Rashod Bateman
Rashod Bateman may be the best receiver in the 2021 NFL Draft. (Jesse Johnson/USA TODAY Sports)

I cannot help but laugh when I hear people claim that Rashod Bateman lacks elite traits or that he will not be the number one target on his team and will be lacking opportunities in a run-first offense. I find these comments so funny because we had similar qualms about Justin Jefferson last year, but this year he is set to be a top 10 fantasy WR. This is not not to say that Bateman is Jefferson, but the pair give off similar vibes.

Although Bateman may not have blazing speed or the best hands in the world, he knows how to get open and catch the ball. Bateman is molded into a type of receiver that has a successful track record in the NFL, with Keenan Allen, Amari Cooper, and Allen Robinson all acknowledged as elite players. Even in such a stacked class, Bateman may well be the best receiver from the 2021 NFL Draft.

Obviously, Bateman’s situation in Baltimore, which does not possess a high-octane pass-first offense, is not necessarily ideal, but it is still an extremely successful offense that lacks a legitimate WR1. He may not see a ton of opportunities in the offense, but Lamar Jackson needs a reliable wide receiver he can trust in situations that clearly call for throwing the football. This has been the Achilles heel of the Ravens, and Marquise Brown, Sammy Watkins, Miles Boykin, and Devin Duvernay have not demonstrated such capability. This vulnerability is where Bateman’s savvy route-running comes to the forefront, and it will result in solid fantasy production. Running Mark Andrews and Nick Boyle in paired tight end sets certainly will not help either, but Andrews has been less of a factor as of late and Boyle’s skillset was never exactly Travis Kelce-esque.

The last argument against Rashod Bateman is that Lamar Jackson is not a capable thrower. Jackson is certainly not an elite thrower of the football, but his receivers clearly have room to improve as well. Bateman’s ability to simply get open could have a significant impact on Jackson’s ability to throw the ball. I should also point out that anyone using Jackson’s incompetence as a thrower to diminish Bateman’s fantasy value cannot then hype up receivers like DeVonta Smith, Jerry Jeudy, or Darius Slayton, all of whom have quarterbacks who are just as bad at throwing the ball as Jackson, if not worse.

To conclude, even if you think Rashod Bateman has zero fantasy value in Baltimore, selecting him is a low-risk, high-reward move. At best, you could end up with this year’s Justin Jefferson, and at worst, your final draft pick failed to pan out. Boohoo. In case I failed to make this clear already, do yourself a favor and grab Rashod Bateman on draft day.

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