With fantasy managers looking for a midseason boost to their lineup via the waiver wire, the Week 10 deadline could prove to be pivotal as several options dot the free agency pool in the majority of leagues. Those needing long-term help off the waiver wire should consider Baltimore Ravens WR Rashod Bateman, as he could blossom into the team’s top target on the way to becoming one of the best values in all of fantasy football.
Rashod Bateman is showing why he was a highly touted draft pick
It might have taken a little longer than we wanted, but Bateman has been worth the wait. Arguably the most pro-ready of the 2021 rookie wide receivers, Bateman missed the first five weeks of the year due to a groin injury. But in his short time with the Ravens (three games), he has made an enormous impact while showing he still has room for growth.
Since making his NFL debut in Week 9, Bateman has recorded 12 receptions for 161 yards. His usage has steadily increased as well. After seeing 6 targets in each of his first two games, he recorded 8 targets last week. Playing on 65% of the offensive snaps, Bateman has finished as a WR3 or better in back-to-back games.
Yet, there is still room for improvement. When on the field, Bateman has run a route on roughly 95% of Baltimore’s passing downs. That’s a massive number.
Even on a low passing volume team like the Ravens, we could be looking at a guy who could approach double-digit targets every week from an MVP-caliber QB. Bateman is still floating around on nearly 65% of waiver wires right now.
Bateman has quietly entered the WR3 territory in fantasy
You rarely see a player instantly become a fantasy-relevant player just three games into his career. Outside of Ja’Marr Chase, none of the other rookie wide receivers have been consistent enough to earn spots in the majority of lineups. Bateman is the exception.
Since joining the Ravens, Bateman has seen 20% of the team’s targets and 33% of the WR targets. While the Ravens only attempt 34.6 passes per game, Bateman is seeing enough volume to rely on every week in fantasy.
He’s one of just 24 NFL wide receivers receiving at least 20% of his team’s total targets. And remember, he has played 12 professional quarters of football. That’s it.
Marquise Brown is not the only ridiculous athlete on this team. Sure, Bateman doesn’t have the 4.33 speed that Brown posted at the combine. But at 6’0″ and 190 pounds, Bateman’s 4.39 speed is just as impressive. He even graded out with an elite 9.13 out of 10 RAS (Relative Athletic Score).
Lamar Jackson has a new weapon
When I graded wide receivers before the 2021 NFL Draft, I noted that while Bateman is not elite in any one aspect, he is above-average in everything he does. From contested catches to releases, from route running to understanding the soft spots in defenses — Bateman can do it all. And the Ravens clearly know this on the diversity of his route tree.
Of Bateman’s 12 receptions, 7 have been for first downs. Lamar Jackson already had his explosive option in Brown. He had a safety blanket and red-zone threat in Mark Andrews. And now, for the first time, he has a reliable chain mover who can handle a massive target load in Bateman.
Bateman is a must-add off the fantasy waiver wire in Week 10
I feel like I have been talking about adding Bateman off the waiver wire for weeks now. But this honestly feels like the last chance you will have to add him unless you play in a super shallow league.
In Week 10, the Ravens take on the Miami Dolphins on Thursday Night Football. The Dolphins — to put it bluntly — are not a good team. And they are just as bad when it comes to fantasy.
Miami gives up the third-most fantasy points (42.36) to opposing wide receivers. They’ve allowed WRs to score 10+ PPR points a staggering 19 times — eight WRs have scored 15 or more.
Bateman is going to go off this week. It’s just a matter of when the Ravens decide they’re done scoring points on the Dolphins. For right now, Bateman is a WR3. But I will not be surprised if he is a WR2 the rest of the way, nor if he takes over the No. 1 WR spot in Baltimore’s offense.