If you like watching star running backs play, does Week 12 have the game for you! The No. 1 back in our Week 12 fantasy RB rankings for Week 12, Christian McCaffrey, takes on our No. 2 RB, Alvin Kamara, in Panthers vs. Saints. If you're like me and drafted Ezekiel Elliott second in your fantasy football draft (after Saquon Barkley), it's a perfect opportunity to kick yourself for not taking a chance on McCaffrey or even Kamara. With Barkley's injury issues and Zeke's overall ineffectiveness, every top fantasy drafter would feel a lot better about themselves if they had just taken a chance and drafted CMC.
It will feel even worse when you watch Elliott get stonewalled by the Patriots this week. Enough self-loathing, though -- you and I both will have to save our weeks through running backs further down the rankings. Maybe that will be Phillip Lindsay, who for the first time all season was the much more utilized back relative to Royce Freeman. Lindsay doubled his teammate in carries, 16-8, and averaged more yards per tote, too.
Or maybe the waiver wire will be your best running back friend this week. There you can snag Jonathan Williams as he fills in for Marlon Mack (hand) on Thursday night or give former Alabama back Bo Scarbrough a try as he seems to be the flavor of the week for the Lions. Derrius Guice has also returned and should see at least half of Washington's backfield touches against a Detroit defense waiting to be run all over.
Things fall off quickly after some of those potentially available options, although it wouldn't be a late-season RB rankings if we didn't pay homage to Kalen Ballage (who's also available in a lot of leagues). He carried nine times for nine yards and caught five passes for eight yards in Week 11. Thankfully for owners relying on him, he fell into the end zone to add six points to his fantasy total. You might have to close your eyes when you play Ballage (who has a favorable matchup against the Browns), but at some level of desperation, that volume means something.
Also keep an eye this week on the injury to James Conner (shoulder) in Pittsburgh. The Steelers face a vulnerable Cincinnati run defense in Week 12, which would make the combo of Jaylen Samuels and Trey Edmunds potentially useful in fantasy this week -- and Edmunds is widely available.
Byes in Week 12 mean fantasy owners will be without Dalvin Cook, Melvin Gordon/Austin Ekeler, Kenyan Drake and Damien Williams.
Reminder: These rankings will be adjusted throughout week, so check back often for the latest updates and analysis!
Week 12 Fantasy RB Rankings
9Ezekiel Elliott, DAL @ NE. Elliott's been inefficient, yet he found a way to the end zone twice in Week 11 anyway. Despite the matchup with New England, we can't recommend sitting a guy this talented who should see nearly 20 touches.
These rankings are for standard, non-PPR leagues.
Christian McCaffrey, CAR @ NO
Alvin Kamara, NO vs. CAR
Nick Chubb, CLE vs. MIA
Saquon Barkley, NYG @ CHI. This is a tough matchup for Saquon, and there are worries about his ankle, but as long as the Giants feel comfortable enough to play him, we're comfortable enough to rank him as high as usual.
Josh Jacobs, OAK @ NYJ
James Conner, PIT @ CIN. If Conner's shoulder injury keeps him out of this one, both Jaylen Samuels and Trey Edmunds become standard-league FLEX plays against a defense allowing 4.7 yards per carry to running backs.
Derrick Henry, TEN vs. JAX
Le'Veon Bell, NYJ vs. OAK. Bell seems to be dealing with all sorts of ailments, but you can't really sit him as long as the Jets keep playing him, much like the situation with Barkley.
Ezekiel Elliott, DAL @ NE. Elliott's been inefficient, yet he found a way to the end zone twice in Week 11 anyway. Despite the matchup with New England, we can't recommend sitting a guy this talented who should see nearly 20 touches.
Leonard Fournette, JAX @ TEN
Todd Gurley, LAR vs. BAL
Tevin Coleman, SF vs. GB
David Montgomery, CHI vs. NYG
Chris Carson, SEA @ PHI
Joe Mixon, CIN vs. PIT
Phillip Lindsay, DEN @ BUF. Reports suggested that Lindsay would finally see more work than Royce Freeman, and he ended up doubling his teammate in carries, 16-8. As long as nothing indicates that'll revert to the earlier norm in Week 12, Lindsay is a strong RB2 play going forward.
Devin Singletary, BUF vs. DEN. Singletary's consistent workload has vaulted him into every-week RB2 status.
Aaron Jones, GB @ SF. Despite the tough matchup, Jones sees enough work in an offense that should still put up points in primetime to keep him in your fantasy lineups this week.
Mark Ingram, BAL @ LAR
Carlos Hyde, HOU vs. IND
Jordan Howard, PHI vs. SEA. You'll want to keep an eye on Howard's injury status after he missed Week 11. His workload was too solid before that to consider sitting him if indications are he's back and healthy.
Jonathan Williams, IND @ HOU. Assuming both Marlon Mack and Jordan Wilkins are out, Williams should be the early-down back after 116 rushing yards in Week 11. It's a Thursday night game, but if you're using a top waiver claim on Williams, it's specifically to play him in Week 12.
Bo Scarbrough, DET @ WAS. After Scarbrough dominated early touches, the workload split up a bit in Detroit, but it was still Bo leading the way in carries. It's a situation worth using caution with, but Scarbrough is the most likely guy to get the work against Washington's poor defense.
Derrius Guice, WAS vs. DET. Guice saw about half of Washington's RB workload in Week 11 and only should see more going forward. The Lions have allowed more fantasy points to running backs than any other defense, so you can feel good about Guice in a FLEX spot this week.
Kareem Hunt, CLE vs. MIA. It seems we can expect five-plus carries and five-plus catches for Hunt each week, which is enough to give him a solid floor even in standard leagues - add in the Dolphins matchup and you feel even better about him.
Ronald Jones, TB @ ATL. What a weird game Tampa just played - Jones had four carries and four targets, compared to no runs and two targets for Peyton Barber. Seems Jones is still preferred, but the Bucs' best option against Atlanta could be to pass a ton.
James White, NE vs. DAL
Latavius Murray, NO vs. CAR
Sony Michel, NE vs. DAL
Royce Freeman, DEN @ BUF. With Lindsay apparently the lead dog in this backfield now, you can probably do better than Freeman in Week 12.
Brian Hill, ATL vs. TB. Hill carried the ball 15 times in Week 11, but for only 30 yards. Tampa Bay has one of the best couple run defenses in the league and Atlanta should throw a ton. Hill may see more than his three Week 11 targets, but don't expect an effective game on the ground.
Adrian Peterson, WAS vs. DET
Jamaal Williams, GB @ SF
Kalen Ballage, MIA @ CLE. Ballage outdid himself. He went from 24 touches for 45 yards to 14 touches for 17 yards. Five catches added some PPR value, and he fell into the end zone. But man, there's not a lot of upside here despite all the touches.
Miles Sanders, PHI vs. SEA. Sanders shoots up a bit if Howard is forced to miss another game.
Raheem Mostert, SF vs. GB
Peyton Barber, TB @ ATL
Jaylen Samuels, PIT @ CIN. Samuels becomes an RB2 option if James Conner has to sit out with his shoulder injury.
Tarik Cohen, CHI vs. NYG
Duke Johnson Jr., HOU vs. IND
Frank Gore, BUF vs. DEN
Nyheim Hines, IND @ HOU. Hines will have a decent floor Thursday night as his involvement should increase somewhat with Marlon Mack out. That's not hugely valuable in standard leagues, though.
Rashaad Penny, SEA @ PHI
Dare Ogunbowale, TB @ ATL
Gus Edwards, BAL @ LAR. Edwards benefited from a long garbage time run Sunday, but he continues to get occasional work for Baltimore each and every week - and the Ravens could have a few more games with garbage time going forward.
Ty Johnson, DET @ WAS
Qadree Ollison, ATL vs. TB. Ollison looked to be the goal-line back for the Falcons on Sunday, which could matter in a game that promises lots of points in Week 12.
Malcolm Brown, LAR vs. BAL
Rex Burkhead, NE vs. DAL
Giovani Bernard, CIN vs. PIT
Bilal Powell, NYJ vs. OAK
J.D. McKissic, DET @ WAS
Dion Lewis, TEN vs. JAX
Wayne Gallman, NYG @ CHI
Tony Pollard, DAL @ NE