Searching for an attractive deep stash can be a timely endeavor for dynasty owners. Understanding that, it’s also an extremely valuable exercise with very little to no downside attached. By including a few simple criteria, we can improve upon our selection process and hopefully achieve a higher hit rate over the long term. However, what exactly constitutes a hit? In my mind, a hit occurs when there’s a widespread shift in public sentiment surrounding that player. Circling back to the criteria, there are three simple pieces. First, the player should be under 26 years of age. Second, they need to have a realistic path to playing time. Third, their ownership should be less than 20%. For what it’s worth, also try to avoid multi-year veterans who have shown nothing.
In this piece, we’ll examine 23-year-old dynasty deep stash Nick Westbrook-Ikhine of the Tennessee Titans.
Nick Westbrook-Ikhine was a 3-star recruit out of Florida and committed to playing his college football at the University of Indiana. There, he broke out with a stellar sophomore season and registered an 80th percentile breakout age. His college statistics can be viewed below.
Westbrook-Ikhine exploded onto the draft radar during the 2016 season, registering at least 65 receiving yards in all but two games and finishing second in the Big Ten with 995 receiving yards. Sadly, he suffered a devastating ACL tear in the opening game of his junior season in 2017. Following a lengthy rehabilitation process, Westbrook-Ikhine had to work his way back into the Hoosiers’ offense, failing to match his sophomore production.
With his pro day cancelled due to COVID and no invite to the combine, Westbrook-Ikhine slid down draft boards, ultimately going undrafted in 2020. Thanks in part to a strong performance at the Shrine Bowl where he logged a 5/80/1 receiving line, Westbrook-Ikhine caught on with the Titans and was signed to the practice squad.
Westbrook-Ikhine is a big bodied receiver at 6’3”, 216 lbs with a BMI of 27. Having not conducted athletic testing at the combine or a pro day, there’s a complete lack of available data on Westbrook-Ikhine. This phenomenon makes him somewhat of an enigma for fantasy players, forced to rely on tape and unofficial estimates.
So, what does the tape say?
Strengths: Westbrook-Ikhine has great size for an NFL receiver and does his best work on the perimeter. He understands how to effectively use size to his advantage and bully smaller corners in contested situations. Exhibits good body control and has spectacular catch ability. Fortunately, for the Titans, he’s also a very capable blocker.
Weaknesses: Not without his flaws, there are several shortcomings in Westbrook-Ikhine’s game. Scouts were most concerned about his speed and acceleration as he transitioned to the NFL. On limited 2020 tape, these concerns appear to be validated. Additionally, he struggled with some drops at the collegiate level and that remains a question entering his second season.
Path to Performance
Nick Westbrook-Ikhine fits our profile of a deep stash following his quiet rookie year in Tennessee. The current WR depth chart in the Music City is barren behind A.J. Brown. In fact, if the season were to kick off tomorrow, Westbrook-Ikhine would be the Titans #2 receiver. Without getting ahead of ourselves, the Titans will add receivers whether through the draft, free agency or both. Regardless of which path they choose, Westbrook-Ikhine is in line to benefit from a substantial rise in playing time.
Currently, Westbrook-Ikhine carries zero risk with a 2% ownership rate in Sleeper leagues. Assuming the worst possible outcome, he becomes a roster casualty. Conversely, he has the opportunity to develop into an asset that could enter the fantasy conversation and/or be dealt for a future draft pick. Capitalizing on these opportunities is integral to sustaining dynasty success.
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