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Dynasty Rookie Prospect Profile: Chris Olave (2022 Fantasy Football)

by Derek Brown | @dbro_ffb | Featured Writer
Apr 28, 2022

After deciding to stay for his senior season, Chris Olave closes the chapter on a productive four-year career at Ohio State. Over the last three seasons, he’s been a pillar for the passing attack, competing for the top target spot until this last season.

In 2019-2020 he went toe to toe with K.J. Hill and Garrett Wilson for their quarterback’s affections. In the 2019 season, he broke out at the age of 19 (85th percentile), commanding an 18.7% target share with 840 receiving yards. This early breakout age helps his analytic profile, especially since he was not an early declare for the NFL Draft. With Jaxon Smith-Njigba rising to prominence in 2021, he took a back seat and battled with Wilson for weekly looks from C.J. Stroud.

Since 2019: Ohio State target share leaders
Year Players
2019 K.J. Hill (18.7%) Chris Olave (18.7%) Garrett Wilson (10.1%)
2020 Chris Olave (26.2%) Garrett Wilson (25.7%) Jeremy Ruckert (6.6%)
2021 Jaxon Smith-Njigba (22.7%) Garret Wilson (20.6%) Chris Olave (20.4%)

Olave finished with a 57th percentile (31.8%) college dominator, 46th percentile college yards per reception, and 77th percentile collegiate target share (26.0%). Competing with impressive talents like Smith-Njigba and Wilson at Ohio State and not falling off the map in terms of target share instills hope that he can earn targets within any NFL receiving depth chart.

Chris Olave Draft Profile

Position WR
School Ohio State
Height 6-0
Weight 187
40-yard dash 4.39
Age 21
Class Sr.
Recruit Stars* 3
Draft prediction First round

* Recruit Stars via 247Sports

Chris Olave College Statistics

Year Games Targets (Target %) Receptions Receiving yards Yards per reception Catch rate Receiving touchdowns
2018 7 16 (2.9%) 12 197 16.4 75.0% 3
2019 13 76 (18.7%) 49 849 17.3 65.3% 12
2020 7 58 (26.2%) 50 727 14.5 84.7% 7
2021 12 101 (20.4%) 65 936 14.4 64.4% 13

Chris Olave Dynasty Fantasy Analysis

Although he’s projected to be a top-32 selection in the NFL Draft, Olave could have been better served coming out after his junior season, with hindsight being 20/20. Olave began a stellar two-year run in his sophomore campaign. After a ho-hum freshman season (2018, age 18), he put on 15 pounds of muscle, and it showed on the field. He then posted back-to-back seasons ranking inside the top 12 in yards per route run (minimum 50 targets).

Among FBS wide receivers with 50 or more targets (*Statistics via PFF*):
Year Formation alignment Slot/Wide Yards per route run (rank)
2018 13.7% / 85.3% 2.19 * (only 16 targets)
2019 10.5% / 89.1% 3.38 (11th of 290)
2020 11.5% / 88.5% 3.33 (9th of 146)
2021 18.5% / 81.3% 2.29 (73rd of 251)

This early-career dominance is quite encouraging, but his final season does allow worry to creep in. While he still commanded targets at a quality rate (20.4%), especially considering the depth chart, his yards per route run fell off a cliff. Continuing his stellar trend line against top competition would have gone a long way toward vaulting him into the tippy top-tier conversation of this prospect class. Instead, it leaves him as a prospect I like a great deal, but one I’m not falling head over heels in love with to aggressively draft in dynasty.

From the moment you turn on the film for Olave, it’s apparent he’s an intelligent and crafty wide receiver. He adds small nuances to his routes to help him win consistently. He’s a smooth technician, whether it’s selling a head fake and then snapping off a comeback route or leaning into a corner on an out route and then effortlessly changing direction. He adds hiccups for the opposing corner to process on every snap like a seasoned veteran. These traits will ease his transition to the NFL and endear him to his next quarterback.

These wily route wrinkles are icing on the profile cake. The delectable core of his game is based upon his sugary sweet 4.39 speed (94th percentile). His supercharged wheels allow him to gain separation on deep posts and short-area curls with his efficient movements and loose hips. He’s an enticing three-layer threat.

While he’s not a behemoth at the catch point, he does have a sure set of hands. In 2020 (minimum 50 targets), he ranked second to only Elijah Moore in catch rate (84.7%) among all FBS wide receivers. Among the top 12 wideouts in catch rate, he led the group in aDOT (12.9), with his closest pursuer checking in with an 11.6 aDOT. Olave’s combination of agility, smarts, and body control have culminated in some impressive sideline catches. This will serve him well in-between the 20s but also on end zone fade routes.

Olave should have no problems gaining separation in the NFL, but don’t expect him to be a dynamic threat with the ball in his hands every play. With only nine missed tackles forced (per PFF) over four years and 3.7 yards after catch per reception, these aren’t areas of his game we should expect to see flourish at the next level. He doesn’t possess the same short-area burst (25th percentile burst score, per PlayerProfiler.com) and foot speed as his former teammate (Garrett Wilson), nor the play strength at this point. His merely adequate upper body strength shows up in his run blocking. While his technique is average, he has trouble locking down opposing players, and he often decommits or is blown off his spot. He can be an asset after the catch with only his raw speed if he’s teamed with a quarterback who throws with above-average accuracy and anticipation. This is where his football IQ comes back into play as he uses his speed to erase tackle angles. Give him a crosser in space, and he can take it to the house.

While Olave doesn’t possess the jaw-dropping measurables or prospect profile of a future alpha wide receiver, he should develop into a solid to high-end WR2 in the NFL. Could he serve as a de facto No. 1 option for stretches during a season? Yes. Is it a role that he should be projected to fill yearly? No. This shouldn’t be seen as a detriment to his prospect status but rather as a reasonable expectation for his NFL career arch.

Player Comparison

Emmanuel Sanders with less short-area burst:  Sanders has carved out a long and illustrious NFL resume as a No. 2 receiver with the ability to spit out WR1 production in a high-powered offense. Sanders has only crested 10 missed tackles forced in two seasons and has posted 3.8 yards after the catch per reception overall (per PFF).

Landing Spot and Outlook

Team Drafted: New Orleans Saints
Pick Selected: No. 11 overall

The Saints made an aggressive move to climb up the board to curiously select Chris Olave with a talent like Jameson Williams still on the board. It’s a head-scratcher, to say the least. Olave is a talented player in his own rite, though. He flashed game-changing speed at the combine with this prowess as a route technician. Olave is a good stylistic fit with Michael Thomas in the Big Easy. If Thomas moves in the near future, Olave could be their WR1 heir apparent.

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Derek Brown is a fantasy analyst at FantasyPros. For more from Derek, check out his archive and follow him @dbro_ffb

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