Week 12 Rankings (2017): Top 40 Running Backs

by Ray Kuhn

Finally we have made it! We are still two weeks away from the fantasy playoffs, but we have some relief.  The bye weeks are over, so that means we have 32 less than ideal situations to choose from while setting our lineups (as opposed to 26 or 28). With the full slate of options, let’s take a look at how our options rank:

  1. Le’Veon Bell – Pittsburgh Steelers – vs. Green Bay
  2. Mark Ingram – New Orleans Saints – at LA Rams
  3. Todd Gurley – Los Angeles Rams – vs. New Orleans
  4. Melvin Gordon – Los Angeles Chargers – at Dallas
  5. LeSean McCoy – Buffalo Bills – at Kansas City
  6. Leonard Fournette – Jacksonville Jaguars – at Arizona
  7. Kareem Hunt – Kansas City Chiefs – vs. Buffalo
  8. Alvin Kamara – New Orleans Saints – at LA Rams
  9. Devonta Freeman – Atlanta Falcons – vs. Tampa Bay
  10. Jordan Howard – Chicago Bears – at Philadelphia
  11. Christian McCaffrey – Carolina Panthers – at New York Jets
  12. DeMarco Murray – Tennessee Titans – at Indianapolis
  13. Lamar Miller – Houston Texans – at Baltimore
  14. Carlos Hyde – San Francisco 49ers – vs. Seattle
  15. Jerick McKinnon – Minnesota Vikings – at Detroit
  16. Samaje Perine – Washington Redskins – vs. New York Giants
  17. Joe Mixon – Cincinnati Bengals – vs. Cleveland
  18. Dion Lewis – New England Patriots – vs. Miami
  19. Orleans Darkwa – New York Giants – at Washington
  20. Alfred Morris – Dallas Cowboys – vs. LA Chargers
  21. Duke Johnson – Cleveland Browns – at Cincinnati
  22. Jay Ajayi – Philadelphia Eagles – vs. Chicago
  23. Doug Martin – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – at Atlanta
  24. Bilal Powell – New York Giants – vs. Carolina
  25. Alex Collins – Baltimore Ravens – vs. Houston
  26. Jamaal Williams – Green Bay Packers – at Pittsburgh
  27. Ameer Abdullah – Detroit Lions – vs. Minnesota
  28. Tevin Coleman – Atlanta Falcons – vs. Tampa Bay
  29. Latavius Murray – Minnesota Vikings – at Detroit
  30. Isaiah Crowell – Cleveland Browns – at Cincinnati
  31. J.D. McKissic – Seattle Seahawks – at San Francisco
  32. Adrian Peterson – Arizona Cardinals – vs. Jacksonville
  33. Kenyan Drake – Miami Dolphins – at New England
  34. Danny Woodhead – Baltimore Ravens – vs. Houston
  35. Marshawn Lynch – Oakland Raiders – vs. Denver
  36. Damien Williams – Miami Dolphins – at New England
  37. Frank Gore – Indianapolis Colts – vs. Tennesee
  38. Theo Riddick – Detroit Lions – vs. Minnesota
  39. C.J Anderson – Denver Broncos – at Oakland
  40. Rex Burkhead – New England Patriots – vs. Miami


  • Despite being hampered by an ankle injury, Leonard Fournette didn’t disappoint last week. After the game he admitted that the ankle will likely bother him for the rest of the season, but you wouldn’t have known it by watching him. I wouldn’t be concerned about missing practice time each week as the Jaguars work to keep their rookie fresh. Even though he was facing a tough defense in Cleveland Fournette eclipsed the 100 yard mark for the third time in his last four games, and for the fourth time this season. He carried the ball 28 times for 111 yards, and while he wasn’t on the field for many passing situations, he caught two passes for seven yards, he still produced. So far he is averaging 4.2 yards per carry with six touchdowns, and I would look for him to continue his success against Arizona.
  • Guess who is back? None other than everyone’s favorite PPR option, Danny Woodhead. The Ravens took it slow, but it’s clear he will jump right back into being a central part of their offense. He had just one carry, it is obvious that he is not there to carry the ball, but he was targeted six times. In his first game back Woodhead caught five of them, although it was for an underwhelming 21 yards. Due to Woodhead’s return, Buck Allen had four touches and at this point we can likely move on. This week Baltimore faces Houston, who has the number one run defense, so that means while Alex Collins might have trouble finding room to run and Woodhead should get a lot of work in the passing game once again.
  • Oh Lamar Miller. I want to forget about you or simply ignore you, but it’s just not possible. Now that doesn’t mean he is someone to target in DFS, but his workload and production has been too steady, or even uninspiring, to ignore in seasonal leagues. Just as D’Onta Foreman gained 65 yards on 10 carries and scored two touchdowns making you think he was ready to truly eat into Miller’s workload, he promptly tore his Achilles tendon and is out for the season. Last week Miller had 22 carries, but he gained just 61 yards while also catching four passes for 22 yards and a touchdown. Overall he has 162 carries, but is averaging just 3.7 yards per carry and only has two rushing touchdowns. To help replace Foreman the Texans signed Andre Ellington, but as a Miller owner I wouldn’t be concerned. Ellington will have some FLEX appeal in PPR leagues, he has 33 catches for 297 yards, but he won’t eat into Miller’s rushing workload.
  • For as good as Kareem Hunt was earlier in the season, things have not been going nearly as well for the rookie as of late. Coming after Kansas City’s bye week, optimism was abound against the Giants on Sunday, but he didn’t exactly come through (or at least not to the extent that fantasy owners thought he would). The Chiefs just looked odd on Sunday, and had Alex Smith drop back an insane 45 times despite the swirling winds. Hunt carried the ball 18 times and managed 73 yards. We are now through five straight weeks of Hunt failing to eclipse 100 yards, and he hasn’t found the end zone on the ground since Week 3. With the Chiefs facing the Bills, who have the leagues second worst rushing defense against fantasy running backs, we shouldn’t be too hard on Hunt.
  • We know that the Patriots cycle through running backs, and Dion Lewis is who the dial has landed on the past two weeks. In fact, Lewis has been the focus of New England’s backfield over the past five games as he has averaged 12.6 carries and 57 yards. He has led the Patriots’ backfield in touches over that span, and last week he was also a factor in the passing game with four receptions for 28 yards and a touchdown. This week he gets to face the Dolphins, who generally don’t offer too much resistance to opposing running backs, and I would look for his success to continue. While Lewis’ ownership has increased by 25.6% in ESPN leagues, he is still available in about 33% of leagues.
  • Seattle’s backfield has been a mess all season, and at this point, J.D. McKissic is the last man standing. Mike Davis had a cameo Monday night, but thanks to his groin injury he is gone just as quickly as he appeared. Thomas Rawls and Eddie Lacy have both struggled to get anything going, and with CJ Prosise and Chris Carson sidelined that leaves us with McKissic. With seven carries for 30 yards last week, McKissic led Seattle’s running backs in carries. I would expect that to continue this week as he is slated to face the 49ers and their league worst run defense. McKissic will also be a factor in the passing game, and last week he also added five receptions for 23 yards.

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Make sure to check out all of our Week 12 rankings:

Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Week 12 Rankings (2017): Top 20 Tight Ends
Week 12 Rankings (2017): Top 25 Quarterbacks


  1. darrick says:

    hey professor which 2 rb’s do i start this week in a 1/2 ppr. mccoy, mixon, darkwa or crowell

  2. Jim says:

    Help with rb PPR
    Morris or Hyde
    Who has the highest upside, need some extra points

    Thanks for all you info!

  3. Stephen says:

    Need a little flex advice, .5 ppr: D Booker, Burkhead, Forte, or Paul Richardson? Thanks!

  4. Andy says:

    Happy Thanksgiving Professor,
    This week i line up but don’t know who to start at Flex for full PPR . Need your input. Thanks
    QB: Drew Brees
    WR: Doug Baldwin, Adam Thien
    RB: Alvin Kamara, Christian McCaffrey
    TE: Zach Ertz
    Flex: Golden Tate Vs Viking or DEmarco Murray @ Indy

  5. Brian Cagle says:

    1 pt. PPR
    Need 4
    RB McCoy, Fournette, Mckinnon, Hyde
    WR Tate, Thielen, Demaryius Thomas, JuJU Schuster
    (cant believe I’m 5-6 with a Squad like this !!)

    Q2 1 pt. PPR
    TE: Kroft vs CLE or Rudolph vs Lions?

    Need 2 out of the 4 below:
    RB’s Mckinnon, Booker, Hyde, or WR M Lee

    Need a Flex?
    WR M Lee @ ARI or Evans vs ATL?

    DST ROS? Rank them?
    Saints Broncos or Rams

  6. Wolverine says:

    Std FLEX: G Tate or J McKinnon? Thanks and Happy Thanksgiving

  7. Krysta says:

    14 team, 1/2 PPR

    I thought Devonta Freeman was still in concussion protocol? Assuming Melvin Gordon is a must start…Tevin Coleman or Duke Johnson as RB2?

    Assuming Michael Thomas is a must start…JuJu Smith-Schuster, T.Y. Hilton or Jamison Crowder as WR 2?

    Who remaining would you flex?

  8. Too Tall says:

    10 team standard.

    I have WRs Golden Tate, TY Hilton, M. Lee, Robby Anderson, J. Doctson, Kenny Stills. RBs L. McCoy, A. Morris, J. McKinnon. I have concern about the matchup of Tate and Vikings. Stills has had success with back up QB. Who would you choose for the 2 WR, 2 RB, and the flex position?

    • It is a tough matchup, but I’d have a tough time sitting Tate. I agree Stills has had good results with Moore under center, but it’s no guarantee that Cutler doesn’t play. I wouldn’t take that gamble.

      RB – McCoy/Morris
      WR – Tate/Hilton
      FLEX – Anderson (but could use Stills here if you wanted)

  9. promillo says:

    Absolulty not sure who to start on my last sport R/W/T:
    Fank Gore, Doug Martin, Jamaal Williams, Zay Jones, Austin Seferian-Jenkins or Greg Olson

    Most consistent is Frank Gore.

  10. Luigi says:

    Good Morning Professor,

    At RB1 Im running with Mark Ingram,
    Leaving another spot open for Doug Martin, Demarco Murrary, and Danny woodhead
    Should I play conservative with Demaro, I have a feeling Danny should be a good start. NO PPR, Alshon, AJ Green and Mike evans are my WR options

  11. Sheldon Williamson says:

    Hi, Prof! There’s some talk that McKissic may be the RB to start in Seattle, with Davis out. I’ve picked him up off of waivers. However, is McKissic startable over Jamaal Williams and Danny Woodhead? Is point to note is that I have Russel Wilson at QB. Thanks.

  12. Trevor says:

    Do you think Rawls can use the matchup against SF as a get right game. Could be a major sleeper start, right?

  13. reggie says:

    yo prof

    need a flex

    standard scoring

    Crowder Doug Martin, CJ or Booker? (I know – weak!)


  14. Haggy says:


  15. J says:

    Hey Prof,
    PPR I am super weak at RB but:
    Frank Gore or James White

  16. MikeinMacon says:

    I started Melvin Gordon Thursday as my RB1 and got 10 points. I have Kareem Hunt as my RB2 and Tevin Coleman as my Flex. I also have Carlos Hyde and Danny Woodhead on the bench. Do I need to make any changes? If I win this game, I go to playoffs.

  17. Too Tall says:

    What is your opinion of Rod Smith versus Alfred Morris in Standard league? I have Morris who did not do well on Thursday. Is this evolving into a similar situation as Latavious Murray over McKinnon preference in standard? Should I replacr Morrid with Smith or keep both?

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