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Week 12 Fantasy Football Rankings

 

Below are this week’s fantasy rankings for quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends.  Each table includes our rank, the player’s team, their opponent, and the positional rank of that opponent.  This rank is based on fantasy points allowed to the position, #1 being the fewest (worst matchup) and #32 being the most (best matchup).  I will provide analysis of players I feel contrarian on compared to other sites’ rankings, but if a player you have questions on is not mentioned or you have pressing lineup questions, please tweet me @CoryHopwood or @RCS_Fantasy.  We are here to help!

Note that the Steelers and Panthers are on bye this week.

 

Quarterbacks

Rank Name Team Opp. Opp. Rank
1 Andrew Luck IND Jac 20
2 Aaron Rodgers GB @Min 8
3 Peyton Manning DEN Mia 1
4 Drew Brees NO Bal 19
5 Tom Brady NE Det 2
6 Tony Romo DAL @NYG 21
7 Russell Wilson SEA Ari 7
8 Jay Cutler CHI TB 27
9 Colin Kaepernick SF Wsh 31
10 Mark Sanchez PHI Ten 9
11 Philip Rivers SD StL 24
12 Matthew Stafford DET @NE 14
13 Josh McCown TB @Chi 29
14 Kyle Orton BUF NYJ 31
15 Ryan Tannehill MIA @Den 24
16 Matt Ryan ATL Cle 4
17 Joe Flacco BAL @NO 26
18 Eli Manning NYG Dal 13
19 Alex Smith KC @Oak 18
20 Robert Griffin III WSH @SF 3

 

I’ll save your time and skip why I have swapped Sanchez and Stafford compared to most analysts for the third week in a row.  If you need to know my reasoning, look at last week’s rankingsSanchez has continued his big yardage in the Eagles’ offense, and Stafford proved predictable against an underrated pass defense again.  Notice he has the Patriots defense this week, which is only ranked outside the top ten in stopping fantasy QB’s due to back to back games versus Manning and Luck.

McCown is providing the type of fantasy play that owners expected heading into this season with a similar weapon set to the one he had in Chicago last year.  If nothing else he is consistent, only dipping below 17 points once in his four full games.  He also averaged 17 in those four games, which places him well within the top-10 at the position in total fantasy points on the year if you extrapolate his average to ten games.  Speaking of Chicago, he gets the Bears at an opportune time.  They have been awful in defending the pass lately, moving them to the third on the “points allowed to QB” ranks.  Don’t be worried about their deceiving 8 points allowed last week.  The Vikings just can’t protect their young QB.

I look at Orton’s situation very similarly, but he has already proven he can toast the Jets secondary for 25 fantasy points, as shown in Week 8.  He has played great pass defenses along the way, the Jets being the only real outlier.  No QB puts up solid numbers against Miami, so owners shouldn’t give up on him after last week.  Before last week, he was guaranteed at least 14 fantasy points even against top-10 defenses in terms of points allowed to the QB.  I doubt we will see another 4 touchdown game out of him, but this is a safe play at QB2.

I feel bad throwing Tannehill so far down the rankings, but it has a lot to do with the “safe” nature of the guys I put in front of him, not to mention their favorable matchups.  While Denver is also a good matchup, providing the 8th most points to fantasy quarterbacks, the only times they have given up more than 14 points to a QB were to elite NFL passers.  That paired with Tannehill’s inconsistent scoring and inability to connect with Wallace over the top is enough to slide him behind other QB2 options.  He has the most upside, but why risk it unless you really need to?

 

Running Backs

Rank Name Team Opp. Opp. Rank
1 DeMarco Murray DAL @NYG 30
2 Jamaal Charles KC @Oak 28
3 Arian Foster HOU Cin 27
4 Matt Forte CHI TB 23
5 Eddie Lacy GB @Min 25
6 LeSean McCoy PHI Ten 32
7 Marshawn Lynch SEA Ari 2
8 Justin Forsett BAL @NO 21
9 Rashad Jennings NYG Dal 15
10 Mark Ingram NO Bal 1
11 Denard Robinson JAC @Ind 29
12 C.J. Anderson DEN Mia 14
13 Andre Ellington ARI @Sea 12
14 Isaiah Crowell CLE @Atl 31
15 Lamar Miller MIA @Den 7
16 Ryan Mathews SD StL 10
17 Alfred Morris WSH @SF 4
18 Frank Gore SF Wsh 7
19 Trent Richardson IND Jac 24
20 Steven Jackson ATL Cle 17
21 Jeremy Hill CIN @Hou 19
22 Tre Mason STL @SD 16
23 Giovani Bernard CIN @Hou 19
24 Joique Bell DET @NE 22
25 Chris Ivory NYJ @Buf 3
26 Jonas Gray NE Det 6
27 Jerick McKinnon MIN GB 18
28 Shane Vereen NE Det 6
29 Fred Jackson BUF NYJ 7
30 Charles Sims TB @Chi 13

 

The workhorse I touted heading into the season is back, and although he didn’t produce amazing fantasy numbers last week, Rashad Jennings did manage to get 22 touches as if he was never gone.  Unfortunately, he was up against a very stingy 49ers run defense, so we can forgive him.  This week he gets the Cowboys, who according to ESPN are giving up the 6th highest yards per carry this season.  The favorable matchup and proven ability gives me confidence in playing him over the other high workload guys at in the backside RB1 range.

There are a lot of conditional ranks this week, meaning you will need to monitor the situation in the backfield before starting them Sunday.  In the case of the Browns, I have been impressed with Crowell all season and expected him to start even sooner than this, and while he is likely to keep that job in my mind, you should be careful and double check close to game time that West isn’t getting the nod for some odd reason.  Tate is out of the mix, which adds to my confidence.  Plus, the Falcons are giving up the second most points to fantasy running backs this season.  It has the makings of another huge week for him.

Miller didn’t seem to be protecting his shoulder last week and managed to get plenty of work again.  He even managed to put up a respectable 98 all-purpose yards on the Bills top notch rushing defense.  He has Denver this week, and while they are allowing the 7th fewest points to running backs, Tre Mason just exploited them for a career day.  The only thing keeping me from ranking him higher is his lack of workhorse-type touches.  He has been limited the last few weeks, but if he can manage to find the endzone in a potential shootout it shouldn’t matter.

Jeremy Hill is a guy that could range anywhere from RB1 to flex this week depending on Gio’s workload.  As of right now he is practicing and looking ready to play.  Although I would like to see Hill continue to play lead back and be supplemented by Bernard’s speed, it seems unlikely, thus I am tempering my expectations.  Keep an eye on his news this week.

While Tate is no longer threatening the value of the other Browns running backs, he is now making me nervous in Minnesota.  The injury to Asiata was probably going to give McKinnon a boost into my top-20 at the position, but with no idea on Turner’s plans for the backfield I’m planning on avoiding the situation if possible despite that porous Green Bay run defense.

 

Wide Receivers

Rank Name Team Opp. Opp. Rank
1 Demaryius Thomas DEN Mia 6
2 Jordy Nelson GB @Min 19
3 Calvin Johnson DET @NE 3
4 Dez Bryant DAL @NYG 10
5 Brandon Marshall CHI TB 31
6 A.J. Green CIN @Hou 32
7 T.Y. Hilton IND Jac 22
8 Julio Jones ATL Cle 14
9 Randall Cobb GB @Min 19
10 Alshon Jeffery CHI TB 31
11 Jeremy Maclin PHI Ten 12
12 Mike Evans TB @Chi 18
13 Odell Beckham Jr. NYG Dal 5
14 Roddy White ATL Cle 14
15 Sammy Watkins BUF NYJ 23
16 DeAndre Hopkins HOU Cin 2
17 Mike Wallace MIA @Den 11
18 Emmanuel Sanders DEN Mia 6
19 DeSean Jackson WSH @SF 17
20 Josh Gordon CLE @Atl 27
21 Golden Tate DET @NE 3
22 Jordan Matthews PHI Ten 12
23 Reggie Wayne IND Jac 22
24 Andre Johnson HOU Cin 2
25 Vincent Jackson TB @Chi 18
26 Torrey Smith BAL @NO 26
27 Anquan Boldin SF Wsh 21
28 Julian Edelman NE Det 4
29 Percy Harvin NYJ @Buf 15
30 Michael Crabtree SF Wsh 21
31 Marques Colston NO Bal 28
32 Steve Smith BAL @NO 26
33 Keenan Allen SD StL 29
34 Michael Floyd ARI @Sea 1
35 Brandon LaFell NE Det 4
36 Mohamed Sanu CIN @Hou 32
37 Eric Decker NYJ @Buf 15
38 Cecil Shorts III JAC @Ind 9
39 Allen Hurns JAC @Ind 9
40 Kenny Stills NO Bal 28

 

Maybe I’m just not good at goodbyes, but Julio is never going to fall out of my top-10 for having a few 50+ yardage games.  We saw two weeks ago that he hasn’t lost that WR1 ability.  He is really just lacking in touchdowns this season, almost like the Andre Johnson of old.  I think it’s bad luck.  He’s had 11 targets in back to back weeks, leading to 14 catches, and Cleveland will only slow him down if they shadow him with HadenRyan is looking for him, and he is still an elite talent on a great streak of 50 yard games this season.

He’s coming back, and people have kept him on their bench for weeks.  Josh Gordon is impressing at practice and everyone, including himself, is talking about his first game back.  I am sure he will return to greatness with Hoyer, but if you made it this far without him, you are either saving him as a keeper for next year or grabbed him to help you peak in the playoffs.  There is no reason not to trust the guys that got you this far, and with the threat of him not returning to full time snaps there is no reason to risk it to sure up your record.  Get excited for fantasy playoffs and 2015 all ye patient ones.

With Megatron back I mostly expected Golden Tate to benefit from the lack of attention, but if Stafford continues to struggle it won’t matter.  We saw him have issues without and now with Johnson in the lineup, and this week doesn’t bode well for their passing attack.  The Patriots are allowing the third fewest fantasy points to receivers, and they have challenged major receiving groups like Chicago and Indianapolis.  It will mostly depend on how they plan to guard Calvin.  If Revis does shadow him, Tate should be solid.  I’m confident he will surpass two targets, but his touchdown chances are now way down with the league’s best jump ball receiver healthy.

Steve Smith has recently lacked the big performances that made him a great surprise early this season in fantasy football, and although his catches are down, his targets still remain promising.  He’s averaging 8 targets per game the last three games, so it’s clear Flacco is still looking his way.  Plus, his reception style has been less dependent on beating defenders deep like Torrey Smith.  He’s running more short possession routes that he still has the ability to break off for yards after the catch.  I don’t expect him to suddenly bring in weekly touchdowns, but I do predict his receptions will climb, especially this week against a Saints team allowing the 7th most points to receivers.

I mentioned last week why LaFell isn’t a trustworthy fantasy player.  I would much rather take a risk with a high upside guy.  This week isn’t promising with Detroit coming to town, as they are allowing the fourth fewest points to receivers this season.  He may be able to beat weak rookie corners on the Bears, but he is very likely to be touchdown dependent the rest of the way, especially this week.

 

Tight End

Rank Name Team Opp. Opp. Rank
1 Rob Gronkowski NE Det 13
2 Jimmy Graham NO Bal 8
3 Julius Thomas DEN Mia 4
4 Martellus Bennett CHI TB 14
5 Antonio Gates SD StL 5
6 Larry Donnell NYG Dal 29
7 Coby Fleener IND Jac 22
8 Delanie Walker TEN @Phi 2
9 Jason Witten DAL @NYG 23
10 Charles Clay MIA @Den 24
11 Travis Kelce KC @Oak 16
12 Mychal Rivera OAK KC 18
13 Zach Ertz PHI Ten 19
14 Austin Seferian-Jenkins TB @Chi 32
15 Owen Daniels BAL @NO 2
16 Kyle Rudolph MIN GB 15
17 Jordan Reed WSH @SF 16
18 Jared Cook STL @SD 5
19 Marcedes Lewis JAC @Ind 30
20 Jace Amaro NYJ @Buf 9

 

Charles Clay is returning to his role as the security blanket.  He’s averaging 7.6 targets per game over the last three weeks, and he has managed to rack up 17 catches.  The yardage hasn’t been spectacular, but it’s the curse of the position.  More catches equals more chances to score or make a bigger play, and playing Denver (allowing 9th most points to tight ends) will only help.  It’s all we have right now to round out TE1’s.

Kelce is of course the most frustrating tight end.  He is clearly talented, but the team doesn’t use him enough in the pass game as a receiver.  Even with Fasano out and getting the majority of the snaps, his route running hasn’t increased, leaving no more opportunity than before.  If anything he would just be more tired now.  Following the past two weeks of dud performances and the ensuing matchup against the Raiders, who everyone tends to run the ball against, I’m not getting my hopes up for a turn around.

I’ve talked about the size and potential of Austin Seferian-Jenkins before, but he hasn’t really panned out.  Two weeks ago McCown did target him 9 times, but last week he only received one look.  The good news is McCown only had 15 completions to spread around.  This week they play the Bears, who are giving up the most points to the position.  If any touchdown dependent tight ends have a chance this week to be useable, it’s him.

I don’t think we can trust Daniels.  I thought he might take over as Pitta 2.0.  However, he seems to be more of the injured dump off guy.  It reminds me of this older Witten we have been seeing.  He plays the team responsible for allowing the second fewest points to fantasy tight ends, the Saints, and I think if you are touchdown hunting or looking for a flier you would have better luck elsewhere.

 

Image: foxsports.com

 

Resources:

Rotoworld.com

ESPN.com

NFL.com

Myfantasyleague.com

XNsports.com

Thefakefootball.com

Twitter.com

 

Cory Hopwood

Cory Hopwood

Senior Writer at Riverfront City Sports
What's the point of joining a fantasy sports league without consulting Cory Hopwood? Trick question, there isn't one. This fantasy football guru provides insight like none other and knowledge that will rival even the most seasoned analyst.
Cory Hopwood

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