Here we are — the Independence Day beers have finally settled, and sand continues to appear in the shower days later, as we patiently count down the weeks until kickoff. The time has come to find undervalued players across the board to boost fantasy squads come draft season in August.
Let’s dive into a player that has the Baltimore coaching staff salivating. Someone with sub 4.4 speed and a strong 6’1 frame with the potential to outrun and overpower outside corners in 2022. Here’s why Rashod Bateman will put your fantasy squad over the edge come September.
Bateman enters this year in a near-perfect situation. He will fill in as the Raven’s WR1 following Marquise Brown’s departure to the Arizona Cardinals. Hollywood finished as fantasy’s WR23 last year with a strong 91-1,008-6 production. He had a 23% target share (12th in NFL among WRs) highlighting how pronounced the Raven’s air attack was towards him. However, out of all receivers with a target share above 20%, Brown had the third most drops in the league. Hollywood’s inability to capitalize on catchable targets suggests that his strong season wasn’t actualized to the utmost potential.
Entering the receiver room as the primary target, Bateman will be ripe with opportunities to soar to new heights on an explosive Ravens offense.
Bateman enters this season ready to gobble up 195 available targets due to the departures of Brown and Sammy Watkins. But, it’s important to note that Bateman was quite unimpressive last year in his limited time on the field. He only managed 515 yards and a score on 46 receptions but missed the first five games of the season with a nagging hamstring injury that ultimately stunted his production. This surely contributes to his current 54 ADP on Underdog Fantasy. With special teams standout Devin Duvernay and James Proche (73 and 23 targets respectively over the last two seasons) as the only other competition for targets, Bateman will be completely healthy and ready to take advantage of his opportunity.
Another factor to reinforce the Ravens’ faith in Bateman going forward is how they drafted. They selected Tyler Lindenbaum in the first round, opting to anchor down the offensive line instead of adding a receiver with the likes of Skyy Moore and Christian Watson still on the board. Naturally, offseason moves to fill in gaps would make sense via the draft or free agency, but we haven’t seen anything to suggest that the Ravens aren’t completely ready to throw their trust into Bateman.
After an underwhelming 2021 season, Bateman has the fortune of hindsight to fuel himself going forward. “Throughout everything I experienced last year, I learned what it meant to be patient, letting everything play out was the best thing,” Bateman said. “Our entire organization is good from top to bottom; we’ve been through a lot, and most importantly, we’re hungry.”
Bateman’s upward trend began even before Hollywood Brown left the team when he caught seven balls for 103 yards in Week 14 and then found the end zone on a slant route two weeks later against the Bengals. The former first-round pick will look to expand on his late-season production going forward.
The Ravens’ offense took a large leap from 30th to seventh in pass percentage in 2021, so we should expect some regression this coming season. But, if the Ravens manage to utilize Bateman in a similar fashion to Brown, Bateman buyers will be very satisfied with his output.
With favorable momentum and a blank (very large) canvas entering the 2022 NFL season, we should expect Bateman to finish as a top 20 receiver. Fantasy owners can expect solid, high-floor production with big-play upside from the exceptionally fast receiver. Anticipate the “hungry” Bateman to play with something to prove this year in the perfect environment to take a big step forward.
Bateman checks in at WR24 (+3 vs ECR) on The Wolf’s 2022 Fantasy Football Rankings. He also projects Bateman to snag 77 receptions for 909 yards and nine touchdowns on 121 targets.