Daily Dr. Roto — February 19
Fantasy Preview in a Nutshell: Chicago Cubs
C Willson Contreras — If you are a Fantasy Baseball owner who likes taking catchers early and you miss out on Gary Sanchez, then Contreras is a great backup plan. I think he can give you Gary Sanchez-light type numbers as he has the chops to go 25-85 in the Cubs lineup.
1B Anthony Rizzo — Rizzo might be the most consistent player in Fantasy over the last three years hitting 30+ HR and 100+ RBIs. He can steal a base too (he stole ten last year and 17 back in 2015), so there is that side benefit as well. Rizzo might be a man on a mission this year as he is from Parkland, Florida which had the recent school shooting. I can see him having a big season as motivation for him and his community.
2B Javier Baez — Baez qualifies at 2B and SS and even played eight games at 3B last season. He is only 25 years old, and he seems to be growing as a more confident hitter. Baez needs to cut down on strikeouts, and he could be in slight danger of losing playing time since Ben Zobrist needs to play. I like Baez but be careful of paying full value this season.
SS Addison Russell — Russell is the poster child for a post-hype sleeper. Everyone expected a huge step up from him in 2017 after a compelling 2016 season, but instead, he dealt with a shoulder injury that sapped his power for much of the season. I foresee a rebound for Russell in 2018. In fact, I think he will be supremely undervalued at most drafts. His batting average might only reach .250 but look for a return to 20-80 type numbers.
3B Kris Bryant — It’s easy to call 2017 a disappointing year for Bryant because his numbers took a nose dive, but what many people fail to remember is that he batted second for most of the year. Bryant is still a capable masher at a thin position. I am not sure I would take Bryant in the first round of my draft, but he is a sensational pick in Round 2 as I think 30+HR is a sure thing.
OF Ian Happ — Happ not only came up from the minors mid-season and contributed to the team, but he also thrived in the middle of the Cubs’ batting order. Joe Maddon is going to try to make sure that he gets Happ plenty of at bats this season. The only caveat here is that Albert Almora is the best defensive OF on the team, so it is possible that Happ might lose some late-inning at bats if Almora enters the game as a defensive replacement.
OF Jason Heyward — A long time ago, Heyward was a third-round Fantasy pick who seemed to be well on his way to becoming a 25-25 type player. Unfortunately, Heyward has not progressed to be any type of star, and he is not much more than a competent OF who won’t kill you in deeper leagues.
OF Kyle Schwarber — Kyle Schwarber channeled his inner Adam Dunn to the tune of a .211 batting average and 30 HR last season. Maybe I am stubborn, but I see him as way better than that. If Schwarber could only hit .250, he would be the NL’s version of Mark Trumbo. I will take a shot on Schwarber and suggest you do the same. He can become a great hitter one day if he can develop any type of patience at the plate.
Util Ben Zobrist — Zobrist is clearly on the way down, but Joe Maddon loves him, and he can play multiple positions. I wouldn’t draft him in a mixed league, but I think he has some sneaky value for NL-only rosters.
SP Yu Darvish — The Cubs just signed Darvish to be their SP1 this season, and I think it was a perfect landing spot. Over the years, Darvish has become slightly more hittable, but he still can get the big outs when necessary and could be an 18-game winner with the Cubs.
SP Jon Lester — Lester let up 26 HR in only 180 IP last season, which was the worst rate of his career. Lester’s velocity was down, his walks were up, and he seems to be lacking the strikeout pitch that he had just a few seasons ago. I am going to pass on him this year and let others take him too early based on name recognition.
SP Kyle Hendricks — Hendricks is that guy you tend to overlook at drafts, but that would be a mistake. He is a quality pitcher who is the perfect SP3 for any staff. I took him in Round 9 of the FSTA Draft and could not have been happier.
SP Jose Quintana — Quintana finally broke the 200 K plateau last season (207), and I think he can do even better in 2018. Quintana came over from the AL in the middle of last season and will finally get a chance to spend a full season in the NL which should help his overall numbers. Like Hendricks, Quintana tends to get overlooked in drafts. Getting him as your SP3 or SP4 would be a terrific addition to any Fantasy rotation.
SP Tyler Chatwood — It will be interesting to see how Chatwood pitches outside of Colorado. I can see his ERA dropping under 4.00, but he lets up way too many walks and lacks a strikeout pitch for me to trust him.
RP Brandon Morrow — The Cubs seem to think that Morrow can do the job as their closer this year after watching him mow guys down at the end of last season. Taking Morrow might end up being a genius move for Fantasy owners if he succeeds, but if he struggles, how long will it be before the Cubs begin to explore other options? A very high-risk, high-reward option.
RP Carl Edwards Jr. — If Morrow struggles as closer, the Cubs might not need to go out and make a trade considering Edwards might be able to take the job and run with it. Edwards let up 29 hits in 66 IP last season which is an incredible stat. I think the big question with Edwards is not his arm but is his makeup. Is he ready to be a prime-time late inning pitcher? If so, he might be a late round gem.
Stash and Cash: SP Adbert Alzolay — Alzolay pitched very well in Double AA last season, and he seems to be on the fast track to the majors. Stash him in competitive NL-only leagues now.