Fantasy Football Week 12 Start 'Em & Sit 'Em: Running backs

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Editor's note: Welcome to Week 12! We're handling Jamey Eisenberg's Start 'Em & Sit 'Em column a bit differently this season. You're still getting the same in-depth analysis as always, we're just presenting a bit differently, in an effort to get it out to you earlier in the day. This column takes a long time to write, and in the past, we've usually gotten it out to you in the evening. This year, we're going to publish it position-by-position, to get it into your hands quicker. Here's Jamey's take on running backs for this week.

Don't worry: If you want the classic Start 'Em & Sit 'Em, we'll still be publishing that at the end of the day with every position included. For now, here's running back.

Projections are provided by CBS Sports and not Jamey Eisenberg. Projected points are for PPR leagues.

Running backs

Start 'Em
11.5 projected points
Dalvin Cook Minnesota Vikings RB
Cook was terrible in Week 11 at Chicago with nine carries for 12 yards, as well as three catches for minus-2 yards, but there was a stat from that game that should be encouraging to you. He played a season-high 59 snaps, so clearly his hamstring problem is well behind him. And this should be his best game of the season in Week 12 against the Packers (Sunday, 8 p.m. EST, available on fuboTV). Green Bay standout defensive tackle Mike Daniels (foot) is out, and the Packers run defense was already shaky with a running back scoring or gaining at least 100 total yards in six games in a row. This should be the start of a strong finish for Cook this year.
13.7 projected points
Matt Breida San Francisco 49ers RB
The last time we saw Breida was in Week 10 against the Giants prior to San Francisco's bye, and he was awesome with 17 carries for 101 yards and a touchdown, along with three catches for 31 yards and a touchdown. He seems to be healthy again after battling ankle and shoulder injuries throughout the season, and this is a great matchup against Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers lead the NFL in touchdowns allowed to running backs with 17, and they have allowed eight touchdowns to running backs in the past four games. Breida should have the chance for another big outing in Week 12.
11.5 projected points
Sony Michel New England Patriots RB
Michel should be ready to pick up where he left off prior to hurting his knee in Week 7 at Chicago. He returned in Week 10 at Tennessee, but he struggled against the Titans with just 11 carries for 31 yards. Hopefully, he's healthy coming off the bye in Week 11, and this should be a solid performance against the Jets, who have allowed a running back to score in three of the past four games. Before hurting his knee against the Bears, Michel had three games in a row with more than 100 total yards and a touchdown. I'm expecting him to get back to that level of production again this week.
8.2 projected points
Josh Adams Philadelphia Eagles RB
Adams could be looking at a big breakout game this week against the Giants. All he needs is the work. For the past three games, Adams has been the best running back in Philadelphia, but he hasn't had more than 10 touches in any outing over that span. He looked great in Week 11 at New Orleans with seven carries for 53 yards and a touchdown, along with three catches for 19 yards on six targets. And that's a sign of things to come. This week, he's facing a Giants defense that has allowed a running back to score in every game this season. And since trading defensive tackle Damon Harrison prior to Week 8, three running backs in a row have rushed for at least 100 yards and a touchdown -- Adrian Peterson, Breida and Peyton Barber. Adams could be next.
8.7 projected points
Gus Edwards Baltimore Ravens RB
We'll see if last week was a fluke or if Edwards is on his way toward becoming a potential Fantasy star. In Week 11 against Cincinnati, Edwards came out of nowhere with 17 carries for 115 yards and a touchdown. It was the first 100-yard rushing performance for a Ravens running back this year, and after the game, coach John Harbaugh said Edwards "took the bull by the horns." He's not guaranteed to start in Week 12 against Oakland, and prior to Week 11 he had just 15 carries for 64 yards, along with one catch for 7 yards on the season. Baltimore also has three other running backs who could get work -- Alex Collins, Javorius Allen and Ty Montgomery. But if you added Edwards this week, I would start him against Oakland. The Raiders have allowed 11 running backs to either score or gain 100 total yards this season, including one in four games in a row.

Sleepers

  • Jalen Richard (at BAL): Doug Martin (ankle) is expected to play this week, but Richard will still get plenty of playing time. And he's a great flex option in PPR. He's scored at least 10 PPR points in all but three games this season. He could also be more involved in the passing game now that Brandon LaFell (Achilles) is out and Jordy Nelson (knee) is banged up. With the Raiders likely chasing points on the road, Richard should be considered the best running back for Oakland.
  • Theo Riddick (vs. CHI): Riddick will get additional work this week against the Bears with Kerryon Johnson (knee) out, and he's a great flex option in PPR. He's essentially been a receiver for the past three games since Golden Tate was traded to Philadelphia, and he has 18 catches for 126 yards on 22 targets over that span. It's not an easy matchup against the Bears, but he had six catches for 60 yards on seven targets at Chicago in Week 10. A similar performance could happen on Thanksgiving Day.
  • Peyton Barber (vs. SF): Barber took advantage of a great matchup against the Giants last week with 18 carries for 106 yards and a touchdown, as well as two catches for 4 yards, and he's worth using as a flex option against the 49ers. His three best games this year have come with Jameis Winston on the field (Week 6 against Atlanta, Week 8 against Cincinnati and last week), and hopefully that continues against the 49ers.
  • Elijah McGuire (vs. NE): McGuire has taken over for the injured Bilal Powell (neck), and he could play a prominent role in the passing game this week against the Patriots. In two games, McGuire has six catches for 64 yards on 11 targets, and he's also averaging 4.6 yards per carry. New England has struggled with pass-catching running backs this year, and I like McGuire as a flex option in PPR.
  • Austin Ekeler (vs. ARI): Melvin Gordon is expected to play in Week 12 against the Cardinals despite dealing with hamstring and knee injuries, but Ekeler could still have a prominent role. The Chargers seemed to indicate Gordon could miss this game, which is a sign he might not get his usual workload. While Ekeler has been held to eight total touches or less in five of his past six games -- he had 17 total touches in Week 7 with Gordon out against Tennessee -- we might see that number rise in a great matchup. The Cardinals come into this game allowing the third-most Fantasy points to opposing running backs, and Ekeler is worth using as a flex in most formats.
  • Duke Johnson (at CIN): In two games since Freddie Kitchens took over as offensive coordinator, Johnson has at least 14 PPR points in each outing. He has four carries for 23 yards, along with 13 catches for 109 yards and three touchdowns over that span. He also has at least four catches in four of his past five games, and he's worth starting in PPR this week against the Bengals, who allow the most Fantasy points to opposing running backs. Nick Chubb, in case you didn't know, is a must-start option in all leagues this week.
Sit 'Em
10.9 projected points
Dion Lewis Tennessee Titans RB
Lewis had a two-game stretch in Weeks 7 and 9 (the Titans bye was Week 8) where he scored at least 21 PPR points, but he's struggled in his past two outings heading into this matchup with the Texans. And even with Marcus Mariota (neck) expected to play, this offense will likely be limited against the Texans, who held Lewis to 14 carries for 42 yards, along with one catch for 1 yard on one target in Week 2, with Mariota out. Mariota playing will help Lewis. But based on the matchup, I'm not optimistic about either Lewis or Derrick Henry having a big game in Week 12.
12.0 projected points
LeSean McCoy Buffalo Bills RB
The last time we saw McCoy was prior to Buffalo's bye in Week 11, and he had his best game of the season with 24 PPR points at the Jets. He finally scored a touchdown, and hopefully he can stay hot to close the year. But I don't like this matchup against the Jaguars, even at home. Jacksonville has only allowed five touchdowns to running backs this year and none in the past two games against Marlon Mack and James Conner. McCoy had 119 total yards against the Jaguars in the playoffs last year, but he only has two games this season with more than 100 total yards. He's more of a bust alert than a must-sit option, but I would only use him as a flex against the Jaguars this week.
10.9 projected points
Isaiah Crowell New York Jets RB
Crowell scored in his last game in Week 10 against Buffalo, but he's been losing playing time to McGuire of late and can't be trusted this week against the Patriots. Crowell has gone five games in a row with 60 total yards or less, and he's still limited in the passing game with just 13 receptions on the season. The Patriots have only allowed three running backs to score on the ground this year, and with the Jets likely chasing points, you can't count on Crowell to get a ton of work if he's not catching the ball. At best, consider Crowell a flex in deeper leagues.
11.9 projected points
Kenyan Drake Miami Dolphins RB
Drake is dealing with a shoulder injury heading into Sunday's game at Indianapolis, but he's expected to be fine. That said, you might not want to start him in most leagues this week since he continues to get fewer touches than Frank Gore. Drake should be better in PPR given his role in the passing game, but he's been held to just two catches in two of the past three games. And he only has 11 carries in the past two outings against the Jets and Packers. The Colts struggle with pass-catching running backs, but they are among the league leaders with just six touchdowns allowed to running backs this season. I'm OK with Drake as a flex option in PPR, but in non-PPR leagues, you should keep him reserved.
10.9 projected points
Lamar Miller Houston Texans RB
Miller had a solid game in Week 11 at Washington with 20 carries for 86 yards, as well as three catches for 22 yards on five catches. It continues his up-and-down season where only once has he posted consecutive games with double digits in PPR points. The last time he faced the Titans was Week 2 when he was held to eight PPR points, and Tennessee's run defense has been tough all season. Only four running backs have scored against the Titans this year, including Patriots fullback James Develin. I consider Miller more of a bust alert than a must-sit option, but I would only use him as a flex in Week 12.

Bust Alert

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Adrian Peterson WAS • RB • 26
Week 12 projection11.1 Fantasy points

Peterson scored twice in Week 11 against Houston, which was great, but his rushing stats have been down of late due to the injuries along Washington's offensive line. In his past three games against Atlanta, Tampa Bay and Houston, Peterson has 44 carries for 136 yards (3.1 yards per carry) and just the two scores against the Texans. He also has only five catches for 17 yards over that span. Dallas is top 10 in fewest Fantasy points allowed to running backs, and only four running backs have scored on the ground against the Cowboys this year, including just one in the past six games. Peterson is still a flex option in most leagues, but I'd use caution if you consider him a must-start running back this week.

So who should you sit and start? And what shocking QB could win you Week 12? Visit SportsLine now to get Fantasy football rankings for every single position, and see which shocking QB finishes in the top 10 this week, all from the model that out-performed experts big time last season.

Senior Fantasy Writer

Jamey Eisenberg has been a Senior Fantasy Writer for CBS Sports since 2006 with a focus on Fantasy Football. A University of Florida grad (class of '98), Jamey got his start in the newspaper business and... Full Bio

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