Waiver Wire Profile: Rashod Bateman Poised to Deliver (2021 Fantasy Football)
The first-rounder has emerged as a weapon in Baltimore, but are these performances here to stay and worth your attention in fantasy?
Bateman was the 27th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft by the Ravens after averaging more than 77 yards per game through three seasons as a Minnesota Golden Gopher. I’m sure plenty of scouts were enamored with his physical traits as well. Bateman is listed at 6’1, 193 pounds and ran a blazing 4.39 40-yard dash. He’s also in the 78th-percentile for arm length, according to mockdraftable.com.
Bateman missed five weeks nursing a groin injury, but in his first two games as a Raven, he posted seven catches on twelve targets for 109 yards. He’s also played 65 and 63 percent of offensive snaps in weeks six and seven, respectively.
Every single one of his receptions has gone for a first down. Bateman’s yards after the catch per reception (6.3) is higher than Cooper Kupp, Chris Godwin, Davante Adams, D.J. Moore, D.K. Metcalf, Justin Jefferson, Tyreek Hill, and many other talented WRs.
His first two weeks in the NFL proved various challenges, and he posted encouraging performances in both instances. In week six, the Chargers played plenty of man coverage, and Bateman came away with four catches (and first downs) on six targets for 29 yards. The Bengals played plenty of zone coverage in week seven, and Bateman hauled in three of six targets for 80 yards.
State of the Offense
The Ravens are ninth in points per game, eighth in total plays per game, and though they’re 21st in passing attempts per game, over their last three games, they’re 12th.
Andrews and Brown both have 37 targets on the year, but after that, the pass-catching ensemble gets dicey with Sammy Watkins (18) and Devin Duvernay (13). Watkins has also missed two games in a row due to a thigh injury.
What do Justin Jefferson, D.K. Metcalf, A.J. Brown, and Ja’Marr Chase all have in common? None of them have more receptions for their first two games than Rashod Bateman. While seven receptions aren’t anything spectacular, it’s worth noting Bateman only began his NFL regular-season career two weeks ago.
I believe Bateman is in a viable position to succeed. His target competition is talented enough that opposing teams will always concentrate defensive attention on Andrews or Brown before Bateman. However, they’re not dominant enough to the point there’s no room for another talented option. Additionally, Lamar Jackson’s versatility keeps defenses honest. Bateman’s rapport with Jackson is impressive for someone just two games into his career.
Bateman is rostered in fewer than 19% of ESPN leagues. Still, I’d undoubtedly add him over Amon-Ra St. Brown, Jamison Crowder, Jalen Reagor, Tim Patrick, Mecole Hardman, and T.Y. Hilton, to name a few players with more roster exposure.
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