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Fantasy Football Week 12 Rankings: Top Players, Sleepers and Positional Guide

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistNovember 21, 2018

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck throws during the first half of an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

Fantasy football owners don't win without studs. But the most successful ones are experts at sniffing out sleepers, too.

Guessing right on both fronts will be imperative as the 2018 season rolls into Week 12. The sleeper part could be extra important if you're heavily invested in the Kansas City Chiefs and/or Los Angeles Rams, since the two electric squads will take the final byes of the campaign.

At this point on the calendar, mistakes are magnified and rewards are extra rich. We'll try to help you enjoy the latter by ranking the top 10 offensive players at each position, then analyzing a must-start option and offering a sleeper—available in at least 50 percent of Yahoo Sports leagues—at every spot.

                  

Quarterbacks

1. Drew Brees, NO (vs. ATL)

2. Andrew Luck, IND (vs. MIA)

3. Matt Ryan, ATL (at NO)

4. Cam Newton, CAR (vs. SEA)

5. Mitchell Trubisky, CHI (at DET)

6. Aaron Rodgers, GB (at MIN)

7. Tom Brady, NE (at NYJ)

8. Ben Roethlisberger, PIT (at DEN)

9. Russell Wilson, SEA (at CAR)

10. Deshaun Watson, HOU (vs. TEN)

                    

Must-Start: Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers (vs. Seattle Seahawks)

Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

While the Panthers couldn't collectively return to form against the Detroit Lions in Week 11, Newton did his part.

His 357 passing yards were a season-high, and his three touchdown passes were the most he'd thrown since Week 2. More impressively, the additional volume didn't harm his efficiency. His 67.6 completion percentage nearly mirrored his season-long mark (68.4), and while he threw a pick, that was the extent of the self-inflicted damage amid 37 attempts.

He's also utilizing new weapons and getting significant mileage out of them. Rookie D.J. Moore was targeted a season-high eight times and responded with seven catches for 157 yards and a score. Sophomore Curtis Samuel turned his season-high seven targets into five receptions for 55 yards and a touchdown.

Newton has playmakers around him, and in Week 12 he's getting a better matchup than you might think. The Seahawks' once ferocious defense now ranks a pedestrian 20th in passing yards allowed per attempt.

Sleeper: Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns (at Cincinnati Bengals)

                      

Running Backs

1. Alvin Kamara, NO (vs. ATL)

2. Melvin Gordon, LAC (vs. ARI)

3. Ezekiel Elliott, DAL (vs. WAS)

4. David Johnson, ARI (at LAC)

5. Saquon Barkley, NYG (at PHI)

6. Christian McCaffrey, CAR (vs. SEA)

7. James Conner, PIT (at DEN)

8. Leonard Fournette, JAX (at BUF)

9. Nick Chubb, CLE (at CIN)

10. Joe Mixon, CIN (vs. CLE)

                         

Must-Start: Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns (at Cincinnati Bengals)

David Richard/Associated Press

The Browns valued Chubb enough to grab him with an early second-rounder back in April, but it still took a while before they loosened his leash. Through the first six weeks, he totaled all of 16 carries.

But Cleveland finally came to its senses, and Chubb hasn't had fewer than 18 rushes in any of the four games since. At this point, why would he? All he's done with the 78 rushes he's received over that stretch is take them for 5.2 yards per clip and put three of them in the end zone. Oh, plus he's added another 48 yards and a score on six catches, too.

Chubb, who's already had two 100-yard rushing efforts and one game with 200-plus scrimmage yards, is only getting started.

His outlook couldn't be any brighter heading into Week 12. He'll be rested after Cleveland's bye and anxious to get after a Cincinnati defense that allows the second-most fantasy points to running backs, ranks dead last in rushing yards allowed per game (153.6) and is tied for 27th in rushing scores surrendered (13).

Sleeper: Gus Edwards, Baltimore Ravens (vs. Oakland Raiders)

                          

Wide Receivers

1. Julio Jones, ATL (at NO)

2. Michael Thomas, NO (vs. ATL)

3. Antonio Brown, PIT (at DEN)

4. Odell Beckham Jr., NYG (at PHI)

5. DeAndre Hopkins, HOU (vs. TEN)

6. Adam Thielen, MIN (vs. GB)

7. Mike Evans, TB (vs. SF)

8. Stefon Diggs, MIN (vs. GB)

9. Davante Adams, GB (at MIN)

10. Keenan Allen, LAC (vs. ARI)

                     

Must-Start: Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (vs. San Francisco 49ers)

Bryan Woolston/Associated Press

This guy is incredible.

There might be a handful of receivers better than Evans, but none is having a season like his. He has the sixth-most receiving yards of anyone (957 on only 56 catches), despite the fact the Buccaneers still haven't settled on a starting quarterback.

No matter who is under center, Evans usually delivers—often in a big way. He's finished with fewer than 50 receiving yards once this season, topped the century mark five different times and reached at least 130 yards in three different contests.

Evans doesn't have the easiest matchup in Week 12. While the 49ers can collectively be scored upon (13th-most fantasy points to wide receivers), they still have a shutdown corner in Richard Sherman to throw at Evans. Good thing poor matchups and even erratic quarterback play don't seem to bother Evans as much as they probably should.

Sleeper: Keke Coutee, Houston Texans (vs. Tennessee Titans)

                   

Tight Ends

1. George Kittle, SF (at TB)

2. Zach Ertz, PHI (vs. NYG)

3. Rob Gronkowski, NE (at NYJ)

4. Trey Burton, CHI (at DET)

5. Greg Olsen, CAR (vs. SEA)

6. Jack Doyle, IND (vs. MIA)

7. Jordan Reed, WAS (at DAL)

8. Jared Cook, OAK (at BAL)

9. Austin Hooper, ATL (at NO)

10. Evan Engram, NYG (at PHI)

                       

Must-Start: Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles (vs. New York Giants)

Rich Schultz/Associated Press

Knowing the difference between trends and outliers is a critical part of being a good fantasy owner.

For example, the 2018 season has essentially been Ertz's steady climb into the elite ranks at tight end. He's third among everyone with 77 receptions and second among tight ends (14th overall) with 804 receiving yards. Sustaining such consistently dominant production is a trend.

But even the league's best are prone to outlier duds, which is exactly how we should treat Ertz' Week 11 flop until proved otherwise. None of his numbers was easy to stomach; we're not even sure what's the most troubling: 15 receiving yards, two catches or three targets.

Again, though, there's no reason to believe Ertz is in danger of a repeat disaster. He's a good enough player to get himself on track against anyone, but he's especially appealing against a Giants defense allowing the 11th-most passing yards per game (256).

Sleeper: Jeff Heuerman, Denver Broncos (vs. Pittsburgh Steelers)

                       

Statistics used courtesy of NFL.com and ESPN.com. Fantasy scoring and ownership information obtained via Yahoo Sports.

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