During the fantasy football season, owners will scramble to find the hottest names on the waiver wire, hoping to add the next big thing, replace an injured player or simply improve depth. Solid finds on the wire can be the difference between making the playoffs and lamenting an unsuccessful season.
But in the fantasy playoffs, it's all about the stars you have on your team. The wire isn't chock full of potential starters like it is earlier in the year. Valuable handcuffs have probably taken a back seat to the incumbents who returned from injuries. Teams have made adjustments and slowed down streaky players.
Nope, in the playoffs the team with the most stars—and more importantly, those stars that are consistently producing—generally wins. Mediocre teams may be able to sneak into the playoffs, but they won't survive.
So with that in mind, let's take a closer look at a handful of stars who look poised to help their owners move on in the playoffs this week. If you own one of the seven players (or more), congratulations—good things are on the horizon.
You guys, A.J. Green is slumping. Despite being the top-ranked receiver in fantasy for most of the season, Green has now gone three games without a touchdown and two games without scoring double-digit points for fantasy owners.
But that trend should end this week, when Green faces a Philadelphia Eagles defense that has allowed 24 or more fantasy points to opposing wide receivers in five straight games and has allowed 13 touchdowns to wide receivers in the past eight games.
If you've watched the Eagles secondary in action over the past two months and you own A.J. Green, you should be absolutely ecstatic at his potential on Thursday night. He's going to torch Philly.
Jamaal Charles has very quietly been a solid RB1 this season and has a tasty matchup against the Oakland Raiders this week.
Charles has now posted double-digit fantasy points in five straight games, while the Raiders have allowed over 100 rushing yards in five of the past six weeks. For the season, the Raiders give up 23.6 fantasy points to opposing running backs, 31st in the NFL.
The Chiefs don't do much well, but they can run the rock with some success. He remains one of the most dangerous big-play threats at the running back position, and truthfully, the Raiders would struggle to keep your average junior high running back out of the end zone.
Much like he was in his San Diego Chargers days, Vincent Jackson is a boom-or-bust fantasy commodity. He's scored 14 fantasy points or more seven times this season, making owners very happy and keeping Jackson a solid WR1.
But he's also scored five fantasy points or less five times. Receivers can be inconsistent from week to week, but Jackson's production has traditionally been fairly bipolar.
But against the New Orleans Saints, that shouldn't be a problem. The Saints give up 26.9 fantasy points to opposing wide receivers (30th in NFL) and 284.5 passing yards per game (30th in NFL).
It only takes one long bomb for Jackson to have a huge afternoon. I'd expect more than one.
While Doug Martin hasn't been able to duplicate the 84.6 fantasy points he combined to score in Weeks 8-9, he has consistently and quietly maintained RB1 status this season, and only Arian Foster and Adrian Peterson are higher in the running back rankings.
And now he faces a New Orleans Saints team that allows 24.5 fantasy points to opposing running backs in standard-scoring leagues, worst in the NFL. Doug Martin owners, start your engines.
Martin rushed for 85 yards and a touchdown the first time these teams played, and I would expect an even bigger output this week. The Saints have allowed at least 100 rushing yards 10 times this season; Martin should make it 11 times all on his own.
Is there a hotter player in fantasy football than Cam Newton?
In the past four games, Newton has 121.4 fantasy points in standard-scoring leagues, an average of 30.3 points per game! Twice in the past three weeks, he's given owners 37 points.
Meanwhile, the San Diego Chargers have allowed 17 or more fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks seven times this season and give up an average of 16.8 points to quarterbacks per week (22nd in the NFL).
Newton may have come on late this season for owners, but he's looking like the fantasy playoffs MVP right about now.
Is there a team Adrian Peterson isn't capable of running through, past and over on his way to another huge fantasy output?
This past week, Peterson torched the stout Chicago defense for 154 yards and two touchdowns. That marks the fifth time in the past seven games he's eclipsed 20 fantasy points in standard-scoring leagues. Quite simply, the man is on fire and should be on the shortlist for NFL MVP this season.
This week, he faces the St. Louis Rams. The Rams have been tough against the run in the past two weeks, but on the season the team allows 18.1 fantasy points to opposing running backs in standard-scoring leagues (18th in NFL).
Expect Peterson to have a huge game. Again.
The Tampa Bay defense was just shredded by Nick Foles of the Philadelphia Eagles. Nick Foles! So if you think they are going to slow down Drew Brees, you've got another thing coming.
After scoring 18 or more fantasy points in nine of the New Orleans Saints first 11 games, Brees has just 17.5 fantasy points combined in the Saints past two. He's due for a big afternoon, and the Bucs should facilitate his bounce-back effort.
Remember, when these teams faced in Week 7 Brees threw for 377 yards and four touchdowns. If you own Brees and you are still in the playoffs, expect him to carry you to a victory this week.
Hit me up on Twitter—my tweets are still alive in two leagues.