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Fantasy Football Week 12 Rankings: Position-by-Position Breakdown

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Fantasy Football Week 12 Rankings: Position-by-Position Breakdown
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Perhaps no player better sums up the frustrating nature of fantasy football than Ray Rice.

The Baltimore Ravens running back has struggled all season long and has scored double-digit fantasy points just twice. His coach, John Harbaugh, even said that Rice was struggling with a hip injury and that usage at the running back position in Baltimore would be based on performance, opening up the door for Bernard Pierce to earn more playing time.

So, justifiably, many owners sat Rice this week. And he promptly accrued 148 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown, good for 20.8 fantasy points in standard-scoring leagues. 

That's fantasy, folks. More often than not, it surprises you. But ultimately, projecting results for individual players is a careful balance of measuring their talent against the matchup they are facing and playing the percentages. You never know how a player will perform from week to week, but you can make educated guesses.

Here, I've provided my list of educated guesses for the top 10 at every position this week in fantasy football. And no, I didn't include Rice—we'll see if he proves me wrong again versus a tough New York Jets run defense. 

 

Notes: All point totals for standard-scoring leaguesPoints against stats via ESPN. The Buffalo Bills, Philadelphia Eagles, Cincinnati Bengals and Seattle Seahawks are on bye. 

 

Quarterbacks

Week 12 Quarterback Rankings
Rank Player Team Opponent Proj. Points
1 Drew Brees New Orleans Saints Atlanta Falcons 30
2 Matt Stafford Detroit Lions Tampa Bay Buccaneers 26
3 Tony Romo Dallas Cowboys New York Giants 25
4 Peyton Manning Denver Broncos New England Patriots 24
5 Tom Brady New England Patriots Denver Broncos 20
6 Andrew Luck Indianapolis Colts Arizona Cardinals 17
7 Colin Kaepernick San Francisco 49ers Washington 17
8 Cam Newton Carolina Panthers Miami Dolphins 15
9 Robert Griffin III Washington San Francisco 49ers 15
10 Alex Smith Kansas City Chiefs San Diego Chargers 14

 

Quarterback Notes

Byes will strip owners of Nick Foles, Russell Wilson and Andy Dalton this week, while injuries could keep Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler sidelined. So once again, this is a week to trust your studs.

Drew Brees is going to torch the Atlanta Falcons, a team that has given up 17 or more fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks in eight of 10 weeks, while Matt Stafford, Tony Romo, Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck are trustworthy just about every week.

Despite struggling this year, Colin Kaepernick makes the list against a Washington defense that is giving up 274.9 passing yards per game, 26th in the NFL. Cam Newton and Robert Griffin III each have tough matchups, but the upside they possess due to their scrambling ability makes them tough to sit. 

 

Running Backs

Week 12 Running Back Rankings
Rank Player Team Opponent Proj. Points
1 Matt Forte Chicago Bears St. Louis Rams 25
2 Frank Gore San Francisco 49ers Washington 24
3 Adrian Peterson Minnesota Vikings Green Bay Packers 21
4 Chris Johnson Tennessee Titans Oakland Raiders 20
5 Zac Stacy St. Louis Rams Chicago Bears 20
6 Jamaal Charles Kansas City Chiefs San Diego Chargers 19
7 Eddie Lacy Green Bay Packers Minnesota Vikings 15
8 Knowshon Moreno Denver Broncos New England Patriots 14
9 Rashad Jennings Oakland Raiders Tennessee Titans 13
10 Ben Tate Houston Texans Jacksonville Jaguars 13

 

Running Back Notes

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Chicago Bears have given up 20 or more fantasy points to opposing running backs in six of the past seven weeks. In his last four games, Zac Stacy has registered double-digit fantasy points, and he's scored at least seven points in six straight contests. In other words, he is a brilliant start for owners this week.

Washington has given up 18 fantasy points to opposing running backs a whopping nine times this season, so Frank Gore has huge upside. Adrian Peterson was contained by the Seattle Seahawks, but he should have more success against the Green Bay Packers. Ditto for Jamaal Charles against the San Diego Chargers.

The big surprises are Rashad Jennings and Ben Tate making the rankings. Even if Darren McFadden returns from injury this week, Jennings has earned a huge role in Oakland's offense after notching 340 rushing yards and two touchdowns the past three weeks.

Meanwhile, Tate faces a Jacksonville Jaguars defense that has allowed 19 or more fantasy points to opposing running backs six times this season, though they have tightened up in that department in their two games after a Week 9 bye. Expect Tate to end that trend, however, and have a big afternoon. 

 

Wide Receiver

Week 12 Wide Receiver Rankings
Rank Player Team Opponent Proj. Points
1 Calvin Johnson Detroit Lions Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27
2 Andre Johnson Houston Texans Jacksonville Jaguars 22
3 Josh Gordon Cleveland Browns Pittsburgh Steelers 20
4 Dez Bryant Dallas Cowboys New York Giants 19
5 Demaryius Thomas Denver Broncos New England Patriots 18
6 Jordy Nelson Green Bay Packers Minnesota Vikings 16
7 Brandon Marshall Chicago Bears St. Louis Rams 16
8 Victor Cruz New York Giants Dallas Cowboys 14
9 Larry Fitzgerald Arizona Cardinals Indianapolis Colts 14
10 Marques Colston New Orleans Saints Atlanta Falcons 13

 

Wide Receiver Notes

Calvin Johnson has 112 fantasy points in his last four games. To put that in perspective, that would have tied him with Justin Blackmon as the 30th-ranked wide receiver in fantasy football for the entirety of the 2012 season.

I don't care if the Tampa Bay Buccaneers clone Darrelle Revis and double-team Megatron with the original Revis Island and his copy—Johnson will get his. He always does. At this point, he's making a strong case as the most valuable player in all of fantasy football. 

A lot of people questioned Josh Gordon's inclusion on this list last week, and it's possible some folks will question his placement this week, too. Folks, Gordon is a locked and loaded WR1 who has seven or more fantasy points in six of eight games and has reached double-digit points in five of those contests. Doubt him at your own peril. 

And would you look at that—some old favorites in fantasy football circles, Larry Fitzgerald and Marques Colston, make this week's list, too. Each have solid matchups, and Colston seems reborn, with 12 receptions for 187 yards and a touchdowns in his past two games. Look for him to torch the Falcons, especially with Jimmy Graham ailing.

 

Tight Ends

Week 12 Tight End Rankings
Rank Player Team Opponent Proj. Points
1 Vernon Davis San Francisco 49ers Washington 18
2 Rob Gronkowski New England Patriots Denver Broncos 17
3 Julius Thomas Denver Broncos New England Patriots 15
4 Jimmy Graham New Orleans Saints Atlanta Falcons 13
5 Jason Witten Dallas Cowboys New York Giants 12
6 Tony Gonzalez Atlanta Falcons New Orleans Saints 12
7 Rob Housler Arizona Cardinals Indianapolis Colts 10
8 Delanie Walker Tennessee Titans Oakland Raiders 9
9 Jordan Cameron Cleveland Browns Pittsburgh Steelers 9
10 Charles Clay Miami Dolphins Carolina Panthers 8

 

Tight End Notes

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Speaking of Graham, yes, I'm a bit worried.

Drew Brees is still looking his way—he has 11 receptions for 100 yards the past two weeks—but he's suddenly become touchdown reliant for fantasy production, something he wasn't to start the season. (He posted five 100-yard receiving games in New Orleans' first eight games.)

He's not a player you can afford to sit, but it's time to start tempering expectations.

Beyond that, the only potential surprise here is Arizona's Rob Housler, who has 10 receptions for 127 yards and a touchdown in the past two weeks. He's definitely a guy worth scooping up if he's available in your league, especially with Martellus Bennett trending downward and Antonio Gates facing a Kansas City Chiefs defense that has given up one touchdown to opposing tight ends all season.

 

Defense/Special Teams

Week 12 Defense/Special Team Rankings
Rank Team Opponent Proj. Points
1 Carolina Panthers Miami Dolphins 18
2 San Francisco 49ers Washington 17
3 Tennessee Titans Oakland Raiders 17
4 Kansas City Chiefs San Diego Chargers 15
5 Baltimore Ravens New York Jets 14
6 New Orleans Saints Atlanta Falcons 12
7 St. Louis Rams Chicago Bears 10
8 Houston Texans Jacksonville Jaguars 10
9 Chicago Bears St. Louis Rams 9
10 Miami Dolphins Carolina Panthers 8

 

Defense/Special Team Notes

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

With two of the top fantasy defenses—Seattle and Cincinnati—on bye this week, you might have to get a bit creative. 

Baltimore against Geno Smith and a pretty poor New York Jets offense? A nice play. The Houston Texans against a poor Jacksonville offense? Pick them up. The Chicago Bears against Kellen Clemens? Sounds good. 

If you have Carolina, Kansas City or San Francisco, you shouldn't be afraid to start them this week. After that, don't be afraid to take a chance. 

 

Kickers

Week 12 Kicker Rankings
Rank Player Team Opponent Proj. Points
1 Matt Prater Denver Broncos New England Patriots 15
2 Stephen Gostkowski New England Patriots Denver Broncos 14
3 Mason Crosby Green Bay Packers Minnesota Vikings 12
4 Garrett Hartley New Orleans Saints Atlanta Falcons 12
5 Dan Bailey Dallas Cowboys New York Giants 11
6 Ryan Succop Kansas City Chiefs San Diego Chargers 10
7 Robbie Gould Chicago Bears St. Louis Rams 10
8 Adam Vinatieri Indianapolis Colts Arizona Cardinals 9
9 Shaun Suisham Pittsburgh Steelers Cleveland Browns 8
10 Justin Tucker Baltimore Ravens New York Jets 8

 

Kicker Notes

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Let's be honest, trying to project kickers is like trying to guess how many jelly beans are in a jar. You can take into account the volume of the jar and the relative size of the jelly beans, but in the end, you're just tossing up a guess. 

It's no different with kickers. You study their previous production, note whether they've struggled of late or not and take into account the matchup and how many chances they might have for field goals or extra points. 

But ultimately, it's just a guess. Find a guy you trust and stick with him until he regresses. No position is more replaceable in fantasy football than kicker.

 

Hit me up on Twitter—I'll answer your fantasy lineup questions, tweet random fantasy musings and lament Ray Rice producing the week I finally benched him. 

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