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Wednesday, August 14, 2013
Calculating keeper league inflation

By Matthew Berry

Editor's Note: The following is an extract from Matthew Berry's 2011 Draft Day Manifesto. It is reprinted here for your convenience. Some of the examples have been updated for relevance to today's drafts.

The Talented Mr. Roto

If you are in a keeper league with a salary cap, I suggest doing keeper-league inflation. What the heck is that, you ask? Well, basically, keeper leagues always have guys kept well below their value. I'm proud to have David Wilson for $4 in my keeper league. As a result, the prices of available players will go up in the auction, because there is less talent available but relatively more money to spend.

So you look at your handy ESPN running back rankings and you see we list Wilson at $27. And we list Adrian Peterson, whom you are targeting, at $60. But that's only in a start-from-scratch auction. A better judge of what to pay for Peterson in your keeper league will come about if you spend a little time calculating draft inflation.

I cannot take credit for the formula, and this has been written about elsewhere, but here's how you do it. Let's say it's an ESPN standard auction league. That means a 10-team league with 16-man rosters and a $200 cap.

That means there is a total of $2,000 (10 x $200) of available money to spend in your league. Now you add up how much each team has spent on keepers. For simplicity's sake, let's say each team has kept five players at an average of $10 apiece. So each team spent a total of $50, for a total of $500 (10 x $50) spent.

OK, here's where we get even nerdier. Take whatever price list you have decided to use and calculate how much "value" is being protected. For example, my David Wilson is projected to go for $27 this year. While I have him at a $4 PRICE, his VALUE is $27.

Follow me?

So you add up all the VALUE on the teams. Again, for simplicity's sake, let's say every team is protecting $100 worth of value. So the total value being protected is $1,000 (10 x $100). And while the total VALUE being protected is $1,000, the total PRICE being paid is only $500.

So you subtract both numbers from your starting values; $2,000 (total value available) minus $1,000 (value protected) equals $1,000 of value left.

Do the other one: $2,000 (total money available) minus $500 (total price protected) equals $1,500 of money left.

This means at the auction, $1,500 of money is chasing only $1,000 of value. So you now divide money left by value left. 1,500/1,000 = 1.5. This means every dollar of value available in your league is worth paying $1.50 for.

This is your draft inflation price: 1.5. So let's say Adrian Peterson comes up for auction. And your trusty ESPN draft kit has him listed at $60. You quickly multiply $60 by 1.5 to come up with $90. That's his value in this league.

The bidding gets to $74 and people drop out. That's 14 bucks more than he's worth, people say. But you know that's actually a bargain for AP! You're saving $16!

This is an extreme example; draft inflation is more likely to be 20 percent to 30 percent, but it should clarify the point. Draft inflation calculation is time-consuming and can be a little confusing, but if you want those money lists to actually help, you need to do this. Every dollar counts! And where it really helps is with the superstars. Because the prices get so ridiculous, it causes the unprepared to drop out, thus the stars end up becoming the biggest bargains.

And do you know what happens when the big-ticket items don't go for their full inflated value? Ridiculous bidding wars will break out for DeAngelo Williams or Denarious Moore near the end of the draft, when lesser players are left on the table and way too much money is left in owners' pockets. Now, I ask you: Whom would you rather toss an extra 10 to 20 bucks on? Adrian Peterson, or your No. 4 running back?