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Danny Amendola: Fantasy Risk Worth Taking

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Danny AmendolaDanny Amendola Fantasy 2013

Danny Amendola raises a lot of red flags for the 2013 fantasy season. He’s too inexperienced. He can’t stay healthy. He and Tom Brady have no chemistry. The naysayers’ list goes on-and-on. With all of the depth at wide receiver this year, it makes more sense to pass on the newest New Englander, right? Wrong.

The most notable knock on Amendola’s fantasy value is the general concern with his ability to stay healthy. In the last two years, the young wide out has been sidelined 20 of 32 games – a trend fantasy owners taking a chance on him, can’t afford to deal with. Unfortunately folks, we can’t predict injuries. It’s out of our control. Do some players seem to have the injury bug more than others? Yes, it seems that way. But we still can’t just assume a player is going to get hurt. Football is a fluky, unpredictable game. If every team stayed healthy, picking the Super Bowl champ wouldn’t be so hard. Passing on a player because you assume he’s going to get hurt is no way to approach fantasy football. Many people made that assumption about Adrian Peterson last season, and they are all currently banging their head against the desk as I remind them of this. So forget about the pre-ordained injury argument. There’s no real validity to that. Amendola has just been unlucky the past two seasons.

Danny Amendola Career Stats

Season Team G Rec Tgt Yds Avg 1stD TD
2009 Rams 14 43 63 326 7.6 20 1
2010 Rams 16 85 123 689 8.1 35 3
2011 Rams 1 5 6 45 9 3 0
2012 Rams 11 63 101 666 10.6 38 3
42 196 293 1726 8.8 96 7

The argument about his inexperience is a little more fair. After all, Amendola has never eclipsed 700 yards or 3 TDs at the pro level. It’s hard to trust a guy with numbers like that. Keep in mind though, the wide receiver position is one of the slowest developing positions for young players. It typically isn’t until a player’s third or fourth year we really start to see a wide receiver make “the leap” to big production. Amendola showed hints of greatness in the 12 games he saw the field in years three and four, but he was sidelined 20 games. He never got the chance to really show us what he was capable of. Now, healthy and paired with a Hall of Fame quarterback, the table is set for Amendola to feast on his competition. Just ask New England fans.

New England fans have been quick to dismiss the damage of the Welker loss, reassuring naysayers that Amendola is a younger version of Welker with more upside. They argue Welker was hardly sure-handed and aging quickly. And there may be some truth to that. At 32, Welker is five years Amendola’s senior. He’s also reached double digits in drops three years running. Conversely, Amendola has only dropped 11 passes in his 4-year career. According to ProFootballFocus.com, Welker’s drop rate in the slot was a startling 12.9 percent, compared to Amendola’s rate, which was 1.9 percent. If the newest Patriot WR can remain sure-handed, there’s a chance, albeit a very small one, he could even outperform Welker. Even with the lack of chemistry.

Sure Tom Brady and Wes Welker developed a strong rapport over six seasons, but Welker’s impact was felt immediately upon his arrival to New England. Take a look at Wes Welker’s first season (2007) with Tom Brady:

2007 Wes Welker 16 112 145 1,175 10.5 42 8 65 2 0

These stats would yield 165.5 points in standard scoring leagues. Good for 14th best among all WRs in this format last season. PPR scoring would jump him up the charts even more. This comes at a time when Welker was competing with Randy Moss for targets too. At the moment, Amendola has little to no competition for production.

2007 Randy Moss 16 98 160 1,493 15.2 65 23 74 0 0

2007 also marked the only time another player exceeded Welker in targets during his tenure with the Patriots. Even playing second fiddle to Moss, Welker amassed WR2 production. It should also be noted that the numbers seen above for Moss, represent his first year numbers with Brady as well. Record setting marks that make the need to build chemistry seem like a foiled argument. Yes, I am aware Moss is a future Hall of Fame receiver, but Tom Brady is a future Hall of Famer too. He shouldn’t have any problems molding Amendola into a suitable replacement for Welker. Brandon Lloyd didn’t fit into the Patriots offensive scheme. The same can be said for Chad Ochocino. This is different though. Amendola is a great fit for the Pats offense.

So as an Amendola supporter, what is my biggest fantasy concern? Red zone production. Interestingly enough, Welker never cracked double digits in touchdowns playing alongside Tom. His career high was nine back in 2011. In fact, he only averaged six TDs per season in his six-year stint with the Patriots. Surprising, considering he was targeted 154 times each year on average over that span.

Rob GronkowskiConversely, Rob Gronkowski has 38 touchdowns in the last three years. One TD more than Welker had in six years combined for the Pats. Consider the fact Stevan Ridley added 12 TDs of his own in 2012 and it’s hard to say Brady finds the slot effective in the red zone. Between the 20s, Welker has been gold. Inside the 20, he’s more like bronze.

It would be one thing if Welker’s lack of red zone production was a fluke – a la Calvin Johnson’s 5 TD-effort in 2012. But it seems that’s not the case. Welker’s consistent lack of TDs speaks more to the idea that his nine TD effort in 2011 might actually be the fluke. As we’ve seen Welker put up 6 TDs or less in 3 of the last 5 seasons. Even with that said, I think the juice is worth the squeeze.

Welker was a fantasy stud. And like Welker, Amendola is an above average route runner. He’s slippery off the line, great at creating separation and very savvy when it comes to finding holes in the defense. He’s also paired with a mastermind at quarterback, with a flair for proving doubters wrong. If people don’t think Danny Amendola can put up Wes Welker numbers, Tom Brady probably takes exception to that. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Amendola put up even better numbers as a result. I also love the situation Amendola is falling into. Gronkowski is questionable to even start the season. In fact, he’s potentially on the PUP list for the first six games of the year. And now that Aaron Hernandez has been released, the receiving reigns are there for the taking in New England. Which only adds more fuel to the Danny Amendola fire. Aside from carrying a similar set of skills to Welker, Amendola adds a threat of verticality Welker didn’t possess – only making him even more dangerous.

Let’s face the facts. Welker is gone. Gronkowski is hurt. Ridley seems to have a case of fumble-itis. Hernandez is locked up. The window of opportunity has never been bigger for Amendola. If he can stay healthy and find that Welker-like connection with Tom, he’ll be a Top 15 fantasy receiver. Amendola’s current ADP puts him #19 among wide receivers, which should leave him there for the taking in the late fourth or early fifth round. One would be hard-pressed to find better WR2 or WR3 value on the board at that time. PPR only creates more upside.

Danny is Welker 2.0 in the makings.

Talbot’s Early Projections:
94 catches, 1,166 yards, 9 TDs

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About the author

Bob Talbot

Bob, a Quinnipiac grad, is an avid sports fan and fantasy enthusiast. Currently resides in the professional sport-less state of Connecticut, but will never forget his roots in the great state of New Jersey.

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