The New England Patriots lost Wes Welker this offseason. Luckily for them, in signing former St. Louis Ram Danny Amendola they now have Wes Welker 2.0. Amendola will provide the New England with everything Welker would have and then some. Amendola will shine for the Patriots this year and is a player you should definitely target in your fantasy drafts.
The similarities between Welker and Amendola are striking. Both are small in stature, both went to Texas Tech, and both have similar skill sets. They are speedy and elusive players and rack up yards and receptions unlike any other NFL receivers. The main difference between the two is age. Welker is 32 and past his prime whereas Amendola is five years younger and just entering his. Amendola will be the featured slot receiver for the Patriots just like Welker’s former role. Welker thrived in this role, averaging 154 targets and 112 receptions the past six seasons with New England. There’s no reason to believe Amendola won’t put up similar, if not better, numbers in his first season with the Patriots. If he was able to manage 63 receptions and 666 yards with a mediocre Rams team last season, there’s no telling what he will be able to do with Tom Brady throwing to him.
The biggest knock on Amendola is his inability to stay healthy. Over the past two seasons, Amendola has been sidelined for 20 of 32 games. While this is a legitimate concern, I believe Amendola to be more than worth this risk. For one, his injuries have been quite fluky. He hasn’t had any nagging, persistent injuries that have continued to limit him over time, like a bad ankle or knee. He’s completely healthy now, and he ought to be due for some better luck this season.
The recent happenings with now former Patriots’ tight end Aaron Hernandez and current tight end Rob Gronkowski have only helped boost Amendola’s stock. With the Patriots’ receiving corps now depleted, Brady will look to Amendola even more than one might have originally anticipated. All reports are that Amendola has already developed good chemistry with Brady and will be his go-to-guy when the season starts. Welker’s first season with the Patriots saw him put up an impressive line of 112 receptions, 1,175 yards, and eight touchdowns. I believe Amendola will put up similar numbers his first year, easily making him a top 15 fantasy receiver this year. And with the tremendous opportunity he now has as the Patriots’ featured wide out, he has the potential to do even more.