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Dynasty Price Check - Anthony Miller

Many of you have already begun planning and building your 2020 rosters. This includes best-ball owners who have assembled teams in that popular format. A number of owners in redraft leagues are inspecting the early rankings, while those of you who are involved in dynasty leagues have continued your process of relentless roster evaluation.

As the ever-present temptation to tweak your dynasty rosters remains intact, you must determine whether to proceed with the current components of your team or make modifications to your assortment of players. The team at RotoBaller is aware of your ongoing management process and is building an arsenal of material that will boost your efforts in constructing your teams.

Our growing collection of dynasty price check articles will help you determine the current value of various players, including this breakdown of third-year wide receiver Anthony Miller. It is designed with the premise that you are participating in a 12-team league with 0.5 PPR scoring, along with roster requirements that include starting one quarterback.

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Profile

Team: Chicago Bears
College:  Memphis
Age: 25
Height/Weight: 5'11", 200 pounds
2018 NFL Draft: Round 2, Pick 51

 

An Uninspiring Rookie Season

Miller was the sixth receiver from the 2018 rookie class to be selected during the NFL Draft when Chicago secured him with the 51st overall pick. While he finished second among first-year receivers with seven touchdowns, Miller was relegated to eighth in both targets (54/3.6 per game), and receptions (33). He also finished 11th in receiving yards (423), as Robert Foster (541), Dante Pettis (467), and Tre’Quan Smith  (427) joined the collection of more prominent newcomers (D.J. Moore/Courtland Sutton/Calvin Ridley) that accrued higher totals than Miller.

26 of Miller's 54 targets were accrued during a four-week span (Weeks 7-10), which culminated with his season-best 122-yard performance in Week 10. Miller also contended with a lingering shoulder issue throughout his inaugural season, after he dislocated it in Week 3. He ultimately performed on 576/53.6% of Chicago's offensive snaps, as the protracted injury affected his usage and production. It also created uncertainty that engulfed the 2019 offseason, as Miller’s lengthy recovery affected his availability for training camp and the Bears' Week 1 opener.

 

An Exercise In Patience

An exercise in patience for Miller’s owners continued when his 2019 regular season launched with an excruciating month of September. He averaged just 2 targets, 1 reception, and a microscopic 7 yards per game, as an ankle injury that developed during the off-season negatively impacted Miller's ability to absorb an extensive role. However, from Weeks 7-15, only 12 wide receivers captured more targets than Miller (67/7.4 per game) as he collected 9+ in five of those nine matchups.

He also averaged 10.4 targets per game from Weeks 11-15, when his numbers expanded even further. Only Michael Thomas (56) and Moore (54) garnered more targets than Miller (52) during that sequence. He was also second with 33 receptions during that span (6.6 per game) and was seventh with 431 yards (86.2 per game). Miller also tied for fourth in red zone targets during those five contests (7), after he was relegated to just one target inside the 20 from Weeks 1-10. He eventually collected 10 red zone targets, which was second only to Allen Robinson among all Chicago receiving weapons.

Unfortunately, he underwent surgery once again in January after injuring the same shoulder during Chicago's season finale against Minnesota. That issue limited him to just 20 snaps in Week 17. But Miller’s season-long snap count total rose to 687/65.2%, as he operated in the slot on 555/81% of those plays. He also led the Bears in yards per reception (12.6) and yards per target (7.7), among players that collected over 10 targets. Miller also finished among the top three in targets, receptions, and receiving yards – even though his touchdown total plummeted to just two. While his late-season statistical surge provided the most productive sequence of his career, six other receivers from Miller's 2018 class have accrued more targets, receptions, and yardage as the players enter their third seasons.

 

3rd Year Wide Receivers Targets Receptions Yards YPT TDs
D.J. Moore 217 142 1963 9.15 6
Courtland Sutton 209 114 1816 8.65 10
Calvin Ridley 185 127 1687 9.3 17
Michael Gallup 181 99 1614 8.65 8
Christian Kirk 176 111 1299 7.65 6
D.J. Chark 150 87 1182 6.95 8
Anthony Miller 139 85 1079 7.75 9

 

Competition For Targets

Chicago ranked just 25th in passing last season while averaging only 205.7 yards-per-game. The Bears were also dead last in yards per attempt (6.2), and 29th in points per game (17.5). However, that did not impede Robinson from compiling his best numbers since the exceptional season that he delivered in 2015 (80 receptions/1,400 yards/14 touchdowns). Robinson finished third overall with a career-best 154 targets (9.6 per game) and was also sixth while establishing a career-high in receptions (98). He was also 13th in receiving yards (1,147) while eclipsing 1,000 yards for the second time in his career. Robinson’s seven touchdowns tied him for 13th overall, while he was also fifth in air yards (1,680), and seventh in completed air yards (853). The six-year veteran also finished third among all receivers in team target share (27.1) and tied for seventh with 20 red zone targets.

The only other Chicago wide receiver who eclipsed 40 targets was Taylor Gabriel. However, he was hampered by concussion issues, which limited him to just nine games, and a paltry total of 48 targets. When the career-high 14 targets that he accrued in Week 11 are extracted from his season total, his 5.3 targets per game average drops to only 4.3. The Bears signed Gabriel to a four-year, $26 million contract in March of 2018, but the team could save $4.5 million by releasing him before June 1. This remains a distinct possibility if General Manager Ryan Pace is inclined to cut the six-year veteran and utilize the additional cap toward securing other roster components.

Only three teams targeted tight ends with less frequency than the 12.8% share that was registered by Chicago. Trey Burton’s 24 targets/3-per game average led the position, even though he was only available for eight contests while contending with multiple health issues. The contributions of Adam Shaheen, Bob Braunecker, and Jesper Horsted were even more unsightly, as the trio combined for just 34 targets, 23 receptions, and 220 yards. While Burton’s second season with the Bears devolved into a massive disappointment, it is unlikely that the team will absorb the 7.5 million cap hit that would ensue if he is cut. However, it is feasible that Chicago will address the problematic position during the offseason.

 

The Trubisky Conundrum

The aforementioned conundrum refers to the challenge of determining your level of trust with any Bear receiving option. Because much of the mystery surrounding Trubisky’s ability to function as a proficient quarterback has been eliminated due to his ongoing limitations. He finished 18th in completion percentage during 2019 (63.2), which represented a decrease of 3.4% when compared to his percentage in 2018.

This was consistent with a disturbing statistical decline in multiple categories, as his touchdown-to-interception ratio dropped from his previous season (24-12/17-10), as did his yardage total (3,223/3,138). This downturn occurred even though he played in 15 contests during 2019 after performing in 14 matchups during 2018. Trubisky also finished an anemic 31st among all quarterbacks in average completed air yards (5.1).

The Bears do not currently have a selection in the upcoming NFL Draft until pick 43. However, it would not be surprising for the team to address the quarterback situation in some capacity during the upcoming months.

 

Miller’s Current Value

The glaring deficiencies at quarterback, recurring injuries, occasional miscues, and Robinson’s clear entrenchment as the WR1 have combined to keep Miller from replicating the breakout seasons that other members of his 2018 class have already achieved. The same convergence of hurdles will make it difficult to envision Miller attaining breakout status during 2020. His repeated shoulder problems also date back to his collegiate career (2014) and have delayed his progress toward attaining higher numbers.

However, Miller will still be 25-years old when the Bears line up in Week 1 and remains capable of expanding his numbers – even if his output does not compare favorably to other third-year receivers that have already established their presence within the league’s highest tiers (Moore/Sutton/Ridley/D.J. Chark).

Better play at the quarterback position would boost his chances significantly. However, it is not advisable to depend upon a sizable improvement in Trubisky’s proficiency.  This will place a barrier in Miller's path toward elevating into a lofty tier during the 2020 regular season. But his numbers can still rise if he can make considerable progress in his ongoing learning curve, and can also achieve sustained health. All of these elements will affect his value during any trade scenario. But it is his recovery from the latest health setback that remains a significant factor in any assessment of Miller. Because it will determine whether he can be involved in offseason activities.

If he is unable to participate in these workouts, then it will present yet another unwanted obstacle that must be overcome. However, if the Bears do not bolster their receiving arsenal with significant competition for Miller's WR2 responsibilities, then he is still capable of improving upon his 2019 output this season. For this reason, he should be considered as a hold. If you still prefer to move him, then he should not be exchanged for anything lower than a mid-2nd round pick.

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