Let’s take a look at the redraft and dynasty fantasy football impact of the New Orleans Saints’ selection of Chris Olave.
Team Drafted: New Orleans Saints
Pick Selected: No. 11 overall
2022 Redraft Fantasy Football Outlook
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.
Initial redraft ranking: WR55
2022 NFL Draft Profile
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.
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