History tells us that catchers don't age gracefully, but 2021 saw career seasons for two on the wrong side of 30 (Salvador Perez and Yasmani Grandal).

Between them and up-and-comers like Daulton Varsho and Keibert Ruiz, the position has become a interesting mix of old and new. Overall, it's looking stronger than in recent years, and the expected arrival of several prospects in 2022 makes for perhaps an even brighter future.

Early Rankings: Catcher | First base | Second base | Third base | Shortstop | Outfield | Starting pitcher | Relief pitcher

But there's a reason why catcher is generally a low priority in Fantasy Baseball. The failure rate for newcomers is high given the physical and mental demands of the position, and even when one clears those hurdles, there's still the likelihood of him splitting at-bats. Plus, the injuries -- my gosh, the injuries.

All of which is to say that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Chances are the first catcher won't go off the board until Round 4 or 5, with only a handful of others being taken within the first 10 rounds.

Note that these rankings are intended for 5x5 scoring (such as Rotisserie leagues), but I point out distinctions for points leagues where applicable.  

Top 20 catchers for 2022
Salvador Perez Kansas City Royals C
Setting the single-season record for home runs by a catcher makes him a gimme at the top spot, especially since he still has a playing-time advantage over most of the position. And hey, he was even better in 2020.
J.T. Realmuto Philadelphia Phillies C
The gold standard at the position for the past half decade or so took his biggest step back this year and is on a two-year decline with regard to batting average, both real and expected. His speed and playing time still set him apart from most catchers, though, and there's something to be said for track record.
Will Smith Los Angeles Dodgers C
The rising star just enjoyed his largest share of playing time so far, and he no longer has Keibert Ruiz breathing down his neck. In only two years' time, his contact skills have gone from a liability to a strength, and his on-base skills make him the odds-on favorite to lead the position in OPS.
Daulton Varsho Arizona Diamondbacks C
Varsho has a chance to be something beyond the typical catcher. He spends half his time in center field, for goodness' sake, which means he can actually run and potentially play every day. A breakthrough second half hopefully kicked that door wide open.
Yasmani Grandal Chicago White Sox C
His season turned on a dime after having surgery to repair a torn knee tendon in July, and now he seems to be taking a page from Salvador Perez's book by peaking after age 30. His home run pace was the best it's ever been, and his always excellent plate discipline took a turn for the legendary. Presumably, his batting average will hold him back in 5x5 play, but put him ahead of Varsho in points leagues.
Willson Contreras Chicago Cubs C
After spending the first four years of his career defying the underlying numbers, Contreras has spent the past two modeling them. A rising strikeout rate hasn't helped, and a depleted supporting cast won't either. He's still productive by catcher standards, but nobody's putting him in that top tier anymore.
Keibert Ruiz Washington Nationals C
Having unlocked his power at Triple-A and escaped Will Smith's shadow in Los Angeles, Ruiz is primed for a star turn with the Nationals. His late-season debut didn't set the world on fire, but his uncanny contact skills were just as evident as in the minors, which gives him the sort of floor that's especially valuable at a position full of craters.
Mike Zunino Tampa Bay Rays C
He'll be a tough nut to crack after a career season in which he was outhomered only by Salvador Perez, but of course, Zunino's contact issues were as pronounced as ever. Overall, though, he did hit the ball harder, to the point that his expected stats back up the breakthrough, but any slippage could cause him to lose more at-bats to Francisco Mejia.
Gary Sanchez New York Yankees C
The past couple seasons have rendered Sanchez sort of a lesser version of Zunino, offering empty power to go along with increasing threats to his playing time. I'm being a little generous here out of respect to his track record. His second half really was dreadful, and it's possible the Yankees decide to move on.
Tyler Stephenson Cincinnati Reds C
The defensive-minded Tucker Barnhart remained the Reds' primary catcher in 2021, but Stephenson proved to be a strong challenger as a rookie, providing enough offense to steal starts at first base occasionally. With Barnhart gone, he's a clear riser at the position, with his plate discipline standing out most of all.
Mitch Garver Minnesota Twins C
On the one hand, Garver rebounded from his 2020 disaster to confirm his 2019 breakthrough wasn't a fluke, trailing only Yasmani Grandal in OPS at the position. On the other hand, he went on the IL twice and wasn't in the lineup much more than half the time even when healthy. Those trends figure to continue at age 31 next year.
Alejandro Kirk Toronto Blue Jays C
The biggest impediment to Kirk in his rookie season was an undeservedly crowded catcher position. Presumably, it was because he was 22 and not quite ready for the responsibilities of handling a pitching staff. If he's given more leash next year, he shows serious promise at the plate, combining elite contact skills with high exit velocities.
Travis d'Arnaud Atlanta Braves C
The 32-year-old missed three months with a torn thumb ligament and yet still ended up with more at-bats than during his career-best 2020, which suggests it was a fluke. Still, the underlying numbers weren't bad, and the Braves saw fit to re-up him for two years. We'll see how long he can hold of up-and-comers William Contreras and Shea Langeliers.
Joey Bart San Francisco Giants C
It's not clear yet if the prospect will be ready to assume Buster Posey's role from the get-go. His development has been slowed by injuries, and his plate discipline is suboptimal. But seeing as he'll be 25 and has already gotten some major-league experience, he's sure to take over at some point in 2022, and presumably sooner than later.
Eric Haase Detroit Tigers C
Haase showed big power as a rookie but also demonstrated why he was confined to the minors until age 28, his poor plate discipline and swing-and-miss tendencies causing his production to tumble over the final two months. The rebuilding Tigers will likely give him a longer look, which makes him interesting enough at catcher, but he could burn out quickly.
Elias Diaz Colorado Rockies C
Coors Field worked its magic on Diaz in 2021, transforming him from a light-hitting backup to a genuine Fantasy asset, at least when the Rockies were at home. He's under their control for another year, and there's little reason to believe they'll seek an upgrade in the offseason.
Omar Narvaez Milwaukee Brewers C
We're getting into the less appetizing parts of the position now. Narvaez was OK in his second year with the Brewers -- certainly a big improvement over the first -- but he doesn't hit the ball hard enough to take advantage of the small park. Plus, his splits are so extreme that he really should be sitting against lefties.
Sean Murphy Oakland Athletics C
The Athletics seemed to lose confidence in their young catcher midseason, bringing in veteran Yan Gomes to split at-bats with him. Gomes is a free agent, so the hope is that Murphy will get a chance to recapture the plate discipline he showed as a rookie in 2020 while continuing to provide quality power at the position.
Carson Kelly Arizona Diamondbacks C
Kelly looked like he was about to take the league by storm at the start of both 2019 and 2021. This time around, he got upended by a broken toe and then a broken wrist, but the decline may have been inevitable given how bad his numbers were and always have been against righties. You know the left handed-hitting Varsho will get his share against them.
Adley Rutschman Baltimore Orioles C
The top pick in the 2019 draft has dutifully climbed the minor-league ladder, checking every box along the way, and now finds himself at the doorstep of the majors. He'll be one of the most buzzed-about prospects next spring and could get the call early enough to justify stashing from the get-go. If you're looking for a more immediate contributor here, Max Stassi would be the pick.