Anthony Miller Will Be the Top Rookie Receiver in Fantasy Football
At Memphis, the 5'11", 201-pound receiver absolutely dominated the competition and accounted for the majority of his team's offense. Plus, the Bears traded up to draft Miller in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft, suggesting he could be in line for a major workload right out of the gate.
To top it off, Miller has outstanding athleticism to back up his college production, making him a strong candidate to lead all rookie wideouts in fantasy points this upcoming season.
One of the main factors in projecting a rookie is how he performed in college and seeing if his athletic testing backs it up.
As far as college production goes, Miller is an absolute stud. In his junior season, he finished with 95 receptions, 1,434 yards, and 14 touchdowns, which were all top-10 in the country. His senior season was even more prolific: 96 receptions, 1,462 yards, and a whopping 18 touchdowns, which were fifth, third, and first, respectively, in the country.
In all, Miller generated 39.9% of Memphis' yards and touchdowns during his college career. That percentage ranked him in the 80th percentile among receivers, according to PlayerProfiler.
In addition to the production, Miller has the athleticism to back it up.
When the Memphis pro day rolled around, Miller showed out with phenomenal agility drill times, proving that part of the reason he creates separation so easily is elite short-area quickness and explosiveness.
Miller's jumps -- the broad jump and vertical jump -- also scored far above average. The 40-yard dash, which -- when adjusted for height -- is an excellent wide receiver predictor, was Miller's worst athletic measurable.
While that is a slight red flag, it is clear that Miller "wins" by leveraging his explosiveness and quickness, not speed. With a SPARQ-x score in the 89th percentile and extreme college dominance, Miller's college profile is beyond promising.
The best thing Miller has going for him is his excellent landing spot.
The Bears enter the 2018 season with 216 of last year's targets (46.9%) and 2,197 of last year's air yards (61.5%) unaccounted for, making room for Miller to see a significant workload as a rookie.
The volume, however, may not be overly efficient for Miller in 2018.
The Bears' passing offense ranked 28th in Adjusted Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per play in 2017. Among 35 quarterbacks with at least 200 drop backs last season, Mitchell Trubisky ranked 32nd in Passing Success Rate (39.89%) and 29th in Passing NEP per drop back (-0.06).
But there is room for optimism.
Trubisky was a highly touted prospect coming out of North Carolina, despite just one year of significant production. In addition to above-average athleticism, Trubisky ranked 11th in deep ball completion rate, via PlayerProfiler, as a rookie.
Further, against top-10 pass defenses by numberFire's metrics, Trubisky posted a Passing NEP per drop back of -0.27 and a Passing Success Rate of 32.52% in six games. Against other opponents (also a six-game sample), Trubisky's marks were 0.10 and 46.46%, respectively, topping the league average of 0.06 and 44.75%.
So the passing offense isn't necessarily going to doom Miller and keep him from reaching his potential in 2018.
Back to the opportunity in Chicago, the Bears do not have a starting slot receiver.
We currently project Miller for 66 targets, 39 catches, 490 yards, and 2.7 touchdowns, but the availability of targets in the offense leaves room for more, provided that Miller clicks early in the season.
As far as fellow rookie receivers go, we project Miller to finish just 15 PPR points behind D.J. Moore and just 2 points behind Calvin Ridley in 2018. Those two first-rounders are being drafted in the middle of the 10th round in PPR drafts, according to FantasyFootballCalculator. Miller, meanwhile, is being taken at the end of the 13th round.
If you're looking for the top rookie receiver in 2018, do not buy into the name-brand hype the first-rounders Moore and Ridley.
Instead, wait two or three rounds and buy into the prime landing spot and sublime collegiate profile of the Memphis mega producer.