1. Don’t Prospect Hug. 

We’ve all heard the term “prospect hugger” before. We’ve all likely played with prospect huggers before. Many of us have probably been prospect huggers before, but if you want to be a successful dynasty player, then you want to avoid prospect hugging. It’s important to note here that there is a difference between properly valuing your prospects and prospect hugging.

There’s nothing wrong with holding on to guys who you think are more valuable than what you’re being offered, but what I’m talking about is guys who will rarely move prospects, or even consider moving prospects, even when they get offers that are more than fair. As someone who writes almost exclusively about prospects, I understand how exciting the unknown can be, and I see the appeal in prospects, but it’s also important to be realistic and understand that a large percentage of prospects never really amount to anything. You should never value a prospect at what their ceiling is, but rather a fraction of their ceiling based on how far they are from the majors. This is especially true the more shallow a league is, as when there are fewer prospects rostered, there’s always going to be solid guys available to replace anyone you trade.

I saw a trade offer posted on twitter recently by @Prospects365 which was Sonny Gray and Matthew Liberatore for Kristian Robinson, and the Robinson side somehow got 40% of the vote. Personally, I would take the Gray side in any league, but what makes this even worse is that this was a league where only ~100 prospects are owned, meaning that there’s plenty of solid prospects available to replace Robinson with. To be completely honest, prospects should mostly be considered trade bait. When I play dynasty, I’m always looking to move prospects in 3-for-1 type deals for major leaguers, and then replacing those prospects with potential breakout guys who I can trade after they breakout, and it’s an endless cycle.

2. Always Believe the Breakout.

What I mean by this is that any time someone shows the slightest sign of a breakout, you should be rushing to pick him up. This is especially true for really young players and former top prospects. Too often, I see a guy in the midst of a breakout, and people will wait around to see what happens before acting.

For example, when Jacob deGrom was called up in 2014, he immediately showed signs of a breakout, but he still sat around on waiver wires for weeks before people actually wised up and picked him up. For those who hesitated on deGrom in 2014, they missed out on a future ace, when there was essentially no risk in picking him up. It doesn’t even have to be a future Cy Young winner for this to be true; anytime anyone shows potential that they hadn’t previously shown, you should really consider picking them up.

Another example of this would be Hunter Dozier last year. Only a couple weeks into the season, I was touting Hunter Dozier as a potential huge breakout guy, but people kept telling me to “wait and see.” In dynasty leagues, you usually don’t have the time to wait and see, and there’s almost no risk to just picking the guy up. There’s plenty of cases every year just like Dozier, where people aren’t quick enough to act and they miss out on a valuable asset to their team. Don’t get me wrong, you’ll certainly miss on a lot of guys, as sometimes it is just a hot stretch, but when the risk to pick them up is so low, there’s really no reason not to.

3. Do not Invest in Relievers.

This is a sentiment that could apply to fantasy baseball in general, but it’s especially true for dynasty. Relief pitchers are easily the most volatile players in all of baseball. A guy can quickly go from the best closer in baseball to a completely useless fantasy asset in no time, and people wouldn’t even be surprised.

In 2018, Edwin Diaz and Blake Treinen were two of the best closers in all of baseball. In 2019, the two of them combined for a 5.25 ERA in 116.2 IP. People who invested in these guys, whether through trades or draft picks, were punished greatly. Don’t get me wrong, I still really like Edwin Diaz, but the point is that you really can’t trust any reliever to produce consistently over time.

And of course, there are exceptions like Aroldis Chapman who’s maintained steady dominance over the course of 10 years, but even guys like that can lose it almost instantly (see Craig Kimbrel) and are very rare cases. The only top closer I would likely invest in long-term for their cost is Roberto Osuna. Other than that, I believe that investing in young relievers like Munoz, Clase, Karinchak, etc. or waiting for top SP prospects to move to the pen is the best option in regards to relievers.

4. Patience with SP Prospects is Key.

This one is pretty self-explanatory but is arguably the most common mistake I see in dynasty leagues. Please do not drop your top prospect SP after they put together a rough stretch of starts at the beginning of their career. Don’t drop them when they struggle for their entire rookie year.

Depending on how talented they are (i.e. a guy like Lucas Giolito), I would even say that you should almost never drop them unless the team themselves give up on them. Giolito might have been the worst full-time starter in all of baseball in 2018, and now he’s considered an ace in dynasty leagues. When Jose Berrios got called up in 2016 he was so bad that he was worth -1.6 rWAR in only 14 starts. In his first two years Tyler Glasnow could not throw strikes if his life depended on it, and was so bad that the Pirates moved him to the bullpen, and now he’s a top starter in dynasty leagues.

The point is, the risk of keeping a guy like Giolito on your bench is far outweighed by the reward of him becoming the guy he is today, even if some guys never make that development. Also on the other side of this point, if guys in your league drop pitching prospects when they struggle then always rush to pick them up.

5. Don’t Undervalue Older Players.

Again, this one is pretty simple, but something that I see way too often. I’ve seen so many people draft in dynasty leagues where they refuse to draft guys older than 26-28, which is really limiting yourself.

In 2010, people thought that David Ortiz’s career was winding down, and especially in dynasty leagues, he was drafted very late. People who did draft Ortiz in dynasty leagues around that time were rewarded with elite output until he retired, as he was arguably a top 5 fantasy player over that time. Nelson Cruz has had a similar late 30s to Ortiz, as have many other players. Obviously some players don’t age as well, but it can’t hurt to have a few older, established players on your roster.

 
  1. Jeff Dimambro says:
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    Great post! League size is 8. Thanks again

    • Will Scharnagl

      Will Scharnagl says:
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      Thanks!

  2. Jamie says:
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    Can you name a few American League SP that might fit the Giolito model, in that they’ve struggled early in their major league career but could still turn out to be studs? Thanks!

    • Will Scharnagl

      Will Scharnagl says:
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      I don’t think there’s anyone with as much talent as Giolito (remember he was a top 5 prospect), but a guy like his teammate Dylan Cease sticks out as someone who could give you a huge reward if you be patient and stick it out. AJ Puk is a guy who didn’t struggle, but will likely spend time in the pen, so again patience is key with him. Justus Sheffield is still only 23 and needs to iron out some kinks, but could still be really good. Brendan McKay is still a prospect so I’m not sure many people have given up on him, but if he was somehow dropped I’d pick him up. For more lowkey options I actually like Kolby Allard and Joe Palumbo from the Rangers, and I’m also still a fan of Daniel Norris for some reason and think that he’s finally becoming a decent pitcher.

  3. Matt says:
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    Nice article! I love reading your stuff on p-love and here! So, you’re the high man on Jose Garcia and Lodolo best as I’ve found. What is their fantasy value (comps or at 80% of peak). I’m in a ten team league (35 on roster and 8 prospects per team) but we can only add prospects in our preseason draft. I’m looking for late draft dart throws that have upside to shoot up prospect lists. Is Garcia better than a Pena there in your opinion?

    • Matt says:
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      P-live, not p-love….gotta love autocorrect. Some context-its a ten team head to head and my team is pretty competitive so I use most prospects as trade chips.

    • Will Scharnagl

      Will Scharnagl says:
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      I love Pena too, and he has the bigger upside, but you have to take the guy who’s gonna start the year in AA over the guy who hasn’t debuted yet.

      For 80% outcomes I would say:
      Garcia – around .260/.320/.470 w/ around 20 HR and 10 SB. Something like 2018 Jurcikson Profar.
      Lodolo – probably 4+ ERA, 1.30 WHIP but really good K/BB numbers. something like 2019 Max Fried.

  4. ichirosan says:
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    Hi,

    great article. I still believe we’re all guilty of #1 not out of principle, but because we become so infatutated with specific prospects. Happened to me with Buxton, happening to me with Robert right now.

    Anyway, I’ve been circling #3 for a while: in my 16 man dynasty league, we have 22 keepers (plus prospects) out of 26 spots. Been trying to decide my last two keepers, and the decision is basically fringy position players (e.g. Manuel Margot or Derek Fisher), underwhelming SPs (e.g. Zack Eflin or Matt Shoemaker) or RPs who are projected to start the season as closers (e.g. Joe Jimenez and Mark Melancon). Does keeping one or the two of those with my last spot count as investing?

    • Will Scharnagl

      Will Scharnagl says:
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      nah what I meant by investing in RP is spending high draft picks or making big trades for guy like Edwin Diaz or Josh Hader

  5. Matt says:
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    Is Chris Paddack a good enough return for Wander Franco. Only get 7 starts a week so SP are at a premium. Feel like I’m hugging on Franco here

    • Will Scharnagl

      Will Scharnagl says:
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      you can definitely do better than Paddack for Wander. Paddack is a stud but Wander is an elite offensive talent.

  6. hitzone says:
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    Just wrapping up my 15 team 1st year dynasty pts draft and that was my exact plan going into the draft. I grabbed one RP at about pick 500 Emmanuel clase. Didn’t overspend on any hot name prospects. I grabbed a bunch of SP that are older Darvish, Carrasco, archer to anchor Syndergaard, ohtani and Urias. Also I tried to grab prospects with close proximity to the majors if not, they had to be guys I knew would climb prospect lists.

    • Will Scharnagl

      Will Scharnagl says:
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      sounds like you did pretty well !

  7. Mike M says:
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    my best advice to dynasty players is to adapt to your surroundings. if your league mates over-value prospects then veteran bargains can be had, if they value veterans more then you can probably accumulate good prospects.

    • Will Scharnagl

      Will Scharnagl says:
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      yeah that’s true. especially with prospects their value is only as much as someone is willing to pay for them

  8. Hernandez-Fernandez says:
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    I would decline the Gray/Liberatore for Robinson trade mentioned above. Accepting it means I have to cut a player and my opponent consolidates and adds a free agent at the candy store. For Robinson offer me one player of equal value or better that fills a need or go pound sand.

    • Will Scharnagl

      Will Scharnagl says:
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      that would make sense if Sonny Gray wasn’t significantly more valuable than Robinson. If you really don’t want to cut any of your players that badly you could just cut Liberatore

  9. Harley Earl says:
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    This is some great advice on dynasty leagues. Too bad I can’t follow the very first one. I love to hug, hoard and hold onto my prospects so near and dear to my heart. They keep me warm and night and give me a smile when I wake up in the morning!!! Haha!!

  10. James Nemeth says:
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    Great article! In a similar hugging situation. Just inherited an orphan roster in a 12 team league. Full of prospects and not much else. I was offered Castellanos, Machado, Woodruff and Heliot Ramos for Pearson, Brujan, Robert and Bichette. On the fence if I should accept. Any thoughts?

    • Will Scharnagl

      Will Scharnagl says:
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      if you don’t have much else then I would say it’s close, but I would hold. Machado and Casty are young enough that you can make the case for accepting it, but Bichette is already an MLB player and the other 3 are close so I’m not really a fan

  11. For An Armenianless Vacation Come to Akron says:
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    asked grey already, see what you think. non super deep short keeper questions

    1. 16 team roto. keep 4 per year at last year’s end of season ADP’s. rosters:
    1 of each hitting spot + a CI, MI, 4th OF, 3 utils, 5 SP, 5 RP, 1 P (max innings 1800, max starts 170)
    scoring: 5×5 stuff with OBP over AVG, slugging, OPS, total bases, hits, steals % for hitters, and holds, K/BB, K/9, QS, holds and net saves + holds.
    possible keepers:
    bregman (1)
    mookie (1, so can’t keep both of him and bregman)
    soto (2)
    gallo (7)
    hiura (28)
    laureano (14)
    otani (hitter, 11)
    mostsuckass (9)
    hampson (13)
    h.dozier (28)
    degrom (1)
    bieber (10)
    corbin (3)
    ed rod (10)
    gallen (28)

    2. same keeper settings, but NL only and only keep 3 and it’s 10 team h2h.
    rosters: 1 of each + a CI a MI, 4th OF, 1 util, 5 SP, 4 RP
    scoring: 5×5 except OBP over AVG, net steals over steals, total bases added for hitters, QS over wins, holds added for pitchers
    possible keepers:
    edman (25)
    freeman (2)
    harper (1)
    hoskins (3)
    stressbird (4)
    lux (25)
    conforto (7)
    mcneil (16)
    l.castillo (8)
    j.urias (15)
    lucchesi (11)

    3. 3. same exact settings as NL only, but AL only.
    options:
    antana (tons of positions, 25)
    gallo (5)
    vlad (3)
    k.davis (2, nope)
    mercado (25)
    altuve (1, last year i had the 1.2 and wanted judge, but went altuve when judge was gone)
    odor (6, probably nope)
    s.murphy (25)
    ed rod (7)
    yarbrough (15)
    minor (14)
    paxton (3, nope)
    pressly (14)

    leagues 2 and 3 are h2h not roto, with 35 min innings per week. so usually i’d have 1 total BN spot for hitters, the others for pitchers, ending up with about 8 SP (usually 1 streamer). also max DL’s in all these leagues. 1 NA in the AL/NL onlyies, 2 in the 16 team mixed.

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