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Boom and Bust Candidates for Week 16: Blake Bortles, Doug Martin, A.J. Green, & More


Championship week is here, so pat yourself on the back if you’ve made it to the final game of the season, it’s not an easy journey to make. But if you’ve gotten this far, you may as well complete the trip and go all the way to the championship, you don’t want to wait a whole offseason to get back to this point.

During the last week of the season, selecting the perfect lineup requires a delicate balancing of starting players with low risk and high reward potential. To help you find these players, we’ve compiled a list of potential booms and busts for Week 16 to hopefully help you bring home the championship.

Potential Booms of the Week

Quarterbacks:

Matthew Stafford, QB, Lions: After a disappointing start to the season, Mathew Stafford has come alive down the stretch. Over his last four games Stafford has a TD:INT ratio of 12:1 and has scored at least 16 fantasy points in each of those games. San Francisco has been better against QBs lately, but Stafford is the best QB they’ve faced in about a month.

Blake Bortles, QB, Jaguars: Keep riding with the second-year signal caller in championship week. A matchup against the Saints should make any fantasy owner’s mouth water, as New Orleans has the worst passing defense in the league and has allowed at least three TD passes in six of their last eight games. Bortles has also played well at the end of the season, topping 22 points in each of the past four weeks.

Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers: The Steelers have one of the most explosive aerial attacks in the game and are playing one of the worst pass defenses in the game. QBs have averaged 19.3 fantasy points per game against Baltimore. Start Big Ben with confidence.

Running Backs:

Doug Martin, RB, Buccaneers: Doug Martin has shown a respectably high floor this season and enormous explosive potential. That’s exactly what you need to lock up a championship this week. It also helps that Martin is facing a Bears defense that has shown some weakness against the run (three 100 plus YD games in last five weeks).

Charcandrick West, RB, Chiefs: Charcandrick West has been somewhat inconsistent since taking over for the injured Jamaal Charles. Still, facing Cleveland’s second worst rushing defense in the league makes West a safe play to get some big points on Sunday. The Browns have allowed at least 100 YDs rushing to RBs in nine games this season.

Wide Receivers:

Allen Robinson, WR, Jaguars: You’d be crazy to sit him at this point in the season no matter who he was facing, but Allen Robinson draws the Saints on Championship week and owners should be rejoicing. Robinson has scored or gone over 100 YDs receiving in each of his past 10 games and the Saints have allowed at least one TD to a receiver in 11 straight contests.

DeSean Jackson, WR, Redskins: We can play up the revenge angle with DeSean Jackson returning to face his old team, but the Eagles are just bad on defense and Jackson has been lighting it up recently. Jackson has four TD catches in his last five games and the Eagles have allowed 10 TD passes to WRs in their past five games.

Brandon Marshall, WR, Jets: You can’t get much more consistent than Brandon Marshall this season. He has caught at least one TD in 10 games and has topped 100 YDs in eight games. New England is decent against WRs, but Marshall has shown he is pretty matchup proof this year.

Tight Ends:

Greg Olsen, TE, Panthers: Greg Olsen has been targeted by Cam Newton often enough to feel safe and Atlanta has shown it’s vulnerable against TEs. The Falcons have given up 29 receptions for 336 receiving YDs and a TD to TEs over the last five weeks. While those aren’t awful numbers, it shows that Olsen will have a high floor and a potentially high ceiling on Sunday.

Defenses:

Denver Broncos: When it comes to picking fantasy defenses, you want to pick on backup QBs. AJ McCarron may turn out to be a great QB someday, but it’s not likely to start on Monday night against Denver. The Broncos gave up three TD passes to both Roethlisberger and Tom Brady in the last month, but overall they’ve allowed just five QBs to have multiple TD passes.

Kansas City Chiefs: Kansas City’s defense has scored double-digit points in eight of the last 10 games. The unit is absolutely on fire and draws a home match against the Cleveland Browns, one of the league’s worst offenses. What more can you ask for?

Potential Busts of the Week

Quarterbacks:

Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons: Matt Ryan has topped 17 points just once in the past five weeks and has been generally unimpressive throughout most of the season. Despite giving up big TDs to Eli Manning and Drew Brees over the last three weeks, Carolina’s defense remains among the best in the league and has held opposing QBs to single-digit points six times this season.

Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers: While it would be tough to bet against the reigning MVP during championship week, you also have to face facts. Aaron Rodgers has been good this season, he hasn’t been MVP like and has looked very ordinary at times. Arizona has one of the best pass defenses in the league and should certainly limit Rodgers’ effectiveness.

Running Backs:

Devonta Freeman, RB, Falcons: It’s likely that Devonta Freeman has been a fantasy savior for many owners, coming out of nowhere to reach RB1 status. The back has scored in double figures 10 times this season and enjoys extremely high usage. But starting him against Carolina is risky, as seen in Week 14, when he was held to 40 rushing YDs on 12 carries in Carolina.

Todd Gurley, RB, Rams: Todd Gurley is another RB who is difficult to bench during championship week. But when you consider that he will be in Seattle facing the best rushing defense in the league, it may not seem that difficult after all. The Seahawks have allowed four rushing TDs this year, neither of which came at home.

Wide Receivers:

A.J. Green, WR, Bengals: You probably don’t have anyone better to turn to, but A.J. Green will have a tall order facing the Denver Broncos. Not only has Green been somewhat of a boom or bust player, he also has a backup QB throwing him the ball and the Broncos have the best passing defense in the game.

Randall Cobb, WR, Packers: At this point, Randall Cobb can be considered little more than a flex player. He hasn’t topped 100 YDs since Week 2 and he has two TDs since Week 4. Oh yeah, he’ll be in Arizona facing Patrick Peterson and one of the league’s elite passing defenses. No thank you.

Tight Ends:

Travis Kelce, TE, Chiefs: It’s easy to try and pick on the Browns, but they actually have played well against TEs this season. They have not given up a TD to a TE since Week 9, facing a healthy Tyler Eifert. Since then, no TE has topped 53 YDs. Meanwhile, Travis Kelce has just one TD in his last six contests.

Defenses:

New York Jets: The Patriots have not been the explosive offense they were early in the season, but this is still a bad match up for any defense, regardless of how well they’re playing. There are definitely better options than the Jets on the waiver wire.

Diamonds in the Rough

There is no next week, so you can’t afford to trust your season to unreliable players and you can’t wait on injured stars to return. At do or die time in the postseason, sometimes a waiver wire hero is what you need. We’re here to help.

Kirk Cousins, QB, Redskins: The Eagles are awful on defense, and Kirk Cousins has 20 or more fantasy points in four of his last six games.
Alex Smith, QB, Chiefs: Alex Smith is about as safe of a play as you can have at QB, especially against the Browns, who have allowed two or more TDs to 10 different QBs this year.
Alfred Morris, RB, Redskins: Banking on Morris in the championship game is a roll of the dice, but he has at least 11 carries in three of the past four games and the Eagles run defense is nothing to write home about.
Rueben Randle, WR, Giants: With Odell Beckham Jr. out with a suspension, Ruben Randle should see an uptick in targets.
Jordan Cameron, TE, Dolphins: Jordan Cameron has a nice matchup on paper against the Colts, who have allowed two TDs to TEs in the last four games.
Miami Dolphins Defense: Indianapolis has allowed four of the last five defenses it’s faced to score double-digit fantasy points.

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