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

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistNovember 18, 2013

PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 17: Calvin Johnson #81 of the Detroit Lions warms up prior to playing the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on November 17, 2013 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

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. 

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Week 12 Quarterback Rankings
RankPlayerTeamOpponentProj. Points
1Drew BreesNew Orleans SaintsAtlanta Falcons30
2Matt StaffordDetroit LionsTampa Bay Buccaneers26
3Tony RomoDallas CowboysNew York Giants25
4Peyton ManningDenver BroncosNew England Patriots24
5Tom BradyNew England PatriotsDenver Broncos20
6Andrew LuckIndianapolis ColtsArizona Cardinals17
7Colin KaepernickSan Francisco 49ersWashington17
8Cam NewtonCarolina PanthersMiami Dolphins15
9Robert Griffin IIIWashingtonSan Francisco 49ers15
10Alex SmithKansas City ChiefsSan Diego Chargers14

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
RankPlayerTeamOpponentProj. Points
1Matt ForteChicago BearsSt. Louis Rams25
2Frank GoreSan Francisco 49ersWashington24
3Adrian PetersonMinnesota VikingsGreen Bay Packers21
4Chris JohnsonTennessee TitansOakland Raiders20
5Zac StacySt. Louis RamsChicago Bears20
6Jamaal CharlesKansas City ChiefsSan Diego Chargers19
7Eddie LacyGreen Bay PackersMinnesota Vikings15
8Knowshon MorenoDenver BroncosNew England Patriots14
9Rashad JenningsOakland RaidersTennessee Titans13
10Ben TateHouston TexansJacksonville Jaguars13

Running Back Notes

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

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
RankPlayerTeamOpponentProj. Points
1Calvin JohnsonDetroit LionsTampa Bay Buccaneers27
2Andre JohnsonHouston TexansJacksonville Jaguars22
3Josh GordonCleveland BrownsPittsburgh Steelers20
4Dez BryantDallas CowboysNew York Giants19
5Demaryius ThomasDenver BroncosNew England Patriots18
6Jordy NelsonGreen Bay PackersMinnesota Vikings16
7Brandon MarshallChicago BearsSt. Louis Rams16
8Victor CruzNew York GiantsDallas Cowboys14
9Larry FitzgeraldArizona CardinalsIndianapolis Colts14
10Marques ColstonNew Orleans SaintsAtlanta Falcons13

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
RankPlayerTeamOpponentProj. Points
1Vernon DavisSan Francisco 49ersWashington18
2Rob GronkowskiNew England PatriotsDenver Broncos17
3Julius ThomasDenver BroncosNew England Patriots15
4Jimmy GrahamNew Orleans SaintsAtlanta Falcons13
5Jason WittenDallas CowboysNew York Giants12
6Tony GonzalezAtlanta FalconsNew Orleans Saints12
7Rob HouslerArizona CardinalsIndianapolis Colts10
8Delanie WalkerTennessee TitansOakland Raiders9
9Jordan CameronCleveland BrownsPittsburgh Steelers9
10Charles ClayMiami DolphinsCarolina Panthers8

Tight End Notes

Nov 17, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham (80) carries up the field against San Francisco 49ers inside linebacker Patrick Willis (52)  during the fourth quarter at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: John Dav
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
RankTeamOpponentProj. Points
1Carolina PanthersMiami Dolphins18
2San Francisco 49ersWashington17
3Tennessee TitansOakland Raiders17
4Kansas City ChiefsSan Diego Chargers15
5Baltimore RavensNew York Jets14
6New Orleans SaintsAtlanta Falcons12
7St. Louis RamsChicago Bears10
8Houston TexansJacksonville Jaguars10
9Chicago BearsSt. Louis Rams9
10Miami DolphinsCarolina Panthers8

Defense/Special Team Notes

Nov 17, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA; San Francisco 49ers outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks (55) clotheslines New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) behind the line of scrimmage during the fourth quarter at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. San Francisco 49
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. 


Week 12 Kicker Rankings
RankPlayerTeamOpponentProj. Points
1Matt PraterDenver BroncosNew England Patriots15
2Stephen GostkowskiNew England PatriotsDenver Broncos14
3Mason CrosbyGreen Bay PackersMinnesota Vikings12
4Garrett HartleyNew Orleans SaintsAtlanta Falcons12
5Dan BaileyDallas CowboysNew York Giants11
6Ryan SuccopKansas City ChiefsSan Diego Chargers10
7Robbie GouldChicago BearsSt. Louis Rams10
8Adam VinatieriIndianapolis ColtsArizona Cardinals9
9Shaun SuishamPittsburgh SteelersCleveland Browns8
10Justin TuckerBaltimore RavensNew York Jets8

Kicker Notes

Nov 17, 2013; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Green Bay Packers kicker Mason Crosby (2) kicks a field goal against the New York Giants during the second quarter of a game at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
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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