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Catcher Shuffle Up: J.T. Realmuto is 2020's top fantasy option in a weak class

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There aren’t catcher cheat codes this year.

Often we have a non-catcher who carries catcher eligibility; I don’t see it this season. And more and more MLB clubs are going to full catcher time-shares; probably a good move for them, but it makes it more trying for fantasy managers.

Of course we can spin it a different way — with less offensive juice at the catcher position, it’s easier to take it in stride. It doesn’t take much to compete at this position. The barrier for fantasy relevance at catcher has gotten lower.

Draft salaries. You want salaries. Usually disclaimers apply: The numbers don’t matter in a vacuum; what matters is how the player's salaries relate to one another. Assume a 5×5 scoring system, as always. Players at the same draft cost are considered even.

The salaries are more my gut feel on a player and not necessarily part of a formula or overall bankroll structure.

[Batter up: Join or create a Yahoo Fantasy Baseball league for free today]

The headers that separate the groupings? Don’t sweat those too much. I just like to keep the editors happy.

Have some disagreements? Have some major disagreements? That’s good! That’s why we have a game. I welcome your respectful disagreement anytime: @scott_pianowski on Twitter.

Remember the golden rule: No player takes on extra (or less) value simply because you roster him.

Maybe worth a proactive slot

$23 J.T. Realmuto

$21 Yasmani Grandal

$20 Gary Sanchez

Reamuto had a mildly disappointing year, given that he moved into a favorable park and logged the most games of his career. But he still lead the position in 5x5 value by a considerable margin, and that includes a catcher-high nine steals. He now steps into his age-29 season. I’m not attacking him at drafts, but I’ll at least listen to your argument . . . Grandal’s K/BB ratio continues to move in the right direction, and he’s an excellent pitch framer. I want pieces of this Chicago offense. He has a fair chance to lead the position in at-bats again . . . Sanchez was an all-or-nothing hitter in the ultimate all-or-nothing season, 2019. Now he’s just another Yankee nicked up, which pushed him down one slot here. Take Yankees under 101.5 wins while you still can.

PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 12: J.T. Realmuto #10 of the Philadelphia Phillies during a game against the Atlanta Braves at Citizens Bank Park on September 12, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Phillies won 9-5. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto is a big fantasy fish in a small positional pond. (Hunter Martin/Getty Images)

Still an expectation pick

$18 Willson Contreras

$16 Mitch Garver

$16 Salvador Perez

$15 Wilson Ramos

Garver tweaked his launch angle and became a homer darling, though the Twins were judicious with his playing time. He can give back a significant chunk of the 2019 gains and still be a profit, given his current ADP . . . Ramos was more patient last year and perhaps to a fault, as he leaked 71 slugging points. He’s always had a traditional platoon split, which means his DFS juice comes in the rare starts against a lefty . . . Perez was the unbreakable man before an unlucky 2019, wiped out by injury. Get ready for another 140 games again, and he’s priced for profit.

Talk them up, talk them down

$12 Omar Narvaez

$11 Will Smith

$11 Carson Kelly

$10 Christian Vazquez

$10 Yadier Molina

$10 Jorge Alfaro

Alfaro is still a hacker in the box, but the hard contact numbers were good, and he also has some latent speed that still could show up in the SB column. He’s one of my favorite go-cheap targets . . . Kelly’s overall stat profile is fine, but it was mostly from his lefty-clobbering ways. We live in a right-handed world; he needs to significantly improve his slash there (.203/.303/.405) . . . Most of Smith’s 2019 season was too good to be true (minors and majors), but he fell into a .175/.284/.298 slump in September, and had just one hit in the playoffs. He’s another guy willing to sell out for power, not that the Dodgers are lacking in that area. He’s in line to be the primary catcher on a loaded team, which keeps him in double-digits, despite any tangible floor.

[Yahoo Rankings: Overall | C | 1B | 2B | SS | 3B | OF | SP | RP]

Deserve to be drafted, at least

$9 Sean Murphy

$8 Francisco Mejia

$8 Buster Posey

$7 Tom Murphy

$5 Travis d'Arnaud

$5 Danny Jansen

$5 Kurt Suzuki

$5 Tucker Barnhart

Barnhart found his swing in the second half, free from an oblique injury and boosted from some mechanical smoothing. A good late-round target, with protected playing time . . . Posey’s trip down the Joe Mauer Path has been soul-crushing, and the park will never help him . . . Suzuki is a classic late-blossoming catcher, but the Nationals will never give anyone more than 60 percent of the playing time. He’ll probably give us another useful 320 at-bats.

Bargain Bin

$4 Robinson Chirinos

$4 Roberto Perez

$3 Jason Castro

$3 Yan Gomes

$2 James McCann

$2 Willians Astudillo

$2 Mike Zunino

$2 Tyler Flowers

$2 Pedro Severino

$1 Chance Sisco

$1 Austin Romine

$1 Jacob Stallings

$0 Victor Caratini

$0 Austin Barnes

$0 Tony Wolters

Previous Episodes

Middle Infield Shuffle Up

Corner Infield Shuffle Up

Starting Pitcher Shuffle Up

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