The Tennessee Titans can’t seem to catch a break with their wide receivers. It feels like every week, someone new is asked to step up. And every week, someone else goes down. With Julio Jones on injured reserve, A.J. Brown dealing with a chest injury, and Marcus Johnson managing a strained hamstring, should fantasy football managers add Nick Westbrook-Ikhine off the Week 12 waiver wire?
Who is Nick Westbrook-Ikhine?
The Titans signed Westbrook-Ikhine as a 23-year-old undrafted free agent out of Indiana in 2020. He played in 14 games as a rookie, only catching 3 passes.
At 6’3″ and 216 pounds, Westbrook-Ikhine profiles as your typical X receiver. He wasn’t overly productive in college, but he did post a 54-catch, 995-yard season as a sophomore in 2016.
Should fantasy managers grab Westbrook-Ikhine from the waiver wire?
The situation with Westbrook-Ikhine is nearly identical to that of Johnson last week. Ever since Jones went down, the Titans have been looking for that guy opposite Brown. In Week 10, Johnson posted a 5-catch, 100-yard game and was a recommended waiver add. Unfortunately, he strained his hamstring before catching a pass last week.
Enter Westbrook-Ikhine. With Johnson out, Westbrook-Ikhine assumed the Titans’ WR2 role and caught 7 of 8 targets for 107 yards. At some point during the game, he ascended to the WR1 role because Brown left following a big hit. Westbrook-Ikhine looked up to the task.
Westbrook-Ikhine’s fantasy value depends on A.J. Brown and Marcus Johnson’s statuses
Unfortunately for fantasy managers, waivers run Wednesday morning. We won’t have any clarity on whether Brown, Johnson, or both are expected to miss significant time. As a result, Westbrook-Ikhine is much more of a dice roll.
I happened to be watching the Titans game when Johnson pulled up lame. Given what it looked like and how quickly he was ruled out (as opposed to NFL teams doing their “questionable to return” nonsense when it’s obvious the player is not returning), I don’t think Johnson will be able to play this week.
If Brown or Johnson are out, Westbrook-Ikhine will have fantasy value
Brown’s injury sounds far less serious than Johnson’s. The team had X-rays done on Brown’s chest and they came back negative. He has a chance to play this week, but even if he does, Westbrook-Ikhine would likely be the WR2.
Westbrook-Ikhine played 67% of the snaps last week and was the clear next man up following Brown and Johnson’s injuries. Although Chester Rogers initially played ahead of him, Westbrook-Ikhine commanded more targets and was more productive. I expect him to start in two-receiver sets.
How aggressively should fantasy managers target Westbrook-Ikhine off the Week 12 waiver wire?
We are getting down to crunch time in the fantasy regular season. With just three weeks remaining, every matchup and every decision is of escalating importance. I can no longer provide specifics on how strongly you should pursue waiver wire adds. It depends entirely on need.
If your team is set at the wide receiver position and you don’t need a starter for Week 12, ignore Westbrook-Ikhine. The Titans have a Week 13 bye and could have multiple starters back by Week 14. Westbrook-Ikhine profiles more as a one-week spot starter than a guy you’re going to keep on your roster for the stretch run.
If you desperately need a win this week and also have a hole in your starting roster, there aren’t going to be many better options out there than a starting wide receiver like Westbrook-Ikhine. Given the upcoming matchup against the Patriots, it might even be beneficial to Westbrook-Ikhine if Brown plays so Bill Belichick can erase him, opening things up for the second-year man.
Fantasy managers must assess their own rosters and chances of winning. Determine how badly you may need a guy like Westbrook-Ikhine for one week and act accordingly. Don’t be afraid to take the shot on him, even if it ends up not working out. Not to get too philosophical here, but it’s better to have tried and failed than never to have tried at all.