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NFL Barometer: Vick's Climbing the Charts

Mario Puig

Mario Puig

Mario sets the direction of RotoWire's college football and NFL draft content, with his other responsibilities primarily resting in those same subjects. He's a fan of Jim Harbaugh, James Harrison and David Bowie.

RISING

Michael Vick, QB, PHI

After a dominant showing throughout training camp and preseason, Vick was named Philadelphia's starting quarterback Tuesday. Vick competed 13-of-15 passes through two preseason games, with a Hail Mary interception as one of the two incompletions. Vick's durability troubles probably aren't going anywhere, but in a Chip Kelly offense that plays to his strengths, Vick has entirely legitimate QB1 upside when he's on the field. Kelly's willingness to utilize quarterback runs on read-option plays could mean fantasy gold given Vick's 7.0 career rushing average, and Kelly's system of fast, predetermined reads minimizes Vick's decision-making issues.

Kenny Stills, WR, NO

Although he was a fifth-round pick in the 2013 draft, Stills had the talent to make his way into the fourth or even third round of most other drafts. The extreme wideout depth this year let the Saints snag a bargain in the fifth, though, and all of a sudden it appears that Stills might serve as the team's third receiver as a rookie. Nick Toon remains in the hunt for targets after Marques Colston, Jimmy Graham and Lance Moore as well, but Stills has received steady work with the first-team offense and appears to have the lead.

Cecil Shorts, WR, JAC

Shorts appears to be over his calf injury, as he returned to practice Tuesday after sitting out since Aug. 5. Shorts is coming off a strong 2012 season in which he caught 55 passes for 979 yards and seven touchdowns in 14 games, and with Justin Blackmon suspended for the first four games of 2013, Shorts appears to have upside in most formats.

Charles Clay or Dion Sims, TE, MIA

Dustin Keller's awful knee injury leaves a significant void in a Joe Philbin offense that ideally utilizes a big, athletic target at tight end. Jermichael Finley played the role for Philbin in Green Bay, and Keller would have been a nice fit for it at Miami, but now the task falls to third-year fullback-tight end tweener Charles Clay and 2013 fourth-round pick Dion Sims. Clay was a productive receiver at Tulsa and boasts standout athleticism, but he hasn't earned the trust of Miami coaches for anything more than a part-time role. Sims is more talented as a traditional tight end and, while he's largely been written off as a blocker, Sims is underrated as a receiver and could earn the starting TE role given his ability to stand out as a blocker, something Clay can't offer. Neither player is likely to be anything more than a low-end TE option, but those in deep and dynasty leagues might want to monitor this situation.

Santonio Holmes, WR, NYJ

It wasn't long ago that Holmes declined to guarantee that he'd play at all in 2013 as he recovers from an October Lisfranc injury, but he has apparently made rapid progress lately and might be able to return to practice soon. A practice appearance would be an encouraging step as Holmes tries to avoid the PUP list for the start of the year, though Holmes is unfortunately not yet working with a timeline.

FALLING

Nick Foles, QB, PHI

Foles is worth retaining as a dynasty asset since Michael Vick is 33 and playing on a one-year contract, not to mention the fact that Foles could be the next Kevin Kolb/Matt Cassel/Matt Schaub for a team looking to trade for a starter. In 2013, though, his value appears limited to two-QB and very deep leagues as a handcuff to Vick. It's unlikely that Foles will outplay Vick, so he'll probably need a Vick injury to see the field for an extended period.

Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, IND

Bradshaw (foot) is unlikely to suit up for Indianapolis' third preseason game Saturday, which is a bit of a concern given that he was previously targeting that game for a return to the field. He also isn't practicing fully. Bradshaw is a very tough player and a feisty runner who has repeatedly shown the ability to play well with little or no practice, but he'll be a frightening player to approach in drafts until he gets on the field and confirms he still has his explosiveness and power.

Lance Dunbar, RB, DAL

Dunbar at one point had the upper hand over 2013 fifth-round pick Joseph Randle for the backup role behind DeMarco Murray, but a sprained foot is expected to cost him 3-to-4 weeks. That nearly rules him out for the Cowboys' Week 1 game against the Giants on Sept. 8, and foot injuries as significant as this often have the ability to linger.

Le'Veon Bell, RB, PIT

After suffering a foot sprain against Washington on Monday, Bell reportedly will miss six weeks with a Lisfranc injury. Between the missed training camp time from a knee issue and now this foot injury, Bell might not hit the ground running quite as fast even when he does return. Bell was durable in college and has more talent than Isaac Redman or Jonathan Dwyer, though, so don't expect him to lose his starting role. But at least for the first month or so of the season, the running-game work will belong to Redman, Dwyer and LaRod Stephens-Howling.