The Training Table: Danny Amendola

The damnable misery in trying to write an article about just one player to avoid in 2013, is that ANY player drafted has the potential to be a bust, therefore, avoided. They all come with inherent risk, none of them come with guarantees attached, never have, never will, even if you take them in the first round. How do these names grab you? Darren McFadden, LeSean McCoy, DeMarco Murray, Larry Fitzgerald, Maurice Jones Drew, Ryan Mathews, Hakeem Nicks, Brandon Lloyd, etc. etc. etc. Catch my drift? All of these players were taken in the first three or four rounds in 2012, and if you drafted any of them you were feeling pretty darn good about yourself.

Darren McFadden especially vexes my fantasy football sanity, considering I drafted him in the first round last year in my very important family league. You can’t imagine the permanent scars it leaves to have your dear sweet Mom trash talk your fantasy football acumen, or lack thereof, for seven months? Brutal. McFadden was a consensus first round pick, tabbed by most prognosticators on earth to have a comeback year because he was finally healthy going into the season, which, much to my dismay, I happened to agree with at the time. Unfortunately for all who drafted him last year, the blocking scheme installed by then offensive coordinator Greg Knapp didn’t match his running style and he only managed to rush for a little over 700 yards and 2 touchdowns. Not exactly what we all were anticipating when we invested a first round pick on him was it?

However, since we do need to draft someone to enjoy a fantasy season, and I don’t have the luxury of being able to select every player drafted this year, the time has come to single out the player whose hype is already steamrolling mid summer and which most likely will propel his ADP into the 4th round, well ahead of his current ADP of 5.04 in a 12 team league. My selection may go against established expert sentiment because honestly, at first glance, there is a lot to like about this guy. He’s a perfect fit for the fast tempo offense in New England; has great hands, quick feet and short distance burst, runs precise pass routes and gets out of breaks quickly, fills the now glaring void left by the departure of Wes Welker, has a shoe in future Hall of Fame quarterback spinning him the pigskin, and last but certainly not least, has the current anointed football genius for a head coach. All that considered, if memory serves me clearly, there was also plenty of positive news and momentum going into lasts year’s season for most of the players I mentioned above, but we know how much that helped them play football, and our fantasy teams.

So consider me your fantasy football harbinger if you will, because as much as I like Danny Amendola this year, I’m almost begging you, save yourself the predicted frustration and disappointment, not only in drafting him, but also in having to replace him sometime during the season. Avoid him! It’s really not too complicated, regardless of his upside it comes down to one main ingredient: health. Granted, he may whet your fantasy appetite for several weeks before the inevitable happens, but he’s just not able to stay on the field for any significant amount of time to count on him week in, and week out. In the 2011 season, he was on injured reserve with an elbow injury every game except two, and those two games he was labeled as doubtful, the dreaded game time decision. His 2012 season was worse from a fantasy football perspective. Will he play, will he not play, and will he be productive if he does play? The prospect of dealing with it is maddening! Here’s what we had to deal with week to week:

Week NFL Team Amendola Injury Status Injury
5 St. Louis Rams Probable- (1 reception 44 yards) ankle
6 St. Louis Rams Out shoulder
7 St. Louis Rams Out shoulder
8 St. Louis Rams Questionable- (did not play) shoulder
10 St. Louis Rams Questionable- (played) shoulder
12 St. Louis Rams Doubtful- (1 reception 38 yards) foot
13 St. Louis Rams Doubtful- (did not play) foot
14 St. Louis Rams Questionable- (did not play) foot
15 St. Louis Rams Probable foot

In the last two seasons Amendola has played in only a dozen games, and in his injury riddled four year NFL career he’s only managed to play one full season! He’s never had more than 700 yards receiving or scored more than 3 touchdowns in a season, and at his current draft price, he is a risk I’m just not willing to invest in, and frankly, neither should you.

There are also the worrisome developments that appear to be dismantling Tom Brady’s high powered offense as I write these words. Tight end Rob Gronkowski has very concerning health issues of his own to deal with, having had multiple surgeries on his forearm, and more recently one on his back, and may not even be available for the start of the season. Tight end 1A, Aaron Hernandez, has been arrested on a murder charge and released. How will this affect Danny Amendola you ask? With the Patriots wide receiver depth chart filled with Aaron Dobson, Julian Edelman, Donald Jones and Michael Jenkins, and now the two Patriots stud tight ends mired in issues, opposing corner backs and safeties won’t exactly be losing much sleep at night. With no other serious threats to deal with, the Patriots designated number one receiver will be receiving plenty of attention from defensive coordinators and more than his share of double coverage. To date he hasn’t proven that he can be productive when draped by two defenders, and it will affect his performance, and your fantasy numbers.

Since main stream logic in projecting Amendola’s 2013 production correlates strongly to another player’s performance while in New England, it doesn’t seem logical for me to talk about Danny Amendola’s success, or failure, without bringing Wes Welker into the discussion. One expert’s projection has Amendola racking up 103 receptions, over 1200 receiving yards, and 10 touchdowns! Wow! Lofty goals indeed. To assume he will automatically perform, and contribute to your fantasy team the same way Wes Welker did, is risky business, to say the least. Yes, the two play the same position, but Welker’s on field vision, intelligence and toughness are a proven commodity and not easily duplicated. To date, Danny Amendola hasn’t shown he possesses any of these qualities or skills, and he may never stay healthy, and on the field long enough to do so.

Bill Belichick is not averse to risk as demonstrated by his signings of Tim Tebow, Chad Ochocinco and Randy Moss, just to name a few, and he’s taking another big one with Danny Amendola. The rewards will be self evident if all goes well, but the risk of an injury that takes Amendola off the field and into the training room for an extended period of time are much, much higher, and could have the high powered Patriot offense sputtering.

WITH THAT SAID: I must admit, as an NFL football fan part of me wants Danny Amendola to have some success, but as a fantasy football writer I don’t have the luxury of sitting on both sides of the proverbial fence. With wide receiver depth being what it is this year, as in deep, it makes absolutely no sense to struggle with weekly game time decisions, or waiver wire scramble games, when the inevitable happens…and it will happen. However, if Pluto aligns with Mars, and he not only manages to stay on the field, but also manages to put up a close facsimile of what Wes Welker accomplished in the Patriot offense, it’s conceivable that next season at this time, I will be writing a different kind of article about him. Only time will tell, but I can’t wait to be right!

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