Better Fantasy Value? Wes Welker or Danny Amendola?
I came up upon this article on NFL.com and I kind of had to do a double take. The answer, as far as fantasy value, is Wes Welker and it’s not as close as they would have you believe.
The reasoning of the NFL.com crew makes sense. Sure, Welker is 32 and not getting any younger. The Broncos also have a very crowded receiving core, with Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker both going over 1000 yards. They’ve also got Brandon Stokely, who had 45 receptions and Jacob Tamme, who will probably post between 30-45 receptions.
Amendola is also essentially replacing Welker’s slot position, which is Tom Brady’s comfort zone. It all makes sense on paper but there are several reasons why Welker will blow Amendola’s production out of the water:
1. In my eyes, it seemed like the early season antics of not featuring Welker was an attempt at the Patriots to change up their offense. Once they got the sense it wasn’t working (Arizona game was the turning point) they reverted back to what had worked the last 6 years.
Letting Welker go is basically McDaniels fully committing to their tight ends being the focal point. Amendola will not be Brady’s first choice, although he will try, Gronkowski will. After that it will be Hernandez and then Amendola. Amendola will be the third choice and McDaniels most likely believes that a full off season with this offense will iron out the kinks. I disagree and expect a drop off in Brady’s overall numbers. Remember the offenses that the Patriots featured when they won those super bowls? The receivers never had that many yards or receptions. Expect the same thing this fall except with the tight ends putting up 70-80 receptions and a 1000 yards and the receivers being the 3rd and 4th choices and building upon last years success in the running game.
2. Amendola can’t stay on the field. He is injury prone. While The contract is pretty low risk ($10 million for 2 years) I expect Amendola to miss at least 3-4 games. So who will step up in his absence? No one knows and to be honest, since he will be the 3rd choice after Gronk and Hernandez, the Patriots really won’t miss him that much.
3. The patriots are moving more towards a balanced offense which features a top 10 running game. The Patriots of the last 6 years fielded a historically great offense that gave the greatest show on turf a run for it’s money.
But they never won a super bowl and continuously fell short. This will take more looks and receptions away from Amendola. They are moving towards a more balanced offense and did not want to sink too much money into that position if they aren’t going to use it.The offense is evolving away from focusing too much on the slot. Remember, the Patriots are innovators. There are many teams just now starting to throw to the slot receiver more while the Patriots are quietly moving away from it.
4. Another big reason that everyone thinks the Patriots went with Amendola and not Welker is age. I think this aspect is blown out of proportion. You’d think that if you worked at NFL.com you’d do your homework, especially on history.
Focused wide receivers who take the game seriously and take great care of their body generally play until 36-38 years old. In my eyes Welker is the type of player who will be productive until then. He hasn’t missed many games throughout his whole career. In fact, Amendola has missed way more games than Welker.
At minimum, Wes has 3 good years left where he will post between 90-100 receptions. After that, I’m not so sure.
5. I know that the Bronco’s are stacked at WR but that doesn’t matter. Manning spreads it around and there will be plenty of situations where all 3, Decker, Thomas and Welker will get one on one looks.
Manning completes over 70% of his passes to slot receivers, where Welker plays. Let’s also not forget the years that Reggie Wayne had. He’s had 3 100+ reception years.
Also, Eric Decker isn’t that great of a receiver. One of his biggest issues is creating separation. The Bronco’s had to put him in motion a bunch to get him open which somewhat handicaps the offense. Manning won’t have to do this as much with Welker there and the offense will run at a much faster pace, believe it or not, which is one of their off season goals.
Decker will be a great decoy and I expect his receptions and fantasy value to drop significantly. Demaryius Thomas will have similar production and Welker will close in on a 100 receptions and 1100 yards. The touchdowns probably won’t be very high. They never have been for him but expect at least 5.
6. It’s very easy to see that Welker loves the game of football. Think about both situations and tell me which player has a better chance to succeed.
In one corner you have Danny Amendola, who can’t stay on the field coming into a situation with a HOF QB who expects him to not miss a beat in the place of a player who has put up 6 of the best years ever by a WR. That’s a lot of pressure for someone who’s never really done much.
In the other corner you have Wes Welker, who has just been dumped at the altar by the love of his life (The Patriots offense) for a guy who isn’t as good as him, maybe a little better looking and younger but definitely not as good.
Basically Wes Welker has a HUMONGOUS chip on his shoulder. He’s out to prove that the Patriots have made a giant mistake and he gets the chance to do so with one of the greatest QB’s of all time.
So who do you think will put up better fantasy numbers? The guy with a tremendous amount of pressure on him who’s never really produced? Or the guy who is somewhat of a legend and got severely disrespected?
Bottom Line: The Patriots are changing their offense so in their eyes they didn’t need to pay a guy they weren’t going to throw to as much as they used to. Their offense features two athletic tight ends with different skill sets and a solid top 10 running game. The receivers just aren’t going to be the first or second options anymore. They don’t need Amendola to get 100 receptions and he won’t. If the guy gets 60-70 receptions they’ll be happy because hernandez and Gronk will get 70-80 themselves while Stevan Ridley will get 1200ish yards.
The Bronco’s offense wasn’t missing much but Eric Decker is somewhat of a liability in that they have to put the guy in motion to get separation. He can’t do it himself. Now you have Welker, who can still create separation with his elite short area burst, and is also able to improvise and put himself in a situation where the QB feels comfortable throwing him the ball.
Peyton Manning completes more passes in the slot than any other QB (70%) and you have potentially, the best slot receiver of all time. Welker is going to become Manning’s first choice in this offense, Thomas will be second and Tamme, Decker and Stokely will switch between being his third, fourth and fifth choices.
Mark it down. Wes Welker will get 100 receptions, 1200 yards and 5-8 TD’s with something to prove. Amendola is walking into a position that’s becoming an after thought on one of the best offenses of all time. I expect him to get 60 receptions, 800 yards and 4TD’s.