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Fantasy Pool Look: Keeper league strategy time

For keeper league owners, all you can do now is watch the playoffs and enjoy the action.

Fantasy playoff teams are set, trading is frozen, and everyone who needs to be activated is already activated. Whether you are in the playoff hunt or not, there is nothing you can do about it now. In most keeper league formats, the next six weeks are the least active of the year.

There is, however, a full summer of trading ahead of you. While you are enjoying watching the playoffs unfold, you have a month and a half to think about your team's direction. Are you coming off a win? If so, can you do it again, or is it time to rebuild? Or, conversely, if you are in the middle of a rebuilding plan, will this be your year to go for it?

Your team needs a direction.

I've seen too many owners finish between fourth and tenth place in a 12-15 team league year after year. What is the point of that? You don't win. You don't get a good draft position. You don't have direction. If you don't have a game plan – get one.

And now is the time to do it. There are two choices – next season you take a run at first place, or you build your team to do it within a season or two afterwards.

After finishing first in one keeper league pool, and second in another, I had reached the end of my rope in both. My players were old, or coming off that one ‘extra' productive year that some players have. It was time to rebuild. That was the direction that I chose at this very time last year. A two-year rebuilding plan, and then take a run at another dynasty. I would rather be first one year, last for two years, and first again, rather than finishing in third to fifth place for four straight years. Winning the championship is what it is all about.

Now that you have a direction in mind, Step 2 is to prepare for the upcoming draft.

How many draft picks do you own? How many do you need?

If those two numbers don't match, you have to factor that in when you are looking over other team's rosters for potential trades.

For example, if you have four guys that are ‘dropsies,' and only two draft picks, you have to try and secure some more picks. If you have too many picks, you have to shed some depth or shed some draft picks. The worst thing you can do is pass when it's your turn to draft. That is a wasted asset.

Pick out your potential dropsies now. Not just the ‘for sure' ones, but also the ones on the bubble. When the trade freeze lifts next month, see if you can get a draft pick for one of these guys.

Who are you happy with on your team? Pick out your untouchables. Looking at my fantasy player rankings, I would suggest anyone who falls in the top 20 should be untouchable. Oh – and Evgeni Malkin..

Between your ‘bubble' players and your untouchables, you will have 10 to 20 guys that you need to upgrade. What is their contract status this summer? Look that up; maybe they will upgrade themselves by going to a new team (a la Brian Rolston last summer).

The point is – if watching the playoffs is not keeping you busy enough, and you are itching for some hockey pool action, there is plenty of work out there you can do.

I'll end this with my favorite saying, and I run my hockey pool teams accordingly: “second place is just the first place loser”

If it is clear you can't win, set yourself up to do so down the road.

Farm Report:Simon Gamache, whose NHL rights currently belong to Nashville, signed to play in the Swiss League next season. The 25-year-old is fourth in American League playoff scoring for Milwaukee, and is coming off a four-point game on SundayÂ…Detroit's top goaltending prospect Jimmy Howard has settled down following a rocky beginning to the AHL playoffs. After giving up 11 goals in his first two starts, he has given up just six goals in three games since for Grand Rapids. With Manny Legace's future in Detroit in doubt, the 22-year-old Howard may get a shot at a roster spot with the big squad.

Darryl Dobbs' Fantasy Hockey Pool Look is an in-depth presentation of player trends, injuries and much more as it pertains to rotisserie pool leagues. Get the edge in your league - check out the latest scoop every Wednesday afternoon. Also, get the top 250 roto-player rankings on the first of every month in THN's Fantasy section.

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