2024 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers & Busts: Chicago Cubs

The Chicago Cubs players you should and shouldn't draft in 2024.

Led by strong seasons from Justin Steele, Dansby Swanson, Nico Hoerner and a resurgent Cody Bellinger, the Chicago Cubs enjoyed their best season in years. Chicago’s National League club bounced back from 71 and 74-win seasons in 2021 and 2022 to log an 83-win campaign in 2023, and while they didn’t make the playoffs, they helped plenty of fantasy managers reach the fantasy playoffs thanks to the performances of the likes of Steele, Swanson, Hoerner and Bellinger, as well as Seiya Suzuki, Adbert Alzolay, Ian Happ, Kyle Hendricks and Marcus Stroman.

And while Bellinger and Stroman are currently free agents, plenty of quality fantasy options remain ahead of draft season next spring, both on the list of aforementioned players above as well as off it. Though as with any team, there are also a handful of Cubs players to avoid in drafts next year, based on a variety of factors like their role, underlying metrics, or simply ADP.

Here are some of those players (to draft and avoid).




Dansby Swanson

2023 Stats: (638 PA): .244 AVG, 80 runs scored, 22 HR, 80 RBI, 9 SB


Based on Dansby Swanson’s surface-level metrics, as well as counting stats like home runs, stolen bases, and RBI, he had a down year in his first season in Chicago, especially considering the 2023 Cubs actually scored more runs (819) than Atlanta did in 2022 (789). The infielder also played in 15 fewer games, which impacts things, but the aforementioned surface-level metrics tell an unideal story.

Dansby Swanson In 2022 vs 2023

By all accounts, some people might see that statistical decline and think of Swanson as a player to not consider drafting, or at least drafting as highly in 2024. And that’s without mentioning a dip in hard-hit rate from 46.3% to 39.7% in from 2022 to last season.

But, that’s not quite the whole story.

Because if anything, Swanson was just as good, if not slightly better. And if your league-mates let him slip in drafts based on some down counting stats, happily take him a round or two (or three) later than where he should be going and walk away very quickly. Because the shortstop improved his plate discipline considerably while maintaining similar, if not better quality of contact and power metrics in many places.

Dansby Swanson In 2022 vs 2023, This Time With More In-Depth Metrics

Those underlying quality of contact metrics gives Swanson a definite top-10 upside at the position and plenty of impact fantasy potential in general. And while it’s early and could (and should) change considerably before draft season, the Cubs shortstop is currently being selected as the 15th shortstop in drafts with an ADP of 130.18, per NFBC data, just ahead of Volpe and well behind the likes of CJ Abrams, Hoerner, and Xander Bogaerts.


Jordan Wicks

2023 Stats (34.2 IP): 4.41 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 24 K, 4 W


Speaking of Swanson, his presence on the Cubs’ roster directly ties into Jordan Wicks‘ fantasy upside and potential heading into the starter’s second season.

Wicks was solid enough in his first seven major league starts, pitching to a 4.41 ERA and a 4.70 FIP, logging four pitcher wins to go along with 24 strikeouts, 11 walks, and five home runs allowed.

Though admittedly, in part due to the small sample size, those metrics were inflated by a poor final start of the season in which the right-hander was tagged for six hits, six earned runs, two home runs, and a walk while recording just five outs. Take that outing out of the picture and his ERA and FIP drop to 3.00 and 3.95 respectively.

Plus, with Marcus Stroman a free agent and Drew Smyly spending the better part of the stretch run in the bullpen, a rotation spot would seem all but assured for Wicks.

So all that is ideal, but it’s Swanson (as well as Nico Hoerner) who makes Wicks someone to target in drafts. Or, put more specifically, the duo’s ability to convert grounders when paired with Wicks’ ability to induce said grounders (and generally limit weak contact).

It’s still a relatively small sample size for the rookie starter, but opposing hitters managed just a 33.0% hard-hit rate and a .311 xwOBA against Wicks while registering a 50% ground ball rate.

The ground ball rate is particularly key here. If that number had come in a larger sample size, it would’ve ranked 17th among full-time starting pitchers with at least 80 innings last season.

And while plenty of weak contact and a bunch of ground balls are obviously ideal for recording outs, they’re even better when a pitcher like Wicks has elite fielders around the infield grass behind him.

This is exactly the case here with Wicks.

Top 5 Second Basemen and Shortstops in DRS

And while additional strikeouts would certainly be more ideal – Wicks finished with just a 23.3% whiff rate and a 16.3% strikeout rate last season – Stroman found plenty of fantasy success last season, logging 10 pitcher wins and a 3.95 ERA, while limiting quality contact and inducing a ton of ground balls despite lower swing and miss numbers.

As you can probably guess based on the chasm between innings, Pitcher A is Stroman and Pitcher B is Jordan Wicks. And expecting Wicks to immediately produce like Stroman and step in and play a similar role with only seven starts under his belt is probably a bit unfair. However, the rookie has the upside to find similar fantasy success in 2024 with a larger innings workload in the rotation.




Christopher Morel

2023 Stats: (427 PA): .247 AVG, 62 runs scored, 26 HR, 70 RBI, 6 SB


There was a lot to like about what Christopher Morel brought to the table fantasy-wise last season. He slugged 26 home runs in 2023, logging a .343 xwOBA, a 50.0% hard-hit rate, and a 15.9% barrel rate, to go along with six stolen bases while bringing plenty of positional versatility. The 24-year-old made at least five appearances at five different positions besides designated hitter.

Christopher Morel Starts By Position In 2023

And while all those are good things, there are some potential concerns where Morel’s fantasy upside is concerned.

For all the barrels and hard-hit balls, the 24-year-old also hit just .247 with a 31.0% strikeout rate and a 37% whiff rate that finished in the second percentile league-wide. The strikeout rate, for reference, ranked in the 10th percentile.

Morel had particular struggles making contact against sliders, sweepers, and changeups. His swing-and-miss issues weren’t as pronounced against curveballs, but those proved to be problematic as well at times. And while he did make some loud contact against sliders, the swing and misses remained.

That Morel has struggled to make contact at times against a variety of different pitches certainly isn’t ideal, nor is a 28.9% that also served as a slight increase over the Cubs slugger’s 28.6% chase rate metric in 2022.

And this is all without mentioning the prospect of playing time. The 24-year-old can certainly play a number of positions around the diamond, but the Cubs aren’t short of position player depth. Even if Cody Bellinger signs elsewhere, the club looks set to return Ian Happ, Seiya Suzuki, Mike Tauchman, and Pete Crow-Armstrong in the outfield. Patrick Wisdom can handle both infield and outfield corner positions, Nick Madrigal is on hand at third base and Swanson and Hoerner are entrenched up the middle in the infield.

If Morel can’t see regular plate appearances in 2024, his penchant for strikeouts makes him slightly more tricky to draft as a starter in standard-sized leagues, leaving him as a potential early-season bench candidate for fantasy managers, who also doesn’t play every day in terms of real-life baseball.


Yan Gomes

2023 Stats: (419PA): .267 AVG, 44 runs scored, 10 HR, 63 RBI, 1 SB


Gomes saw the most plate appearances he’s seen in a season since 2018, and the third-most in his career in 2023, enjoying one of the most productive seasons of his career. Gomes hit .267 with a .315 on-base percentage, 10 home runs, and a stolen base while the veteran’s .321 xwOBA was his best in a full season since the aforementioned 2018 campaign, and tied for 11th-best among qualified catchers, it also finished in only the 44th percentile league-wide.

That, combined with a 7.8% barrel rate, which was 14th among qualified catchers, should keep Gomes on the outside looking in terms of starting fantasy catchers in 12-team leagues. However, it’s the presence of Miguel Amaya on Chicago’s roster that could cause Gomes’ fantasy stock to plummet further, potentially more into that of a fantasy backup or streaming option in most leagues, two-catcher formats included.

Long one of Chicago’s more promising position-player prospects, Amaya showed flashes of promise as a rookie last season. His overall stat line wasn’t overly impressive, with a .214 average, a .329 on-base percentage, and five home runs in 156 plate appearances, but the 24-year-old did enough (a 9.7% barrel rate, a 94 wRC+, and a .330 xwOBA) to warrant a more extended look this coming season.

Of course, that’s all entirely speculative mind you, and it remains to be seen just how Chicago’s catching playing time and plate appearances will be distributed. But if Amaya can make this even a timeshare situation, Gomes’ fantasy ceiling is going to take a considerable hit, even with the run-scoring and RBI opportunities provided in a quality Cubs lineup.


Photos by Jeff Robinson/Icon Sportswire, Larry Radloff/Icon Sportswire, and Jason Weingardt/Unsplash | Featured Image by Ethan Kaplan (@DJFreddie10 on Twitter and @EthanMKaplanImages on Instagram)

Ben Rosener

Ben Rosener is baseball and fantasy baseball writer whose work has previously appeared on the digital pages of Motor City Bengals, Bleacher Report, USA Today, FanSided.com and World Soccer Talk among others. He also writes about fantasy baseball for RotoBaller and the Detroit Tigers for his own Patreon page, Getting You Through the Tigers Rebuild (@Tigers_Rebuild on Twitter). He only refers to himself in the third person for bios.

One response to “2024 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers & Busts: Chicago Cubs”

  1. DM says:

    You said that Stroman and his 8.9 ERA (post All Star game) helped fantasy managers???????? Hmmmm.

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