Check off RB, WR and QB. Next up comes the TE. My first sleeper TE is…….
Zach Miller, TE, Oakland Raiders
Photo Courtesy of Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Much like my last sleeper, Stafford, Miller is also tethered to a fairly subpar team but that doesn’t mean his fantasy season is doomed. There are a couple of reasons that I am a Zach Miller fan.
1) The dude is huge, like seriously. 6’5″ and 255 pounds which gives him enough size to abuse linebackers and secondary. The truly scary thing about Miller is not his size but his athleticism. He is a matchup nightmare as his size prevents the smaller, quicker guys from covering him but his speed lets him run circles around most linebackers. Miller was second in the league last year in yards per catch, trailing only annual all-star Antonio Gates. Like Gates, Dallas Clark and Owen Daniels (to name a few), Miller is a wide receiver trapped in a tight end’s body. The guy is a beast after catch as once he reaches top speed no single guy can quickly take him down. In fact, I bet you only a fully grown bull elephant could do that. If you don’t know what a bull elephant is then a) you have a life or b)you don’t watch nearly enough discovery channel or national geographic. There is a significant chance that points a and b could overlap. Anyways, take one look at Zach Miller’s 86 yard td against the eagles last season and you will see why this guy is a YAC machine.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AkYsXneqRpQ (Zach Miller’s td)
2)He is trending upwards. Entering his fourth year in the league, the Arizona State product is poised to have his best season yet. In his first season he had 44 receptions for 444 yards, second season had 56 catches for 778 yards and last year he had 66 catches for 805 yards. His numbers have been going up every year and should continue to do so this year. All you need to do look at the last 4 games of last season (27 catches, 237 yards, 1td) to see that the Raiders finally understand Miller’s immense talent and are trying to incorporate him more. Extrapolate that data over a full season and Miller has 108 catches, 948 yards and 4 tds. Those are solid numbers and I actually believe them to be a little low for what Miller will do.
3) Raider’s improved offense. Really that should say No More Jamarcus (Off-da-markus for those who have had the misfortune of watching him) Russell!!!! Jason Campbell does have some talent and is a vast improvement at the quarterbacking position. That alone greatly boosts the Raider’s passing attack. Michael Bush and Run DMC (Darren McFadden) should be able to provide enough of a threat on the ground that opposing defenses can’t simply lock down on the passing game and blitz Campbell relentlessly. Developing wideouts Louis Murphy (check out his, #18, blocking on the Zach Miller 86 yard td, the guy works his tail off) and Chaz Schilens have enough talent to draw attention away from the center of the field which should free up Miller to dominate within the hash marks. First year quarterbacks are often uncomfortable taking chances and often look to their tight end as a security blanket which serves to boost Miller’s value.
This guy has the athleticism and talent to be an elite TE and it seems like the Raiders offense is finally catching up to him. He could be poised for a breakout year.
Fearless Forecast: 80 receptions, 1100 yards, 7 tds