With a number of superstar talents struggling to live up to their potential through the first five weeks of the season, fantasy football owners have been forced to take more risks this fall.
Sure, starting lesser-known names or unproven players can be stressful. But not if you have these guys on your roster.
Let's take a look at a few underrated players who are worthy of starting slots in your lineup this weekend.
*Availability and standard-league scoring stats according to ESPN Fantasy.
|Player||Team||Own %||Avg Pts||Week 5 Pts|
|Alex Smith, QB||Kansas City Chiefs||67.2||16.0||8|
|Greg Olsen, TE||Carolina Panthers||98.3||7.8||7|
|Danny Woodhead, RB||San Diego Chargers||87.2||8.4||10|
|Bilal Powell, RB||New York Jets||92.7||8.8||3|
|Leonard Hankerson, WR||Washington Redskins||12.4||7.3||BYE|
|Cecil Shorts, WR||Jacksonville Jaguars||98.7||9.2||13|
|Steven Hauschka, K||Seattle Seahawks||61.2||10.8||16|
|Willis McGahee, RB||Cleveland Browns||57.5||4.3||13|
Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers, TE
Veteran tight end Greg Olsen has been quiet over the past couple of weeks, but he should have a big day against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 6.
The Vikings secondary is among the worst in the league and is surrendering 326 yards per game through the air in 2013. That's excellent news for Olsen owners.
In addition to his favorable matchup, Olsen ranks second among Carolina Panthers receivers in targets with 30 through four games. Only Steve Smith has been targeted more this season. Plus, Olsen's 21 receptions for 273 yards are the most among Panthers receivers.
Bilal Powell, New York Jets, RB
Bilal Powell left fantasy owners steaming following a lackluster performance on Monday Night Football in Week 5. But expect him to be back to his productive ways this weekend against the winless Pittsburgh Steelers.
Pittsburgh ranks 25th against the run this season and has allowed six rushing touchdowns in just four games. Only Cleveland has given up more in 2013.
Even with Chris Ivory and Mike Goodson earning some reps in Week 5, Powell is still the No. 1 option in the backfield and should turn out another double-digit fantasy performance against a below-average Pittsburgh run defense on Sunday.
Cecil Shorts, Jacksonville Jaguars, WR
Cecil Shorts is a must-start at wide receiver in Week 6 as he gets set to go up against the worst pass defense in the NFL in terms of yards allowed in Denver.
The Broncos surrendered over 500 yards to Tony Romo in Week 5, and will surely give up big chunks to guys like Shorts and Justin Blackmon this weekend.
Although he has only surpassed 100 yards receiving in one game this year and has just one touchdown through five weeks, Shorts has been targeted more than twice as many times as any other Jaguars receiver in 2013 and has more than twice as many receptions.
Shorts has also accounted for 38 percent of Jacksonville's total receiving yards to this point.
Willis McGahee, Cleveland Browns, RB
While Willis McGahee's first big fantasy performance of the season came against a struggling Buffalo Bills run defense in Week 5, the veteran back is certainly worth a start this weekend.
Which of these players will turn out the best performance in Week 6?
McGahee will be facing off against one of the league's most porous run defenses in Week 6. The Detroit Lions are allowing 5.3 yards per carry, which ranks 31st in the league and is better than only New Orleans.
The Lions have also allowed five rushing touchdowns in five games.
The most encouraging stat of all for McGahee owners: The Browns starting running back has seen his workload increase each game since Week 3. He touched the ball 26 times in Week 5 and should rack up a similar amount this weekend with Brandon Weeden back under center.
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