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Fantasy Football 2012: Week 16 Underrated Starters

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Fantasy Football Underrated Players for Week 16

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Week 16 of the 2012 fantasy football season is playoff season. For those owners who failed to clinch a playoff spot, there is little left to play for this season other than a higher spot in the league’s final standings. However, for those owners fortunate enough to still be in the position for a league title, it is “do or die” time. For many leagues, this week will determine who claims the championship.

While there are some players that are viewed as must-start fantasy options, most are favored more than others due to their recent play, matchup or current situation on their team. It is very difficult for them to correctly predict their optimum starting lineup from week to week. Whether it is deciding among the options they currently own to scouring available options for improvement in Week 16, owners must assess all of the games of the week, determine which available players may overachieve and find hidden gems amongst players that a majority of owners are not starting this week.

Making decisions on who to start every week is one of the unique aspects of fantasy football. With just one game a week for every player, good decisions by one owner can put them in a position to beat any other owner. In Week 16, there are decisions that need to be made in order to put up the best possible starting lineup. Here’s a look at some players at each position with great Week 16 situations and should be considered for starting in more leagues.

* The following players on this list are ranked and are started in under 50% of Yahoo! fantasy football leagues. Player percentage owned/started data and season statistics are accurate as of Friday, December 21, 2012.

Austin Chang is a featured columnist and fantasy sports expert at Rant Sports and you can follow him on Twitter @_austinchang.

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QB Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins

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QB Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins (at Philadelphia Eagles, 98% owned, 49% started)

Season statistics: 2,902 passing yards, 18 passing touchdowns, 4 interceptions, 748 rushing yards, 6 rushing touchdowns, 2 fumbles lost

Out of action last week, Griffin is set to return this week in a game against the Eagles, one with major playoff implications. Healthy and practicing all week, he’ll certainly be started in more leagues as it gets closer to Sunday. The Eagles defense has typically yielded good fantasy performances to opposing quarterbacks, making Griffin a very good starter.

Other underrated quarterbacks of Week 16: Andrew Luck (at Kansas City Chiefs, 92% owned, 40% started), Ben Roethlisberger (vs. Cincinnati Bengals, 81% owned, 26% started), Sam Bradford (at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 25% owned, 8% started)

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RB DeAngelo Williams, Carolina Panthers

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RB DeAngelo Williams, Carolina Panthers (vs. Oakland Raiders, 66% owned, 32% started)

Season statistics: 508 rushing yards, 3 rushing touchdowns, 155 receiving yards, 2 receiving touchdowns, 2 fumbles lost

Williams has been solid in the past two weeks, collecting over 250 total yards in victories. With Jonathan Stewart’s health still in question, he should be able to take advantage of a Raiders defense that is in the bottom 10 of the league at stopping running backs.

Other underrated running backs of Week 16: Vick Ballard (at Chiefs, 54% owned, 29% started), LeSean McCoy (vs. Redskins, 96% owned, 30% started), Mikel Leshoure (vs. Atlanta Falcons, 86% owned, 46% started)

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WR Cecil Shorts, Jacksonville Jaguars

Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

WR Cecil Shorts, Jacksonville Jaguars (vs. New England Patriots, 76% owned, 40% started)

Season statistics: -4 rushing yards, 925 receiving yards, 7 receiving touchdowns, 1 fumble lost

Already one of the many breakout stars of the season, Shorts is still on the “short” end of the stick with regards to his usage in fantasy leagues. Despite already having four 100-yard games this season and a great matchup against the Patriots, he is still being used in less than half of all leagues. Targeted heavily by Chad Henne, he should be in for a good game this week as well.

Other underrated wide receivers of Week 16: Danny Amendola (at Buccaneers, 68% owned, 26% started), Jeremy Maclin (vs. Redskins, 88% owned, 48% started), Danario Alexander (at New York Jets, 65% owned, 30% started)

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TE Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

TE Greg Olsen, Panthers (vs. Raiders, 76% owned, 46% started)

Season statistics: 747 receiving yards, 5 touchdowns

Improved consistency has been a big part of Olsen’s growth as a reliable fantasy option. Receiving a nice number of targets on a weekly basis, he should be a big part of the Panthers’ passing game against a susceptible Raiders pass defense.

Other underrated tight ends of Week 16: Dennis Pitta (vs. New York Giants, 42% owned, 22% started), Brandon Myers (at Panthers, 58% owned, 33% started), Martellus Bennett (at Baltimore Ravens, 61% owned, 28% started)

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K Matt Prater, Denver Broncos

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K Matt Prater, Denver Broncos (vs. Cleveland Browns, 56% owned, 47% started)

Season statistics: 1 0-19 FG, 6 20-29 FG, 10 30-39 FG, 3 40-49 FG, 3 50+ FG, 46 PAT made

Accuracy has been somewhat of a concern for Prater, as he’s made 23-of-29 kicks this season. That being said, a matchup against the Browns should yield plenty of scoring opportunities for the Broncos and Prater this week.

Other underrated kickers of Week 16: Connor Barth (vs. St. Louis Rams, 48% owned, 42% started), Kai Forbath (at Eagles, 7% owned, 6% started), Blair Walsh (at Houston Texans, 41% owned, 26% started)

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Arizona Cardinals team defense

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Arizona Cardinals team defense (vs. Chicago Bears, 50% owned, 28% started)

Season statistics: 264 points allowed, 36.0 sacks, 22 interceptions, 10 fumble recoveries, 3 defensive touchdowns, 2 blocked kicks

With a top pass defense that shut down Matthew Stafford last week, the Cardinals will look to do the same against Jay Cutler and the Bears offense. From their turnover-forcing ways to their overall abilities on defense, the Cardinals are a solid fantasy option this week.

Other underrated team defenses of Week 16: Jets team defense (vs. San Diego Chargers, 61% owned, 39% started), Miami Dolphins team defense (vs. Buffalo Bills, 38% owned, 21% started), Panthers team defense (vs. Raiders, 13% owned, 8% started)