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Fantasy Football Week 12 Running Back Rankings

Can Kevin Smith keep the momentum going on Thanksgiving against the 10-0 Packers?
Can Kevin Smith keep the momentum going on Thanksgiving against the 10-0 Packers?

Week 11 was not kind to the running backs. True RB1 guys like Adrian Peterson and Fred Jackson are likely to miss time and this should allow guys like C.J. Spiller and Toby Gerhart to make a splash for owners that stashed them in deep leagues or have high priority on their waiver wire. Speaking of the waiver wire, check out my Waiver Wire Scoops and Rest of the Season Rankings on which guys you should be targeting for the stretch run. Another big factor about the stretch run is that the byes have gone bye-bye, so fantasy owners that have some decent depth, might want to grab a ton of high-upside backups. In fact, this week's Running Back Rankings will add an asterisk to those backups that could emerge as a featured back should the starter suffer an injury. We also have plenty of news to go over as well.

Check out all the running back news and rankings after the jump:

I'm also pleased to announced that Fake Teams has added an Active/Inactive Post. It posts on Saturday night and updates throughout Sunday. Here's what it looked like last week and it's a great way to get my take on both the offensive and defensive guys that are sitting out. Another thing I'm excited to share is that fellow writer Kenny Arthur and I will be previewing all of the Thanksgiving games with more analysis than you'll know what to do with (here's an example of last week's).

Injury News and Notes

Adrian Peterson- All Day is very unlikely for Sunday's game against the Falcons with an ankle sprain. Toby Gerhart should slide into the lead back role and might be able to hit double-digit fantasy points. The Vikings will also use Percy Harvin which makes it a little tough to count on Gerhart getting more than 20 touches. He doesn't have a good matchup against the second-ranked ATL run D either.

Fred Jackson- Fred-Jax is dealing with a calf injury and is likely going to be a game-time decision. The word on the street is that he has just a bruise of the muscle, which is better than a strained muscle and he could be suiting up for Sunday's must-win game vs. the Jets. There's a chance he plays, so be sure that Spiller is owned and Jackson owners should keep their eyes peeled for news.

UPDATE: Fred Jackson is out for the year. The rankings have been adjusted accordingly

The Redskin Mess- If Thanksgiving had an opposite holiday about things we were not thankful for, Mike Shanahan would probably be the poster child for it. He is up to it again this week by saying that he doesn't expect Roy Helu to carry the load in the backfield in a Tuesday press conference. Later on in the day, he and the Redskins cut Tashard Choice and signed Evan Royster from their practice squad. Choice had the most carries until the fourth quarter started and finished with six carries for seven yards. A 1.2 YPC is not going to keep you on a roster for long, so they decided to bring on Evan Royster and give him a try. The Penn State alum was solid in the preseason with two outings that included 15 carries for 66 yards against the Steelers and 11 carries for 44 yards against the Buccaneers. Royster could be a factor, but he's obviously just for very deep leagues at this point. As for the starter, one would think that Helu would get the bulk of the carries based on his 4.9 YPC (compared to Torains' 3.5), adequate job in pass protection and exceptional work in catches passes. This Shanny drama is played out like an Osh Kosh jumpsuit and every fantasy owner should hate him with a passion.

Kevin Smith- Silent Bob is taking practice reps with the first team this week. Shocking, I know. Smith is on a role and most fantasy owners will have a tough time benching him following his 201-yard, three-score gem on Sunday. The Lions are hoping Jahvid Best could return for the end of the season. Don't hold your breath, Best owners.

Felix Jones and DeMarco Murray- Felix did not practice on Tuesday. To be perfectly frank, it doesn't matter. Murray got 31 touches on Sunday in Felix's return and expect to see a heavy helping of Murray. Murray is a true RB2 for the rest of the season and Felix is just a guy to stash at this point.

LaDainian Tomlinson- Tomlinson is still dealing with his setback from his sprained MCL and he is likely to sit out against a wonderful matchup at home against the Bills. Shonn Greene is back at practice and reportedly isn't fazed by his rib injury. Joe McKnight is also expected to see a nice chunk of work in the passing game and to give Greene a blow. Greene should be safe to start and McKnight is a low-level flex in some formats.

James Starks- It seemed like Starks was going to miss Thursday's game with sprains of his knee and ankle on his right side. However, Starks put in a practice on Tuesday and he is looking like a go for the game against the fairly soft Lions run D (ranked 27th). The Packers do not like to run the ball at all and they really don't need to with Aaron Rodgers in the midst of the best year at the quarterback position in the history of the game. There's not much of a reason to play either GB back with guys like John Kuhn and B.J. Raji scoring rushing touchdowns.

Ahmad Bradshaw- Coach Tom Coughlin sounded pessimistic with Bradshaw's prospects on playing on Monday Night Football against the Saints and he's probably going to sit out again. Bradshaw should still be owned in all leagues because Brandon Jacobs has done nothing to separate himself as an elite back. Jacobs is a decent start this week in New Orleans though.

Montario Hardesty- Hardesty was a game-time decision last week and wasn't able to give it a go. The Browns will reportedly be cautious with him this week in preparation for the Bengals and he won't be practicing much. He is worth a stash and will likely be a game-time decision on Sunday as well. If he plays, Chris Ogbonnaya goes from a low-end flex to a guy you should probably sit. Hardesty should not be starting in almost any league until he proves something. Peyton Hills has been ruled out and could be cut in shallow and some standard formats.

8 Isn't Enough in KC- Jackie Battle, Dexter McCluster and Thomas Jones all had eight carries a piece in the loss on Monday Night Football in Foxboro. The Chiefs use Battle as their closer and it's unlikely they'll be closing out many games with their inept offense and defense giving up big plays. This is a situation to avoid in most leagues and McCluster might have the most value based on how he'll likely be used in the passing game in the second half.

Shane Vereen- Vereen leapfrogged fellow rookie Stevan Ridley and even scored a TD in garbage time. Vereen was a popular sleeper (by me at least) before his injuries caught up with him. The Cal product showed some nice burst and vision and he could become an asset in very, very deep leagues. BenJarvus Green-Ellis had a good game with the most snaps (33), carries (20) and rushing yards (81) in the easy win.

Darren McFadden- There hasn't been much news on RUN DMC's foot and he's probably a slight underdog for Sunday's game against the Bears. Stay tuned and do not even think about cutting Michael Bush for any player not named Kevin Smith.

Frank Gore- This is a good report as Gore toted the rock 24 times and came out healthy from Sunday's domination of the Cardinals. He should be set for a strong finish as the Niners look to grab a bye in the postseason. That sentence doesn't even sound right.

Rank Running Back                                                          Opp.
1 Arian Foster JAC
2 LeSean McCoy NE
3 Matt Forte OAK
4 Maurice Jones-Drew HOU
5 Michael Turner MIN
6 Michael Bush CHI
7 Steven Jackson ARI
8 DeMarco Murray MIA
9 Rashard Mendenhall KC
10 Ray Rice SF
11 Frank Gore BAL
12 Shonn Greene BUF
13 Ryan Mathews DEN
14 Kevin Smith GB
15 Marshawn Lynch WAS
16 Cedric Benson CLE
17 Darren Sproles NYG
18 Chris Johnson TB
19 Reggie Bush DAL
20 Beanie Wells STL
21 Willis McGahee SD
22 Brandon Jacobs NO
23 LaGarrette Blount TEN
24 CJ Spiller
25 Toby Gerhart * ATL
26 Jonathan Stewart IND
27 Donald Brown CAR
28 BenJarvus Green-Ellis PHI
29 Joe McKnight * BUF
30 Ben Tate * JAC
31 Chris Ogbonnaya CIN
32 Montario Hardesty
33 Roy Helu SEA
34 Mike Tolbert DEN
35 James Starks DET
36 DeAngelo Williams IND
37 Daniel Thomas DAL
38 Dexter McCluster PIT
39 Javon Ringer * TB
40 Jackie Battle PIT
41 Ryan Grant * GB
42 Mark Ingram NYG
43 Delone Carter * CAR
44 Marion Barber * OAK
45 Lance Ball * DEN
46 Johnny White NYJ
47 Danny Woodhead PHI
48 Maurice Morris GB
49 Isaac Redman KC
50 D.J. Ware NO
51 Bernard Scott CLE
52 Felix Jones * MIA
53 Ryan Torain WAS
54 Kregg Lumpkin * TB
55 Kendall Hunter * BAL
56 Lorenzo Booker ATL
57 John Kuhn DET
58 Joseph Addai IND
59 DaRel Scott NO
60 Taiwan Jones CHI
61 Kevin Faulk PHI
62 Shane Vereen PHI
63 Ricky Williams * SF
64 Marcel Reece CHI
65 Pierre Thomas NYG
66 Evan Royster SEA
67 Charles Clay DAL
68 Jacquizz Rodgers MIN
69 Justin Forsett WAS
70 Deji Karim * HOU

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