Could rookie Chris Olave produce more than Michael Thomas

Yahoo Fantasy analyst Liz Loza is joined by NFL Draft analyst Eric Edholm to look at the former Ohio State receiever's potential in New Orleans.

Video Transcript

[CROWD CHEERING]

LIZ LOZA: Chris Olave. Let's move to-- I think Chris Olave is probably my favorite rookie for fantasy purposes--

ERIC EDHOLM: It's interesting, isn't it?

LIZ LOZA: --for re-draft--

ERIC EDHOLM: Yeah.

LIZ LOZA: --for 2022 immediately. More or fewer yards-- do you think he will-- basically, more or fewer yards than Michael Thomas? Let me say then, do you think Chris Olave will, in 2022, out produce Michael Thomas from a yardage perspective?

ERIC EDHOLM: What a great question, too, because of all the unknowns surrounding Thomas right now. I want to hear your Thomas views, too, but my gut reaction is to say-- oh, gosh, no. We're forgetting how good Thomas was and, you know, he was the man. But remember, there's been a change at quarterback. You can't replicate that rare chemistry that he and Brees had, right? We've seen them, what, seven games the last two years combined? Am I not right about that number? I mean, I have some real worries about him. And I think Olave-- like, it's clear.

If you add up all the draft pick compensation it took to get in a position to draft him and then eventually move up to draft him, I mean, they believe he and Trevor Penning are going to be stars based on what they paid. So I don't know. You give me yours, but I'm starting to think that Olave can be that guy.

LIZ LOZA: Olave's route running made him the crispest, maybe most polished receiver in this year's class.

ERIC EDHOLM: Agreed. Yeah.

LIZ LOZA: And I think that if you're running a rebuild and your future Hall of Fame face of the franchise quarterback retired, you need a player with technical acumen to at least, you know, in that division too, like not embarrass you. But this is a franchise that cannot be embarrassed. There's no more Sean Payton. There's no more Drew Brees. In many ways, this is a clean slate, an inflection moment for the franchise moving forward.

And so you have, similarly to Dotson, right, this mistake-free player who can slide in. And you don't necessarily want a high-ceiling player. You want a high-floor player to add some consistency to just help balance, especially when you have a quarterback as volatile as Jameis Winston. From fantasy purposes, we know that Jameis can like absolutely feed a receiver, but we also know that Michael Thomas-- like I do think it's good that Olave is a Buckeye, in a weird way. Like, I think that kind of helps Thomas warm him to the situation--

ERIC EDHOLM: Yeah. And they're buddies, apparently. Yeah.

LIZ LOZA: We also know that he's not like the most easygoing of personalities--

ERIC EDHOLM: [LAUGHS]

LIZ LOZA: --and we also know that Drew Brees kind of had that presence, was able to keep him rooted, and that's where a lot of this drama has come from surrounding Thomas-- the betrayal that he feels that he may rightfully feel. And I don't know if Jameis Winston has like that same grounding effect for the rest of the receiving corps. So would it surprise me if Olave, who we know is a technician, can enter and end up with-- the question is, is Thomas-- for me. Maybe this isn't a stats-based data pie answer.

ERIC EDHOLM: Right.

LIZ LOZA: But is Thomas going to be triggered or motivated?

ERIC EDHOLM: It's tough putting yourself in his head, right? We haven't heard a lot from him. We don't really kind of know what his reaction will be. I mean, obviously, there's been so much change. I don't believe he's spoken publicly. You know, I don't know.

LIZ LOZA: He tweeted. I mean, he just tweeted when Olave was picked.

ERIC EDHOLM: He did? Oh. Yeah.

LIZ LOZA: He liked the Buckeye pick.

ERIC EDHOLM: Yeah. They, I guess, apparently spent some time talking. And I heard Olave actually talking about it at the combine, if I'm not mistaken, where he was sort of saying that he had a little bit of a relationship. That's when they Olave to the Saints love was first kind of leaked. But, yeah, I still feel like there's maybe a part of Michael Thomas that feels like we've almost moved on from him. You know, it's been so long since we've seen peak Thomas that it's like, here's the dude who set the catch record and this and that and, you know, was just automatic it felt like every single week. So I could say motivated for the short term. I don't know. Or I could say aggravate too. I mean, I don't know.

LIZ LOZA: That's going to be one to watch over here.

ERIC EDHOLM: Yeah.

LIZ LOZA: I don't think there's a way to answer that in May until we hear from Thomas and hear from his camp, because I could also-- it would not surprise me if there was a giant summer-- like a training camp injury. Like one of those like, oh my God, like Jordy Nelson, you know, preseason injuries and Thomas gets shipped to a different squad that might be a contender. It would not surprise me if he's not even on this team. So--

ERIC EDHOLM: Yeah

LIZ LOZA: --we'll pause on that, but I think the informative piece for fantasy managers to absorb and digest is that this could be closer than anybody is anticipating.

ERIC EDHOLM: Yeah, I agree. I like that. Yep.

LIZ LOZA: Which only helps bolster, to me, Olave's stock.

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