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NFL Barometer: Garcon Aims for Healthy Year

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 Chip Kelly, James Harrison and David Bowie.

RISING

Isaac Redman, RB, PIT

With Le'Veon Bell (foot) out Week 1 and Jonathan Dwyer no longer in Pittsburgh, Redman is locked in as the starting running back as the Steelers take on a Tennessee defense that struggled against the run in 2012. With just LaRod Stephens-Howling and Felix Jones behind him on the Week 1 depth chart, Redman could see a big workload Sunday. The Titans allowed the ninth-most rushing yards in 2012 at 127.2 yards per game, so Redman is probably on the RB2/flex radar in most formats.

Pierre Garcon, WR, WAS

Garcon declared himself fully healed from the toe issue that plagued him throughout most of 2012. Garcon is obviously no doctor, but it's still pleasant news to hear. Garcon was good last year as he tried to play through the injury; quite good late in 2012, collecting 36 receptions for 480 yards and three touchdowns in the final six weeks of the regular season. With Robert Griffin III in the lineup and his own foot in good shape, Garcon ought to improve on that rate of production.

Torrey Smith, WR, BAL

Top Denver cornerback Champ Bailey is tentatively expected to sit out Thursday's 2013 season-opening game against Baltimore due to a foot injury, which helps Smith's odds of getting open against the Broncos. After smoking Denver for 98 yards and two touchdowns on three catches in the 2012 playoffs, Smith was a good on-paper play in Week 1 even before Bailey's injury, but his owners should feel a little better more comfortable now.

Cierre Wood, RB, HOU

Wood heads into the fall as Houston's No. 3 running back behind Arian Foster and Ben Tate and, while he went undrafted out of Notre Dame, Wood has more than enough talent to hold onto a roster spot in Houston for the full season. That makes him worth monitoring and perhaps even worth owning in very deep leagues. Foster heads into this year with calf and back issues after averaging 24.8 touches per game the last three years, and Tate has had injury troubles himself in recent times. Toe and hamstring issues cost Tate five games last year, and he dealt with a groin injury early in training camp in 2013. Justin Forsett saw 63 carries as Houston's third runner in 2012 despite Foster starting all 16 games, so Wood definitely stands out among the league's No. 3 running backs.

Terrelle Pryor, QB, OAK

The Raiders have yet to make an official announcement, but all indications at the moment are that Pryor will start Week 1 at quarterback for Oakland. His lack of passing skill likely limits his upside, but Pryor's standout running abilities could allow him to become relevant in deeper formats. He completed 13-of-28 passes for 150 yards, two touchdowns and an interception while running for 49 yards and a touchdown in his lone start last year, playing on the road against a San Diego defense that played tough in 2012, and he consistently reminded of his rushing upside in the 2013 preseason, totaling 131 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries.

FALLING

Kenny Stills, WR, NO

The Chargers cut Robert Meachem on Saturday, just one year after regrettably signing him to a four-year, $29 million contract, and he rejoined the Saints on Tuesday. Meachem is unlikely to create any fantasy value, but he could damage the prospects of Stills and Nick Toon, two players who were poised for a healthy play count behind Marques Colston and Lance Moore.

Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, IND

Bradshaw was unable to suit up in preseason after undergoing surgery on his foot at the beginning of February, and while he's expected to play against Oakland in Week 1, it's concerning that his foot is still below full strength seven months after the surgery. Not just that, but Bradshaw has been practicing with the Indianapolis offense's second team, with second-year back Vick Ballard working with the starters, and coach Chuck Pagano implied that Bradshaw might be on a limited play count, saying the team has a "number of plays" in mind for Bradshaw in Week 1.

Andre Brown, RB, NYG

A broken leg in the Giants' final preseason game Thursday was expected to keep Brown out 4-to-6 weeks, but the Giants placed him on the Designated to Return IR on Tuesday, ruling him out until Week 10. It's easy to imagine Brown providing fantasy value upon his return given that he excelled as a change-of-pace and goal-line runner a year ago for the Giants, but it will be difficult for fantasy owners to keep open a roster spot for 10 weeks.

LaMichael James, RB, SF

James suffered a sprained MCL against San Diego in San Francisco's preseason finale, an injury that's expected to keep him out three weeks. Between that injury and his weak preseason - he ran for just 55 yards on 24 carries - James' chances of securing the backup running back role behind Frank Gore appear slim. Kendall Hunter has made a nice recovery from his Achilles' tendon tear, and it's Hunter who will head into this year as Gore's handcuff.

Aaron Dobson, WR, NE

Dobson spent spring and part of fall as the most hyped Patriots wideout outside of Danny Amendola thanks to his pedigree as a second-round pick and his standout size-speed combination. But as Week 1 approaches, it appears Dobson is safely behind undrafted fellow rookie Kenbrell Thompkins in the team's receiver rotation. Dobson's ability to apply vertical pressure to defenses still stands out in the New England offense, but it appears that for now he'll likely play a complementary role to Amendola and Thompkins.