should consider?


Congrats first timer. The quick and short answer: if you want to stick with eight, then that’s what you should do. That’s what you planned for, and that’s what you got. Stick to your instincts.


Tell the two who are interested, they’re on your reserve list. You’ll keep them in mind if you expand, or in case you have to replace someone. Keep in touch with them, see if they’re playing in other leagues, listen to the stories they tell about their league and of their fantasy exploits - which will often reveal what kind of players they would be if they were already in your league. You have the luxury right now of vetting them from afar.


Strategically, the more teams you add to a league, the more competitive it can be simply because more of the player pool gets spread out among the teams. There’s more moving parts, potentially in league transactions, for example.


From a commissioner’s standpoint, I would say adding more people can quickly change the social dynamics of a league, for better or for worse, depending on how competitive they are, their style of play, or how strong of a personality they wield.


It can take a couple of years for everyone to get acclimated to each other’s tendencies and personalities, as well as the tone you set as commissioner. Learn what’s it like running a fantasy league. Learn what it’s like dealing with this inaugural group of folks. You’ll eventually learn who the good league managers are, and who the demons hiding in the closet are. You may already have a good core group of managers right now, but you don’t know that yet.


Until then, take advantage of working with the smaller group you’ve assembled right now. You’ll grow as you see fit.



We’ve got 12 teams, and we’re going to be a keeper league after this season. How many keepers should each team be allowed to have?


I’ve never taken an official survey, but it seems like most leagues keep at least three to four players. In my own league, we keep one. I haven’t heard of a lot of keeper leagues who keep just one. I kept it to one for my league, because I like the idea of us fighting over a larger pool of the best (or most promising) players every season. Obviously, it’s harder to do that if 36 to 48 players aren’t available to draft the following season.


It comes down to your philosophy from a competitive standpoint. Get that settled in your mind, and that should help you decide. I’m firm in my own, which is why I chose the option for us to only keep one player.


You might consider instead of starting with three or four keepers next season, you could start with one this season, and slow-drip adding players until you get to two, three, four or whatever number you’ve chosen.


If for some reason, you’re still not sure, it’ll still be easier to add the number of keepers as you go along until you find your sweet spot, rather than one season changing your mind. For example, starting with five, then suddenly decreasing the number to three, wouldn’t be a good move because your league members will have already been drafting and managing their rosters based on that larger number.



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