2022 Fantasy Football: New Orleans Saints trade up for Ohio State wide receiver Chris Olave

Columbus, Ohio, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver Chris Olave (2) celebrates his touchdown during the first quarter against the Michigan State Spartans at Ohio Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Saints traded up to select Ohio State WR Chris Olave with the 11th pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. He’s the third receiver off the board behind only Drake London and Garrett Wilson.

What PFF says

There are a number of things to like about Olave’s game. His prospect summary from PFF’s 2022 NFL Draft Big Board:

Where he wins: Route-Running

Olave wins with high-level route-running and plus speed. Leave him on an island with no help over the top too often, and you'll eventually pay.

What's his role: Reliable #2-Z

Olave is your prototypical No. 2 receiver. He's not a do-it-all guy, but he's adept enough downfield that defenses can't leave him one-on-one.

What can he Improve: After the Catch

Olave's main weakness is only that he may not be elite at anything in particular. There's not much to his game that qualifies as problematic.

There’s a reason why Olave is a top-11 pick

Ohio State’s all-time leader in receiving touchdowns, Olave put together four productive years during his time in Columbus. It’s fair to have some concerns around his ability after the catch given he forced just 10 career missed tackles on 176 receptions, but the Buckeyes also didn’t make a habit of forcing him low-aDOT looks. Overall, Olave posted an average target depth north of 15.0 yards in three of his four seasons in Columbus, regularly working as the preferred deep threat for both Justin Fields and C.J. Stroud. Nobody scored more receiving touchdowns on targets thrown at least 20 yards downfield than Olave (19) from 2019-2021.

However, Olave proved plenty capable of winning one-on-one matchups all over the field. He largely dominated on crosses, goes, ins, outs, hitches and slant routes, which just so happen to make up the majority of NFL patterns. His level of route-running expertise provided problems for cornerbacks of all shapes and sizes; good luck sticking with the 21-year-old talent in man coverage.

This Saints passing game just might be able to produce two elite fantasy receivers

The Saints only have 15% of their 2021 wide receiver targets available, but at the same time the depth chart isn’t exactly filled with competitive options.

  • Michael Thomas: Has played seven regular-season games since 2000.
  • Tre'Quan Smith: Hasn’t surpassed 50 targets in his four seasons with the Saints.
  • Marquez Callaway: Former undrafted talent only forced into action due to injury.
  • Deonte Harty: Talented and efficient, yet forever undersized at 5-foot-6 and 171-pounds.

The Saints didn’t trade up for Olave to sit on the bench; he immediately profiles as the Saints’ No. 2 wide receiver and likely No. 2 or No. 3 pass-game option. The Saints have $96 million reasons to continue to feed Thomas as the No. 1 wide receiver when healthy enough to suit up; the only other question is whether or not Jameis Winston will feed Alvin Kamara to the same extent as Drew Brees back in the day (two years ago).

The difference between Olave and his peers in Garrett Wilson, Drake London as well as Jameson Williams: he's the clear-cut established No. 2 wide receiver in this offense. Thomas is simply a more established option than anyone on the Jets, Falcons or Lions. There’s a reason why Olave is considered the most polished receiver in this class, but fantasy managers better hope the Saints unleash Winston to a higher extent in 2022 than they did in the first half of last season.

Olave profiles as more of an upside WR5 to start. Receivers like Rashod Bateman, Rondale Moore, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling profiles as potentially superior options due to their better situations under center and similar potential to work as the No. 1 or No. 2 option in their passing attack. It’s unlikely Olave falls outside the top-10 picks in rookie leagues of most shapes and sizes; just realize the 2021 run-first Saints offense wasn’t the sort of unit that fantasy managers should actively look to attack.


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