New England Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola is one of the most intriguing fantasy options at his position this season, and you should want him on your team rather than on that of an opponent.
ESPN currently projects Amendola as the 17th-best option at the wide receiver position, but does say that the upside is there:
Amendola has the opportunity of a lifetime, joining the Patriots and becoming Tom Brady's weapon of choice, replacing Wes Welker. Now, despite the fact that Amendola and Welker both went to Texas Tech and have had success playing out of the slot, they're not exactly the same guy. Amendola is a bit bigger and has better deep speed, which is good. But he's also injury prone, where Welker has been an ironman. Amendola played in 11 of a possible 32 games over the past two seasons with the Rams. The upside is huge, but we'll believe in a healthy Amendola when we see him.
ESPN projects Amendola to finish the 2013-14 season with 74 catches (106 targets), 754 yards and seven TDs. Last season, he finished with 101 targets in only 11 games played with Sam Bradford as his quarterback.
Meanwhile, the receiver Amendola is replacing this season, Wes Welker, is currently projected as the 12th-best option at receiver on ESPN’s rankings. But if Amendola and Brady can continue to impress, Amendola's ranking will only go up.
Amendola’s play is already starting to change analysts’ minds, including that of CBSSports.com’s senior fantasy writer Dave Richard:
Count me among those nervous to draft Danny Amendola but even I came away extremely impressed with how he and Tom Brady looked Friday night against the Buccaneers. The stat line read six catches for 71 yards and a score.
Amendola’s health obviously will play a huge role in his performance on the field. However, his upside far outweighs the risk that comes with selecting him early in the draft. Christopher Harris of ESPN.com supports this notion:
It comes down to this: If Amendola stays healthy, he's dramatically undervalued as a late fifth-round pick in ESPN standard drafts.
With Brady running the show in New England, look for Amendola to get more targets than last season in St. Louis. He will essentially be replacing Welker in the slot position and will get most of, if not all of, his targets. Remember, Rob Gronkowski’s health is still in question, and there is no Aaron Hernandez to take targets away from Amendola.
Last season, Brady targeted Welker targeted 174 times. Barring injury, there is no reason to believe Amendola will not get the same number of targets, as Brady and his new wide receiver have gotten off to a great start during the preseason, via NESN.com:
After linking up just once for six yards during the Patriots’ preseason opener last week, Brady and Amendola got into rhythm right away against the Bucs. On his first pass of the night, Brady looked Amendola’s way, linking up with him on a six-yard gain to get the passing game going. The two connected three more times on that opening drive on gains of three, 13 and a 26, the last of which resulted in a pretty touchdown grab over the middle.
Their quick chemistry shows that if both players can stay on the field, they will be one of the most dangerous quarterback-receiver threats in the league.
Danny Amendola’s average draft position is 52.26, via CBSSports.com, so you can try to wait to pick him that late. However, it only takes one person willing to reach on Amendola. For your sake, it better be you.