The largest edge a dynasty manager can gain is in detecting dynamic team situations and accurately predicting the effect these changing conditions will have on the skill positions used for fantasy. This single skill is perhaps the most useful one in dynasty because of the simple fact that acquiring talent at a discount pays exponential dividends for your dynasty teams. One has to look no further for examples than Tyler Boyd’s breakout this past season and Amari Cooper’s change in usage (Moving from OAK to DAL) in 2018. Dede Westbrook is an underappreciated WR whose conditions are set to flip on their head this season. Let’s dig into why you should be taking notice.
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Dede Westbrook is Better Than You Think…
Westbrook was an elite level college prospect. After suffering a life-threatening injury in high school, Dede fought against doctors’ orders to continue playing the game. Because of this, he came into the D1 landscape a couple of years older than his contemporaries (due to a stopover in JUCO). Despite this, he was able to put no less than 740 yards and 4TDs in each of his two seasons. In his second year, Westbrook was such a dominant force for Baker Mayfield’s Oklahoma Sooners that he finished fourth in Heisman voting in 2016. That season he was the winner of the Biletnikoff Award for college football’s “most outstanding” receiver.
Why then was he not selected until the fourth round of the NFL draft? Multiple arrests.
Drafted at a value by a team needing WR talent in Jacksonville, Dede and his 4.34 forty yard dash had a path to opportunity. But he also had a case of Bortleitis.
“Bortleitis” – A state when the most egregious examples of incompetent play at the QB position are acted out on loop infinitely, hindering the production of the entire team. What is opportunity when said “opportunity” is a pass thrown at your feet, over your head, or out of bounds?
— Ryan Day (@ryaneatscake) March 11, 2019
Throughout his entire career, Bortles has never once registered a positive expected CPOE or completion percentage over expectation.
— Etan Mozia (@ThisIsTheRunn) March 12, 2019
As Josh Hermsmeyer described, this measurement is the most all-encompassing way to judge a passer. If that wasn’t bad enough, then consider that Bortles’ average depth of target of 6.8 was tied with the lowest rate in his career.
Despite that, he was only able to post a 60.5 completion percentage. These charts from SharpFootballStats effectively illustrate that Bortles was a below average passer at nearly every section of the field on every down and distance.
— Etan Mozia (@ThisIsTheRunn) March 12, 2019
If he could possibly be considered effective at all it was at extremely short target depths, many of these coming from the slot position where Dede Westbrook played. Westbrook was the only one to make Bortles seem somewhat serviceable.
Westbrook By the Numbers
Admittedly, Westbrook’s efficiency and production profile in the NFL paint an incomplete picture. While certain efficiency metrics like his 2018 dominator rating of 27.1% (21st) and red zone 26.5% target share can be cherrypicked to paint a pretty picture, there are definite holes in his game. That said, things like his 101 targets (27th NFL) and 329 YAC yards (25th) are telling as targets should effectively be treated as a stat that reflects talent. Digging deeper, in the two seasons Westbrook has been in the league he has improved greatly. His sophomore catch-rate was 13% higher than his rookie year and his RACR of 0.81 was far and above his previous 0.54 mark. In terms of WOPR, his 0.44 score was good enough for a top 48 finish which once again displays his ability to be effective even in a less than ideal offensive situation.
What About Competition?
Well, here’s the real value in Westbrook dynasty shares. His depth chart is wide open, and at a whopping $88M for Nick Foles the Jags aren’t in a position to spend in free agency. Even if they do draft draft a WR, Westbrook would have two years of experience over the new addition and already has Keelan Cole on the squad as an insulating shield against too high a pick. Targets are coming Westbrook’s way again in 2019 and converting the 27th most targets into the league into a 24th ranked PPR fantasy finish bodes well for his future.
Straight Cash Homie…
What about the money? Well Westbrook is still on a rookie deal so not too much can be gleaned from his fourth round deal other than his FA date in 2021. Donte Moncrief has already left the roster (freeing up 89 targets) so he will no longer factor in. Keelan Cole is signed for one more season and DJ Chark actually makes the most of the trio and is on the team through 2021. The only real change to Westbrook’s outlook will be the Foles effect which, after Bortles struggles, will almost certainly be a positive one. Just to contrast the two briefly, Bortles finished with a sub 62% completion percentage throughout his entire career – Foles finished above that mark three times and finished 5.2% above expected last season.
All signs are pointing to Westbrook having a big 2019 season that should correct his absurdly low (and falling) late ninth round ADP . Get greedy, get those shares.
Thanks for reading.
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Etan Mozia has been involved with sports as a whole for over two decades and has written about athletics in some capacity since 2005. Focused primarily on the NFL and EPL, Etan has seen his work featured on sites like FantasyPros, Advanced Sports Logic, and FFD260 among others. Currently, his work is housed on FantraxHQ and FantasyPros. An avid lover of dynasty leagues specifically, you can also listen to him on his podcast, The Dynasty Diagnostic (@DynoDiagnostic), as he breaks down rosters and provides pertinent and practical advice for dynasty squads looking to give their team an edge. Follow him on twitter @FF_Wonderkid.
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