Fantasy drafts are happening all over the place and yours may be this weekend. Or maybe you’re planning on doing your 12th fantasy draft this weekend because you have a fantasy football addiction like me. It’s a common affliction this time of year. Whether it’s your first draft or your 12th draft, the late rounds are important to winning any fantasy championship. Value and upside are key in the late rounds, and St. Louis Rams wide receiver Danny Amendola provides both, especially in PPR leagues.
Since Amendola is a white receiver who catches a lot of passes I’m obligated as a fantasy writer to compare him to Wes Welker, the best white receiver since Ed McCaffrey. So here it is – Danny Amendola is a lot like Wes Welker. He’s a high motor, high character guy. Wait, those two clichés are for white defensive lineman. Dammit. I get all the white clichés mixed up. The bottom line here is Amendola is a slot receiver who quietly caught 85 passes with a rookie quarterback last year, and I think he’ll catch more than that this year.
Josh McDaniels is the new offensive coordinator for the St. Louis Rams. When McDaniels was the offensive coordinator for the New England Patriots in 2007 and 2008, his white slot receiver (Wes Welker) caught 112 passes and 111 passes in those years, respectively. Not to mention the over 1,150 yards from Welker both of those seasons to go with all those receptions. A McDaniels offense features a white slot receiver heavily, and Danny Amendola is just that. Good news for Mr. Amendola. Hooray for whiteness!
Amendola’s quarterback, Sam Bradford, is entering his second year after a very successful rookie campaign. He threw the ball 590 times in 2010, good for the third most in the league. The coaching staff is obviously comfortable with Bradford throwing often, which bodes well for Amendola. Amendola was targeted 122 times in Bradford’s rookie year. With McDaniels calling the plays, that number could increase. Welker was targeted 145 times in 2007, and 150 times in 2008 in McDaniels’ New England offenses.
More good news for Amendola is the fact that he tied Larry Fitzgerald for the most red zone targets (24) among wide receivers last season. The problem is he had just 3 touchdowns. His conversion rate in the red zone is low (12.5%), but it’s nice to know Bradford looks his way when they’re in scoring position, even if the routes are short ones. It shouldn’t be too hard for Amendola to surpass his 2010 TD total of 3 in 2011, especially with the expected improvement from Sam Bradford.
There’s a lot to like about Amendola, but there are some concerns as well. Despite his 85 catches last year, he recorded just 770 total yards. He averaged just over 8 yards per catch, which means his routes are very short and simple and not overly productive. He’s not nearly as valuable in standard scoring leagues. Like his reception totals and TD totals I expect his yardage number to rise, but not by a lot. He’s not a 1,000 yard receiver, but 8oo-850 total yards is fair to expect from Danny boy.
The Rams added two wide receivers in the draft – Austin Pettis and Greg Salas. They also added Mike Sims-Walker this off-season. That makes about 37 wide receivers for Amendola to compete with, which isn’t the best news in the world. Given his production last season and how McDaniels’ offense works, I don’t see Amendola losing the slot WR job, but there is going to be plenty of competition. That makes him a little risky on draft day as well.
According to the Pro Football Focus ADP (which is PPR based), Amendola is currently being drafted 104th overall (on average) as the 40th WR taken, or as a 9th round pick in 12-team leagues. The drafters over at Fantasy Football Calculator are much more aware of this dude, taking him 80th overall on average, or as the 31st WR taken in PPR drafts. He’s going as high as the 6th round, and as late as the 11th round in PPR drafts which shows opinions are all over the board on Amendola.
I happen to like Danny boy quite a bit, and I think he’s well worth a 8th round pick in 12-team PPR drafts. I expect an increase in production in all major receiving categories from Amendola, even with all the competition in St. Louis. Maybe I’m crazy, but I think McDaniels will love this kid.
Here are some more guys to target in your fantasy drafts:
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