Chris Olave Fantasy Outlook: Primed for a Breakout, or Doomed by a Capped Ceiling?

    After a stellar rookie campaign, New Orleans Saints WR Chris Olave looks to take another step forward. What is his fantasy outlook in 2023?

    At PFN, we’ve researched more than 350 fantasy football players, trying to identify which ones are overrated, underrated, and priced right. With that in mind, here is New Orleans Saints WR Chris Olave’s fantasy outlook for 2023.

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    Chris Olave’s 2023 Fantasy Outlook

    There’s a lot going for Olave in fantasy. Some bullishness propels him into near-elite circles. Others are a bit more tentative. Let’s examine some factors that contribute to each side.

    In many respects, the bullishness is entirely warranted. First, the 2022 first-round draft pick was always expected to be NFL-ready on Day 1, and he didn’t disappoint. His 72-1,042-4 receiving line reflected his quick escalation to the top of New Orleans’ depth chart.

    That he did his damage with backup-caliber QBs is all the more impressive. He didn’t have the luxury of landing in a higher-powered aerial attack. Some weeks, he was the aerial attack, with a heavy dose of Andy Dalton doing the best he could as a bottom-10 NFL QB.

    The offseason addition of Derek Carr should stabilize Olave’s floor and elevate his ceiling. While Carr’s best days could be behind him, he’s been known to pepper his favorite targets early and often.

    For example, Davante Adams earned a mammoth 32% target share alongside Carr in Las Vegas last season. The year before, Hunter Renfrow garnered more than double the reception total of any other WR teammate. The year before that, Carr looked to Darren Waller on 28% of throws.

    If this trend holds, then we might anticipate at least a slight bump for Olave in Year 2. He netted a 24% target share in 15 games last season. Across a full year, a 27% target share (for example) realistically could push his fantasy ranking up 5-10 spots.

    Also — and this is critically important — the Saints made no significant offseason moves to update their receiving corps. James Washington was the biggest WR signing, and he hasn’t caught a pass in nearly two years.

    Rookie A.T. Perry was a nice get in the sixth round, but he’ll compete more with surprising 2022 receiver Rashid Shaheed for secondary or tertiary looks.

    As for Michael Thomas … well, it’s anyone’s guess how his NFL story will wrap up. A healthy Thomas certainly could cut into Olave’s ceiling. More realistically, Thomas will play “very well” for about half the season. In such a shallow receiver corps, Olave would remain a nearly automatic weekly must-start WR.

    What are the counterpoints? Well, Olave was a middling asset in the red zone last year, catching only seven of 13 passes for two scores. Now, Adams was among the league leaders last year with 12 catches on 22 targets. But he found the end zone only three times on those plays.

    We would expect young guys like Kenny Pickett to struggle a bit in these situations as rookies. But among QBs with more than 10 red-zone passes last year, Carr had the fourth-worst completion percentage. In 2018 and 2019, he was among the league’s best in this area. But in general, he’s lagged well behind other quarterbacks.

    On a team with no running game, this might not matter as much. But by adding the goal-line friendly Jamaal Williams this offseason — and when considering Carr’s red-zone struggles — the Saints seem committed to running the ball near the end zone more often. That could seriously hinder Olave’s blow-up potential.

    In the end, this remains a relatively top-heavy offense, with Olave at the top (presumably with Alvin Kamara and, if he defies expectations, a healthy Thomas). The young wideout has a promising NFL future, and he’s probably better than a 50/50 bet to improve on last year’s numbers.

    However, to reach the rarified air of top-10 WRs, he’ll need a few things to break his way: Thomas’ lack of durability, Carr demonstrating more ability than Dalton, and the Saints not leaning more heavily than usual on their backfield in scoring opportunities. It’s tough to envision that combination materializing. But at least there’s a path.

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