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Year-Two Wide Receivers Ready to Break Out - Rashod Bateman, Rondale Moore, Nico Collins, Terrace Marshall

Last year's rookie class featured some good wide receivers. Ja'Marr Chase and Jaylen Waddle made quick impacts in the NFL, while guys like Elijah Moore and Amon-Ra St. Brown played well for their teams.

Not every rookie wide receiver was instantly impactful. For some of those guys, it was a sign that they were heading for a short NFL career. Some of those receivers who didn't set the world on fire as rookies should be set for solid sophomore campaigns.

Below are four second-year receivers who are ready to step up for their teams.

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Rashod Bateman, Baltimore Ravens

It almost feels like cheating to put Bateman on this list because it’s so obvious that he’s going to have a larger impact in 2022 than he had last year. However, it would be disingenuous to not mention him just because he’s chalk.

With the Ravens trading away Marquise Brown, Bateman is now the WR1 in Baltimore. While that doesn’t necessarily mean as much as it might mean on a different team because the Ravens rely so heavily on the tight end, it still makes Bateman an intriguing fantasy option for 2022.

Bateman had 46 catches for 515 yards and a touchdown last season, playing in 12 games. He saw his most involvement offensively over the last four weeks, with a snap rate of at least 81% in each of those games. He didn't necessarily see a rise in production in that span — he averaged 5.3 targets and 3.5 receptions over the last four games after averaging 5.9 targets and 4.0 receptions over his first 12. There was actually a dip there, though the Tyler Huntley situation definitely was a big factor. He averaged one less yard per target with Huntley than with Jackson and recorded six more first downs off Jackson passes despite only having two more catches from Jackson. (His only touchdown also came from Josh Johnson. It was a weird year.)

Bateman should be a solid WR3 play this season. I'd rather take a chance on him than on guys ranked around him like Darnell Mooney and Elijah Moore.


Nico Collins, Houston Texans

The Texans had a lot of question marks at wide receiver heading into this offseason. Drafting John Metchie III in the second round helped them to start addressing those concerns, but the team's only veteran addition of note was DaeSean Hamilton. From that, it's clear that the team is expecting Nico Collins to play a lot in 2022.

The third-round pick out of Michigan was targeted 60 times last year, catching 33 of them for 446 yards and a touchdown. Notably, he played at least 60% of the team's snaps in each of the final seven games of the season and only played under 55% once, when he was injured in Week 2.

Collins didn't have the numbers of someone who was on the field a lot, but the very fact that was on the field that much showed that the team felt comfortable putting him out there. Now he's had an offseason to get comfortable in this offense and the Texans have moved on from Danny Amendola, who was third among the team's receivers in targets.

Per PlayerProfiler, Collins showed some steady hands, ranking 31st in true catch rate, which accounts for the fact that just 60.7% of his targets were deemed catchable. Improved QB play, which Houston expects from second-year quarterback Davis Mills, should help raise Collins' numbers.


Rondale Moore, Arizona Cardinals

There were going to be a lot of mouths to feed in Arizona this year after the team traded for Hollywood Brown, but then DeAndre Hopkins was hit with a six-game suspension. That should lead to more opportunities for Moore in the early going. With Christian Kirk also gone, he should end up as the team's starting slot receiver, so even when Hopkins is back, there will be room for Moore to make an impact.

Last year, Kirk finished with 77 catches for 982 yards and five touchdowns. Per PlayerProfiler, Kirk has the 13th-most slot snaps in the league. As for Moore, he played 278 slot snaps, accounting for 63.8% of his total snaps. He ranked 24th among receivers in slot snaps despite ranking 111th in snap share.

With his 4.37-speed, Moore is going to be a threat in the underneath game. He has some good burst and should be able to win against linebackers in the short passing game. He also proved to have very reliable hands last year, leading all receivers in catch rate at 83.1%. Kyler Murray is going to send a lot of easy passes to Moore.


Terrace Marshall Jr., Carolina Panthers

This is the riskiest of the four players in this article. In fact, while I’m pretty confident in the first three guys I mentioned, I’m very much not confident in Marshall. But I promised y’all four players, so let’s outline some of the reasons to have optimism when it comes to Marshall.

Carolina has some obvious question marks at quarterback. Sam Darnold? Bad. Matt Corral? A third-round rookie. Combine that with D.J. Moore commanding a ton of targets and Robby Anderson serving as the deep threat, the opportunities for Marshall are limited.

Carolina did rank 11th in the NFL in the percentage of snaps from 11 personnel last year. This is a team whose tight end room is Tommy Tremble, Ian Thomas, and then guys who are even less known than those two. The Panthers will continue to use three-receivers sets, and Marshall should see a lot of slot snaps in those sets.

Per PlayerProfiler, he played 55.4% of his snaps in the slot last year, with his total slot snaps ranking 32nd in the NFL despite his total snap share ranking 105th. Marshall is a much cheaper and riskier version of Rondale Moore, I think. He has an expanded role with clear room for time in the slot, where he can get some of those easy targets. The difference is that Moore has a QB we can trust while Marshall doesn't, and he doesn't seem to have quite the explosiveness of Moore.

Still, if Matt Corral can displace Darnold, there's some upside. Corral at the NFL level is a mystery box. He could be anything — which means he could be Sam Darnold, or he could be much better than Sam Darnold. We'll see. That mystery means I'll likely take some swings on Marshall, just in case things work out.

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