Going Deep: Can Dede Westbrook Be The Best “Westbrook” In Sports?

Eli Grabanski examines whether a Dede Westbrook breakout is on the horizon.

When I ask people to name an athlete with the last name “Westbrook”, a majority of people will name Russell Westbrook, the superstar point guard of the Houston Rockets. But after this year, there’s a strong chance that a new Westbrook will arise and give Russell Westbrook some competition. Enter Dede Westbrook, wide receiver of the Jacksonville Jaguars.

 

Talent

 

Before we dive into further, let’s play a little game. I have compared Dede Westbrook to another wide receiver from his 2017 NFL Draft class and I want you to figure out which stat line is Dede Westbrook’s and who the other player is.

Player Yr 1 Rec Yr 1 Targets Yr 1 Scr Yards Yr 1 TD Yr 2 Rec Yr 2 Targets Yr 2 Scr Yards Yr 2 TD ADP
Player A 34 55 525 1 59 95 842 7 41.8
Player B 27 51 339 1 66 101 815 5 73.1

Give up? Player A is Chris Godwin, a wide receiver on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Player B is our hero Dede Westbrook. Godwin is largely thought of as a breakout candidate, while Westbrook has flown under the radar.

Westbrook has proven himself to be the most reliable receiver on the Jaguars despite only being 25 years old, catching 66 passes for 717 yards on over 100 targets (101) in just his second year in the league. He’s got a couple of qualities that make him a good WR: the first being his speed with Westbrook running a 4.44 40-yard dash at the combine (84th percentile) and having 329 of his yards after the catch, and the second being his ability to get open in the red zone with him receiving 26.5% of the Jaguars target share in the red zone.

 

 

In this GIF from Week 3 of this preseason, we see Dede run a smooth route to the corner of the endzone and Nick Foles hit him in stride for the easy touchdown. In the third game of preseason, Westbrook had four receptions and was targeted seven times, getting open at will and was clearly the most important player in the offense besides star RB Leonard Fournette. If the Jaguars want to make it back to the postseason this year, they are going to have to utilize Westbrook’s talent to get there.

 

Situation

 

In terms of situation, Dede is put in a position to shine this season. The Jaguars return Marqise Lee, DJ Chark, and Keelan Cole from last season, and only added Chris Conley via free agency. Let’s take a look at how his primary competition performed last year (Note: Marqise Lee missed last year so his 2017 statline is included instead).

 

Name Age Games Rec Tar Rec Yards Rec TDs
Keelan Cole 26 16 38 70 491 1
DJ Chark 22 11 32 14 174 0
Marqise Lee (2017) 27 14 56 96 702 3
Chris Conley 26 16 32 52 334 5

 

Not a lot of established talent, with all of the Jaguars younger than the age of 27 and none of them catching 65+ passes in a single season. What this means is that there’s an opportunity for one of the Jaguars receivers to establish themselves as the number one on the team. And since Westbrook currently has the inside track, he is a strong bet to lead the team in targets and receptions and have the opportunity to break out.

Another aspect affecting Dede Westbrook’s fantasy value is the quarterback play. The Jaguars also finally made the switch at quarterback, going from Blake Bortles to Nick Foles. Here’s a little comparison of both quarterbacks career stats.

 

Name Starts/Games Comp Pass Att Comp % Pass Yards Pass Yards Pass TD Int Rush Att
Blake Bortles 73/75 1561 2632 59.3% 235.3 per game 6.7 per attempt 103 75 3.7 per game
Nick Foles 44/54 974 1581 61.6% 206.8 per game 7.1 per attempt 68 33 2.3 per game

 

As the stats demonstrate, Nick Foles is an improvement at quarterback for the Jaguars, with a higher completion percentage, passing yards per attempt, and touchdown to interception ratio. With improved quarterback play, the Jaguars offense will be much better at sustaining drives, scoring touchdowns, and providing quality opportunities for the wide receivers on the team in comparison to last year.

 

Coaching

 

The Jaguars hired pass-heavy offensive coordinator John DeFilippo to call plays this year. Here’s a little look into how much DeFilippo has his team throw the ball for his offenses historically.

 

Team (Year) Games Comp Pass Att Pass Yards Pass TD Int
Cleveland Browns (2015) 16 371 (23.2 per game) 609 (38.1 per game) 4156 (259.8 per game) 20 (1.25 per game) 12 (0.75 per game)
Minnesota Vikings (2018) 13 370 (28.5 per game) 524 (40.3 per game) 3497 (269 per game) 24 (1.85 per game) 9 (0.69 per game)
TOTAL (AVERAGE) 29 741 (25.55 per game) 1133 (39.06 per game) 7653 (263.89 per game) 44 (1.52 per game) 21 (0.72 per game)

 

With DeFilippo, the Jaguars should be a good bet to throw the ball over 600 times this year. DeFilippo’s offense made tight end Gary Barnidge (79 catches, 1043 receiving yards) and wide receiver Travis Benjamin (68 catches, 966 receiving yards) have the best seasons of their career in 2015. In 2018 with the Minnesota Vikings, he coordinated an offense that led to career years for Adam Thielen (113 catches, 1373 receiving yards) and Stefon Diggs (102 catches, 1021 receiving yards).

In addition, DeFilippo loves throwing short passes and putting his best receivers in the slot to get open, putting Adam Thielen in the slot 46.7% of the time last season. Westbrook is the primary slot receiver in Jacksonville (played 73.9% of snaps in the slot). DeFilippo and Westbrook is a match made in heaven, with DeFilippo commenting that Westbrook is the “best route runner” that he has ever been around.

 

Conclusion

 

Despite it seeming ridiculous that Dede Westbrook could ever reach the stardom of NBA star Russell Westbrook, it is possible that he at least becomes a fantasy star and breaks out this year. He’s got the talent. He’s got the situation. He’s got the coaching. I would not be the least bit surprised if Dede catches 80+ balls for over 1000 yards and greatly outperforms his ADP in this DeFilippo offense that fits him like a glove.

(Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire)

2 responses to “Going Deep: Can Dede Westbrook Be The Best “Westbrook” In Sports?”

  1. DMurph says:

    Great article. I am loving Dede this year! Seems really under-valued and the DeFillipo element I didn’t even think of. Foles throwing him the ball is going to be a huge improvement for him.

    • Eli Grabanski says:

      Glad you liked the article! I definitely agree with the notion the Dede is undervalued this season. Good luck with your league(s) this year!

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