Tatum Bell's career path is an interesting one to chart: a second-tier superstar in Denver, Bell went nowhere fast in Detroit and was accused of theft on his way out of the Motor City. Now back in Denver for a second tour, Bell might actually have a chance to revive his career thanks to a season-ending injury to Peyton Hillis.
In place of the injured rookie, Bell gained 52 yards on 11 carries in Sunday's come-from-behind win over Kansas City. On one carry, the 27-year-old darted for 28 yards. And although Selvin Young may return to Denver this coming week, fantasy owners must still be intrigued by what Bell might offer in the final few weeks of the season. During these three weeks the Broncos face three mid-level run defenses: Carolina, Buffalo and San Diego.
Fantasy owners who managed to slide into the playoffs thin at the running back position may look to Bell as a possible solution to cure their woes, especially if Young is unable to return to Denver at full blast.
Here are a few more waiver wire candidates who offer value to fantasy owners:
Steptoe has slowly worked his way up the Browns depth chart, and thanks to a few injuries to the receiving corps was able to collect a nice payday on Sunday (four catches in the loss to Tennessee). Examining the entire season, Steptoe has caught at least one pass in 12 of 13 games this season. If he continues to find favor with the Browns' quarterbacks, Steptoe just might finish the year on a high note for Cleveland.
The Colts sure do love their tight ends, and on Sunday it was Robinson who benefited with six catches for 69 yards in the win over Cincinnati. Known more as a protection tight end, the 255-pound Missouri Western State product made the Colts coaching staff (and fantasy owners) take notice. Although it is unlikely that Robinson will see those totals again, he will likely be given more chances as the No. 2 tight end behind Dallas Clark in the Colts offense.
After placing Randy McMichael on injured reserve, the Rams have been tinkering with their tight ends in hopes of getting more production out of the position in their offense. Fells had a pair of catches in Sunday's loss to the Cardinals, but it does seem apparent that his role in the offense has increased in recent weeks. Fantasy owners should note, however, that Fells will have to contend with fellow tight ends Joe Klopfenstein and Anthony Becht for passes in this offense.
Here is a look at this week's buy and sell candidates:
Jeff Garcia, QB, Buccaneers
Despite having missed three weeks this season it's possible the 38-year-old Garcia will still manage to top the 3,000-yard mark for the Buccaneers. To do so he'll need just less than 800 yards in his final three outings, and the upcoming schedule suggests he can do it. His next two opponents -- Atlanta and San Diego -- both rank in the bottom third in the league in pass defense, and Tampa Bay concludes the year with a home date against Oakland. Yep, Garcia is in for a big December, and fantasy owners in need of quarterback assistance can take advantage.
Tony Gonzalez, TE, Chiefs
There may not be a hotter tight end in fantasy football right now. Over his last five games Gonzalez has scored four touchdowns and has collected three 100-yard games. This week he faces a Chargers team that allowed him 10 catches for 113 yards and two touchdowns in their last meeting. Gonzalez should finish the season strong, and if he can be lured away for the right price he just might prove to be a difference maker in the upcoming fantasy playoffs.
Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons
Is it possible Ryan has finally hit the rookie wall? Tough to say. What we do know is that Ryan's next few games will test him: at home against Tampa Bay and at Minnesota. The Buccaneers own one of the league's top-ranked pass defenses, while Minnesota remains one of the unfriendliest environments for opposing quarterbacks. If you are banking on Ryan to guide you through the fantasy playoff season, best to find an alternative.
Willie Parker, RB, Steelers
No NFL team is playing as well as Pittsburgh right now -- not even the Titans or Giants. But the Steelers may have an issue at running back, where Mewelde Moore has performed better than Parker as of late. Parker gained just 25 yards against Dallas, and he hasn't scored a touchdown since Week 9. Worse yet, the Steelers face the Ravens and Titans in the next two weeks. Any fantasy owner still clinging to Parker is advised to let go immediately.