Anthony Miller: Priority Waiver Wire Pickup for Week 14 (2019 Fantasy Football)
Last week, we took a look an in-depth look at Bears’ second-year wideout Anthony Miller as a priority waiver wire target given his increasing role on the offense and a prime matchup against the Lions on Thanksgiving. Miller did not disappoint by having a career day, posting nine catches on 13 targets for 140 yards. He is still owned in just 14% of Yahoo leagues, which sets him up as a priority grab this week. Given that, we will recap who Anthony Miller is as a player, what the state of the Bears offense is, and what we can potentially expect from Miller going forward.
Anthony Miller was a second-round draft pick in 2018 after playing his college ball at Memphis. He lit up the NCAAF with incredibly consistent production in his last two seasons with receiving lines of 95-1,434-14 as a junior and 96-1,462-18 as a senior. He was a consensus All-American as a senior and his 18 TD receptions were the most in the nation while his 1,462 receiving yards ranked third-most. He holds Memphis’ all-time school records with 238 receptions, 3,590 receiving yards, and 37 TDs.
Miller came into the NFL Draft having not done many drills at the combine due to him recovering from a foot fracture at the time, but we still had plenty of evidence from his college play that he was expected to go in the second round. Our own Mike Tagliere actually covered him well as a prospect and you can see his scouting profile.
As a rookie in the NFL, Miller had quite a bit of hype as he was reportedly making plays left and right in OTAs, lighting up the practice field day in and day out. That hype carried over to fantasy hype as well, especially in dynasty leagues where Miller was viewed as a top WR prospect as well. That hype translated to success in the end zone last season as he led the team with seven TDs, but he finished just fifth on the team with 423 receiving yards. Outside of a big game last season where he put up 5-122-1 against Detroit, he was held under 50 receiving yards in every other contest. He was in on 59.4% of the team’s snaps last season seeing a healthy dose of those snaps (67%) in the slot.
State of the Offense
Let’s cut to the chase on this one, Mitchell Trubisky has been a problem at QB for the Bears this season. He has taken a step back in his production this season in pretty much all major passing categories such as his league-low 6.1 YPA and he’s averaging just 199.6 YPG which ranks bottom three in the league with the likes of Mason Rudolph and Case Keenum. Needless to say, the team as a whole offers a bottom-three passing offense and what makes matters worse is they also offer a bottom-five rushing offense to boot. No offense = no bueno. While Trubisky is coming off a big game last week, it was par for the course for him as he has now put up three passing TDs in each of his last three games against the Lions.
When we look at the receiving options in the passing game, we haven’t seen the TD upside from Miller yet this season as he has yet to find the end zone. His production is up slightly in overall yards and his big performance last week with Taylor Gabriel out of action effectively slides him into the second spot at 489 yards, under Allen Robinson (850). The NFL and fantasy football players live very much in a world of “what have you done for me lately” though which is why we are here talking about Miller. His recent involvement has seen his snap shares jump into the mid-80% range and in return, his volume has soared. Also worth noting, in the three games where Miller was listed as a starter (Weeks 7, 11, and 13), he has seen at least nine targets in each game. Here’s a great clip of some of his best plays from last week:
– Austin Gayle (@PFF_AustinGayle) November 29, 2019
With their offense ranked so low all around, it is hard to get excited about more than one receiver here, and that is Allen Robinson. Gabriel has primarily operated as the team’s WR2 this season but has had little fantasy value outside of a three TD performance earlier in the season and has been banged up on occasion. Miller is the future of this offense’s WR corps while Gabriel has always been more of a bit-role type dating back to his days with the Falcons. He also has a potential out in his contract next season according to Spotrac. You would have to think that the team wants to keep Miller more involved going forward regardless of Gabriel’s health and Miller has also proven to be a much more effective and explosive WR2 than Gabriel. This breakout from Miller could easily have him jumping Gabriel on the team’s official depth chart.
The rest of season outlook for Miller and the Bears wideouts is a mixed bag when looking at our matchup calendar. They will get the Cowboys, Packers, and Chiefs for their last three matchups. On the bright side of this, these are all teams capable of putting up over 30 points in a game that will challenge the Bears defense and help push the pace of the Bears offense in an attempt to likely try and keep up. Two of those games are also home games for the Bears.
On the downside of those matchups, each of those three teams in Weeks 14-16 have been pretty tough against opposing WRs ranking inside the top 10 in fewest fantasy points allowed to the position and depending on your scoring, the Chiefs give up the fourth-fewest alone. So, in the most crucial weeks of the entire fantasy season, it will take some cojones to enter any Bears receiver into your lineups with bad matchups on paper.
Miller’s role is still growing on this offense and he has still been learning the ropes as a young wideout. He has been in the dog house with coaches “more than once” this season according to a recent report from NBC Sports Chicago, though the general feeling amongst coaches and Miller himself is that those times are behind him and he is ready for the boost in production.
If you are looking for WR depth and someone you can throw into WR3 or Flex spots over the final stretch of the season, you could do worse than Miller. It feels like he is due for a surge of TD production based on his strength there last season and the lack of production the team is getting from its running game. I like his overall talent a lot and if he were tied to a stronger offense I think we would see a much different player. He could make a real case for a third-year breakout candidate next season if he continues to finish this season out strong.