Catcher is good now. That much is clear.

The youth movement has been a success, with players like William Contreras, Yainer Diaz, Cal Raleigh and Jonah Heim growing the position's usable talent base to never-before-seen levels. And those weren't even the ones we were salivating over in the minors.

That's right: some of the most-hyped prospects -- Francisco Alvarez, Bo Naylor, Logan O'Hoppe, Gabriel Moreno and Luis Campusano, to name a few -- haven't even fully integrated themselves yet. And while it's true that Daulton Varsho, MJ Melendez and Henry Davis have migrated to the outfield (though with the possibility of at least one of them migrating back), it's also true that the losses haven't kept up with the gains at a position traditionally bereft of offensive talent.

So yes, it's deep now. The question is what we should do about it.

And I have the answer: wait. Particularly in one-catcher leagues, wait. Catcher is the most physically demanding of the hitter positions, after all, which can make for a high attrition rate and playing-time unpredictability. Paying a premium for a catcher has always been a risky strategy but was sometimes justifiable when it presented a distinct advantage. Having so many quality alternatives undermines, or perhaps even eliminates, whatever advantage is present now.

Along those lines, I'm not entirely comfortable with how I've split up the position below. I have The Studs, I have Other Deserving Starters, and I have The Sleepers, but only because that's how I've always done these position strategy pieces, opting for even broader categories than you'll find in my Tiers. But I'm not sure they're broad enough for this position. The distinctions feel slighter than ever. The Studs aren't as studly as at other positions, and many of the Other Deserving Starters, if not some of The Sleepers, seem capable of producing at that same level.

The truth is I'd be comfortable drafting any of my top 17 catchers as my starter, which makes for little incentive to address the position until the last round in one-catcher leagues.

But I have to talk about the high-end guys anyway, huh?

The Studs

2024 ADP2023 PPG2023 BA2023 HR

If there's anything to say for the relative cost of this group, it's that they don't demand quite the premium that stud catchers of the past might have. The one exception is Adley Rutschman, who's the universal top choice across all platforms and scoring formats. What sets him apart, though, is what sets apart this entire group from the rest of the position: a high floor and high volume. Sure, he walks a bunch, too, which further distinguishes him in points leagues, but he's a rarity among catchers in that he truly plays every day and bats first or second in the lineup. The increased run and RBI opportunities are mainly what you're paying for.

The same is largely true for William Contreras and J.T. Realmuto, the latter of whom also makes a small contribution in stolen bases. He used to be tops at the position for that reason but fell off a little as a hitter last year, which raises alarm as he enters his mid-30s. Will Smith tends to sit a little more but still far less than the typical catcher. The wild card here, though, is Yainer Diaz, who managed to be one of the most productive catchers last year even while serving in more of backup role. Will the increased exposure this year diminish the returns? He has No. 1 overall upside at the position, at least for 5x5 Rotisserie scoring, so if I'm tempted to draft any of these catchers, it's him at the reduced cost.

Other Deserving Starters

2024 ADP2023 PPG2023 BA2023 HR

If you compare the batting averages and home run totals of this group to the last group, you'll understand what I mean about the distinctions being slighter than ever. What really separates them is what can't be represented by these tables: runs, RBI and, more directly, at bats. That's less true for some than for others, but it's most true for Sean Murphy, whose 3.04 Head-to-Head points per game last year compared favorably to many in the previous group. Unfortunately for him, the Braves have another starting-caliber catcher in Travis d'Arnaud, and he relegated Murphy to the bench more often than any of us would have liked. Murphy's .159 batting average and .585 OPS in the second half further erode any feelings of optimism.

But what about Salvador Perez? Cal Raleigh? Jonah Heim? They play about as often as any catcher and had the RBI totals to back it up last year. My concerns for them are less about upside than downside. You'll notice their batting averages were nothing to write home about, which gives them a slimmer margin for error to begin with. Perez has reached the age where he's having to spend more and more time at DH, jeopardizing his playing time if the Royals find a better use for that spot. Raleigh's near-30 percent strikeout rate could easily cause him to spiral, and Heim doesn't deliver the exit velocities you'd expect for someone with his numbers. Does it sound like I'm nitpicking? Very well, then, I nitpick. At cost, I'd prefer any of them to The Studs.

Of course, the same can't be said for Tyler Stephenson and Shea Langeliers, who I do think are satisfactory starters, at least in two-catcher leagues, but are clearly a step behind the others here in terms of upside. In fact, before I settled for either of them, this next group would have to be almost depleted ...

The Sleepers

2024 ADP2023 PPG2023 BA2023 OPS

*minor-league stats

Four of these players I'm expecting to perform like the previous group, if not better. Francisco Alvarez, Logan O'Hoppe, Bo Naylor and Mitch Garver have enough still to prove that I think they're most accurately described as "sleepers," but as ADP would suggest, you can't wait around forever for them. Well ... in a 12-team, one-catcher league, you probably can, so long as your heart isn't set on Alvarez. I can already tell you that my most-drafted catcher this year is shaping up to be either Naylor or Garver, who are the two drafted latest of that foursome.

Garver is the one of those things who's not like the others, having turned 33 this offseason and enjoyed some Fantasy success already. Injuries and inconsistent playing time have prevented him from coming anywhere near the 31 homers he hit in 2019, but the Rangers may have found the cure to what ails him late last year, making him their primary DH. It's the role he's expected to fill for the Mariners this year. As for Naylor, he's a one-of-a-kind talent who stands out from other catchers with his speed, plate discipline and left-handedness, and he ended 2023 on a high note, batting .321 (26 for 81) with seven homers, four steals and a .434 on-base percentage in his final 28 games.

Luis Campusano is the fail-safe if any of those first four fall through. Hitting came easily to him in the minors and seemed to in his first extended look in the majors as well, but the Padres took so many years to anoint him the starter that I'm halfway expecting them to pull the rug out from under him now. The other four here -- Alejandro Kirk, Ryan Jeffers, Austin Wells and Tyler Soderstrom -- are relative long shots, but if you wait too long in two-catcher leagues, they may be the best you can do upside-wise.

The Base-Stealers

2024 ADP2023 SB2024 hopeAlso eligible

With Daulton Varsho now in the outfield, we're down to two viable base-stealers at catcher, and given the league-wide surge in stolen bases last year, their contributions to the category won't have the sort of impact they might have once had. In fact, a player who projects for 10-15 steals, as I suggest Naylor does, is hardly worth mentioning at some positions, like the outfield or either middle infield spot. And it may be too optimistic in his case given that he had a combined seven steals between the majors and minors last year. He did show more of a willingness to run in the majors, though, swiping five bags in 67 games (including four in his final 28). He was also a 20-steal guy in the minors two years ago.