NFL Sophomore Projections: Chris Olave

Welcome to Sophomore Projections: Chris Olave! Now that the 2022 season is over, it’s time to turn right back to drafting for next season. The period between the Super Bowl and Free Agency is the most volatile as teams and roles are not complete until players sign, and rookies are drafted in the new league year.

Which rising sophomores are expected to see role decreases and fall in value or see role increases and rise in value after the new league year starts? Find out in this series, projecting the studs and duds in their sophomore years.

Rookie Year Player Breakdown

As an Air Yards darling in his rookie year, Chris Olave finished with 1,042 receiving yards on 72 receptions in 15 games. Olave had a 40.9-percent (No. 3) Air Yards Share, seeing 29 (No. 4) Deep Targets. In the New Orleans passing game, he saw 10+ targets in four games catching passes from Jameis Winston and Andy Dalton.

Chris Olave Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Olave had a lot of unfulfilled yardage left on the field. He had 845 (No. 5) Unrealized Air Yards, seeing a 79.2 (No. 72) QB rating per target. With injuries to the Saints’ receiving corps, Olave was far and away the most targeted receiver. He took the WR1 role with Michael Thomas out. With subpar QB play and unfulfilled production opportunities, Olave finished as a fantasy WR3, right on the cusp of WR2 production.

Future Role & Production

New Orleans now has Derek Carr as its QB1. Carr had 72 (No. 5) Deep Ball Attempts with 4,701 (No. 5) Air Yards last season. While Carr and Dalton had similar Deep Ball Completion Percentages, Carr brings a higher-risk, higher-reward play style with nearly twice the Deep Ball Attempts as Dalton last season. He will give Olave greater volume and opportunity downfield.

Even if Thomas returns in a WR1 role, Olave will be used often on the outside for New Orleans. He dealt with minor injuries as a rookie, but still saw nearly 120 targets in 15 games. Expect more touchdown opportunities for him as well with an improved QB situation. In no way should you expect his role or production to decrease next season.

Value Diagnosis

On PlayerProfiler’s Dynasty WR rankings, Chris Olave is the No. 10 WR with a Lifetime Value sandwiched between Drake London and Devonta Smith. Olave’s ceiling is high enough to where you should feel comfortable trading either of those guys for him. With Michael Thomas coming off several injury-ridden seasons and getting older, Olave is slated to take the Saints’ permanent WR1 role. The opportunity he’ll see during his rookie contract elevates his ceiling to top-10 Dynasty WR status. If your league mates value him any lower, fire up a deal for him immediately. Based off PlayerProfiler’s SuperFlex Trade Analyzer, C.J. Stroud, D’Andre Swift, and an early 2023 first-round rookie pick each have similar values to Olave. If you have any of those assets and want a Dynasty WR cornerstone, chase Olave in your league.

For Redraft and Best Ball leagues, expect Olave to outperform his production last season. He was the No. 25 WR in Fantasy Points Per Game as a rookie. The Saints have many player statuses in flux, including Thomas and Alvin Kamara, so look to take him in the early WR2 range before his value escalates further after free agency. With a new QB that will feed into his strengths, Olave has top-12 potential in seasonal leagues.