2009 Fantasy Football Sleepers: Heath Miller

josh rolandContributor IJuly 18, 2009

TAMPA, FL - FEBRUARY 01:  Tight end Heath Miller #83 of the Pittsburgh Steelers runs into kicker Jeff Reed #3 against the Arizona Cardinals during Super Bowl XLIII on February 1, 2009 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

Going into the 2009 season, Steelers tight end Heath Miller is 20th in fantasy football projections by ESPN.com. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that’s not a very high ranking. The question is, though, why is he projected so far down the list?


In just four seasons, Heath Miller has pulled in 168 catches for 1,932 yards and 21 touchdowns. Future Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez racked up 261 catches for 3,041 yards and 24 touchdowns in his first four seasons.


Miller’s stats are comparable given the fact that the Steelers have relied heavily on the run for most of his career. Another thing to keep in mind is that Miller has only ever fumbled the ball once.


Consider this. Going into the 2009 season, Pittsburgh is looking at a semi-depleted receiving corps. As much as I hate to say this, Hines Ward isn’t getting any younger and Santonio Holmes still has some maturing to do off the field before he can step up and be a leader on the team.


There is also a void to fill with the loss of third string receiver Nate Washington to free agency. Given all of the above, it’s likely that Ben Roethlisberger will try to connect with Miller much more frequently during the 2009 season.


Last season, Big Ben signed an eight-year contract worth $102 million. The Steelers don’t pay that kind of money for a player that isn’t going to make an impact on a game-to-game basis.


With two Super Bowl victories under his belt, Roethlisberger is looking more and more like the elite quarterback that Pittsburgh imagined him as when they drafted him six years ago. Look for him to pick up a heavier workload in 2009.


With all of that in mind, I see no reason why Heath Miller shouldn’t be one of the top tight ends this upcoming season. He will most likely be available in the late rounds of most fantasy drafts and will be an asset to your team week in and week out.