Chris Olave: Top 10 Upside?

by Seth Quinn · Analytics & Advanced Metrics

In 15 games with the New Orleans Saints in 2022, Chris Olave played well during his rookie season. Diving deeper into the context of his season, the result is a player with a lot of upside heading into his sophomore season.

That’s why in both dynasty (WR13 ADP on Sleeper for dynasty startups) and redraft (WR14 ADP in best ball on Underdog), the 22-year-old receiver has the potential to be a great value.

Chris Olave 2022 in Review

As a rookie, Chris Olave averaged 13.2 PPR fantasy points per game, which ranked No. 25 among all receivers. On the surface, that doesn’t sound exciting. However, a low-end WR2/high-end WR3 season defied expectations given the quarterbacks the rookie receiver had to play with. Andy Dalton started at QB for 14 games, which accounted for 12 of the 15 games Olave played in. While Dalton was surprisingly solid from an accuracy standpoint, he struggled to throw deep, with a deep ball completion percentage of only 28.2-percent, ranking No. 30 in the league.

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Andy Dalton accuracy metrics

Based on Olave’s metrics, Dalton’s inability to throw deep was a detriment to Olave reaching greater heights. He ranked No. 8 in Air Yards with 1670 (111.3 per game), No. 3 in Air Yards Share with 40.8-percent, No. 9 in Average Depth of Target (ADOT) at 14 yards, and No. 4 in deep targets with 29.

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Chris Olave receiving metrics

Olave got open and targeted down the field often, but Dalton struggled to get him the ball. That is further supported by Olave’s low catchable target rate of 75.6-percent, which ranked No. 53 among wide receivers. With an upgrade at quarterback, Olave will have more successful big plays, meaning more big weeks throughout the season.

Quarterback Upgrade

Enter Derek Carr. The former Las Vegas Raider signed with the Saints this offseason. While not an elite quarterback, Carr serves as an upgrade on now-Carolina Panther Andy Dalton and backup Jameis Winston. Looking at Carr’s metrics, he liked to throw deep last season with 72 attempts, ranking No. 5 in the league. However, he ranked No. 28 in the league in deep ball completion percentage at only 31.9-percent, a small three to four percent increase from Dalton’s percentage.

What’s interesting about Carr is last season was a down season for him throwing the ball deep. In 2021, Carr posted a 36.4-percent deep ball completion percentage which ranked No. 22 among quarterbacks. However, Carr also ranked No. 5 in deep ball attempts that season as he chucked the ball deep 77 times. In 2020, he had a 44.6-percent deep ball completion percentage, which ranked No. 10. In 2020, Carr threw the ball deep 65 times which ranked No. 8 amongst quarterbacks. The 32-year-old likes to throw the ball deep and can do it with decent success. Combine Carr’s desire to throw deep with Chris Olave‘s ability to get open down the field, and both players should benefit from Carr’s move to New Orleans.

Chris Olave Potential Concerns

Out of curiosity, I also analyzed Davante Adams last season to see how he did down the field. Based mainly on his insane Target Share of 32.6-percent, Adams led the league in Air Yards. However, he only had an ADOT of 11.8, ranking No. 39 among wide receivers. Carr was force-feeding Adams all last season, which while fair given Adams’s talent, is a bad habit for NFL quarterbacks to fall into and reduces overall efficiency. With hopefully a healthy Michael Thomas for short yardage, Chris Olave should get most of the deep balls that Carr likes to throw and will likely be more efficient with the opportunities. While touchdowns are hard to predict, Olave should catch more than four touchdowns next season with improved efficiency down the field from his quarterback.

Speaking of Michael Thomas, in a three-game sample, his ADOT was only 10.5 yards. If people reading this are worried about Thomas playing more games and limiting Olave’s production, they shouldn’t be. First off, it’s hard to trust Thomas will play even half the season at this point of his career. Secondly, they will play different roles in the offense, meaning they shouldn’t get in each other’s way all that much. If Thomas remains healthy, he will pull defensive attention away from Olave. If he doesn’t stay healthy, Olave will be the No. 1 receiver again and get peppered with targets. Either way, Olave has a clear path to being a top-10 WR next season and beyond.