1X-factor: Michael Thomas
Much of rookie Chris Olave’s upside hinges on the availability — and remaining ability — of Michael Thomas. Thomas was easily the WR1 for fantasy in 2019, but ankle woes have kept him on the sidelines the past 20 months. If Thomas is not 100% by August, it’s quite possible that Olave will start the season as a top-two WR for New Orleans. If Thomas is a full go and even close to 2019 form, Olave’s path to relevance will be narrow, at least in September.
2Wild card: Jameis Winston
How good will Jameis Winston be? He looked terrific last year despite throwing to a subpar receiving corps before a torn ACL knocked him out for the year. Now, he has a much-improved group of wideouts. A strong defense and running game could limit the need for Winston to air it out; he attempted only 151 passes in his six full games for a mere 1,114 yards. That was enough to keep, on average, one New Orleans WR in weekly fantasy conversations. To feed Olave, along with Thomas and Jarvis Landry, Winston will need to be turned loose.
Olave had 35 TDs in his last 33 collegiate contests. That jumps out at people. The question is, should it? During his senior year, he was third at Ohio State in receptions and receiving yards — on a team that led the nation in scoring. There’s no clear evidence that New Orleans will be able to score at anything close to an elite level, and if they do, goal-line leader Alvin Kamara should be a much bigger beneficiary. Does Olave have a knack for finding the end zone? Or was he just as much a beneficiary of playing in college football’s highest-powered offense?