The goal of fantasy managers is to try and find the next top prospect like Juan Soto or Fernando Tatis Jr. to set up their fantasy teams for success. Finding these players before other managers is especially important in dynasty leagues. This year, there are several top prospects that fantasy managers are taking their chances with. The biggest question for fantasy managers is how to maximize their return on investment. When can you take a prospect so that you make sure you have them on your team without being disappointed if they do not instantly become a star? Are you building your team with the goal of long-term success, or is your team designed to win this year? This mini-series looks at four players on top prospect lists and determines when is most appropriate to draft them in dynasty leagues.
First up on the list is Bobby Witt Jr.
When to Draft Top Prospects in Dynasty Leagues
Bobby Witt Jr.- SS Kansas City Royals
2021 Minor League Stats:
Bobby Witt Jr. is currently going as SS13 on Fantrax and based on overall ADP would be 3B8. Here is a link to the current ADP on Fantrax! In terms of total points amongst SS, I have Witt ranked 20th but in terms of points per plate appearance, he ranks 13th. Like a real-life GM, dynasty managers can have two different mindsets – win now or build for the future. Building a win-now team correlates more closely to redraft leagues. My colleague Eric Cross wrote an article on drafting top prospects in redraft leagues that you can check out here! The other option for fantasy managers is to take a long-term approach to building a championship team. I break down each of these scenarios and where you should draft Bobby Witt Jr. accordingly below:
Drafting Bobby Witt Jr to win now:
If your goal is to win a championship this season, drafting top prospects is probably something that you are avoiding. A player like Bobby Witt Jr. is somebody who is going to cost a premium. He has not even touched the major leagues yet but is still going early on in drafts. Bobby Witt Jr. is a rare top prospect worth that premium. He is likely already the most talented bat in the Royals infield. Nicky Lopez is currently the starting shortstop, but Witt’s bat is superior. If the Royals want to keep Lopez in for his glove, they can always move Witt to third base. They have Adalberto Mondesi and Hunter Dozier, but Dozier struggled last season. The Royals GM already said that they do not trust that Mondesi can stay healthy for 162 games. Due to Mondesi’s injury history, the Royals would prefer to play him at DH. This results in Witt getting to play every day in the field. My projection for Witt has him playing 130 games for the Royals.
While 130 games are not the most ideal for a team with championship aspirations, I believe that Witt has league-winning potential. He has more upside than several players going in front of him. I would take Witt over guys like Polanco, Baez, and Anderson. Not many of the players on the top prospect list are able to, not only win you your league down the stretch this season, but also provide you with elite value for years to come. Bobby Witt Jr. has that potential. Selecting Bobby Witt Jr. as a top-10 shortstop is well worth the price. For a win now dynasty team I would rank him as SS7. Players above him are:
- Fernando Tatis Jr
- Trea Turner
- Wander Franco
- Bo Bichette
- Francisco Lindor
- Xander Bogaerts
If you are going into your first-year dynasty draft with the thought of avoiding all top prospects, that is a mistake. Taking prospects before they have reached the majors is always risky. However, if you are trying to win now, fading Witt a little bit is the smart play. If other fantasy managers have a similar mindset and Witt begins to fall to the late third or early fourth round, he is a player that cannot be passed up. By the time the third round comes you already have two cornerstone pieces to your team. The ability to not only add a player who could provide elite production this season but will for years to come is perfect no matter what your timeline looks like.
Drafting Bobby Witt Jr. for future success:
The sky is the limit for Bobby Witt Jr.’s dynasty value. He has rare 30/30 potential and dynasty players should pay the price for his skills. In a first-year dynasty draft, there are only a handful of position players I would consider taking over Witt. Those players include Acuna, Soto, Tatis, and Franco. If you are building a team with the idea of competing in the next 2-3 seasons, Witt is the perfect player for you. Not only will he contribute this season, but he will likely be at least a top 15 player for the next 7-10 years.
For first-year dynasty drafts, Witt is worth a pick in the second round. The only thing preventing him from being a first-round pick is he has not touched the big leagues yet. Witt is good enough to still be ranked as a top prospect and be selected in the second round of fantasy drafts. He will provide your fantasy team with value this season whenever he gets called up and is a player you can rely on in the future. Players currently going in the second round are guys like Trout, Betts, and Freeman. Despite being elite players now, Witt is a better pick for long-term success. Eric Cross and Chris Clegg discuss Witt’s value versus another top prospect in dynasty on episode 63 of their podcast. Check it out here (Toolshed Podcast EP63)!
In auction leagues such as Ottoneu, Witt currently is going for around $15 in first-year drafts. This price seems fair and may even be too low. Witt will likely finish as around a $10 player this season. As soon as 2023 he could be worth over $30, providing significant return on investment at his current price. I would comfortably spend up to about $20 in order to secure him. Next year it would not be surprising if Witt is a top-5 SS for the season in fantasy and could stay there for the next decade.
Bobby Witt Jr will have fantasy value no matter what scoring setting you play in. He is going to hit for average, power, get on base, and provide steals. Thus, his value is even higher in ROTO leagues. He is adept at stealing bases and can be a real threat there once he is promoted to the major leagues. In dynasty leagues, I believe that Witt is worth a pick somewhere between the second and fourth rounds depending on your philosophy on winning now. Only a few players can steal 30 bases for your team, and Witt is one of them. In ROTO scoring, Witt will likely provide even more value due to his base-stealing abilities. I would be okay taking Witt as high as SS3 in this format. Tatis Jr and Turner are the only two I would take above him.
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