A lot of things in life are average – Wednesdays are average, Volkswagon cars are average, red peppers are an average vegetable and so on. There is nothing wrong with being average and that is why I have always been ambivalent towards Heath Miller. For his entire career, Miller has been an average receiving tight end – more renowned for his blocking skills than his pass-catching abilities:
GIF courtesy of behindthesteelcurtain.com
That was the case, until this season. Miller has experienced a renaissance of sorts, as he has been targeted more frequently than ever before in his career.
This season, Big Ben Roethlisberger is on pace to target Miller 109 times. His career-high of 97 targets in 2009, was by far his best total. It is fair to believe new offensive coordinator Todd Haley’s pass-first offense has played a big hand in Miller’s increased usage. It is also reasonable to assume that Miller’s current rate of production will continue, as the Steelers’ running game remains in shambles due to injuries within the offensive line and running back corps alike.
Miller is on pace to shatter his career-best receiving totals of 76 rec, 789 yds & 6 TD. However, the most impressive part about this recent tear, is his consistency. Miller has just one game with fewer than 4 catches and one game with fewer than 40 yards. With tight end being one of the thinnest fantasy positions, consistency is something owners crave. Miller’s blocking prowess means he will continue to stay in his coach’s good graces and should get plenty of opportunities, both in the play-action passing game and Pittsburgh’s spread offense.
Right now, Miller is in the second tier of tight ends. The first tier is comprised of Jimmy Graham, Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez and Vernon Davis. The larger second tier is made up of Tony Gonzalez, Antonio Gates, Jermaine Gresham, Brandon Pettigrew, Owen Daniels, Fred Davis, Jermichael Finley, Jason Witten, Dennis Pitta, and Miller. If you are not fortunate enough to own one of the first tier tight ends, Miller is someone you should be targeting because although his career arc might suggest otherwise, the newer more productive version of Heath Miller is here to stay.