Fantasy Football Rankings Week 12: Projecting Numbers for Top Offensive Stars

Matt Fitzgerald@@MattFitz_geraldCorrespondent IIINovember 23, 2013

CHARLOTTE, NC - NOVEMBER 18:  Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers reacts after throwing for a touchdown against the New England Patriots during their game at Bank of America Stadium on November 18, 2013 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The fantasy football playoffs are quickly approaching, so it's worth surveying which players will be bankable options to produce big numbers as the majority of the NFL's Week 12 action approaches.

Some of the top players at each offensive position are familiar fixtures, but others have proven this season that they can be relied upon as consistent, No. 1-caliber options with their outstanding performances and consistency.

Here is a look at the stars who should top their respective positions in fantasy points, along with a top-five list of rankings for each spot on offense for the rest of Week 12.


Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers

The three touchdown passes, the game-winning drive and an accumulation of a game-high 62 rushing yards in Monday night's win over the New England Patriots suggest Newton has arrived.

Expectations have never been higher, and the pressure has never been greater on the 2011 No. 1 overall pick, but Newton continues to thrive, improve and relish the big stage.

Newton faces a Miami Dolphins defense in Week 12 that yields 122.6 rushing yards per game and is near the bottom third of the league versus the pass.

Against a dual-threat dynamo like Newton, Miami is in trouble and in grave danger of dropping back below .500.

With a deep backfield featuring DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart and Mike Tolbert likely to bounce back after a disappointing effort against New England, Newton should have a complementary cast of backs to help him exploit the Dolphins off of play fakes.

Look for Newton to build off of his landmark triumph from last week with another big-time performance—this time on the road.

Projected Numbers: 20-of-30 passing for 280 yards, three touchdowns, one interception; seven carries, 70 yards, touchdown


Zac Stacy, RB, St. Louis Rams

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - NOVEMBER 10:  Zac Stacy #30 of the St. Louis Rams celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the game against the  Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium on November 10, 2013 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Image
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

A foot injury slowed Stacy in Week 10's 38-8 blowout of the Indianapolis Colts, but he was not on the team's injury report.

That suggests Stacy has nursed himself back to near 100 percent after the bye, which is bad news for the Chicago Bears, who are second-worst in the NFL in rushing defense, conceding 133.9 yards on the ground per contest.

Stacy is a sixth-round pick out of Vanderbilt and has proven to be one of the steals of the 2013 class. His low center of gravity at 5'8" and 224 pounds allows him to run through arm tackles, and his decisive, hungry style of downhill running makes him a force to be reckoned with.

Dave Richard of points to the injuries on the Bears' defensive line that work even more in Stacy's favor:

With Kellen Clemens still under center for St. Louis, offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer should stick with the ground-and-pound he preferred in his days calling plays for the New York Jets.

That's good news for Stacy owners, who should be rewarded if they were patient with the first-year runner.

Projected Numbers: 25 carries, 120 yards, two touchdowns; three receptions, 20 yards


Victor Cruz, WR, New York Giants

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 21: Wide receiver Victor Cruz #80 of the New York Giants looks on before the start of the second half against the Minnesota Vikings during a game at MetLife Stadium on October 21, 2013 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo
Elsa/Getty Images

The salsa dance should be in full effect on Sunday when the Giants take on the NFC East division rival Dallas Cowboys at MetLife Stadium.

Cruz devastated Dallas in the season opener with five catches for 118 yards and three touchdowns. Given how putrid the Cowboys' league-worst pass defense is, similar numbers could be in store for the star wideout.

Andre Brown has brought a physical presence to New York's backfield and has helped the Giants become more balanced.

That should only translate to more big-play opportunities for Cruz off of play action. Plus, he is dynamic in the slot and should find plenty of room underneath against the Cowboys' incompetent secondary.

Projected Numbers: nine receptions, 120 yards, two touchdowns


Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots

FOXBORO, MA - NOVEMBER 03:  Rob Gronkowski #87 of the New England Patriots reacts after a teammate missed a touchdown pass against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first quarter at Gillette Stadium on November 3, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by J
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Chances are, the Patriots will be in a shootout of sorts with the Peyton Manning-led Denver Broncos.

Manning has his unit scoring a league-best 39.8 points per game, but that rate of scoring has also caused Denver's pass defense to suffer.

Thus, the Broncos present a favorable matchup for Gronkowski and his QB, Tom Brady, ahead of Sunday night's showdown in Gillette Stadium.

Against what may have been his toughest test last week, Gronkowski caught five passes for 59 yards and a touchdown on seven targets, continuing to build his rapport with Brady that was established the previous game:

There is no reason Gronkowski and Brady shouldn't devastate the Broncos, no matter who guards Gronk.

Projected Numbers: 10 receptions, 150 yards, two touchdowns


Week 12 Fantasy Football Rankings
RankQuarterbackRunning BackWide ReceiverTight End
1Cam Newton, Carolina PanthersZac Stacy, St. Louis RamsVictor Cruz, New York GiantsRob Gronkowski, New England Patriots
2Tom Brady, New England PatriotsAdrian Peterson, Minnesota VikingsCalvin Johnson, Detroit LionsVernon Davis, San Francisco 49ers
3Peyton Manning, Denver Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ersVincent Jackson, Tampa Bay BuccaneersJason Witten, Dallas Cowboys
4Philip Rivers, San Diego ChargersBen Tate, Houston TexansAndre Johnson, Houston TexansJohn Carlson, Minnesota Vikings
5Eli Manning, New York GiantsJamaal Charles, Kansas City ChiefsSteve Smith, Carolina PanthersJordan Cameron, Cleveland Browns
Rankings are strictly opinion



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