One reason the Chicago Bears deemed tight end Martellus Bennett expendable is the emergence of veteran Zachary Miller, who posted career highs in starts (14), catches (34), receiving yards (439) and touchdowns (five) in a complimentary role last year.
"If you look back, he finished the season as the [main] tight end [when Bennett went on injured reserve]," coach John Fox said on Sunday. "He was our tight end at the conclusion of last season. So it's not new, not a new training ground. He finished as our starter at tight end last year, a guy who made some big plays. A lot was made of his durability, but he's worked very hard and he's having a very good camp so far."
Following the trade of Bennett to New England, the Bears re-upped Miller on a two-year deal with $3 million guaranteed - the only real significant move made at tight end in the offseason.
Miller was the #5 TE over the final nine weeks of the season, and that includes Week 17, which he missed due to injury. He averaged 3.9 catches for 51 yards and 0.63 TD (on 5.1 targets per game) in that span. In the four games that Martellus Bennett missed, Miller averaged 5.0-55-0.50 on 6.8 targets per game. Those are solid TE1 numbers in both standard and PPR formats. Miller is 31 years old and has had trouble staying healthy throughout his career, but he'll be a compelling pick in the later rounds now that the Bears parted ways with Bennett.