For most fantasy football owners, Week 12 marks the "do-or-die" portion of the season, which makes choosing the right players to start on a weekly basis a critical exercise. For those who struggle in this regard, positional power rankings are a useful tool that can help you get over the top.
But other players who aren't as consistent—such as Eddie Royal, Zac Stacy and Geno Smith—have emerged as top-10 players often enough to warrant consideration for a starting spot.
Taking into account individual matchups and recent trends, this is one man's interpretation of how the top players will stack up at every position at the conclusion of Week 12.
|Week 12 Fantasy Rankings: Quarterbacks|
|1||Drew Brees||New Orleans Saints||Atlanta Falcons||30|
|2||Peyton Manning||Denver Broncos||New England Patriots||28|
|3||Matt Stafford||Detroit Lions||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||26|
|4||Tom Brady||New England Patriots||Denver Broncos||23|
|5||Tony Romo||Dallas Cowboys||New York Giants||21|
|6||Andrew Luck||Indianapolis Colts||Arizona Cardinals||19|
|7||Cam Newton||Carolina Panthers||Miami Dolphins||18|
|8||Colin Kaepernick||San Francisco 49ers||Washington||17|
|9||Robert Griffin III||Washington||San Francisco 49ers||15|
|10||Alex Smith||Kansas City Chiefs||San Diego Chargers||14|
Drew Brees tops the list this week, as his New Orleans Saints head into Atlanta to take on the hapless Falcons. He's scored 30-plus points in two of his last four games, and the Falcons have allowed over 17 fantasy points to quarterbacks in every game but two this season.
Both Tom Brady and Peyton Manning should be due for big nights when they play against one another on Sunday Night Football. Both the New England Patriots and Denver Broncos have given up significant point totals to opposing quarterbacks this year, and these two always bring out the best in one another.
With Russell Wilson, Nick Foles and Andy Dalton out this weekend on byes, fantasy owners will be scrambling to find their temporary replacements. Thankfully, there are a few worthy sleepers for this job such as Alex Smith, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Ben Roethlisberger.
|Week 12 Fantasy Rankings: Running Backs|
|1||Zac Stacy||St. Louis Rams||Chicago Bears||25|
|2||Adrian Peterson||Minnesota Vikings||Green Bay Packers||23|
|3||Frank Gore||San Francisco 49ers||Washington||21|
|4||Jamaal Charles||Kansas City Chiefs||San Diego Chargers||20|
|5||Matt Forte||Chicago Bears||St. Louis Rams||20|
|6||Ben Tate||Houston Texans||Jacksonville Jaguars||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||Chris Johnson||Tennessee Titans||Oakland Raiders||13|
A couple of NFC West studs have a prime opportunity for monster games this weekend.
Zac Stacy and the St. Louis Rams take on the Chicago Bears, which have allowed more fantasy points to opposing running backs than every team in the league but two. Frank Gore and the San Francisco 49ers are headed to Washington this Sunday, and the Redskins are one of those teams.
Also, look for Ben Tate to have a big game at home against the hapless Jacksonville Jaguars.
Those who've been relying on Marshawn Lynch and LeSean McCoy to carry the load will need to find a replacement this week, and that's no easy task, considering their lofty production this season. Donald Brown and Pierre Thomas are a couple of worthy backs for your consideration.
|Week 12 Fantasy Rankings: Wide Receivers|
|1||Victor Cruz||New York Giants||Dallas Cowboys||28|
|2||Calvin Johnson||Detroit Lions||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||27|
|3||Vincent Jackson||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Detroit Lions||25|
|4||Dez Bryant||Dallas Cowboys||New York Giants||22|
|5||Brandon Marshall||Chicago Bears||St. Louis Rams||20|
|6||Demaryius Thomas||Denver Broncos||New England Patriots||18|
|7||Jordy Nelson||Green Bay Packers||Minnesota Vikings||17|
|8||Josh Gordon||Cleveland Browns||Pittsburgh Steelers||15|
|9||Larry Fitzgerald||Arizona Cardinals||Indianapolis Colts||14|
|10||Marques Colston||New Orleans Saints||Atlanta Falcons||13|
Victor Cruz is going to get a couple of opportunities to get his salsa dance going against the pitiful secondary of the Dallas Cowboys. He scored 29 points in Week 1 against this team, catching five passes for 118 yards and three touchdowns, and the Cowboys have actually gotten progressively worse since that time.
To nobody's surprise, Calvin Johnson is among the top receivers this weekend. He's caught seven touchdowns in the past four games while being double and triple teamed on most plays.
Vincent Jackson will continue his fine play against the Detroit Lions—the second-worst fantasy defense in the NFL against receivers.
For those owners in need of help while A.J. Green, DeSean Jackson, Riley Cooper and Percy Harvin sit the week out on byes, there are a few worthy players to consider: Jerricho Cotchery, Cecil Shorts and Nate Burleson could be the answer you've been looking for.
|Week 12 Fantasy Rankings: Tight Ends|
|1||Jimmy Graham||New Orleans Saints||Atlanta Falcons||20|
|2||Rob Gronkowski||New England Patriots||Denver Broncos||17|
|3||Julius Thomas||Denver Broncos||New England Patriots||16|
|4||Vernon Davis||San Francisco 49ers||Washington||15|
|5||Coby Fleener||Indianapolis Colts||Arizona Cardinals||14|
|6||Jason Witten||Dallas Cowboys||New York Giants||12|
|7||Tony Gonzalez||Atlanta Falcons||New Orleans Saints||12|
|8||Rob Housler||Arizona Cardinals||Indianapolis Colts||10|
|9||Delanie Walker||Tennessee Titans||Oakland Raiders||9|
|10||Jordan Cameron||Cleveland Browns||Pittsburgh Steelers||9|
Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski are going to top this list most weeks, and Week 12 is no different. The Falcons have no chance of stopping Graham, given the injuries sustained to the team's linebacking corps, and Denver features the league's sixth-worst fantasy defense against tight ends.
Coby Fleener could have a monster game for the Indianapolis Colts against the Arizona Cardinals. He's coming off a big game against the Tennessee Titans (eight catches for 107 yards), and the Cardinals feature the league's worst fantasy defense against tight ends.
Of the teams on a bye this weekend, there aren't any real superstar tight ends, but if you need a substitute, here are a few players to think about: Rob Housler, Heath Miller and Greg Olsen.
|Week 12 Fantasy Rankings: Defense|
|1||Carolina Panthers||Miami Dolphins||16|
|2||Houston Texans||Jacksonville Jaguars||15|
|3||San Francisco 49ers||Washington||17|
|4||Tennessee Titans||Oakland Raiders||17|
|5||Kansas City Chiefs||San Diego Chargers||15|
|6||Baltimore Ravens||New York Jets||14|
|7||New Orleans Saints||Atlanta Falcons||12|
|8||St. Louis Rams||Chicago Bears||10|
|9||New York Jets||Baltimore Ravens||9|
|10||Miami Dolphins||Carolina Panthers||8|
It's hard to bet against Carolina's defense right now. The Panthers have allowed just 12.8 points per game in their last five contests, and the team's defensive line has really ramped up pass-rushing efforts of late.
Houston's defense should have a field day against the Jaguars, and you can expect the Baltimore Ravens and New York Jets to beat up one another in an ugly defensive struggle.
|Week 12 Fantasy Rankings: Kickers|
|1||Matt Prater||Denver Broncos||New England Patriots||15|
|2||Stephen Gostkowski||New England Patriots||Denver Broncos||14|
|3||Ryan Succop||Kansas City Chiefs||San Diego Chargers||13|
|4||Mason Crosby||Green Bay Packers||Minnesota Vikings||12|
|5||Garrett Hartley||New Orleans Saints||Atlanta Falcons||12|
|6||Dan Bailey||Dallas Cowboys||New York Giants||11|
|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|
You can't go wrong with either Matt Prater or Stephen Gostkowski this Sunday night when the Broncos and Patriots kick off.
Kansas City's Ryan Succop should also have a big game at home against the San Diego Chargers. The Chiefs do a nice job moving the ball on offense between the 20s, and the Chargers haven't been able to stop anybody this year.
Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78
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