Chris Olave Fantasy Football Outlook: Saints Rookie WR Has Upside, But Many Factors Will Impact His Production
Justin Casterline/Getty Images. Pictured: Saints rookie WR Chris Olave
With first-rounder Chris Olave headed to New Orleans, what is the wide receiver’s fantasy football outlook with the Saints in Year 1 (and beyond)? We asked our fantasy football expert to weigh in on Olave’s landing spot and his 2022 outlook, plus a former NFL GM for his evaluation of the Ohio State product.
Chris Olave Fantasy Football Outlook
by Samantha Previte, fantasy football analyst for Action
Landing Spot Grade: B+
The Saints are a truly intriguing team right now — and not just as a landing spot for Olave.
First, the franchise is dealing with the loss of longtime head coach Sean Payton and is still searching for answers at quarterback. Thankfully, the Taysom Hill Project is done, which means former No. 1 overall pick Jameis Winston will be the incumbent starter this season. Winston, 28, is recovering from a torn ACL he suffered in Week 8 of last season against his former squad, the Buccaneers.
Winston had been known for his high-volume, high-turnover tendencies prior to joining the Saints, but showcased a much more conservative approach last year. He averaged just 21 attempts per game in 2021, excluding the game in which he was injured early.
Fantasy managers should be concerned if Winston and the Saints continue to employ a lower passing volume.
In terms of competition, Olave joins fellow former Ohio State wideout Michael Thomas, pass-catching running back Alvin Kamara and receivers Marquez Callaway and Tre’Quan Smith, neither of whom pose much of a threat for the rookie.
Thomas, 29, missed the majority of the 2020 season and the entire 2021 season due to injuries that put him at risk to miss time in the future. Prior to that, Thomas was named the 2019 NFL Offensive Player of the Year after tallying a whopping 149-catch, 1,725-receiving yard season. Olave — who has big-play, field-stretching speed — would be a great complementary weapon alongside Thomas, a frequent slot target.
Kamara, 26, may also be in danger of missing time due to legal issues. He was arrested for battery following this past Pro Bowl and could face a multiple-game suspension, which would certainly free up more targets for Olave.
2022 Fantasy Potential: Realistically somewhere in the WR3 range, but has WR2 upside and potentially even higher if Kamara and/or Thomas were to miss time.
The Saints remain somewhat of a black box with so many questions surrounding coaching changes and quarterback, which makes it difficult to predict what kind of production we can expect in Year 1.
Chris Olave Pre-Draft Evaluation
by Randy Mueller, former NFL general manager and team executive
Chris Olave is one of the most polished receivers to come out of college in the past five years. He does the little things that separate him from the crowd and is the most ready-made, plug-and-play offensive player in the 2022 draft.
If you liked former Rams WR Torry Holt, coming out of North Carolina State, then your gonna love Olave because that’s who Olave reminds me of.
Olave aligns in the slot and split end positions, and plays with an advanced football IQ that should allow him to make the jump to facing NFL defenses without much of an adjustment. This natural feel for defenses and being so instinctive to make post-snap adjustments should allow him to contribute early in the NFL.
To that end, I would not be shocked to see Olave selected much earlier than some analysts believe.
An in-depth film study allowed me to break down his game — and I found very little that is missing. Olave is sudden off the snap and can beat press coverage with quickness and body control, which is uncommon for college receivers. His body control and smoothness in and out of breaks as a route runner allow him to run speed cuts and hard cuts at a very high level of efficiency. His pad level at break points is already at a Pro Bowl level. He can plant and separate from tight coverage, but also put his foot in the ground to accelerate into open spaces in zones.
But the best thing Olave does is catch the ball.
His hands are extremely soft. He can adjust and extend so that his catching radius allows him to play much bigger than his measurables would suggest (6-foot and 187 pounds). His ability to reach and pluck balls away from his frame is very good. He has a combination of niftiness and speed to get deep (4.39-second 40) versus zone coverage and be a threat with the ball in his hands after making the catch.
Olave is a professional receiver already, and the fact that his game is developed with details to second- and third-level heights before entering the pro game should allow for production early in his career.