The New England Patriots surely envisioned Danny Amendola replacing Wes Welker last season, but a groin injury in Week 1 that lingered all season led to disappointing production (54 receptions for 633 yards and two touchdowns in 12 games). Even with four missed games, Amendola was still the second-most targeted Patriots’ wide receiver (83; 6.9 per game) and better health may bring good things in 2014.
Durability is of course the biggest red flag attached to Amendola, with a long list of injuries (groin, foot, shoulder, elbow) causing him to miss 24 games over the last three seasons. During the one season of his career he has played all 16 games, 2010 with the St. Louis Rams, Amendola had 85 receptions for 689 yards and three touchdowns.
The Patriots have a fairly deep group of pass catchers, headlined by tight end Rob Gronkowski, with Julian Edelman, Aaron Dobson, Kenbrell Thompkins and Brandon LaFell all in the mix at wide receiver. So Amendola faces a bit of an uphill climb to earn a prominent and consistent role, and if he struggles to stay on the field he could easily fall by the wayside very quickly.
The prospect of catching passes from Tom Brady puts anyone on the fantasy radar, as evidenced by Edelman’s volume driven production last season (105 catches on 151 targets). Amendola was also an example of that, with 10 receptions (on 14 targets) for 104 yards against the Buffalo Bills in the season opener last year and another 10-catch game (for 131 yards) against the Miami Dolphins in Week 15.
Amendola’s average draft position is a bit higher in PPR leagues (ninth round) than in standard leagues (10th round) right now, but that is not entirely unexpected. In either format Amendola is going off the board as a WR4 in 12-team leagues, and he even went undrafted in one of my recent drafts. That creates the potential for a nice return on investment, or a potential season-long roster-worthy player via the waiver wire if he’s available in your league after a draft. Simply put, fantasy owners that don’t overlook Amendola may be handsomely rewarded if he can stay healthy.