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Fantasy Football Impact: Greg Olsen Signs with Seattle Seahawks

by Josh Shepardson | @BChad50 | Featured Writer
Feb 19, 2020

Greg Olsen will be joining the third team in his career after splitting his first 13 seasons between the Bears (four years) and Panthers (nine years). The departure from the Panthers was initially reported as a mutual decision, but Olsen revealed that wasn’t actually the case. He didn’t remain a free agent for long, and he’ll join the Seahawks on a one-year pact. What will his new club mean for his fantasy value? Does Olsen have anything left in the tank, anyway?

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2019 Seahawks versus Panthers Offense

The Seahawks were one of the most run-heavy offenses in 2019. Sharp Football Stats credited the Seahawks with passing at the sixth-lowest rate (54% compared to a league average of 59%). Conversely,they ran at the sixth-highest rate (46% compared to a league average of 41%). Comparatively, the Panthers had the fourth-highest pass percentage (64%) and ran just 36% of the time. Moving to a more run-heavy offense isn’t ideal for Olsen, but he’ll join a considerably better offense led by franchise quarterback Russell Wilson.

Football Outsiders (FO) ranked the Panthers 28th in Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) overall on offense and 31st in pass offense, and the Seahawks ranked fifth in DVOA overall on offense and fourth in pass offense. Looking at traditional scoring offense, the Panthers ranked tied for 18th with 21.3 points per game, while the Seahawks ranked ninth with 25.3 points per game, according to Pro-Football-Reference.

Seattle’s Red zone Target Distribution in 2019

Olsen is now in an offense that was higher scoring in 2019 than his previous home which could elevate his scoring potential. Additionally, Olsen joins an offense that turned to their tight ends frequently in the red zone last year. Lineups credited 89 red zone targets to Seattle’s running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends combined. Below is a table showcasing a breakdown of all of Seattle’s targets in the red zone from Lineups.

Rank Player RZ Targets
1 Tyler Lockett 24
2 D.K. Metcalf 18
3 Jacob Hollister 12
4 David Moore 8
5 Jaron Brown 6
5 Will Dissly 6
7 Josh Gordon 5
8 Malik Turner 2
8 Chris Carson 2
8 Rashaad Penny 2
11 John Ursua 1
11 Luke Willson 1
11 Nick Bellore 1
11 Travis Homer 1

Hollister ranked third on the team in red zone targets despite debuting with the team in Week 6. He amassed his 12 targets in just 11 games. Before Dissly’s season came to an end in Week 6 with an Achilles injury that required surgery, he totaled six targets in the red zone. The duo combined for seven touchdowns in the red zone on 18 targets, a target total that ties what Metcalf produced as the second-most targeted player in the red zone for the Seahawks last season. Toss in Willson’s one target in the red zone, and tight ends accounted for 21.3% of the team’s targets in the red zone. For Olsen’s part, he was a key cog in Carolina’s red zone offense with 13 targets, tying him for the third-most red zone targets on the Panthers.

Olsen’s 2019 Recap

Olsen rebounded from back-to-back seasons marred by injuries in 2017 and 2018 in which he played a combined 16 games to play 14 games in 2019. Staying healthy was the most important thing, but his production was nowhere near his three-year stretch besting 1,000 receiving yards annually from 2014 through 2016. He hauled in 52 receptions for 597 receiving yards and a pair of touchdowns on 82 targets. Among tight ends, he ranked 11th in targets and receptions and tied for 33rd in touchdown receptions. Those totals helped him place 16th in scoring among tight ends in standard scoring leagues and 13th at the position in full-point PPR formats. He jumps ever so slightly to 14th in standard leagues and 13th in full-point PPR formats when viewed through the lens of fantasy points per game instead of cumulative fantasy points totaled.

The advanced metrics were less flattering than the traditional stats. Out of 49 tight ends FO credited with a minimum of 25 targets, Olsen ranked 27th in Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement (DYAR) with 13 and 27th in DVOA at (-4.8%). Pro-Football-Reference credited 47 tight ends with a minimum of 25 targets, and Olsen ranked 21st in yards per target (Y/Tgt) at 7.28 Y/Tgt. In fairness to Olsen, it’s probable that his mediocre advanced and efficiency metrics were a combination of skills decline and poor quarterback play.

2020 Outlook

Olsen’s days of being a fantasy stud at tight end are over. He’s a useful addition to the Seahawks from a real-life perspective, but Olsen faces competition for targets at the position from at least Dissly and possibly Hollister — the latter’s a restricted free agent. Dissly has played in only 10 games in his two-year career after succumbing to a pair of major injuries both seasons, but the team reportedly expects him to be ready to go in Week 1.  It’s possible a second significant injury will lessen Dissly’s impact in the offense, but he was highly productive when on the field in his first two years.

Olsen provides the Seahawks insurance at the position, and the greatest fantasy impact of his signing with the Seahawks is felt by Wilson, who has yet another weapon to utilize in the passing attack. When factoring in that Olsen will be behind receivers Lockett and Metcalf in the pecking order and possibly sharing playing time and targets with a returning Dissly right out of the gate, Olsen’s simply not a top-10 option at the position anymore. He’s a borderline top-20 tight end, but that puts him firmly in streamer territory in 12-team leagues and worthy of a look in larger leagues and best ball formats.

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Josh Shepardson is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Josh, check out his archive and follow him @BChad50.

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