Ottoneu Keeper Deadline Advice

The ottoneu keeper deadline is just a little over a week away. You must have your roster trimmed to shape by Friday, January 31 at 11:59pm ET. Today I’m here to give (mostly reiterate) some advice related to the impending deadline.

Don’t Cut Early

I usually keep all my players right up to minutes before the deadline while I work the phones. In general, I recommend hanging onto all of your players until you’re done trying to make trades. For me, that’s 11:50pm ET on deadline day. If you’re done making moves today, fine. Later is better in my opinion. While I caught some flak for saying so last week, I like to squeeze every opportunity for an advantage.

As near as I can tell, the top reason cited for cutting players early is aesthetics. People like a tidy roster. Meanwhile, it’s possible you’ll cut players somebody else would keep. I wept when I saw a $10 Griffin Canning tossed to the scrap heap the other day. Even better, if you can find a match for an overpriced, soon-to-be-cut vet, you might sabotage an opponent’s budget.

There is a secondary benefit to leaving your roster crammed with the full complement of players – even if you only plan to keep 16. The more untidy your roster, the harder it is for your rivals to easily map your keeper plans. If they think you’re probably keeping a $10 Jesse Winker, they’re more likely to pay a reasonable price for him (assuming Winker is somebody they covet).

If they can easily see you need to cut Winker for wriggle room, then you can expect weaker offers. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been met with the old “you’re going to cut him so I’ll just try to pick him up in the draft. Or you can take this pointless tidbit.”

It’s Not Only About Value

At its heart, ottoneu is a value maximization game. Can you use $400 to get $550 of production? If so, you have a good chance of winning. As such, there is a razor sharp focus on finding players who are projected to outperform their contracts. A $15 Juan Soto is a beautiful thing. An $80 Mike Trout is a difficult building block and has minimal trade value relative to his ottoneu-best points per game.

However, there is an important wrinkle to consider – you need enough premium talent to actually reach that $550 ceiling. And the supply of premium guys is limited. If you focus only on value, you’re going to wind up with a $200 keeper roster with $250 of output. At auction and via waivers, you can expect to run a loss on your invested dollars. So you’re spending $400 to get… $415?

If you’re sitting on a lot of extra payroll, it can sometimes pay to trade a sweet nothing or two for top end talent right now. That $80 Trout for example. Or a $50 Kris Bryant. These aren’t surplus value machines, but they will lend a little extra juice to your point total. And if it comes time to throw in the towel during the season, they’ll return attractive keepers.

When you keep inefficient top-end guys, you increase the variance of your outcomes. Spike enough cheap guys in-draft and you can contend. Especially if you convert some $10 talents on $1 contracts into more Trouts and Bryants (with loans) during the season.

Using FGpts as an example, a ho-hum $400 roster will produce around 16,000 to 17,000 points. To win, you must find a path to the 19,000 to 20,000 point range. Trout is more likely to help you get there than four $20 outfielders, but only if you spike several $1 productive players. Thus, there is a lot of pressure to turn straw into gold.

The Draft Is Deadly

Every so often, an ottoneu draft room is a calm sea of values. Usually though, it’s a nightmare where even the most middling players go 20 percent over their projection. Every year, I see people make aggressive cuts on the premise they’ll acquire this and that during the draft. Almost always, other owners have the same plan. Bidding wars ensue.

That $40 Manny Machado is a bitter keeper pill to swallow. However, if your early draft plan is to win him back for $30, you might want to consider keeping or trading for him. Your $30 projection could quickly turn into a $50 winning bid.

This keeper deadline – not the draft – is the easiest time to acquire talent at slightly inflated prices. During the draft, you’ll often pay at least the same price, and you’ll have to compete with a rival or three.

We hoped you liked reading Ottoneu Keeper Deadline Advice by Brad Johnson!

Please support FanGraphs by becoming a member. We publish thousands of articles a year, host multiple podcasts, and have an ever growing database of baseball stats.

FanGraphs does not have a paywall. With your membership, we can continue to offer the content you've come to rely on and add to our unique baseball coverage.

Support FanGraphs

You can follow me on twitter @BaseballATeam

newest oldest most voted

“While I caught some flak for saying so last week, I like to squeeze every opportunity for an advantage.”

Again, you are completely missing the point of the flak you received. Nobody criticized you for trying to squeeze every opportunity for an advantage as a team owner — the criticism was for using your status as commissioner to do so.

And I know what you are thinking right now — “but I did not do that.” And the response to that, which you steadfastly refuse to accept despite being told overwhelmingly by tons of fantasy veterans, many of whom are commissioners themselves, is that when you take advantage of confusion as to whether you are acting as a commissioner or an owner, that is exactly what you are doing, especially when you are the one who wrote the rules.

Every once in a while as commissioner you have to forego squeezing advantage out of a situation because your duty to the other owners as commissioner supersedes your ability to squeeze advantage as an owner. If you still do not see that, you have a different morality than almost everyone else, and you need to at least stop blaming your own moral gap on other people just not seeing the genius of your advantage-taking.


How about we talk keeper strategy and avoid turning a fun topic into a sob story.

You literally didn’t offer anything helpful for people interested in getting keeper advice.