Rashod Bateman: An Upside Fantasy Football Pick If You Can Overlook Injury Concerns

Jun 16, 2023
Rashod Bateman: An Upside Pick If You Can Overlook Injury Concerns

Lamar Jackson is in Baltimore for the long haul after agreeing to a contract extension this offseason, and the return of Jackson combined with new offensive coordinator Todd Monken makes the Baltimore passing offense an under-the-radar one to attack. The best way to do that is through Rashod Bateman, currently going as WR44 and 86th overall on Underdog. After two injury-plagued seasons, is Bateman finally ready to take off?

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Sophomore Campaign In Review

Coming off a solid, if not unspectacular, rookie season where he had 46 receptions for 515 yards and a touchdown, the expectations were high for Bateman in 2022. Unfortunately, the injury bug bit him again in 2022 and he only finished five games. However, there were some reasons for optimism. He was used much farther down the field in 2022, as he had the 10th-highest aDOT (14.3) out of the 71 wide receivers with at least 20 targets while he was healthy (per SIS). He was also third in yards per route run (11.0) during the same time period. But Bateman wasn’t just a deep threat in 2022, he was 19th in yards after catch and fourth in SIS’s Broken Tackles + Missed Tackles per reception metric.

He's also been documented to be a solid route runner, per Matt Harmon:

So in short, when healthy, Bateman was a great mix of route running and advanced stats but was limited by the lack of passing volume and injuries in 2022.

Improved Passing Attack in 2023?

Out with Greg Roman, in with Todd Monken. There were whispers around Baltimore that players thought the offense was getting stale under Roman even a few years ago, and then Lamar Jackson said opposing teams knew what plays they would call because Roman had gotten too predictable. Todd Monken is coming off of back-to-back National Championships with Georgia in the college ranks and had a solid run with the Buccaneers from 2016-18 despite quarterbacks that struggled with turnovers. So what should we expect from the Ravens in 2023?

More passing, for one. It’s easy to assume Baltimore will throw more than the 27.2 attempts per game Jackson had last year. More passing volume means more targets for Bateman. Looking at Georgia’s passing tree from 2022 could be a good window into what we see in 2023 in Baltimore with 2024’s likely top tight end Brock Bowers leading the team in targets and Ladd McConkey right behind him. Mark Andrews will be in the Bowers role, and hopefully, Bateman should be in the McConkey spot as the top receiver. This, of course, is assuming he’s healthy in 2023. As we’ve already seen in camp he’s getting a cortisone shot and should be ready for training camp.

Why Bateman in Baltimore?

Baltimore has a revamped passing attack in 2023 after the Ravens invested a first-round pick in Zay Flowers out of Boston College and signed Odell Beckham Jr. to a contract with $15 million in guarantees. This will be the best trio Lamar Jackson has had, in addition to an elite receiving tight end in Mark Andrews and Isaiah Likely, also a receiving specialist, so it is certainly a more crowded passing tree in 2023.

However, this should benefit Bateman, to some extent, because teams can no longer focus all of their energy on stopping him out of the receivers. The price also isn’t nearly as steep as it was last year. There is injury risk baked into Bateman’s current WR44 price. It would have been a lot better had you been drafting him back in early May when he was going third of the Ravens three receivers, but even as the top option now he still has the highest ceiling of the trio.

Baltimore Ravens WR ADP Over Last Week
Player Pos Team Current ADP Old ADP ADP Change Ovr Rank Pos Rank
Rashod Bateman WR BAL 86.2 86.7 -0.5 86 44
Zay Flowers WR BAL 89.3 89.1 0.2 90 46
Odell Beckham WR BAL 111.2 111.9 -0.7 112 53

In 2021, Bateman felt like more of a compiler, while in 2022 he showed an improved game and the ability to win deep more than he did as a rookie. With the caveat that he’s healthy, again, Bateman should be able to outperform his WR44 draft stock right now and if Lamar Jackson sees passing touchdowns anywhere near what he had in his 2019 MVP season, this could be a very solid year for Bateman.

The Bottom Line

  • Simply put, the Ravens are going to pass more in 2023.

  • Increased passing volume and improved weapons around Lamar Jackson should have a “rising tide lifts all boats” effect on Rashod Bateman, rather than hinder him.

  • The Ravens are expected to improve on offense with Lamar Jackson being drafted as QB4, but there’s a big drop until you get to Rashod Bateman (WR44).

  • Mark Andrews is going at pick 30 while Bateman is going at pick 86. He comes at a discount and a cheaper entry point to the improved Ravens offense.

  • Bateman is a strong buy for 2023 as a WR4 with upside, but be on the lookout for injury updates when training camp arrives.

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