Carolina Panthers TE Greg Olsen is one of the best fantasy assets to have, largely because there are more than a few fantasy owners who undervalue Olsen on draft day. What makes Olsen so valuable is the fact that he is essentially the Panthers No. 2 receiver in that offense, which means that he is Cam Newton’s No. 2 target. The Panthers have made a consecrated effort this year to have Newton throw more underneath passes than shots deep down the field. While this hurts Newton’s fantasy value, it has a really nice effect on the value of Greg Olsen, because most of those underneath throws will go to him. Olsen is one of those tight ends who can excel when lined up in the slot, and he is such a fluid pass-catcher that he plays like a slot receiver.
So how much do the Panthers use Greg Olsen compared to how much other teams use TEs? Well, Olsen, according to Advanced NFL Stats, has the highest target percentage of any tight end in this league. Meaning, no team targets their No. 1 tight end as often as the Carolina Panthers do. While Jordan Cameron (by virtue of playing in five games) leads the NFL in targets at TE and superstar Jimmy Graham is second, both players are only third and second, respectively, to Greg Olsen in terms of target percentage. Because the Panthers have already had their bye week, Olsen has had just 26 targets. While Graham and Cameron receive a higher volume of targets because their teams have thrown it more, maybe no TE means as much to their team’s passing offense as Olsen.
I think Greg Olsen is headed for a monster day against the Arizona Cardinals this afternoon, because the Cardinals have struggled mightily against tight ends this season. Just look at the demolition Jimmy Graham put on them in Week 3, or that crazy opener that St. Louis Rams TE Jared Cook put up on the Cardinals. The Cards have some major coverage and depth problems at linebacker, and a few Olsen-on-Jasper Brinkley moments would do wonders for the Panthers offense. He’s too big for Tyrann Mathieu to cover, and he’s too athletic for a linebacker to try and contain him.
Although Olsen isn’t nearly as dynamic of a player as Cameron or Graham, he’s a great tight end in his own right and absolutely excels as a pass-catcher. The fact that the Panthers throw it to Olsen often only helps, and I will be disappointed if he doesn’t go off today.