2017 Outlook: After securing National League Rookie of the Year and MVP honors in consecutive years to begin his big-league career, plus helping his Cubs snap a 108-year World Series championship drought, Bryant might seem to have already peaked at the age of 25. Now look closer: He significantly boosted his contact rate last season, from 64 to 75 percent, while adding 49 points to his isolated power and increasing both his fly-ball and hard-contact rates in the process. Scouts gave Bryant's future power an 80 grade, tops on the 20-80 scale, and his keen sense of the strike zone hints that he might reach that ceiling, with minimal adverse impact upon his batting average. A "championship hangover" (or, as we'd call it, natural regression to the mean) is possible, but with a skill set like Bryant's, a repeat or even a small step forward -- which would probably manifest itself best in points-based leagues that penalize for strikeouts -- is at least as likely.
2017 Outlook: There was much excitement surrounding Schwarber's power potential coupled with his catcher eligibility entering last season, but a knee injury suffered in an outfield collision ended his regular season after only three Cubs games and required reconstructive surgery. Fortunately, Schwarber made a somewhat miraculous recovery in time to appear in the World Series, where he showed the same pop-plus-plate-discipline combination that made him so appealing in fantasy drafts a year ago. The difference is that he's now eligible only in the outfield -- at least at draft time -- where he provides less value relative to replacement. Schwarber should be closer to 100 percent at the onset of the 2017 season, and if he gets regular at-bats, he'll possess the same 30-homer, .350-on-base-percentage, 80-walk potential. He'd be a top-50 overall pick with catcher eligibility, but with a chance he'll earn it in-season (1o games required) plus his natural skill, he's worth targeting shortly thereafter in any format as an outfielder.
2017 Outlook: If you keep in mind the lengthier-than-usual learning curve young catchers face (partly the result of the position's defensive demands), Contreras' 2016 debut was outstanding. He flashed ability to hit for both average and power, though his 55.4 percent ground-ball rate and history of high contact rates in the minors suggested the former is his more stable category in the short term. Two major questions remain: How will the Cubs divvy up the catcher starts between him and Miguel Montero, and will there be enough at-bats at first base, the corner outfield spots and/or DH (in the team's 10 games at American League parks) to inflate Contreras' counting numbers? As the team's future at the position, he should get a healthy amount of playing time, making him a top-five pick. Montero's experience, though, could earn him a surprisingly large share of the catching time, which makes Contreras a riskier pick within that group in points leagues.
2017 Outlook: At year's end, Zobrist's raw numbers never look elite in fantasy terms; he's always nevertheless much higher in Player Rater terms than you might perceive, and in points leagues, he's just a small step shy of stardom. He's particularly appealing in the latter thanks to his penchant for walks as well as his elite contact ability; Zobrist is well worth top-100 consideration there even at his advanced age. His role as a top-third-of-the-order for the Cubs, too, also pads his Rotisserie value, as for a brief time last season Zobrist looked destined to breeze past 100 runs scored. Don't forget about him after the big names are off the board, especially since his versatility - second base and outfield eligibility - provides an extra boost in fantasy leagues.