Danny Amendola Is Worth a Late-Round Flier in Fantasy Football Drafts
Back in March, Danny Amendola opted to depart the New England Patriots for the divisional rival Miami Dolphins in free agency. The 32-year-old signed a two-year, $12 million deal after making just under $1.7 million in cash earnings a year ago (according to Spotrac).
It's been a bit of a tumultuous offseason for Miami, having dealt star wideout Jarvis Landry to Cleveland and cutting All-Pro defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh to provide some relief toward the cap. But the Dolphins will be looking to rebound from a 6-10 season, and there could be some opportunities to exploit for fantasy football purposes this year.
The team signed receiver Albert Wilson to a more lucrative ($8 million per year) three-year deal, so he'll join Amendola in competition for the third receiver role behind DeVante Parker and Kenny Stills. However, there's reason to believe that Amendola will seize the opportunity, making him a late-round flier to target in your fantasy football drafts.
Despite a recent report about their poor relationship off the field, there’s no question that Landry and Ryan Tannehill connected on the field. During their 3 seasons together, Landry amassed 409 targets. His lowest total during that span, 112 targets, would have ranked him as the 22nd-most targeted receiver in the NFL in 2017.
So with Landry gone, there’s an opening for someone to fill that heavily targeted slot role in the offense. And after five seasons in New England, Amendola is the best candidate to take the place of Landry.
Per FFStatistics, in 2017, both Landry and Amendola were primarily targeted in short yardages, defined as shorter than 14 yards, and while Landry has a slightly better catch rate in those areas, Amendola has a greater than 66% catch rate on both sides of the field.
In signing Amendola to a two-year contract (though not guaranteed for year two), the team brought the veteran in with some expectation that he’d fill the void left by Landry. Parker is a big-bodied receiver and Stills is more of a home-run threat on the outside, so Amendola should slide into the short yardage, Landry role.
From a fantasy perspective, Amendola has been more efficient with his opportunities in recent years.
Per Scott Barrett, Miami had the second-highest pass ratio while trailing and the highest overall pass ratio last year. The Dolphins attempted the fourth-most passes in the NFL, largely based on this trend. And further, over Gase’s first two seasons with Miami, the team has averaged 36.9 pass attempts in losses and 30.1 pass attempts in wins. Last season alone, the team totaled 40.0 pass attempts per loss.
Vegas win totals for the Dolphins range from 5.5 to 6.0 for 2018. Using 6 wins as a conservative estimate, and putting that alongside Gase’s two-year coaching trend, this would put the team with approximately 549 pass attempts. That would have ranked 16th in the NFL last year.
If you project the team to be worse than last year, with the exits of Landry, Suh and offensive lineman Mike Pouncey, the attempt projection would rise.
|Wins||Projected Pass Attempts|
Taking those same averages into account and running that math, you get a look at how the team's success -- or lack thereof -- could affect their gameplan.
The 2016 season also appears to be a slight outlier for Tannehill and the passing offense as a whole, so the projection of 34 attempts per game could turn out to be more conservative. Tannehill attempted just 389 pass attempts in his 13 games, just 29.9 per game. That marked his lowest output of his career. During his three prior seasons, he averaged more than six extra attempts per game.
From the 2017 roster, more than 250 targets left the team. So with that in mind, the targets will need to be distributed to the remaining offensive weapons. The expected leaders in targets are Parker and Stills, however, neither have ever been targeted at the level of Landry.
|16-Game Target Pace||Parker||Stills|
*Played all 16 games.
Even if both players set career bests for targets over 16 games (Parker hasn't played a full season yet), there’s still roughly 300 expected targets to be shared by the offense. Adam Gase’s WR3 has handled more than 15% of the target share each of his two seasons in Miami, and with Tannehill’s history of throwing the ball to the shorter areas of the field, Amendola could be positioned well to inherit those targets, which would amount to roughly 80-plus targets in a full-tim role.
Worth the Risk
Amendola seems as likely a candidate as there is to miss time. He’s only played 16 games twice in his 9-year career and he missed 11 in his 5 years in New England, but he’s been a productive PPR asset when he’s been healthy. In the 2015-16 and 2017-18 seasons, he finished with 65 and 61 catches, respectively, for over 1,300 yards and 5 touchdowns total. He can be productive, and that's worth a gamble as late as Amendola's going.
Per Fantasy Football Calculator, he currently has an average draft position (ADP) of 13.11 as WR61 in 12-team PPR leagues. He's a very-late-round pick, but that cost carries very little risk for a guy that could be in line for 80 or more targets. And if he develops the same connection with Tannehill that Landry shared, he could be a league winner with the weekly upside of a WR2.
If you can look past Amendola's health issues, adding him as a fourth or fifth wideout could pay off in a big way down the road.