2014 Fantasy Football: Heath Miller Safest Pick At Tight End

By Sean Cordy
Ron Schwane-USA TODAY Sports
Ron Schwane-USA TODAY Sports

In all sincerity, fantasy football is really a popularity contest. Some GMs make their picks to assemble the most “flashy” team, and as a result, they lose out on great opportunities down the road. One of those lost opportunities is the tight end of the Pittsburgh SteelersHeath Miller.

Since joining the franchise nine seasons ago, Miller has had five starter-worthy seasons. His down seasons usually stemmed from time lost on the field from injury or the lingering effects they had on him seasons prior. He’s comparable to Jason Witten in the sense that he’s not a particularly stunning player to watch run down the field, but he gets the job done slowly but surely. Both stand at 6-foot-5 and are nearly identical in weight as well, but Witten is rightly drafted higher.

Witten has been a Top-10 player at his position in all but two of his 11 seasons in large part due to him being Tony Romo‘s “security blanket”. Miller hasn’t had that opportunity that Witten has as of late, but he’s only two years removed from being a Top-5 tight end in the league. Now that WRs Emmanuel Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery are out of town, it appears there’s more room for Miller to improve upon.

Between those wide receivers with new teams, they accumulated over 1,300 yards and scored 16 touchdowns on 188 targets. Though the Steelers added Lance Moore and Markus Wheaton will be stepping up this season, Miller should be seeing more looks from Ben Roethlisberger — more similar to the outlook of his 2012 season. In 2012, Miller saw over 100 targets and put up 132 fantasy points, good enough for a fourth ranked campaign. The two-time Pro Bowler should be able to attain similar numbers this season.

Last season, Miller produced a catch rate of nearly 75 percent — his highest since 2009 Pro Bowl season. If he can keep that number up and reach 100 targets as I expect Big Ben to rely more on his most seasoned starter, he’ll rake in nearly 80 catches. Due to this expected influx of safe passes from Roethlisberger and more catches overall, his average yards per reception will likely hover around the 9-10 yard range. So he’ll be taking in roughly 750 yards (possibly less).

If he can indeed take in that total amount of yardage, he’d improve on his 2013 season by about 150 yards, adding 15 points to his total from yardage alone. But the biggest factor in Miller being a productive piece on your fantasy squad is the touchdown factor. There are 16 touchdowns that need to be replaced from last year. Cotchery took in 10 by himself as likely the biggest reason why Miller only saw one score last year. So expect for Miller to be in the range of 6-8 TDs in his increased role this season.

All that being said, expect Miller to range from 100-120 points this season. That’s certainly good output from a tight end and one that you can rely on from week to week. He might not put up 20 points a week like Jimmy Graham would, but you can’t expect that from someone being drafted in the 16th round (or going undrafted). But you can certainly count on him being a great value pick and a possible Top-10 player at his position this season.

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