Nick Foles Boosts Dede Westbrook's Fantasy Value
After five mostly abysmal years with Blake Bortles at quarterback, the Jacksonville Jaguars finally moved on, signing veteran Nick Foles in free agency. Foles clearly gives this entire offense an immediate boost but the player that may reap the most benefits is Dede Westbrook. A combination of fit and opportunity points to a breakout campaign for the third-year wideout.
Nick Foles versus Blake Bortles
Nick Foles has seen significant playing time in each of the last two seasons but unlike in 2017, when he was forced to start late in the season due to an injury to Carson Wentz, Foles went into camp in 2018 with the expectation that he could see significant playing time and the results showed. In addition to boasting the second-highest completion percentage in the league, which is admittedly a noisy stat, Foles was better than Blake Bortles in every major efficiency metric.
While Foles’s numbers certainly don’t point to an elite starter, his adjusted net yards per attempt (ANY/A)—an all-encompassing efficiency metric—ranked a decent 17th among quarterbacks last season while Bortles finished the year 32nd out of 38 qualifying signal callers. Where Foles really separates himself is in his accuracy. Although completion percentage can be misleading, Foles brings to Jacksonville the second-highest on-target percentage (80.7%) over the last two seasons, per SportsInfoSolutions.
The difference here isn’t explained by a huge difference in play, at least in terms of depth of target. Since the beginning of 2017, Bortles and Foles rank 30th and 32nd, respectively, in deep ball rate (passes traveling 15+ yards). What is noticeably different isn’t how deep they throw the ball, but what portion of the field they use. Whereas Bortles rarely uses the middle of the field, that’s an area where Foles thrives. This is especially apparent when we look at how often these players look to their slot receivers. Foles has targeted players lined up in the slot at the sixth-highest rate over the last two seasons—23 quarterbacks targeted the slot more often than Bortles in that span. This bodes well for Dede Westbrook.
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