With McDaniels at helm, Rams' wideouts have value

Which Rams wide receiver will emerge as the best fantasy option in 2011?

Danny Amendola has been compared to Wes Welker so much lately that you would have to pardon him if he took a peek into the mirror to make sure he's not wearing No. 83 and playing for the New England Patriots. Amendola and Welker are almost exactly the same size, both played college football at Texas Tech, and neither player was drafted.

The similarities seem endless.

Then there's the kicker: Josh McDaniels, the offensive coordinator for the Patriots when Welker blossomed into the league's leading receiver in 2007, now holds the same title in St. Louis. If McDaniels could do what he did for Welker in New England, the thinking goes, imagine what he can do for Amendola in St. Louis.

It's worth considering that Sam Bradford, while clearly a rising star, is not yet Tom Brady. And that Amendola won't be buffered by anyone nearly as productive as Randy Moss was that year. Instead, fantasy owners have been drooling over Amendola's prospects since McDaniels was hired in January. In fact, if you want to join the Amendola bandwagon, you'd better hop on now because spaces are filling up fast.

But -- and there's always a "but" -- we're not convinced. In two seasons with the Rams, Amendola has 128 catches, but only four for touchdowns. OK, touchdowns can come and go, but Amendola also has averaged a meager 7.9 yards per reception. Those numbers point to a reliable possession receiver who can move the chains but won't be a difference-maker in fantasy football.

Instead, the player among a glut of wide receivers in St. Louis with the most fantasy upside could be pending free agent Mark Clayton. The former first-round draft choice never lived up to the hype while playing in a run-oriented offense in Baltimore. But he immediately established a rapport with Bradford after joining the Rams in 2010, catching 23 passes for 306 yards in only four-plus games. Clayton is expected to return to full health after a torn patellar tendon ended his season in Week 5, and it's thought the Rams are the favorite to land him in free agency.

If things fall into place, Clayton's across-the-board potential gives him a fantasy leg up on Amendola and the other pass catchers in St. Louis.

Bottom Line: Amendola will provide a boost in PPR leagues, but Clayton will have the biggest fantasy impact if he returns to the Rams.

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