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Chris Olave Saints
NFL

Is Chris Olave The NFL’s Best Rookie WR?

  • Justin Melo
  • September 26, 2022
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The New Orleans Saints were upset 22-14 by the Carolina Panthers on Sunday. It represents New Orleans’ second consecutive divisional defeat following their emotional loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 2. It’s not all doom and gloom, however. Rookie wide receiver Chris Olave was electric on Sunday. 

Olave recorded a game-high nine receptions for 147 yards (16.3 yards per reception). Olave is quickly emerging as the top-performing rookie receiver from the 2022 class. The highlight of Olave’s day was a 49-yard reception that put the Saints in plus territory toward the end of the second quarter.

Olave saw 13 targets on Sunday. New Orleans’ second-highest targeted receiver was running back Alvin Kamara, who had seven. Olave has seen 25 targets over the Saints’ previous two contests. Olave’s target share was 9.4% in Week 1, 32.5% in Week 2, and 33.3% in Week 3. Olave is just one of 18 receivers with a 26%-plus target share on the season, per J.J. Zachiarson. He leads all Saints receivers with 29 targets. 

Olave’s influence is steadily growing. Quarterback Jameis Winston consistently looked his way when the Saints needed to make a play in the passing game. 

Sunday’s performance brought Olave’s totals on the season to 17 receptions for 268 receiving yards. No rookie receiver has recorded more receiving yards and Olave trails just Garrett Wilson by one catch for the rookie league lead in receptions (18). Olave’s 147 receiving yards are the most by a Saints rookie receiver since Tre’Quan Smith accumulated 157 in 2018. It ranks sixth all-time among rookies in franchise history. Olave has also recorded a team-high four explosive plays (20 or more yards). It’s safe to say that Olave has made an immediate impact.

Olave’s dominance is even more impressive when considering the Saints’ deep talent pool at receiver. Michael Thomas returned from a two-year injury break this season and looks like a No. 1 receiver again. Jarvis Landry was added via unrestricted free agency and enjoyed a 114-yard performance in New Orleans’ Week 1 win over the Falcons. Olave is rising above them all despite the abundance of passing-game options at Winston’s disposal. It’s particularly impressive for a first-year player.

Winston and Olave should become more efficient as the season progresses. For as impressive as Olave has been, it’s worth noting the former Ohio State product has only secured 58.6% of his targets. An inefficient five-of-13 performance against a stingy Tampa Bay Buccaneers secondary in Week 2 hurts Olave’s overall numbers. Olave has also been credited with one lost fumble and one drop. Olave’s current target share indicates his weekly performances have room for growth. It’s worth monitoring moving forward.

This rookie receiver class is already outperforming expectations. Jahan Dotson has been silky smooth in Washington despite the Commanders’ struggles. The aforementioned Wilson is thriving in East Rutherford and should improve once Zach Wilson returns under center. Drake London is already a volume star in Atlanta. Treylon Burks is emerging in Tennessee. Chris Olave has outperformed them all.

Written By

Justin Melo