The 2021 NFL Draft class is stacked with talent, especially at the wide receiver position. While most eyes are fixated on a few names, Minnesota WR Rashod Bateman might just be the most pro-ready of the entire rookie class, and he may get a massive spike in value for dynasty fantasy football leagues.
Rashod Bateman’s dynasty value for 2021
The entire dynasty and even the NFL community have their eyes set on the big names of this class. Guys like DeVonta Smith, Ja’Marr Chase, Jaylen Waddle, and Rondale Moore. However, it is a mistake to leave Bateman out of the mix.
Talent-wise he is as good as anyone, and he might be the most pro-ready receiver on Day 1. While playing at Minnesota doesn’t excite the masses, his play sure did, despite the mess of a 2020 season.
There is not much Bateman can’t do on the field. If you are looking for this year’s Justin Jefferson or Tee Higgins, Bateman is at the top of the list. Amazingly, Bateman is not viewed this way in dynasty circles. If anything, his value has plummeted having since hearing his name was called by the Baltimore Ravens.
Rashod Bateman lands with the Baltimore Ravens at pick No. 27
The Baltimore Ravens were always in play for a wide receiver and but whether or not he was still going to be available was another question entirely. Bateman is a perfect for the Ravens based on team needs. They needed a larger receiver who can work on the perimeter. This means Marquise Brown will remain in his familiar role while the team gets a sizeable boost in production. Sure, there are concerns about Lamar Jackson’s accuracy, but that is overblown in my eyes.
The lone issue is not the QB, but in volume. The Ravens are a run-first offense and rarely pushed the mid-to-upper 30s in attempts. Despite this, Bateman can succeed with the Ravens. I always say to select the talent, not the landing spot. Bateman is my WR5 in dynasty and was one of just five receivers selected in the first round. It is worth noting he was not the only receiver selected as the Ravens added Oklahoma State WR Tylan Wallace in the fourth round.
Bateman had an incredible career with the Golden Gophers
Hailing from Tifton, Georgia, it was a surprise to see Bateman spur colleges like Georgia and South Carolina and go all the way to Minnesota to play. Bateman was a four-star prospect as a senior. He broke the single-season school receiving records with 83 catches for 1,539 yards and 21 touchdowns. Also lettering in basketball, Bateman came out as the 29th-ranked wide receiver in his class.
As a freshman, Bateman started all 13 games and set school freshman records in receptions (51) and receiving yards (704). Additionally, he caught 6 touchdowns (one shy of tying the freshman record). Then came his sophomore blowup season in 2019.
Rashod Bateman used his incredible route running and sure hands to have one of the best seasons in Minnesota history. He played in all 13 games and caught 60 passes for 1,219 yards (second-most in a single season and sophomore program record). Bateman also scored 11 touchdowns (tied for third-most in a single season and sophomore program record).
At one point, Bateman held the record for receiving yards for the school, but teammate Tyler Johnson broke his record. Together, the two combined for 2,537 yards in 2019. Unfortunately, this was the last full season we got to see Rashod Bateman play.
2020 was virtually a lost season for Bateman
By now, we all know the fiasco that was the Big Ten and how they handled the 2020 season. It forced players to make difficult choices, and Bateman was no different. On film, Bateman had done everything he needed to do in order to cement his value in both the draft and dynasty.
In August, Bateman announced he was forgoing his remaining eligibility at Minnesota because of personal health concerns surrounding the situation and would enter the draft. However, this did not last long. Once the Big Ten announced its return, so did Bateman.
Bateman played in five games in his junior season, catching 36 passes for 472 yards and 2 touchdowns. The season was short-lived, and he announced he was opting out of the rest of the season to focus on the NFL Draft.
Where should you draft Bateman in dynasty rookie drafts?
As I have said, Bateman could be a steal in dynasty, as his fantasy value has seemingly bottomed out following the draft. In 1QB mock drafts, he is going towards the back end of the first into the early second round. For Superflex, he falls even lower, going in the mid-to-late second round.
At 6′, 190 pounds, he has all the size you would need for a primary option in an offense. Thanks to his multiple releases, Bateman can quickly get separation at the line even though he is not a burner (4.43 speed).
His most impressive trait, however, is his route running. We saw a lot of in-breaking routes at Minnesota, and Bateman mastered them all. However, don’t think this is all he can do. Throw up a 50/50 ball, and he will go get it. Bateman has the ball tracking to be used in vertical offenses.
There is nothing that stands out as a real deficiency in his game. In Year 1, he will likely Jackson’s favorite target. Because of this and his skill set, he could take an enormous leap in value post-draft. Bateman has the skills to be a top-12 dynasty wide receiver for fantasy football should his offense facilitate it.
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