While the likes of second base and shortstop have found a new generation of bats to keep the position somewhat relative, teams have moved so far toward defensive catchers that offense has been harder and harder to find for fantasy players. Most will now settle for a guy that doesn’t tank your average and is capable of at least getting hot for power.
It is a barren wasteland out there, but you do still need to play a catcher. So who should you be drafting?
Note: These rankings are for standard roto leagues, with eligibility based on 20 games played at the position in 2017
1. Gary Sanchez, New York Yankees
Sanchez is the unquestioned top catcher this year. His power would be good anywhere, and the counting stats are strong. While a bump down the order may come due to Giancarlo Stanton arriving, it should only increase the RBI opportunities. His average is strong enough that he can sustain a regression in power as well. Don’t second guess yourself here, he is a solid second-round pick in all mixed leagues.
2. Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants
Posey’s lack of power and counting stats hurt, but he is remarkably consistent with his batting average which remains the best at the position.
With newer names like Sanchez, Contreras, and Realmuto stealing some of the fantasy spotlight you may be able to snag Posey at a lower than normal price, and bear in mind that his playing at first base creates more at-bats for him than your normal catcher would see.
3. Willson Contreras, Chicago Cubs
Contreras has added a power stroke to his game in recent years, and if he can continue in that vein then a 25+ homer season isn’t out of the question if he can stay healthy.
The only worrying thing is a potential batting average drop. Contreras has been carrying a higher than usual BABIP the past two seasons, especially for someone with his line drive rate. If that drops off then you will need the extra power from him. Still, given the position and the handful of steals he is capable of he is a strong option at catcher this year.
4. Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals
Perez’s career trend is one of trading batting average for power. A former 11-homer, .296 hitter, he is now a 20-home run guy hitting in the mid .260’s. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it is something to keep an eye on if your average is looking marginal on the rest of your roster.
He brought his strikeout rate down from a 2016 high, which was nice to see, and his ISO keeps on rising, a nice sign for the power stroke. He is a dark horse for 30 home runs this year.
5. JT Realmuto, Miami Marlins
Realmuto is not a happy man having seen the clubhouse around him emptied of talent. The purge will see his counting stats crater somewhat, but a reliable average plus better-than-average steals for the position still make him valuable.
If he is traded at the deadline to a solid lineup for the last two months, then he could be a monster down the stretch. For now though, he is something of a one-man army in Miami.
6. Evan Gattis, Houston Astros
Evan Gattis is unlikely to see much time behind the plate this year for the Astros but with the DH spot fairly open in 2018, his playing time should increase this season.
A fairly injury-hit 2017 may well remove him from the minds of some players, and he has always been good for 20 homers so long as the at-bats are there. A drop in his strikeout rate lifted his batting average last year, and if he can hold onto that this season he could be sneakily valuable. Just know it isn’t a guarantee.
7. Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals
The days of Yadier Molina being an elite fantasy catcher are over. Or at least they were supposed to be. After years of so-so production at the plate, in 2017 Molina smacked 18 homers, his most since 2012, to go along with a surprising nine steals and 82 RBI. It was one of the best fantasy seasons of his career.
At 35, there is a decline coming for Molina, and his rising strikeout rate is also a worry, but he should enjoy a bit of a batting average rebound thanks to a poor BABIP last year. If you pay for 20 homers you will be disappointed, but Yadi is at least going to be a plus in the batting average column this year.
8. Welington Castillo, Chicago White Sox
Castillo was a BABIP darling last year, registering a .336 that helped him keep his average up despite striking out just over a quarter of plate appearances.
In 2018 it is hard to believe that will continue for him. Still, he is good for some 15 homers and reasonable counting stats. If you can carry his potentially low average he shouldn’t slow you down. The White Sox offense around him is not good, so the counting stats are unlikely to be there too. We are truly at the bottom of the barrel now.
9. Wilson Ramos, Tampa Bay Rays
After two years of strong power production, Wilson Ramos fell back to earth in 2017 with just 11 homers. His average fell back down to his career mark as well, suggesting that 2016 was nothing more than a blip on the radar.
Still, there is some power potential in Ramos. He has posted mid-teen homers a few times now, and the average isn’t going to kill you. The Rays offense is a sinkhole though, so be wary that his counting stats are liable to be non-existent.
10. Brian McCann, Houston Astros
McCann is still a big name, but his nine-season run of 20+ homers was snapped last year in an injury-hit season that really signaled the end of his fantasy relevance.
His average has been in the toilet for a few years now, and while he got his strikeouts back under control in 2017, he is unlikely to recover to the .260 player people remember. With Gattis and Max Stassi around to split time, he has a shot at playing 100 games max. With the rest of the position group struggling, McCann’s power potential is at least interesting, but be ready to stream if you are left needing a catcher this late.
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