Fantasy Football Week 12 Rankings: Top 40 Running Backs

Eric StashinSenior Writer INovember 23, 2011

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 20:  LeSean McCoy #25 of the Philadelphia Eagles runs the ball against the New York Giants in the first half at MetLife Stadium on November 20, 2011 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

Where do Adrian Peterson injuries turn for Week 12? Has Kevin Smith emerged as a must use option? How should owners view Chris Johnson? Let’s look at these questions and all the rest as we head into Week 12:

  1. Arian Foster – Houston Texans – at Jacksonville
  2. LeSean McCoy – Philadelphia Eagles – vs. New England
  3. Matt Forte – Chicago Bears – at Oakland
  4. Ray Rice – Baltimore Ravens – vs. San Francisco
  5. Michael Turner – Atlanta Falcons – vs. Minnesota
  6. DeMarco Murray – Dallas Cowboys – vs. Miami
  7. Michael Bush – Oakland Raiders – vs. Chicago
  8. Maurice Jones-Drew – Jacksonville Jaguars – vs. Houston
  9. Steven Jackson – St. Louis Rams – vs. Arizona
  10. Rashard Mendenhall – Pittsburgh Steelers – at Kansas City
  11. Cedric Benson – Cincinnati Bengals – vs. Cleveland
  12. Frank Gore – San Francisco 49ers – at Baltimore
  13. Marshawn Lynch – Seattle Seahawks – vs. Washington
  14. Willis McGahee – Denver Broncos – at San Diego
  15. Reggie Bush – Miami Dolphins – at Dallas
  16. Fred Jackson – Buffalo Bills – at New York Jets
  17. LeGarrette Blount – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – at Tennessee
  18. Chris Johnson – Tennessee Titans – vs. Tampa Bay
  19. Darren Sproles – New Orleans Saints – vs. New York Giants
  20. Kevin Smith – Detroit Lions – vs. Green Bay
  21. Beanie Wells – Arizona Cardinals – at St. Louis
  22. Shonn Greene – New York Jets – vs. Buffalo
  23. Ryan Mathews – San Diego Chargers – vs. Denver
  24. DeAngelo Williams – Carolina Panthers – at Indianapolis
  25. BenJarvus Green-Ellis – New England Patriots – at Philadelphia
  26. Ben Tate – Houston Texans – at Jacksonville
  27. James Starks – Green Bay Packers – at Detroit
  28. Chris Ogbonnaya – Cleveland Browns – at Cincinnati
  29. Toby Gerhart – Minnesota Vikings – at Atlanta
  30. Mike Tolbert – San Diego Chargers – vs. Denver
  31. Brandon Jacobs – New York Giants – at New Orleans
  32. Donald Brown – Indianapolis Colts – vs. Carolina
  33. Jackie Battle – Kansas City Chiefs – vs. Pittsburgh
  34. Roy Helu – Washington Redskins – at Seattle
  35. Jonathan Stewart – Carolina Panthers – at Indianapolis
  36. Daniel Thomas – Miami Dolphins – at Dallas
  37. Javon Ringer – Tennessee Titans – vs. Tampa Bay
  38. Joe McKnight – New York Jets – vs. Buffalo
  39. Pierre Thomas – New Orleans Saints – vs. New York Giants
  40. Ryan Grant – Green Bay Packers – at Detroit


  • After injuring his ankle on Sunday, it is a major question whether Adrian Peterson will be able to play in Week 12 or not. It is likely that he will be forced out for at least one game, meaning Toby Gerhart will likely get to carry the load. However, it is a tough matchup against one of the better rushing defenses in the league, so keep expectations tempered and consider him more of a FLEX option.
  • Kevin Smith may have emerged as the go-to running back in Detroit, which shouldn’t be the biggest of surprises. Maurice Morris is still going to get his touches, but after Smith had 140 yards and two TDs on 16 carries, it’s hard to imagine him not considered the top option heading into Week 12. Of course, his value may be limited due to the game likely being a shootout with the Packers, but he’s worth considering as a low-end RB2/FLEX option.
  • Would anyone be surprised if the Houston Texans go extremely run heavy without Matt Schaub? Look for both Arian Foster and Ben Tate to potentially post strong games.
  • The Baltimore Ravens were not the same defense without Ray Lewis, with Cedric Benson rushing for two touchdowns against them in Week 11. The concerns surrounding Frank Gore were easily dismissed (he rushed for 88 yards on 24 carries), so consider Gore a strong play for the coming week, especially if Lewis is forced to miss another game.
  • Despite Ray Rice drawing the toughest rushing defense in the league, there is no reason to downgrade him. The Ravens have clearly learned their lesson and will continue to get him involved in the offense (he had 20 carries for 104 yards and two TDs in Week 11). Plus, he has just as much potential to post strong numbers in the passing game. He’s a RB1 in all formats.
  • In his first game against the Browns this season (Week 1), Cedric Benson went off for 121 yards and a TD. That was actually his second consecutive game against the Browns with at least 120 yards (he had 150 yards and a TD in Week 15 of 2010). Despite the less-than-stellar play thus far in 2011 (averaging 70.4 yards per game), he should be considered a must-use this week.
  • Chris Johnson was awful in Week 11 (28 total yards), but I also wouldn’t just ignore what he did in Weeks 9 and 10 and simply write him off. He draws a Buccaneers defense that has allowed the second-most rushing touchdowns this season (13) and should be in store for a solid performance. I wouldn’t consider him more than a mid-level RB2, but he should be a viable option.
  • You want to think that James Starks is going to be a great option against the Lions, who are allowing 134.7 rushing yards per game. However, this is the Packers, which means pass, pass and pass some more. He’s got to be considered more of a FLEX option in most weeks.
  • Does anyone want to trust any of the Redskins running backs at this point? Who knows what Mike Shanahan is going to do, making Roy Helu and Ryan Torain   virtually unusable. Consider Helu the better option as a potential FLEX, but that’s about it.