Rookie Rundown: WR Rashod Bateman, Minnesota

Rookie Rundown: WR Rashod Bateman, Minnesota

Fantasy Football Rookie Analysis

Rookie Rundown: WR Rashod Bateman, Minnesota

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Minnesota sent wide receiver Tyler Johnson to the NFL in 2020, and this year Rashod Bateman enters with even more appeal as an outside target capable of playing from the slot.

A productive stint with the Golden Gophers offers considerable tape for scouts, and there’s much to like — as well as fixable traits a coaching staff will be able to sort out in time.

Bateman was listed through the program as being 6-foot-2, 210 pounds, and his Minnesota Pro Day measurements shaved nearly two inches and 30 pounds from the junior. He timed faster than most people likely expected, and while it is unofficial, Bateman plays functionally faster than average.

Height: 6-foot-0 3/8
Weight: 190 pounds
40 time: 4.39 seconds

Minnesota played Bateman as a freshman in 2018, and he went on to earn the school’s Most Outstanding Offensive Player of the Year Award. His breakthrough season in 2019 resulted in an all-Big Ten first-team selection, third-team Associated Press All-American recognition, and the conference named Bateman its “Receiver of the Year.”

Table: Rashod Bateman NCAA stats (2018-20)

Year School Class Gm* Receiving Rushing
Rec Yds Avg TD Att Yds Avg TD
2018
Minnesota
FR
13
51
704
13.8
6
0
0
0
2019
Minnesota
SO
13
60
1,219
20.3
11
0
0
0
2020
Minnesota
JR
5
36
472
13.1
2
0
0
0
Career
147
2,395
16.3
19
0
0
0

*includes postseason/bowl games

We’ve see a little bit of everything from Bateman through just under two and a half seasons. He finished 2019 averaging a whopping 20.3 yards per grab that was sandwiched between a pair of more indicative 13-plus-yarders.

The 2020 season was originally going to be played in the spring of 2021, but it returned to the fall of ’20, so Bateman rescinded his opt-out notification. In the sixth game, the school was scheduled to face Wisconsin, at which time the Badgers experienced positive COVID-19 test results. In response, Bateman once again opted to sit out, this time for the remainder of the year.

Pros

  • Strongest attribute is advanced route-running repertoire — quick feet in and out of breaks, sells body fakes, understands advanced concepts
  • Nuanced, diverse movements to create separation off the line — able to overcome a lack of elite burst
  • Played primarily from the slot in 2020 after playing on the outside in 2019
  • Array of on-field productivity, stemming from home run and possession traits, being unafraid over the middle, and having a nose for the end zone
  • Late hands and catches away from his body — has several “wow” grabs on film
  • Plus body control in the air
  • Adjust well to underthrown passes, and there were plenty of those in his time with Minnesota
  • Natural understanding of route concepts and responsibilities accompanying them — coming back for his quarterback, sitting in soft spots, deep releases, etc.
  • Plays bigger than he measured at pro day
  • Fast enough build-up speed to challenge deep

Cons

  • Limited experience as a blocker
  • Borderline WR1 upside and could be “overdrafted” as a career No. 2 receiver
  • Isn’t a twitchy, flashy athlete, which will turn off teams in relation to current needs/style — isn’t going to be thrown a ton of screens or utilized from the backfield
  • Despite wide array of tricks to escape press-man coverage, he struggled at times with stronger corners (worst example is vs. Nebraska in 2019)
  • Dropped 19 of 166 catchable targets, according to Pro Football Focus — seems to be more concentration-related issues than a lack of raw talent
  • Significant statistical peaks and valleys during his NCAA career — not all his fault but will incite a closer look by scouts

Fantasy football outlook

Bateman will attract some attention late in the 2021 NFL Draft’s opening round. The most likely teams to show interest that early: Chicago (No. 20), Indianapolis (No. 21), Tennessee (No. 22), and Baltimore (No. 27).

Atop the second round, which is a better placement in terms of value, Bateman could be in the plans for a number of teams. Jacksonville, the New York Jets, Atlanta, Miami, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, and Carolina make up the first seven selectors of Round 2, and Bateman would be a viable target for each franchise.

In 2021 drafts, the single-year outlook is somewhere in the neighborhood of matchup-based flex through seldomly used depth. Some of this depends on how much on-field work NFL teams are able to utilize during the pandemic. Long-term valuation has Bateman’s outlook that of a strong No. 2 PPR career path. WR1 worth is in his grasp with the right setting around him.

As an NFL comparison, Keenan Allen is commonly tied to Bateman. It’s a fair one, but Allen is physically larger in stature and has better hands. Allen is a sound comparison from a fantasy trajectory perspective. While injuries kept Allen down early in his career, he has blossomed into a low-tier WR1 PPR option or an ideal No. 2. If Bateman’s career arc follows suit, gamers will have a heck of a player at their disposal for years to come.

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