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If you’ve gotten this far, pat yourself on the back because it is incredibly difficult to survive all of the crap that can happen in a fantasy football season. Bad draft picks, unfortunate injuries, inconsistent performances, and just plain bad luck are just a few of the things fantasy owners must navigate through on the way to the postseason.

The key now is to make the most of this opportunity because you never know when you’ll be in this position again. Fantasy wins are hard to come by, and the random nature of the game makes it difficult to have consistent success year after year.

So take advantage while you have the chance. To help you, we’ve compiled a list of players who will either go BOOM and have a big game, or go BUST and have a stinker.

Potential Booms of the Week

Quarterbacks:

Matthew Stafford, QB, Lions: At this point in the season, if you have a quarterback facing the Saints, you need to start him. While New Orleans has improved somewhat in its passing defense over the last three weeks, they still allow an average of 24 fantasy points per game to the position, and Matthew Stafford has been on fire since the bye.

Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons: While Matt Ryan’s numbers in the last three weeks have not been very inspiring (26.8 total fantasy points), the Jaguars have allowed at least 18 points to the position in five of the last six games. Look for a big game from Matty Ice.

Running Backs:

Lamar Miller, RB, Dolphins: Lamar Miller has shown that when the Dolphins feed him the rock, he delivers. The problem is that sometimes they forget to give him the ball (i.e. the second-half of last week’s loss to the Giants). This week, I expect him to be featured heavily against a San Diego defense that is awful against the run.

Jeremy Hill, RB, Bengals: The injury to Andy Dalton and the sorry rushing defense of the 49ers makes this an enticing matchup for Jeremy Hill. The second-year back is likely to see an uptick in carries and potentially top the 100 YD mark for the first time this season. He’s also likely to score, with the Niners having allowed six TDs to the position over the last four weeks.

Wide Receivers:

Sammy Watkins, WR, Bills: Four TDs and 348 YDs in the last three games: this is the Sammy Watkins we’ve all been waiting for. The run of success is likely to continue against the Redskins, who have allowed 10 or more receptions and multiple TDs to receivers in seven games this season. Since Week 9, receivers have scored eight TDs against the Redskins secondary.

John Brown, WR, Cardinals: Not only has John Brown’s role in the offense been highly consistent this season, he gets to face the Eagles on Sunday. Philly has given up a WR TD in all but one game this season and has allowed 13 scores from the position in the last six games.

Tight Ends:

Richard Rodgers, TE, Packers: Suddenly emerging as a Top 10 option at the TE position, Richard Rodgers has a dream matchup against the Raiders, the team that turns ordinary TEs into stars. Rodgers has scored in each of the last two weeks and Oakland has allowed 11 TDs to TEs this season.

Benjamin Watson, TE, Saints: Benjamin Watson is consistently getting about eight targets per game and has provided a relatively high fantasy floor for the position. While he only has one TD in the last five games, a good matchup against the Lions (four TDs to the position in last five games) makes Watson a great start this week, especially in PPR leagues.

Defenses:

Kansas City Chiefs: With double-digit points in seven of their last nine games, the Chiefs have become a virtual must-start in most matchups. Against a Baltimore team that is devastated by injuries and has given up eight or more fantasy points to defenses in five of the last seven games, this is a no-brainer.

Seattle Seahawks: The Seahawks have come on strong down the stretch, allowing just 13 points in the last two weeks. Meanwhile, Cleveland is giving up fantasy points in bunches to defenses.

Potential Busts of the Week

Quarterbacks:

Eli Manning, QB, Giants: Eli Manning has been especially frustrating this season because of his up and down play. I would lean towards a down week for Manning on Sunday, facing the unbeaten Panthers and their vaunted defense. Carolina has held four of the last five QBs it has faced to single-digit fantasy points.

Marcus Mariota, QB, Titans: Many have attached their fantasy championship hopes to Marcus Mariota, who has at least 18 fantasy points in each of his past four contests. But the Patriots have been strong against QBs this season, with only one QB topping 15 fantasy points against them since Week 7.

Running Backs:

Darren McFadden, RB, Cowboys: Not only are the Cowboys limited on offense without Tony Romo at QB, they also face a very strong Jets defensive front. New York has not allowed a rushing TD to a RB since Week 3. Many may not have a better option at a thin position, but it would be foolish to expect a big game from Darren McFadden.

DeMarco Murray, RB, Eagles: DeMarco Murray has one rushing TD since Week 9 and has just a single 100 YD game all year. The Cardinals have only allowed more than 100 rushing YDs once this season and have given up just three rushing TDs in the last five weeks.

Wide Receivers:

Dez Bryant, WR, Cowboys: I have certainly been guilty of overstating the impact of being on Revis Island, but this isn’t a week to see if Dez Bryant can break free. Matt Cassel has five TD passes in seven games and Bryant is clearly not close to 100 percent. Starting him is purely a roll of the dice.

Odell Beckham Jr., WR, Giants: It would likely take more courage to sit the superstar WR than to start him, but Panthers CB Josh Norman should at least raise caution. Norman has shutdown Julio Jones, Mike Evans, DeAndre Hopkins, Bryant and T.Y. Hilton this year. That’s a pretty impressive season long resume.

Tight Ends:

Jason Witten, TE, Cowboys: If you’re getting the impression that I’m against all of the Cowboys offensive players this week, you’re right. How could anyone have any confidence with the lousy play Cassel has shown? Even further, Witten has done little more than catch a few passes here and there since Week 1.

Defenses:

Denver Broncos: It’s unlikely that you have a better option than the best defense in fantasy, but keep in mind that the Steelers have been torching teams lately, surrendering a total of -5 fantasy points to defenses since Week 9. Pittsburgh is on fire, look elsewhere if possible.

Diamonds in the Rough

The playoffs are the worst time to be looking for a miracle on the waiver wire, but tough times and injuries often call for desperate measures. Here are some potential waiver wire heroes to target.

Kirk Cousins, QB, Redskins: Cousins has shown flashes of low-end QB1 potential and faces a middle of the road Bills passing defense.
Fred Jackson, RB, Seahawks: The season-ending injury to Thomas Rawls last week makes Jackson an interesting play against a porous Cleveland defense.
Pierre Garcon, WR, Redskins: Buffalo has allowed five TDs to WRs in the last five games and Garcon could score decent points in a PPR league.
Jacob Tamme, TE, Falcons: Provided the TE plays, Tamme gets a favorable matchup against the Jaguars who have surrendered six TDs to TEs in the last five weeks.
Miami Dolphins Defense: San Diego has struggled on offense mightily in recent weeks, allowing 56 fantasy points to defenses over the last four weeks.

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