Week 12 Rankings: Top 40 Running Backs

Where to Adrian Peterson injuries turn for Week 12? Has Kevin Smith emerged as a must use option? How should owners view Chris Johnson? Let’s look at these questions and all the rest as we head into Week 12:

  1. Arian Foster – Houston Texans – at Jacksonville
  2. LeSean McCoy – Philadelphia Eagles – vs. New England
  3. Matt Forte – Chicago Bears – at Oakland
  4. Ray Rice – Baltimore Ravens – vs. San Francisco
  5. Michael Turner – Atlanta Falcons – vs. Minnesota
  6. DeMarco Murray – Dallas Cowboys – vs. Miami
  7. Michael Bush – Oakland Raiders – vs. Chicago
  8. Maurice Jones-Drew – Jacksonville Jaguars – vs. Houston
  9. Steven Jackson – St. Louis Rams – vs. Arizona
  10. Rashard Mendenhall – Pittsburgh Steelers – at Kansas City
  11. Cedric Benson – Cincinnati Bengals – vs. Cleveland
  12. Frank Gore – San Francisco 49ers – at Baltimore
  13. Marshawn Lynch – Seattle Seahawks – vs. Washington
  14. Willis McGahee – Denver Broncos – at San Diego
  15. Reggie Bush – Miami Dolphins – at Dallas
  16. Fred Jackson – Buffalo Bills – at New York Jets
  17. LeGarrette Blount – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – at Tennessee
  18. Chris Johnson – Tennessee Titans – vs. Tampa Bay
  19. Darren Sproles – New Orleans Saints – vs. New York Giants
  20. Kevin Smith – Detroit Lions – vs. Green Bay
  21. Beanie Wells – Arizona Cardinals – at St. Louis
  22. Shonn Greene – New York Jets – vs. Buffalo
  23. Ryan Mathews – San Diego Chargers – vs. Denver
  24. DeAngelo Williams – Carolina Panthers – at Indianapolis
  25. BenJarvus Green-Ellis – New England Patriots – at Philadelphia
  26. Ben Tate – Houston Texans – at Jacksonville
  27. James Starks – Green Bay Packers – at Detroit
  28. Chris Ogbonnaya – Cleveland Browns – at Cincinnati
  29. Toby Gerhart – Minnesota Vikings – at Atlanta
  30. Mike Tolbert – San Diego Chargers – vs. Denver
  31. Brandon Jacobs – New York Giants – at New Orleans
  32. Donald Brown – Indianapolis Colts – vs. Carolina
  33. Jackie Battle – Kansas City Chiefs – vs. Pittsburgh
  34. Roy Helu – Washington Redskins – at Seattle
  35. Jonathan Stewart – Carolina Panthers – at Indianapolis
  36. Daniel Thomas – Miami Dolphins – at Dallas
  37. Javon Ringer – Tennessee Titans – vs. Tampa Bay
  38. Joe McKnight – New York Jets – vs. Buffalo
  39. Pierre Thomas – New Orleans Saints – vs. New York Giants
  40. Ryan Grant – Green Bay Packers – at Detroit


  • After injuring his ankle on Sunday it is a major question whether Adrian Peterson will be able to play in Week 12 or not. It is likely that he will be forced out for at least one game, meaning Toby Gerhart will likely get to carry the load. However, it is a tough matchup against one of the better rushing defenses in the league, so keep expectations tempered and consider him more of a FLEX option.
  • Kevin Smith may have emerged as the go to running back in Detroit, which shouldn’t be the biggest of surprises. Maurice Morris is still going to get his touches, but after Smith had 140 yards and 2 TD on 16 carries, it’s hard to imagine him not considered the top option heading into Week 12. Of course, his value may be limited due to the game likely being a shootout with the Packers, but he’s worth considering as a low-end RB2/FLEX option.
  • Would anyone be surprised if the Houston Texans go extremely run heavy without Matt Schaub? Look for both Arian Foster and Ben Tate to potentially post strong games.
  • The Baltimore Ravens were not the same defense without Ray Lewis, with Cedric Benson rushing for two touchdowns against them in Week 11. The concerns surrounding Frank Gore were easily dismissed (he rushed for 88 yards on 24 carries), so consider Gore a strong play for the coming week, especially if Lewis is forced to miss another game.
  • Despite Ray Rice drawing the toughest rushing defense in the league, there is no reason to downgrade him. The Ravens have clearly learned their lesson and will continue to get him involved in the offense (he had 20 carries for 104 yards and 2 TD in Week 11). Plus, he has just as much potential to post strong numbers in the passing game. He’s a RB1 in all formats.
  • In his first game against the Browns this season (Week 1) Cedric Benson went off for 121 yards and 1 TD. That was actually his second consecutive game against the Browns with at least 120 yards (he had 150 yards and 1 TD in Week 15 of 2010). Despite the less than stellar play thus far in 2011 (averaging 70.4 yards per game), he should be considered a must use this week.
  • Chris Johnson was awful in Week 11 (28 total yards), but I also wouldn’t just ignore what he did in Weeks 9 & 10 and simply write him off. He draws a Buccaneers’ defense that has allowed the second most rushing touchdowns this season (13) and should be in store for a solid performance. I wouldn’t consider him more than a mid-level RB2, but he should be a viable option.
  • You want to think that James Starks is going to be a great option against the Lions, who are allowing 134.7 rushing yards per game. However, this is the Packers, which means pass, pass and pass some more. He’s got to be considered more of a FLEX option in most weeks.
  • Does anyone want to trust any of the Redskins’ running backs at this point? Who knows what Mike Shanahan is going to do, making Roy Helu, Ryan Torain and Tashard Choice virtually unusable. Consider Helu the better option as a potential FLEX, but that’s about it.
Week 12 Rankings: Top 50 Wide Receivers
Week 12 Rankings: Top 25 Quarterbacks


  1. Ryan says:

    I have in my line up currently sproles, Matthews, k. Smith, jordy Nelson, and V. Jax.. I have d. Will and a. Brown(pitt) on bench as other possibilities.. Do I go with k. Smith hype or play d. Will or a. Brown due to better match ups? Also is Matthews a must start out of this group? He has been a non factor for the most part.. Little help please must win for me this week!

  2. Ketan says:

    I traded for Michael Bush for last week with Foster on bye. Do I start Bush if DMC’s out this week or Murray/DAL vs. Miami’s D, along with Foster?

    Also, my 4th RB is Ogbonnaya, who may loses touches to Hardesty. Is it a no-brainer to go after Kevin Smith on waivers? I’m #8 on waivers, so chances to get him are low. Thanks. I’m not targeting

  3. Randy says:

    I appreciate the advice you’ve provided me and others this season! I’ve elevated myself barely into playoff contention after a brutal start, and I’d love to get your thoughts on how I could strengthen my roster at this point, if you see any obvious moves.

    I’m in a standard 12-team league; we start 1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, 1 TE, 1 RB/WR/TE, 1 K, 1 DEF/ST, 1 DL, 1 LB, and 1 DB. On offense, my roster is currently:

    QBs – Romo, Palmer
    RBs – Foster, Murray, Felix, Jahvid Best, Jonathan Stewart
    WRs – Fitzgerald, Lloyd, Jacoby Ford, Earl Bennett
    TEs – Fred Davis, Celek
    Note, I’m also carrying 1 K, 3 starting and 1 backup IDP, and 2 DEF/STs (matchup based)
    I personally like the balance of my roster, but, have felt a void ever since losing Best to injury. Is Kevin Smith my next logical move? If so, who would you drop? Also, if I don’t land Smith, do you recommend standing pat, or getting Spiller, Gerhart, McKnight, or someone like that for depth? Also, in a prior post, you advised me that dropping Bennett for Miles Austin (who is available), is a wise move, so I’ll do that this evening. But what do you think of Ford? Is he worth stashing? There aren’t many other good WRs on the waiver wire, aside from maybe Santana Moss. I could trade for someone like Percy Harvin, but I don’t know if it’s a big need or what I’d give away. (sorry, something about Harvin still intrigues me, even though he let me down earlier in the year!).

    I apologize for the long post. But I am just hoping to paint the whole picture, so I can find out what someone who knows what they are doing would do in my shoes. : ) Thanks!

    • Ketan says:

      My 0.02. I’d add Kevin Smith and drop Felix or Best.

      I would pick up Austin and Moss if possible – and drop Ford and one of the RBs. I’d start Celek.

  4. Noah says:

    I need help. I need to start 2 of 4. 1 point ppr. Gore, Fred Jax, mcGahee, Kevin Smith. I am concerned about gore a fjax matchups as well as fjax injury. Thanks!

  5. Let’s take these down one at a time:

    Ryan – I wouldn’t consider Mathews a “must start” and I actually like Smith over him this week. That said, I do like Mathews more than Williams (who could easily lose carries to Jonathan Stewart). Antonio Brown is close, but I’d lean towards the RB.

    Ketan – I’d go Foster & Murray, though it is closer than you think. As for grabbing Smith, yes, I definitely would put in the claim.

    Randy – I agree with Ketan, getting both WR for depth makes sense. Bennett or Ford, it’s either or, but let’s say dump Ford and probably Best.

    Noah – I’d be going Gore & McGahee!

  6. Peter says:

    So I’m in a standard scoring league with 2 receivers, 2 running backs, and 1 RB/WR.
    My receiver corps is solid with Calvin Johnson, Steve Smith and Victor Cruz.
    My running back corp is basically a legion of RB2s though. I can’t decide who to start between Michael Bush, Reggie Bush, Chris Johnson, and Kevin Smith. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

    • I think Michael Bush is an easy call for the top spot. It’s the second one that becomes debatable.

      That said, I’d rank them R. Bush, Johnson then Smith, so Bush is my top choice because he is safer. Johnson potentially offers a little more upside (depending on your situation).

  7. Joey says:

    I would have to think you would bump Kevin Smith up a bunch of spots in a PPR ranking, even though its gonna be shoot out, Stafford will probably dump it off to him 6-7 times in the game

  8. Nate says:

    RB help needed… 6pt/td 1pt/10yd 2ptBonus/100yd

    -Murray (a given because of load)
    or J.Graham as a flex…


  9. Tony says:

    Well, Fjax is out so I’m stuck starting either Ogbonnaya as RB2 and D Brown as a flex (Pierre Thomas is my other choice but I would think below both of these backs). Would you go with that or move my other WRs as flex and start Pettigrew instead of one of the RBs as flex?

  10. Ketan says:


    I will start Foster and Murray – with Michael Bush and Ogbonnaya on the bench. I’ve been wondering for awhile about dropping Ogbonnaya, as CLE coach says Hardesty will start if he’s ready (which seems likely). He has CIN,PIT, BAL (2x) in the next 5 weeks, so it’s likely he wouldn’t start, especially if he’s not starting.

    Do I drop him ASAP for Spiller, who gets starting this week for FJax?

    My opponent this week has Rice and FJax as his starters, with Ball and Kendall Hunter on the bench. He will have options like DeAngelo Williams and Donald Brown, who face each other’s weak defenses while Spiller faces the Jets. But Spiller would seem to have the least competition for carries, this week and perhaps next week and ROS.



  11. Nate – What do you need, one RB (aside from Murray) and one FLEX? McGahee is my next choice for RB. As for a FLEX, it’s close between Graham & CJ, but I’d lean towards Graham at this point.

    Tony – I like Pettigrew, but it’s tough to use him as a FLEX. Who are your other WR?

    Ketan – I don’t think Jackson’s injury is a serious one, so ROS isn’t that big of a deal. I agree Ogbannaya isn’t going to bring much value, but with your top three it’s not the biggest issue. I actually think D Williams has the highest upside for the rest of the year if you want to make a change.

  12. Ryan says:

    I’ve had a disaster of a season at rb. fortunately, im still in the playoff picture with 2 weeks left. on that note, my healthy rbs are green-ellis, donald brown, and addai. would you start brown or addai this week???

  13. Ramblin' Wreck says:

    With FJax seemingly out ROS, who would you recommend for the long haul? My options are R.Bush, CJ Spiller, K.Smith, and M.Lynch. I did get Starks when someone dropped him recently but he may not go this week so the question still remains for this week. It’s a PPR league

    • Ramblin' Wreck says:

      Check that Lynch is not available. This short week isn’t making things easy and the FJax loss REALLY hurts a lot of people I’m sure

    • Hmmm…..It’s either Bush or Smith for me.

      As a PPR, I would lean towards Bush. Do you have two available spots where you can grab both of them and play matchups?

      • Ramblin' Wreck says:

        I can actually play them both any week, but one would have to bump A. Hernandez/P.Harvin @ flex to do that. Right now I’ve got this lineup this week


        • If you have people to drop to make room for both, I’d probably grab both of them. Once McFadden returns Michael Bush may no longer be the best play either. Giving yourself more options makes the most sense and both could be better plays then what you’ve got in any given week.

          • Ramblin' Wreck says:

            Sorry for the confusion that’s Reggie Bush. Basically I have to pick a RB2 and flex from these four:

            R.Bush, K.Smith, AHer, Harvin

            Thanks for your insight and Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours

          • Happy Thanksgiving to you as well!

            OK, I got it now…

            RB2 – Reggie Bush
            FLEX – It’s K. Smith or Harvin for me… Assuming Peterson is out, I think Harvin is the way to go (unfortunately, we aren’t going to know for sure, though it appears that he won’t play). I’d probably roll with Harvin, especially since the Lions could be forced to go pass heavy

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