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Five under-the-radar players poised to break out during the second half of the NFL season

Whether you're looking for a fantasy sleeper or just a name to drop to sound smart at a party, here's a handful of little-known NFL players poised to break out during the second half of the year…

1. Will Hill, New York Giants: As a starting safety next to Antrel Rolle, the embattled 23-year-old has been better and better every week since returning from a four-game suspension to start the season. He's fast, versatile and a steady tackler. Look for the third-year Florida product to make some big plays during the second half of the season. 

2. Oliver Vernon, Miami Dolphins: As a rookie last year, he was decent as a reserve pass rusher. This year, he struggled early as a starter but is now coming into his own. Vernon has four sacks in his last four games, indicating he could be about to take off.

3. Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles: Although the rookie tight end had caught just 14 passes this season, Nick Foles really seems to like throwing his way. And now, with Michael Vick hurt again and Matt Barkley struggling, it looks like Foles could be starting for quite a while. 

4. Tiquan Underwood, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: He's been around for five years, but that Mike Williams injury and a fresh opportunity with Mike Glennon at quarterback could be just what the veteran journeyman needs to become a respectable NFL starter. 

5. Zac Stacy, St. Louis Rams: I know, he had a 134-yard performance against Seattle in Week 8, but watch for the rookie fifth-round pick to keep putting up big numbers as the Rams push the running game hard in the weeks to come. He might even make a run at the offensive rookie of the year award.

Brad Gagnon

About Brad Gagnon

Brad Gagnon has been passionate about both sports and mass media since he was in diapers -- a passion that won't die until he's in them again. Based in Toronto, he's worked as a national NFL blog editor at theScore.com (covering Super Bowls XLIV, XLV and XLVI), a producer and writer at theScore Television Network and a host, reporter and play-by-play voice at Rogers TV. His work has also appeared at Deadspin, FoxSports.com, The Guardian, The Hockey News and elsewhere at Bloguin, but his day gig has him covering all things NFC East for Bleacher Report.

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