Fantasy Football Rankings: Adrian Peterson and Top Studs for Week 12
The fantasy football regular season is rapidly nearing its conclusion, with some teams busily making preparations for the fantasy playoffs while others scratch and claw to keep their postseason hopes alive and others simply play out the string while dreaming of better things next year.
As we gear up for a critical Thanksgiving week of fantasy action, nothing will give your squad an edge quite like having one of the best plays out there at a given position.
So, if one of the players listed here is in your starting lineup, you can breathe a little easier, as here's a look at the absolute best of the best in fantasy football for Week 12.
At least until you have that third dessert on Thursday, anyway. The breathing gets a little harder after that.
Aaron Rodgers and the Top Quarterbacks
1. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers (at NYG): The eighth-year pro has 17 touchdown passes against only two interceptions over the past five weeks and faces a mediocre Giants pass defense.
2. Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos (at KC): Manning has turned back the clock this season and squares off with a Kansas City Chiefs team that has been a top 10 fantasy matchup for opposing quarterbacks.
3. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints (vs. SF): The matchup is far from ideal, but Brees has three or more touchdown passes in seven of 10 games this season and is about as matchup-proof as they come.
4. Tom Brady, New England Patriots (at NYJ): Tight end Rob Gronkowski is out, and the Jets have been stingy to opposing quarterbacks from a fantasy perspective, but Brady always seems to rise to the occasion.
5. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons (at TB): Ryan had a miserable game last week with a career-high five interceptions, but the fifth-year pro should rebound against a Tampa Bay squad allowing the seventh-most fantasy points to opposing signal-callers.
Adrian Peterson and the Top Running Backs
1. Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings (at CHI): The Bears have been solid against the run, but Peterson has topped 100 rushing yards and scored at least one touchdown in four straight games.
2. Arian Foster, Houston Texans (at DET): Foster was held out of the end zone for the first time this season in last week's win over the Jaguars, and like many of this week's stud running backs, the fourth-year pro's matchup isn't great.
3. Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (vs. ATL): Over the past month, Martin has averaged over 190 total yards a game and faces an Atlanta Falcons defense surrendering the 11th-most fantasy points to opposing running backs.
4. Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers (at NO): Gore gets a huge boost in this week's rankings on the heels of a matchup with a New Orleans run defense allowing almost 160 yards and the second-most fantasy points to running backs per game.
5. Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans (at JAX): After a terrible start to the season, Johnson has been red-hot of late, and that should continue against a Jaguars defense giving up the fifth-most fantasy points to running backs.
Calvin Johnson and the Top Wide Receivers
1. Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions (vs. HOU): Johnson started out slowly, but has been on a tear of late, the Texans may be without top cornerback Jonathan Joseph and "Megatron" has found the end zone in four of five career Thanksgiving games.
2. A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals (vs. OAK): The second-year pro has now scored in a franchise-record nine straight games and faces a Raiders team that has struggled defending the pass at times this season.
3. Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons (at TB): White has topped 100 receiving yards in three straight contests and squares off with a Tampa Bay defense that has been the friendliest fantasy matchup for opposing wideouts this year.
4. Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys (vs. WAS): Bryant is coming on a monster showing against the Cleveland Browns and has a very favorable fantasy matchup with a leaky Washington Redskins secondary on Thanksgiving.
5. Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis Colts (vs. BUF): No wide receiver has been targeted more this season than Reggie Wayne, and there's no reason to think that won't continue Sunday against the Bills' 18th-ranked pass defense.
Jason Witten and the Top Tight Ends
1. Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys (vs. WAS): The injury suffered by Rob Gronkowski shakes up the tight end position, and this week, the top spot goes to Witten against a Washington Redskins defense allowing the most fantasy points this year to tight ends.
2. Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta Falcons (at TB): The ageless wonder was quiet in last week's win over the Arizona Cardinals, but Gonzalez should rebound this week against a suspect Tampa Bay pass defense.
3. Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints (vs. SF): The 49ers have allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to tight ends this year, but if anyone can reverse that trend, it's Graham, who has found the end zone five times in the last four weeks.
4. Vernon Davis, San Francisco (at NO): After pulling a disappearing act for most of the last month, Davis exploded against the Chicago Bears, and the seventh-year veteran should keep it rolling against a terrible New Orleans defense.
5. Brandon Myers, Oakland Raiders (at CIN): Myers has been one of the biggest surprises at his position this season and squares off against a Cincinnati Bengals club giving up the fifth-most fantasy points to tight ends in 2012.
Denver Broncos and the Top Defenses
1. Denver Broncos (at KC): Put together a top-five fantasy defense with a matchup against the NFL's worst scoring offense that leads the league in giveaways, and you have a recipe for fantasy success.
2. Chicago Bears (vs. MIN): After being manhandled by the San Francisco 49ers, the Bears are going to be hungry for revenge, and that frustration will be taken out on quarterback Christian Ponder and the Vikings.
3. Baltimore Ravens (at SD): The Ravens may not be as good defensively as they once were and will be without safety Ed Reed, but the San Diego Chargers have been a top-five fantasy matchup for team defenses this season.
4. New England Patriots (at NYJ): The Patriots defense has made up for giving up a lot of yardage and points by racking up big plays, and that should continue this week against the Jets, who have allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to team defenses in 2012.
5. St. Louis Rams (at AZ): The top team defense this week that's likely available on many waiver wires, a much improved St. Louis defense faces an Arizona offense this week that leads the NFL in sacks allowed by a wide margin.