Top 5 Week 12 Fantasy RB Matchups
1. Indianapolis Colts RBs vs. Buffalo Bills
One quick look at the usage of the Colts RB corps in Week 11 would indicate that we are trending towards a succession at the starting running-back position in Indy from Donald Brown to Vick Ballard.
Philadelphia Eagles DT Fletcher Cox told my radio co-host at the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine that Ballard was the toughest RB to tackle of any that he faced in college, even though he only faced Ballard on the practice field at Mississippi State. If I own Ballard, I am getting him into my lineup at the flex position without question.
If I own Donald Brown, I am hesitant, but I may find solace in the thought that perhaps Brown's recent lack of significant on-field action may be more the result of "getting eased back in" from knee injury, but that is starting to seem like grasping at straws. If Brown does not produce or get utilized in this most favorable of matchups, cut him loose. That's when we'll know it's Ballard's job.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars RBs vs. Tennessee Titans
Jalen Parmele came in last week against one of the toughest matchups for RBs in fantasy football in the Houston Texans and was sufficiently key in aiding to make the Week 11 AFC South shootout completely and totally Twilight Zone-esque in nature with his very solid performance.
Parmele is a better running back than Rashad Jennings, and for some reason, the team seems to hate Jennings. With a seemingly rejuvenated passing attack resting squarely on the unlikely arm of Chad Henne, the production that is poised to be available to the Jacksonville RB position in this matchup is something that should not be overlooked. Parmele should be a top waiver pickup this week and is worthy of consideration as a solid flex play.
3. San Francisco 49ers RBs at New Orleans Saints
You're going to have Frank Gore in your lineups; expect a big week.
However, Kendall Hunter remains a risky flex play regardless of the great matchup. Hunter's usage has been too up-and-down in 2012 to adequately project any reasonably safe fantasy floor to couple with his significant upside.
4. Cincinnati Bengals RBs vs. Oakland Raiders
Benjarvus Green-Ellis got back on the map last week, and expect that to continue in Week 12 at home.
Cedric Peerman is worth consideration at the flex position in 14-team and deeper leagues. Peerman was only in on eight snaps in Week 11, but the team has said they want to get him more involved, and it showed. During those eight snaps, Peerman touched the ball eight times for a very serviceable flex-level performance of 7.5 points in standard leagues.
5. Arizona Cardinals RBs vs. St. Louis Rams
Many a "genius" fantasy owner rostered perennially disappointing Cardinals RB Beanie Wells in recent weeks, anticipating his expected Week 12 return to the playing field from non-season-ending injured reserve.
I like it. I don't love Wells, but I like him this week.
He has first-round pedigree and knows the system. He has fresh legs and is a much, much more impressive physical specimen than recent fill-in LaRod Stephens-Howling, who has been brilliant in road games but, for some reason, terrible at home during the absence of Wells and Ryan Williams.
Worst 5 Week 12 Fantasy RB Matchups
1. Detroit Lions RBs at Houston Texans
Mikel LeShoure is a running back who has been hot lately, while Joique Bell, a player who became a bit of a hot commodity for a while, is now sitting back on many waiver wires. This week, I am downgrading LeShoure in my personal rankings, as I do not like his versatility.
Bell represents the piece in the Lions offense that can be utilized in hurry-up sets and the passing game. If someone in your league dropped Bell, I would recommend kicking the tires if you are in a pinch, especially in PPR leagues.
2. New Orleans Saints RBs vs. San Francisco 49ers
Well, what a mess this is.
I would not start a single Saints RB in this matchup.
I know the 49ers are not quite the run-stopping unit they have been in years past, but the Saints are far too obvious in their deployment of RB-corps role players. If Mark Ingram or Chris Ivory are in the backfield in a set that involves a TE on the line of scrimmage, they are getting the ball.
If I can notice this trend, 49ers DC Vic Fangio certainly will, and the 49ers will be pinning their ears back on those first and second downs.
Pierre Thomas has been a virtual non-factor, and the only Saints RB I would teeter on the option of starting in this horrible matchup would be Darren Sproles if he returns. He is the kind of player you turn to when the run fails, which it will.
3. Kansas City Chiefs RBs at Denver Broncos
It just takes one play for Jamaal Charles to make your fantasy week, and I'm not worried. You have to roll with him every week. Any other Chiefs RB, that's an entirely different, entirely opposite story.
4. Seattle Seahawks RBs at Miami Dolphins
Never bench Beast Mode.
5. Cleveland Browns RBs vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
You can't bench Richardson either.
I would downgrade my expectations, however, and hope Richardson will find ways to become increasingly involved as a pass-catcher, as the Steelers have shown a greater propensity to give up big plays to these sorts of players.