Week 12 Fantasy Football Rankings: Elite Running Backs Who Will Struggle

Ian HanfordFeatured ColumnistNovember 25, 2012

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - NOVEMBER 11:  Adrian Peterson #28 of the Minnesota Vikings runs for a 61-yard touchdown against the Detroit Lions on November 11, 2012 at Mall of America Field at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Andy Clayton KIng/Getty Images)
Andy King/Getty Images

Even the best fantasy football players have down weeks. It doesn't matter what position, or what opponent, elite talents hit stumbling blocks.

That will ring true in Week 12 of the NFL season. A few excellent ball-carriers will face a formidable run defense and they won't be up to the task. 

This is going to hurt your fantasy production, but that's how it goes. It's not like you can bench these guys; you just have to ride it out.

Let's look at three dynamic running backs that will struggle in Week 12.


Ray Rice

Rice has struggled in his last two games, running for 75 yards and one touchdown on 33 carries. The Ravens may be better than the Chargers overall, but San Diego's run defense is ranked third in the NFL.

Fantasy owners will still start Rice because you don't just sit one of the league's most-talented ball-carriers, but don't expect much. The Ravens consistently struggle on the road and that doesn't bode well for Rice's success.

Owning Rice is nice. He's almost always on the field, and he's durable. Every elite player must deal with a rut here and there, no matter how difficult it is for your fantasy squad to deal with.

Rice could play better than expected, but it's going to require Joe Flacco to show up for a road game. That doesn't happen very often, so don't bank on it.

San Diego is a mess for the most part, but stopping the run is one of the few things that the Chargers do well. They will pin their ears back and force Flacco to make plays, which won't leave much room for Rice and your fantasy points.


Adrian Peterson

Peterson has been a beast this year. He's run for over 1,100 yards and seven touchdowns, making a case for NFL MVP while he's at it. 

That campaign will hit a speed bump on Sunday. 

The Chicago Bears were embarrassed by the San Francisco 49ers on Monday night. Chicago won't take that lightly and returning to the comforts of Soldier Field will make that even easier.

Peterson is as strong as it gets, but the Bears do have the eighth-ranked run defense in the NFL. I'm not suggesting that you bench him, because that's just silly, but temper your expectations more than you normally would.

The Bears will be fired up. According to CBS Sports' Josh Katzowitz, Jay Cutler will be back behind center. This team will be playing with a ton of emotion, and they know that Peterson is Minnesota's only chance at stealing a victory.

Don't expect them to let that happen.


Marshawn Lynch

The Miami Dolphins have lost three straight games, but they still own a top-10 run defense. 

Lynch has been excellent this year, but the Dolphins have the strength up front to slow him down. Away from the confines of CenturyLink Field, that doesn't bode well for Lynch's fantasy owners.

He's coming off four straight 100-yard games, but he's due to slow down sometime. This isn't the Jets or Lions run defense, and Miami will test him. 

For Lynch, it's all about slowing him down at the point of attack. Once he gets going, he enters "beast mode" and that doesn't usually go well for opposing defenses.

With over 1,000 yards this season, Lynch has been outstanding. He only has five touchdowns, but that doesn't mean he's not reliable.

The Dolphins have struggled mightily as of late, but stopping the run is still something they can do. Lynch will struggle on Sunday.