Fantasy Debate: Danny Amendola vs. Mike Wallace
With the fourth round coming to a close, and most if not all of the top wide receiver talent already off the board. You are staring at two names. Both players are proven NFL talents, both are with new teams this season, and both have clear risks even though they’re both No. 1 targets on their respective teams. You look up and realize you’re now on the clock. With their average draft positions so close, is it really just a coin flip decision, or are there factors you’re not considering? The clock is running down and you have to choose now, so who do you pick; New England Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola or Miami Dolphins wide receiver Mike Wallace? Don’t pull the trigger just yet, we’re about to delve a bit deeper to find out which one should be your choice.
There are many comparisons between the former New England Patriot Wes Welker and his so called replacement Danny Amendola. They are both alumni of Texas Tech University, both are about the same build, and both were undrafted signees coming out of college. So it’s easy to make the assumption that Amendola is just a younger Welker. The only glaring difference is the injury history Amendola has carried through his NFL career, including missing almost all of the 2011 season with a dislocated elbow. Last season he missed three games with a dislocated clavicle, and two others with a nagging foot problem. The careers of Amendola and Welker will forever be intertwined (if they weren’t before) after the events of this past offseason. After the Denver Broncos signed Wes to a $12 million two-year deal, the Patriots countered with the signing of Amendola to a $31 million five-year contract.
With the move to New England, Amendola will now be catching passes from one of the elite quarterbacks in the league Tom Brady. Over the past several seasons, Brady has made it an artform to find an open receiver, making Amendola’s skill set very valuable in this instance. He is able to find open turf were there appears to be none, and can move downfield after the catch much like his predecessor Wes Welker. Another plus for Amendola is that he is the only clear starting wide receiver on the roster to start the season. Which leaves veterans Michael Jenkins, Julian Edelman and Matthew Slater to compete with rookies Aaron Dobson, Josh Boyce and Mark Harrison for the other starting spots. Couple that with the Patriots woes at the tight end position, and it starts to make Amendola look like the only legitimate weapon left for Brady to rely on.
The downside here is that being the so called No. 1 guy also garners the attention of the opponent's top cornerback. With so many unknowns at this point, one has to imagine that OC Josh McDaniels will employ plays that will allow Amendola to get open. The other main issue potential owners have is the injury history. On one side, he has been unlucky with injuries, on the other, the injuries themselves have been freak occurrences that weren’t related. Worrying about an unknown occurrence can be detrimental to the success of your team. For example, last season most owners in drafts avoided Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson allowing those who took the chance to reap the rewards.
Mike Wallace was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers as the 84th overall selection in 2009, and unlike Amendola, he has been a pillar of health missing just a single game since then. Over the past three seasons, he has led the Steelers in receiving yards, and in two of those three years (2010-2011) he also led them in receptions. Since the 2010 season, Wallace caught 196 passes, gained 3,283 yards and scored 26 touchdowns. This kind of production will be a welcome addition for his new Dolphins team that signed Wallace to a five-year, $60 million contract in the first minute of free agency. Miami’s best wide receiver last season was Brian Hartline with 74 RECs for 1,083 YDs and one TD.
Having Hartline as the clear No. 2 helps some, but with not too much behind him, it’s a similar situation here as it is with Danny Amendola. Miami picked up veteran WR Brandon Gibson and also added TE Dustin Keller, who only played in eight games in an injury-riddled season. Hopefully Hartline can replicate last season to some degree, while the Dolphins moving Keller around and putting him in the slot can force safeties to bite. This will give Wallace enough space to get down field, and utilize his speed. All of these things point to Mike Wallace continuing to be a great option in fantasy leagues, if they can come together that is. After losing LT Jake Long in free agency, the Dolphins have asked Jonathan Martin to fill the role of protector to QB Ryan Tannehill. As long as Tannehill can remain upright, he should be able to get Wallace the ball.
So which of these two wide receivers is the best fit for you? Is it going to be the reliable speedster in Miami, or the risky shifty guy in New England? I think the pick here is Danny Amendola. He fits his system better than that of Wallace to Miami, and he has an elite quarterback to get him the ball. With coach Bill Belichick on the sidelines and OC Josh McDaniels calling the plays, it’s hard to bet against Amendola having a breakout season. The injury history doesn’t really worry me too much, and it probably shouldn’t worry you either. This is not to say Wallace is a bust, he will certainly be worth where he is taken in drafts and should score close to 10 TDs this season. I just have less faith in the team around him than I do in Amendola’s situation. It’s time for you to decide now though, so who will it be?