Shortstop gets kind of a bad rap in Fantasy. Catcher is the real stinkpot of a position.
Maybe it just goes without saying. An "everyday" catcher doesn't literally play every day, doesn't get as many at-bats as an everyday shortstop or second baseman or whatever and, therefore, doesn't put up the same lofty totals. But even taking into account that inherent disadvantage, the position doesn't have much to get excited about.
Fortunately, most Fantasy owners never have to find out how bad it can get because most play in leagues that require just one catcher. And since catchers don't measure up in terms of totals, it's not like anyone is drafting one for his utility spot. The number of catchers drafted is equal to the number of teams in the league, which means the late-rounders at this position are in a higher tier than the late-rounders at other positions.
Adjust your expectations accordingly.
The Elite: Buster Posey
The Near-Elite: Kyle Schwarber
The Next-Best Things: Jonathan Lucroy, Brian McCann, Travis d'Arnaud, Devin Mesoraco
The Fallback Options: Russell Martin, Stephen Vogt, Salvador Perez, Yasmani Grandal, Matt Wieters, J.T. Realmuto, Blake Swihart, Nick Hundley
The Last Resorts: Yan Gomes, Derek Norris, Miguel Montero, Welington Castillo, Francisco Cervelli, Yadier Molina
The Leftovers: Wilson Ramos, James McCann, A.J. Pierzynski, Jason Castro, Robinson Chirinos, Kurt Suzuki, Curt Casali, Alex Avila, Dioner Navarro, Chris Iannetta
You see it, right? How the tiers get bigger all the way down? Half of the mixed league-caliber players at the position are considered Fallback Options, which reinforces the idea that most owners in a one-catcher league will wait until the draft is winding down to select their catcher. And that should probably still be the case in a two-catcher league even though the scarcity of mixed league-caliber players may push some of the Fallback Options into the middle rounds. Just understand that after the top six are off the board, you're settling for so-so production, and there's plenty of it to go around.
Which makes catcher one of those positions where you can get a clear advantage over the competition by extending yourself for one of the "good" six. Of course, the biggest benefit to using a tiers approach is that it ensures you never reach for a player. You'll know you've waited as long as you can at a position when its current tier is nearing depletion. But when six players are distributed between just three tiers, those tiers are in a perpetual state of depletion, making catcher a position ripe for reaches.
The one player you can be sure isn't a reach is Posey, who was as big of a standout as any player at any position last year. And that's more than just conjecture if you go by Head-to-Head points. His 2015 wasn't even exceptional, really. It's just that no one challenged him like in years past. The one who came closest was Schwarber, a midseason callup, but he'll have to maintain a fairly ridiculous home run pace (and with an alarming strikeout rate) to keep it up. No such concerns exist with Posey, who has basically been a second-round talent since he broke into the league.
His biggest challengers in 2014 were Lucroy and Mesoraco, and the potential they showed then is enough to set them apart still. Lucroy may never repeat his 2014 season, but he was a step above McCann and d'Arnaud once he recovered from a fractured toe, at least in points leagues. The lack of home run power puts him about on their level in Rotisserie, though. As for Mesoraco, you can't be completely sure he'll be back up to form after losing last season to hip surgery.
So unless you just happen into Posey in Round 2 or can live with a .230-hitting, 25-homer McCann in Round 8, you can't be completely sure what you're getting or when you're getting it, making the advantage you seek by targeting one of the top six potentially more trouble than it's worth.
Because of that, I'll probably end up with Realmuto in the majority of one-catcher leagues. He's my favorite breakout at a position where the upcharge for a standout is too often prohibitive. He's also my 12th-ranked catcher, so provided no one takes a second catcher, I'm likely to land him in the very last round and, failing that, can fall back on Swihart, another young catcher with breakout potential.
The five catchers ahead of them all have their merits as well -- Vogt was looking like the next Lucroy at the All-Star break last year, and Perez, still only 25, has set a career high in home runs each of the last three years -- so it's not like the chance of one vaulting into the top six is nil. Settling seems like a small price to pay to improve your standing at a more impactful position -- since, of course, an early pick spent on a catcher is an early pick not spent on something else -- but in an obvious case of value, like Mesoraco still being on the board a good three rounds after McCann and d'Arnaud go, the tiers do still apply.