Week 12 Fantasy Football Rankings: Highlighting Most Trustworthy Stars

It’s easy in fantasy football to get too cute. Read enough stats, and you can build a strong case for sitting certain players and starting guys you would normally keep on your bench.

But generally speaking, it’s always wise to trust in your stars. 

On my top-10 rankings at the offensive positions this week, I’ve highlighted those stars you should trust this week. Sure, there are a few players that won’t make the list due to brutal matchups or other considerations, but my rankings support the theory that you should stick with your studs this week.

Notes: All point totals for standard-scoring leagues. Points against stats via ESPN. The Buffalo Bills, Philadelphia Eagles, Cincinnati Bengals and Seattle Seahawks are on bye. 


Week 12 Quarterback Rankings
1 Drew Brees New Orleans Saints Atlanta Falcons 30
2 Matt Stafford Detroit Lions Tampa Bay Buccaneers 26
3 Peyton Manning Denver Broncos New England Patriots 24
4 Tom Brady New England Patriots Denver Broncos 20
5 Tony Romo Dallas Cowboys New York Giants 18
6 Andrew Luck Indianapolis Colts Arizona Cardinals 17
7 Colin Kaepernick San Francisco 49ers Washington 17
8 Cam Newton Carolina Panthers Miami Dolphins 15
9 Robert Griffin III Washington San Francisco 49ers 15
10 Alex Smith Kansas City Chiefs San Diego Chargers 14

Drew Brees against the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday night almost isn’t fair. While only Peyton Manning has more fantasy points than Brees this season, the Atlanta Falcons are allowing 18.4 points to opposing quarterbacks per week, 27th in the NFL. 

Enjoy the spoils of another huge game, Brees owners. 

Matt Stafford will torch a Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ defense allowing 18.1 fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks per week, while Peyton Manning would put up 20 fantasy points on the Great Wall of China if it was implanted into the stadium to play defense against the Denver Broncos. 

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Andrew Luck has been Captain Consistency this season (he has scored 13 or more fantasy points in nine of 10 games), so he’ll overcome a tough matchup against the Arizona Cardinals, while Tony Romo should throw the ball enough to produce despite a revitalized New York Giants defense.

And Cam Newton and Robert Griffin III have been inconsistent this year, yes, but both have been excellent for fantasy owners of late and should continue that trend even if their total production this week is somewhat modest against tough defenses.

Running Backs

Week 12 Running Back Rankings
1 Matt Forte Chicago Bears St. Louis Rams 25
2 Frank Gore San Francisco 49ers Washington 24
3 Adrian Peterson Minnesota Vikings Green Bay Packers 21
4 Chris Johnson Tennessee Titans Oakland Raiders 20
5 Zac Stacy St. Louis Rams Chicago Bears 20
6 Jamaal Charles Kansas City Chiefs San Diego Chargers 19
7 Eddie Lacy Green Bay Packers Minnesota Vikings 15
8 Knowshon Moreno Denver Broncos New England Patriots 14
9 Rashad Jennings Oakland Raiders Tennessee Titans 13
10 Ben Tate Houston Texans Jacksonville Jaguars 13

Most weeks, the running back rankings are dominated by the stars at the top, mostly because the position has been so scary and thin this year that you have no choice but to roll with the big names. Not much has changed this week, though the position has seen an influx of depth in the later week—a pretty rare occurrence.

Nonetheless, trust your studs this week.

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Spor

You could make a strong case that Matt Forte has been fantasy football’s MVP this season.

One of the biggest questions I’ve gotten this week is why Andre Brown didn’t make the cut (even though I obviously think he’s a locked and loaded RB2). The thing is, who would you replace him with?

Rashad Jennings has 340 rushing yards and two touchdowns the past three weeks and faces a Tennessee Titans defense giving up 19.8 fantasy points per week, 27th in the NFL. Ben Tate is the clear starter in Houston and faces a Jacksonville Jaguars team allowing 19.1 fantasy points per week, 25th in the NFL.

I know Brown has been solid as the starter and the Dallas Cowboys stink against the run, but the Cowboys are coming off a bye and there is always the fear that Brandon Jacobs could steal goal-line touches. I love Brown this week, but not quite enough for him to crack the top 10. 

Wide Receivers

Week 12 Wide Receiver Rankings
1 Calvin Johnson Detroit Lions Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27
2 Andre Johnson Houston Texans Jacksonville Jaguars 22
3 Josh Gordon Cleveland Browns Pittsburgh Steelers 20
4 Dez Bryant Dallas Cowboys New York Giants 19
5 Demaryius Thomas Denver Broncos New England Patriots 18
6 Vincent Jackson Tampa Bay Buccaneers Detroit Lions 17
7 Jordy Nelson Green Bay Packers Minnesota Vikings 16
8 Brandon Marshall Chicago Bears St. Louis Rams 16
9 Victor Cruz New York Giants Dallas Cowboys 14
10 Marques Colston New Orleans Saints Atlanta Falcons 13

Calvin Johnson has 112 fantasy points in the past four weeks, which would place him at 50th in the player rankings for all of 2013. Folks, Megatron is out of this world, and it wouldn’t be surprising in the least if his owners were currently experiencing a four-game winning streak.  

Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Andre Johnson, Vincent Jackson, Jordy Nelson and Victor Cruz all have tasty matchups and should produce in a big way this week. The Pittsburgh Steelers have been tough against the pass—or at least they were before facing the New England Patriots and Detroit Lions—but Josh Gordon has matchup-defying talent.

The Patriots could shadow Demaryius Thomas with Aqib Talib, but Thomas is always one catch-and-run away from a huge afternoon, so you shouldn’t hesitate to start him. 

Essentially, the moral of the story here is to trust your studs, much like at running back. 

Tight Ends

Week 12 Tight End Rankings
1 Vernon Davis San Francisco 49ers Washington 18
2 Rob Gronkowski New England Patriots Denver Broncos 17
3 Julius Thomas Denver Broncos New England Patriots 15
4 Jimmy Graham New Orleans Saints Atlanta Falcons 13
5 Jason Witten Dallas Cowboys New York Giants 12
6 Tony Gonzalez Atlanta Falcons New Orleans Saints 12
7 Rob Housler Arizona Cardinals Indianapolis Colts 10
8 Delanie Walker Tennessee Titans Oakland Raiders 9
9 Jordan Cameron Cleveland Browns Pittsburgh Steelers 9
10 Charles Clay Miami Dolphins Carolina Panthers 8

Jimmy Graham, Rob Gronkowski, Julius Thomas and Vernon Davis must be started every week, no questions asked. There isn’t a bad matchup for the top four at this position. 

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

After that you can get cuter if you like, but it’s still pretty hard to sit players like Tony Gonzalez or Jason Witten. If you decide to shake things up, both Rob Housler and Delanie Walker are nice plays this week, especially the latter who has seemed to forge a strong chemistry with backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.

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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