Wire Tap: Coffee is warming up
Glen Coffee will face some poor run defenses while filling in for Frank Gore
It's always good practice to shop for stars off to cold starts -- like Terrell Owens
Sell on Baltimore's Willis McGahee while you can; his value will never be higher
Glen Coffee's coming out party wasn't pretty, but his future could be fabulous.
As Frank Gore was nursing his ankle injury, Coffee was slamming into a solid Minnesota run defense on Sunday. In all, Coffee carried 25 times for 54 yards -- again, not great, but proof the rookie out of Alabama can handle the workload.
Moving forward, San Francisco's schedule gets easier on the ground: St. Louis, Atlanta and Houston in the next three weeks (all three rank 24th or lower against the run).
With Gore out a minimum of three weeks, Coffee will get the nod in the next two games and possibly Week 7 after San Francisco's bye week. That fact alone makes him an appealing pickup for fantasy owners. Also to be considered: Coffee's encouraging play this preseason (42 carries for 249 yards).
Here are a few other waiver wire candidates to consider ...
QB Chad Henne, Miami
Thanks to Chad Pennington's season-ending shoulder injury, Henne is now the No. 1 quarterback for the 0-3 Dolphins. Against San Diego the results were less than encouraging (10-of-19, 92 yards, no touchdowns, one interception). Worse yet, he has very little history for fantasy owners to evaluate: In three games last season Henne attempted just 12 passes. Even so, Miami has a nice cast of weapons and will be in a position to throw for much of the rest of the year. Proceed with caution.
RB Jerome Harrison, Cleveland
Last season Harrison averaged 7.2 yards per carry but saw very little work. On Sunday, the fourth-year back led the team with a career-high 16 carries, albeit for minimal yardage. Cleveland's offense is a mess right now (the quarterback job is again up for grabs) so who can say whether Harrison will remain in the rotation once Jamal Lewis is healthy. What fantasy can appreciate, however, is Harrison's ability to catch the football (nine catches over the past two weeks combined).
WR Pierre Garcon, Indianapolis
The second-year wideout caught three balls in Sunday evening's win over Arizona, including a 53-yard scoring strike near the end of the first half. It was his second straight week with a touchdown, and with a reception of 45 or more yards. The Colts seem interested in finding ways to get their newly-found playmaker the football (17-yard carry against Arizona) and that could continue with Anthony Gonzalez out of the lineup for another month-and-a-half.
TE Daniel Fells, St. Louis
Randy McMichael isn't getting the job done in St. Louis, so why not Fells? In 12 games last season the California-Davis product caught just seven passes; against Green Bay on Sunday he caught two, both of them for second quarter touchdowns (19 and 16 yards). Fells looked comfortable with Kyle Boller, who was filling in for injured Marc Bulger. Now that Fells has shown a bit of promise expect St. Louis to give him more opportunity in an offense that has sputtered this year.
TE Dante Rosario, Carolina
Rosario has registered three catches and one touchdown in each of the past two weeks. On Monday, his late first half 25-yard score gave Carolina a boost; by game's end, the tight end had the team's most receiving yards against Dallas (58). The Panthers offense is in a funk, but Rosario may be the only consistent performer it's had these last two games. Fantasy owners may want to consider picking him up now as a backup to see if Jake Delhomme continues to look in his direction (nine looks the past two weeks combined).
Here is a look at this week's buy and sell candidates:
RB Donald Brown, Indianapolis
For the first time this season, Brown was given more carries than backfield mate Joseph Addai (14 to 13). Brown is the finesse back in this offense, with Addai likely to remain the hard-fought-yards back. But the Colts seem to be in the mood for a change, and if Brown keeps making big plays (72-yard reception against Arizona) his workload will continue to increase as Addai's role diminishes.
WR Terrell Owens, Buffalo
It's always good practice to chase star players after cold starts. This is especially true in the case of Owens, who has just five catches through three games, and who didn't register a single grab Sunday despite being targeted five times. Coach Dick Jauron's comments afterward said it all: the team will target Owens even more moving forward. Fantasy owners may not be able to count on Owens as a No. 1 fantasy receiver anymore, but he still possesses the ability to post elite fantasy numbers frequently, and fantasy owners can bet he will. Get in while the buying is good.
WR Bryant Johnson, Detroit
Look, just because Detroit won a game doesn't mean fantasy owners should pounce on Lions players all of a sudden. But Johnson can be had for cheap, and Sunday's numbers show his game may be on the rise. He caught four balls for a team high 73 yards (including a 21-yard score in the first quarter). The most telling stat: Matthew Stafford targeted Johnson 11 times in the game -- four more looks than he gave No. 1 receiver Calvin Johnson. As a No. 4 or 5 fantasy receiver with the potential to grow into a No. 3, Johnson is worth a look.
RB Willis McGahee, Baltimore
By scoring six touchdowns in three weeks McGahee has hopped back into the fantasy limelight. On just seven carries against Cleveland on Sunday the soon-to-be 28-year-old back gained 67 yards (9.6 yards per carry). Everything is beautiful in Baltimore, right? Well, no. McGahee owners can trust these words: It won't last. McGahee has had spurts of greatness surrounded by mediocrity in each of the past three seasons, and he has missed time in each of the past two years. He's a ticking time bomb. If an acceptable offer is on the table, take it and run.
WR Antonio Bryant, Buccaneers
Great player, bad environment. Bryant was thrown to four times on Sunday, but caught just one pass for six yards. That trend could continue now that the team has opted to play musical quarterbacks (Josh Johnson in, Byron Leftwich out). Johnson's inexperience will hurt the wide receivers, as fresh quarterbacks tend to go through growing pains and rely heavily on their safety nets (backs and tight ends) early on. Bryant was made a No. 2 fantasy wide receiver pick in most leagues -- a label he'll have a difficult time living up to the rest of this year, at no fault of his own.
TE Zach Miller, Oakland
The road ahead is a bit disturbing for Oakland's passing offense. In the next five weeks, the Raiders will face four of the league's top six rated pass defenses: the Giants, Jets, Chargers and Eagles. Miller has been a bright spot for a struggling Oakland offense, but even he won't be able to weather the upcoming storm.
Mike Beacom is a contributing writer for FootballDiehards.com.