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Fantasy Football: These overlooked players can still make an impact

Texans quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick’s six touchdown passes Sunday could have come in handy for many fantasy owners — if they didn’t come from Fitzpatrick. In ESPN leagues, only 0.5 percent of owners had Fitzpatrick and his week-high 39 points in their lineup.

This stuff has become harder to predict. After all, the Titans had allowed six touchdown passes in their previous six games. But there’s a lesson here: Players who aren’t widely owned can make a big difference.

Here are some players few owners are starting who might be of use to you in the playoffs. Don’t expect 39 points, but if you’re in a jam, they’re in a position to help (ownership is in ESPN leagues).

QB Eli Manning, Giants: Let’s start with a player facing the team Fitzpatrick just destroyed. Manning is owned in 45.8 percent of leagues. With the red-hot Odell Beckham on his side, he could have a nice game Sunday. In Week 15, Manning will face a Redskins defense that has allowed the most fantasy points to quarterbacks.

RB Jonathan Stewart, Panthers: DeAngelo Williams has a broken hand, so Stewart, who’s owned in only 35.7 percent of leagues, has a chance to carry the load. He outgained Williams 110-21 on Sunday, and the Panthers’ final four games are against teams ranked in the bottom half of the league in run defense (at Saints, Browns, Buccaneers, at Falcons).

WR Cecil Shorts, Jaguars: He’s owned in only 29.9 percent of leagues, and he has four favorable matchups down the stretch: the Texans twice, the Ravens and Titans. The Ravens and Texans are 1-2 in points allowed to wide receivers. Granted, quarterback Blake Bortles can be shaky, but the veteran Shorts and the Jaguars figure to be in many passing situations.

WR Donte Moncrief, Colts: He passed Hakeem Nicks as the No. 3 receiver, so his 5.3 percent ownership will rise. Moncrief had three catches for 134 yards and two touchdowns Sunday against the Redskins. This week he could benefit if Browns cornerback Joe Haden defends T.Y. Hilton. Then he’ll face the Texans, who have allowed the second-most points to wideouts.

WEEK 14 OUTLOOK

START ’EM

QB Tony Romo, Cowboys: Expect him to bounce back against the Bears, who have allowed a 300-yard passer in four of the last five games.

RB Justin Forsett, Ravens: The Dolphins’ once-mighty run defense has allowed 373 rushing yards to running backs in the last two games.

WR Doug Baldwin, Seahawks: The Eagles have allowed the most passes of 20- and 40-plus yards.

BENCH ’EM

QB Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers: His home-road splits are staggering (374 passing yards per game, 20 TDs vs. 244, six). So is the Bengals’ pass defense.

RB Lamar Miller, Dolphins: He’s getting the touches but not the yards. And they won’t come against the Ravens’ fourth-ranked run defense.

WR Davante Adams, Packers: His explosion against the Patriots had a lot to do with the game plan. He probably won’t be needed against the Falcons.

WEEK 13 PICKS

START ’EM

QB Ryan Tannehill: 235 passing, INT

RB Denard Robinson: 11-44 rushing

WR Julian Edelman: 7-48 receiving

BENCH ’EM

QB Colin Kaepernick: 121 passing, 2 INTs

RB Trent Richardson: 8-12 rushing

WR Vincent Jackson: 2-24 receiving

RISING

QB Colt McCoy, Redskins: He’s thrown for 299 and 392 yards in two full games, and the Redskins’ final four games are against teams with pass defenses ranked in the bottom half of the league.

WR Stedman Bailey, Rams: He has double-digit points in back-to-back games, and he gets a porous Redskins pass defense next.

FALLING

Patriots running backs: What had Brandon Bolden done to deserve a touchdown Sunday? Shane Vereen had the most snaps (30) but only four touches.

WR Rueben Randle, Giants: In the last two games, Randle was targeted seven times, same as Preston Parker. Odell Beckham was targeted 19 times.

Email: jagrest@suntimes.com

Twitter: @JeffreyA22