With 7,556 career receiving yards, Olsen is ninth among tight ends in NFL history. He is fewer than 1,000 yards from moving up to sixth on the all-time list. A broken foot limited him to 17 receptions last season, but he posted a stellar 2016 with 80 catches for 1,073 yards. Olsen finished in the top five among tight ends in receptions in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. (He was sixth in 2012.) Olsen is unquestionably Cam Newton’s go-to guy, and he has recorded a minimum of 69 catches and 800 yards receiving from 2012 until his injury-shortened 2017.
In last year’s magazine, we referred to Olsen as the “Cal Ripken Jr. of tight ends.” We apologize to Panthers fans for the jinx. Olsen suffered a broken bone in his foot in Week Two and missed the majority of the season. He is 33 years old and entering his 12th professional season. He has scored only four touchdowns in his past 23 regular-season games. Carolina spent its top pick in April, No. 24 overall, on potential No. 1 WR D.J. Moore. How quickly the passing game is recalibrated to run through Moore and continue highlighting Christian McCaffrey is uncertain, but it could affect Olsen’s target share.
Last year’s injury is bound to cause Olsen to slip a bit in most fantasy drafts. Keep in mind, however, that he had not missed a game in nine consecutive seasons before 2017. That’s a heck of a streak for any NFL player but virtually unheard of with tight ends. He probably pushed it a bit, and came back too soon last season. But he did have a great game in Week 15 against Green Bay, when he caught nine passes for 116 yards, including a 30-yard score. Olsen also went for eight catches for 107 yards and a TD in the Panthers playoff loss to New Orleans. Assuming he’s healthy, Olsen could be a fantasy bargain on draft day.