Catcher isn't much better offensively than shortstop, if at all, and it's also the first position in which we lack a five-star player. The reduced playing time of catchers makes them worth less than other positions, especially when combined with their generally anemic bats. There are exceptions, of course, especially for catchers who pick up extra plate appearances at DH or first -- those players get a boost in value based on quantity, something that's often overlooked in favor of quality and rate. Quantity counts for a whole lot in fantasy, though, as anyone who has experienced shortened seasons from stars due to injuries can attest.
If you missed the rest of the infield, give the first base, second base, third base, and shortstop rankings a look. That also applies if you need to read up on why a tiered ranking system is in use, and why I think it'll be of use to you.
One thing I should mention: these rankings were created with two starting catchers in mind. If you're in a league with just one starting catcher, you can lop something like $5 (or half a tier) off of the value of most of these guys. That would essentially make everyone but the first two catchers three-star or worse. (And, if you're still angry about where I had Napoli/Santana relative to Prince Fielder, should also help explain that discrepancy, too. Fielder is better than those two in leagues with one starting catcher.)
I'll let you in on a little secret: I might like Victor Martinez more than all of these guys. But alas, his knee has been surgically repaired, and he won't be available in 2012. Mike Napoli ends up in first by default, as he's one of those guys who will pick up plate appearances elsewhere. Also, he has the benefit of playing half of his games in the offensive haven in Arlington -- in fact, I don't think he's as good as he was last year, but he's in the same context, and that's what matters. Carlos Santana also gets a PA boost for time at places besides backstop, and he can hit a little bit in his own right.
Joe Mauer is a better hitter than all of these guys. But, while health might not be a fantasy category, it's definitely a skill, and it might be one Mauer lacks. He's not a guarantee to miss a ton of time, but you have to factor the possibility in.
Brian McCann has done a pretty good job of being Brian McCann for seven years now. Miguel Montero and Alex Avila haven't been Brian McCann for nearly as long, but they're close enough to be in the same tier. Buster Posey's snapped leg kept him from contributing at his expected level last year, but even with his pitcher-friendly home park and a meh offense surrounding him, I like him to be worth $10-15 or so this season. Soto needs a higher batting average to merit this ranking, but he seems to get one of those every other year. So, uh, maybe this ranking isn't optimistic? (It probably is.)
It's kind of funny that Matt Wieters used to have questions about his defense but not his bat, and now we're looking at him from the complete opposite view. That being said, he's still got a pretty good stick for a backstop, and should easily earn $10-15 or so. J.P. Arencibia's average might keep him under $10 like Soto, but if he can keep that at a tolerable level, he's a decent option for the back of this tier.
|Two-Star ($9 and under)|
This is where most of the meat of the catcher tier is, and where you're going to want to pull your second backstop from in leagues that count them. There isn't a sexy option among the group, as they all have some issues. Doumit often misses time, but hits when he's around. Nick Hundley can hit, but his park hates that particular attribute of his. Russell Martin will probably wear himself down and ruin his overall value. John Buck's new park might hinder power, given its expansive dimensions. Yadier Molina is useful, but doesn't excel in any particular area. Wilson Ramos has potential, but isn't considered an impact catcher for fantasy by any means.
Chris Iannetta is leaving Coors behind. Kurt Suzuki is tolerable as a fantasy catcher, at best. That can basically be said about all of these guys, though Jarrod Saltalamacchia, if he can avoid the total black hole months he experienced in April and September of 2011, might have the potential to not disappoint. (Now that's some strong backing.)
Perez is at least interesting from a potential standpoint, and Miguel Olivo can give you some power. The Reds' backstops are generally useful stopgaps for fantasy, if nothing else. Maybe Chris Snyder will keep on hitting for the Astros, especially now that he's in a better park for hitters. Maybe Wilin Rosario's impressive minor league numbers will translate to the majors, and give him enough plate appearances to make him worth the $1. There's a whole lot of "maybe" in this tier, and if you can throw $1 at it in AL- and NL-only leagues, by all means, do so. But just don't expect a guaranteed return on your investment.