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NFL Barometer: Early Preseason Movement

Mario Puig

Mario is a Senior Writer at RotoWire who primarily writes and projects for the NFL and college football sections.


Robert Griffin III, QB, WAS

Griffin received medical clearance to practice for the duration of training camp just under seven months from the surgery that repaired the torn ACL and LCL in his right knee. That's not to say he can practice fully - the Redskins are easing him back into action - but it nonetheless appears Griffin will be Washington's Week 1 starter.

Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, JAC

MJD's fantasy value was blurry for most of the offseason due to the uncertainty surrounding his recovery from a Lisfranc foot injury, but he received camp clearance July 23, and he's on pace to claim to the Jacksonville feature back role for Week 1. New coach Gus Bradley is presumably partial to the run-heavy offense the Seahawks ran while he was in Seattle, particularly due to the team's lack of quarterback talent, so MJD should be a clear RB1 value if his recovery stays on track.

C.J. Spiller, RB, BUF

Spiller ran for 1,244 yards and six touchdowns last year despite receiving fewer than 10 carries in six games. That's likely to change this year. New coach Doug Marrone will implement an uptempo offense in Buffalo, and the result should be a significant increase in carries for Spiller, even if Fred Jackson stays involved with the offense. Marrone's Syracuse squad ran 1,029 plays in 13 games last year, allowing his top two runners, Jerome Smith and Prince-Tyson Gulley, to combine for 385 carries and 2,001 yards. The Bills won't run 79 plays per game like Marrone's Syracuse team did, but they should show a healthy increase over the 61.5 snaps they averaged in 2012.

Lamar Miller, RB, MIA

A sparingly-used fourth-round pick a year ago, Miller's well-advertised ascent to the top of Miami's depth chart turns him into one of 2013's most intriguing upside picks in fantasy drafts. The speedy runner has earned almost constant praise in the offseason for his progress in all facets of the game, including blocking and receiving, and he's set to gobble up almost all of Reggie Bush's 2012 snap count, a role that yielded 227 rush attempts and 35 catches. Miller can't match Bush's hands, but he is the superior runner between the tackles, so this is one case where the hype is compelling.

Ryan Broyles, WR, DET

Broyles has recovered incredibly quickly from his Dec. 2 ACL tear - his second ACL tear in less than 13 months - and it looks like he'll be ready to play in Week 1. (The ACL tears were to different knees.) Broyles participated fully in June minicamps, and he opened training camp with clearance to practice, too. Nate Burleson's relevance is quickly fading, and in an offense that threw 740 passes last year, Broyles merely needs to suit up to become a fantasy factor. Broyles posted 307 yards and two scores in a six-game span last year as Detroit's third or fourth wideout, just 11 months removed from his first ACL tear.

Ed Dickson, TE, BAL

With Dennis Pitta (hip) out for the year, Dickson will step in as Baltimore's top tight end. Given that Pitta posted 61 catches in the role last year and Anquan Boldin (65 catches) is gone, Dickson should see a lot of targets in 2013. Dickson caught 54 passes as a 16-game starter in 2011, so he could triple his 2012 total of 21 catches this season.

Nick Foles, QB, PHI

Foles has consistently impressed as a passer in the offseason, to the point that many observers of Philadelphia practices consider him the favorite to start at quarterback over Michael Vick in 2013. If Foles does earn that role, he would be an intriguing fantasy prospect if only for the high play count the Eagles figure to log in Chip Kelly's hurry-up offense. Foles' upside as a passer took a hit with Jeremy Maclin's season-ending ACL tear from Saturday, however, and the tide could turn on Foles when the Eagles start to emphasize contact and read-option plays in training camp. Vick is an ideal fit for the play, and Foles' 5.03-second 40-yard dash makes him a non-consideration for such play calls.

Shane Vereen, RB, NE

Vereen's arrow was already pointed up due to Danny Woodhead's departure to San Diego, but New England's release of Aaron Hernandez gave Vereen's stock another boost. In addition to the 76 carries and 40 receptions Woodhead claimed a year ago, Vereen figures to be a leading candidate to take on a chunk of the 50 receptions allocated to Hernandez in 2012.

Aaron Dobson, WR, NE

Aaron Hernandez's release and the early-season uncertainty caused by Rob Gronkowski's back issue have a lot of targets up for grabs in New England. Dobson, a second-round pick out of Marshall, has stood out in training camp and could be busy right away in his rookie season. His length (6-foot-3) and speed (4.37-second 40-yard dash) really stand out in a New England wideout rotation that mostly consists of the short (Danny Amendola) and slow (Michael Jenkins).

Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, IND

Heyward-Bey opened training camp as Indianapolis' second wideout, at the expense of second-year player T.Y. Hilton. That was quite a surprise, because Hilton (861 yards, seven touchdowns in 15 games) was probably better as a rookie last year than DHB has been at any point in his five-year career. The Colts are expected to call an offense this year that more closely resembles the Stanford offenses Andrew Luck ran in college, and that means lots of two-tight end sets with Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener. Whoever plays third wideout for the Colts could see a modest or small snap count as a result.


Jeremy Maclin, WR, PHI

Maclin, playing on a one-year contract, suffered a torn right ACL on Saturday. It's a painful strike to Philadelphia's passing game and a crippling one to Maclin's value as a prospective free agent. Riley Cooper is the slight favorite to emerge as Maclin's replacement at outside receiver, though former Buccaneer Arrelious Benn has the size and speed to push for the role. Cooper's odds are aided by the fact that Benn is currently dealing with a hyperextended knee.

Dennis Pitta, TE, BAL

Pitta collided with safety James Ihedigbo in practice Saturday, dislocating his hip in the process. The injury will end his season and deprives Baltimore of its most accomplished returning 2012 pass catcher, aside from Ray Rice, who tied Pitta with 61 catches last year. Ed Dickson will see a big promotion with Pitta out.

Percy Harvin, WR, SEA

The hip issue that plagued Harvin since June turned out to be much more serious than anyone initially realized. News broke Thursday that Harvin is dealing with a partial tear in his hip labrum, and it's unclear at this point whether the ailment will require surgery. If Harvin goes under the knife, the surgery would almost certainly end his 2013 season.

Santonio Holmes, WR, NYJ

For a long time we've known Holmes' training camp availability was in jeopardy due to the severe Lisfranc injury from Week 4 of last year, but the receiver surprised most when he refused to guarantee Friday that he would play at all in the 2013 season. That kind of commentary makes it difficult to see Holmes playing in Week 1.

Michael Vick, QB, PHI

The situation is still fluid, but at the start of training camp it appears Vick is no better than tied with Nick Foles in the Philadelphia quarterback competition. Foles has an obvious advantage when it comes to accuracy and decision making, and the latter point especially might be a dealbreaker since Chip Kelly's offense will require fast, deliberate decision making both before and after the snap. Vick might have an ace in the hole when it comes to his running ability, though, because Kelly heavily utilized the read-option at Oregon, and Foles quite simply isn't athletic enough to run it.

T.Y. Hilton, WR, IND

Darrius Heyward-Bey opened camp as Indianapolis' second receiver, pushing Hilton to the third spot on the depth chart. That was unexpected, because Hilton had himself a very impressive rookie year in 2012, catching 50 passes in 15 games while totaling 861 yards (17.2 YPC) and seven scores despite playing as Indianapolis' third wideout. But Hilton (5-9, 178) isn't as physically imposing as Heyward-Bey, whose 6-2, 219-pound frame offers more run-blocking potential on the outside. In an offense that figures to run primarily two-receiver, two-tight end formations, Hilton might struggle for fantasy relevance if he can't gain ground on DHB in this competition.