Analyzing Greg Olsen’s 2012 Fantasy Value
When you look back through the history of the Carolina Panthers, few would refute that Wesley Walls is the best tight end the franchise has ever seen. And while he deserves that title, few would say Walls was an athletic freak or an explosive talent. More, even fewer would have much to say (if anything at all) about the tight ends since Walls.
Plain and simple, the Panthers knew they had to make an upgrade at the tight end position in 2011, and they did so by signing veteran Jeremy Shockey and trading for Greg Olsen. The two shared time on the field last year and gave rookie quarterback Cam Newton two reliable targets (especially in the red-zone), combining for 82 receptions, 995 receiving yards and nine touchdowns.
Those are pretty solid numbers by a duo, but would be even more impressive (and elite) for one tight end to register in a single season. While it’s not likely for a Panthers tight end to come close to that type of production all by himself anytime soon, at least Greg Olsen has a chance to have his best year yet in 2012.
With Jeremy Shockey a free agent and unlikely to return to Carolina, Olsen figures to be the only tight end worth talking about in the offense, which could easily mean career highs across the board.
We know the guy can play. Olsen’s rare blend of size, speed and ball skills for the position have helped flash great ability (eight touchdowns in 2009), while he’s found a way to score at least five touchdowns every single year since his second year in the league back in 2008. And the most impressive part? He’s done most of his work as a Chicago Bear, where he was limited in a Mike Martz offense.
He wasn’t allowed to fully be himself in his first season with the Panthers in 2012, either. Shockey kept targets from him, and Newton being a rookie meant more runs from the quarterback. Newton’s 14 rushing touchdowns were certainly awesome, but his inability to process plays all the time as a rookie passer surely robbed Olsen of some extra red-zone opportunities.
With another year in the system, Shockey out the door, and Newton getting more and more comfortable, Olsen’s stock has to be on the rise as a Panther in fantasy football in 2012. I’m not about to go out on a limb and suggest he’ll be a top-5 or even top-10 stud just yet, but a return to his 2009 stat-line of 60+ receptions, 600+ yards and 8 touchdowns isn’t crazy. And if he does get back there, he’d be more than worth the late-round pick you can get him for in fantasy drafts.