Ten Players To Target In Dynasty Fantasy Leagues
Timeliness counts for a lot in life—and in fantasy baseball.
Knowing when to draft or trade for a player is an essential skill, especially in dynasty leagues, where a player’s value over a longer period of time than a single season must be considered.
I’ve always approached the question of player value in three-year windows. This helps put into perspective prospects and young major leaguers versus productive veterans on the back nine of their careers.
With this in mind, I have identified 10 players I feel will provide a strong return on investment in dynasty leagues over the next three years.
Framber Valdez, LHP, Astros
Valdez returned from a finger injury to his pitching hand—one sustained during his first spring training start—and produced a 70% groundball rate that is the highest on record for a pitcher with at least 100 innings. At 28 years old, Valdez is firmly in his prime and likely to have a heavy workload in the coming years, while pitching for a consistent winner.
Ty France, 1B/2B, Mariners
After breaking out as a 24-year-old at Triple-A in the Padres system in 2019, when he hit .399 with 27 homers in 76 games, France proved his bat was for real following a trade to the Mariners. He excelled in the shortened 2020 campaign and then was a major driver for the 90-win Seattle team last season. Improvements to France’s contact rate yielded a boost to his overall production. At age 27, he’s entering his prime seasons.
Michael Kopech, RHP, White Sox
Kopech has traveled a long and winding road to get to this point. Drafted in the first round in 2014 by the Red Sox, he was traded in the blockbuster deal for Chris Sale and has missed a season to Tommy John surgery. This season, he gets his first chance to prove himself in a big league rotation, where his dynamic fastball and slider give him a strong foundation. But more emphasis will be placed on the development of his changeup and curveball, each of which graded out as average while working mostly in relief in 2021. At age 26, Kopech looks poised to take a step forward.
Keibert Ruiz, C, Nationals
Catching prospects are among the most difficult to project in real baseball. They are even more difficult to project in fantasy, because all emphasis is placed on their offensive production and none on their defense—at least not directly. Ruiz’s trade deadline move from the Dodgers to the Nationals last year opened MLB opportunities in the coming seasons. After a breakout campaign at the Triple-A level in 2021—where Ruiz paired his elite contact skills with improved game power—the backstop looks poised to push into the top 10 of the catcher position in 2022.
Jack Leiter, RHP, Rangers
Out of sight, out of mind is often a reality for pitchers who are shut down after being drafted because of heavy college workloads. While no one will forget about the No. 2 pick in the draft, the excitement surrounding Leiter may just be getting started. The opportunity to buy now on the former Vanderbilt co-ace, one of the best college pitching prospects of the last decade, is limited.
Jeremy Peña, SS, Astros
With the Astros not expected to re-sign free agent Carlos Correa, Peña could see a large share of time at shortstop in Houston in the years to come. While a wrist injury robbed him of a majority of his 2021, he hit .287/.346/.598 in 30 Triple-A games upon his return and continued to impress in the Dominican League this winter. Based on his 2021 production and perceived opportunity, Peña experienced a fair amount of helium in fantasy leagues in the offseason. He is positioned to be a multi-category contributor in the years to come.
Josh Bell, 1B, Nationals
After two polar opposite seasons in 2019 and 2020, Bell found some stability in his first year in Washington. Coming off a 2021 campaign in which he hit 27 homers and kept his strikeout rate below 20%, the 29-year-old is the unquestioned starter at first base in D.C. and has a chance to position himself in the top 10 at first base.
BA Subscriber Mailbag: Draft For Talent, Not Need
When it comes to the MLB draft, there are plenty of examples for why teams should worry less about positional need and more about talent.
Luis Patiño, RHP, Rays
After breaking into the majors as a 20-year-old with the Padres in 2020, Patiño was acquired by the Rays as a major part of the return for Blake Snell. He saw 77 MLB innings in 2021, primarily as a starter. Patiño is still just 22 years old and showed an improved arsenal in 2021 by tightening the shape of both his fastball and slider. He may be more likely to break out in 2023 than this season, but Patiño can provide impact innings in the near future with the upside of a No. 2 starter long term.
Nick Madrigal, 2B, Cubs
Traded by the White Sox to the Cubs in the 2021 Craig Kimbrel deal, Madrigal has yet to appear in a game for the north siders after a hamstring injury brought his season to a close in July. Prior to his injury, he was showing the elite contact ability that allowed him to move through the minor leagues swiftly. While Madrigal has not been the stolen base threat many had hoped, those opportunities could come with the Cubs. Madrigal has almost no power, but could help in a few categories.
Alec Bohm, 3B Phillies
After a stellar rookie campaign in 2020, Bohm struggled throughout 2021 and saw multiple stints in Triple-A. There’s not much positive to take away from Bohm’s 2021, but he did hit the ball harder and didn’t lose the baseline of his approach. At just 25 and with nearly 600 MLB plate appearances under his belt, Bohm has time to adjust his approach to maximize the strength in his 6-foot-5 frame. After a sky-high price coming into 2021, Bohm can be acquired for a modest return. He represents a classic high-upside bounce back gamble on a former top prospect coming off a sophomore slump.