Rashod Bateman Fantasy
In another stacked wide receiver class, many draft prospects are trying to make a name for themselves in the 2021 NFL Draft. Some will have an easier time, such as DeVonta Smith and Ja’Marr Chase, but many talented players are slotted to go in the late first/early second round who could be just as impactful as those selected at the top of the draft.
One such prospect is Rashod Bateman, a junior who played the last two-plus years as a Minnesota Gopher.
- Height: 6′ 2″
- Weight: 210 lbs.
- 40-yard dash: 4.39 (EXOS Combine)
Bateman comes from the small town of Tifton, Georgia where he excelled as a high school athlete. Georgia is one of the many football hotbeds throughout the nation, especially when you consider the recruiting class Bateman was a part of. Notable recruits from that class include Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, Azeez Ojulari, and Jaycee Horn among others.
Bateman was one of the biggest recruits signed in the first class of P.J. Fleck at Minnesota and he balled out for the Gophers. He is near the top of the school’s record books in regards to career receptions, receiving yards. and touchdowns as well as receiving yards and touchdowns in a single season (2019). Bateman is also one of three players in program history to have 200+ receiving yards in a single game.
During the past college football season, when the Big Ten football season was in flux back in August 2020, Bateman actually stepped away from the Minnesota football program and planned to opt-out so he could prepare for the 2021 NFL Draft. But, when things came together and games were scheduled again in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Bateman was able to work with Minnesota along with the NCAA and was able to play again. While he only played five games in 2020, Bateman was able to make a positive impact on the program and gain some needed reps to prepare for the next level.
When looking at Bateman as an NFL prospect, there is a lot to like about the wide receiver. His size and speed will make him a matchup problem for opposing defenses at the next level. He can be moved around the field to play either on the outside of the formation or in the slot. Whichever team drafts him will get a complete possession wide receiver who can make an impact right away.
One area where he can be especially dangerous is in the red zone. Over the last two seasons, Bateman had eight touchdowns from within the red zone and was a constant target for Tanner Morgan in that area of the field. Look for his NFL team to do the same and put him in a position to score often.
Bateman also has an explosiveness that can turn any catch into a big play or touchdown. During the 2019 college football season, he was one of only three wide receivers to catch more than 60 passes and average more than 20 yards per reception (CeeDee Lamb and Ja’Marr Chase). If he can find a way to translate that skill to the NFL level he will be a solid selection in the first round.
While there is plenty to like about Bateman, there is one major question that scouts and general managers alike will need to answer before making the call to select him: does Bateman have what it takes to be a top-level wide receiver?
Bateman played his best during 2019 when defenses were having to contend between him and current Tampa Bay Buccaneer wide receiver Tyler Johnson. When you watch how Minnesota played throughout that year, both players were able to find ways to feed off of what was given to them as they often had to pick one player or the other to focus their coverage on.
Now, that is not Bateman’s problem per se, he can only do what the coaching staff asks of him and take what the defense gives him but when you are going to be a mid-to-late first-round pick, it is not unrealistic for that team to expect him to come in right away and help their offense. It will be up to Bateman to put in the work and show what he can do on Sundays but his showing this past year as a Golden Gopher was not as positive as it could have been.
Best Fit: Baltimore Ravens
While he likely won’t last all the way to the 27th overall pick, one of the best spots Bateman could land at is in Baltimore. The Ravens were one of the worst passing offenses last year, ranking at the bottom of the league in multiple statistical categories such as completions, attempts, yardage, and passing first downs. Albeit, they did have a stellar running attack that was able to keep them in many contests, their shaky passing game is one glaring flaw that is keeping the Ravens from being a true Super Bowl contender. They already have some talented players in their passing attack, such as Marquise Brown and Mark Andrews, but those players are inconsistent, to say the least, and Baltimore could really use a consistent, possession receiver who can be worked into their offense and make an impact right away.
This is where Bateman would shine. He would join a Ravens team with a scheme/coaching staff in place that would be able to work Bateman into what they already have without putting too much pressure on him to save their offense right off the bat. But, if he excels and can immediately translate his skills to the NFL, he would be in a great spot to make Baltimore fans and prospective fantasy owners very happy.
Pre-NFL Draft Dynasty Outlook
Bateman will likely not be a dynasty asset that is valued like some of the other wide receivers who will be selected early in this draft but he presents a massive amount of potential and value in dynasty drafts. He will be someone to watch for in the mid-to-late first round of your rookie drafts after Smith, Chase, and Jaylen Waddle are off the board. While a lot of his value will be tied up in the team he is selected by on Draft day, Bateman is still a player that should be considered whether your roster is contending or rebuilding. He has the talent to be a solid Flex option each week this season and will look to build on his upside for years to come.
Brandon Sysak is an staff writer for Gridiron Experts. I have been covering different aspects of the NFL, fantasy football and the NFL Draft since 2017. I am originally from Midland, MI but now reside in the Cincinnati, OH area. I began my career with Gridiron Experts covering the 2017 College Football National Championship.