Fantasy football: Five running backs to avoid in Week 12

Kansas City Chiefs running back Isiah Pacheco (L) high steps to a first down against the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif. Photo by Mike Goulding/UPI
Kansas City Chiefs running back Isiah Pacheco (L) high steps to a first down against the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif. Photo by Mike Goulding/UPI | License Photo

MIAMI, Nov. 23 (UPI) -- Isiah Pacheco and Alvin Kamara are among my five running backs to avoid for Week 12 of the fantasy football season. Kenneth Walker III leads my Top 30 weekly rankings for the position.

Saquon Barkley, Cordarrelle Patterson and D'Onta Foreman are among the other players I would lower my expectations for or try to keep out of my lineup.


Week 11 performance, opportunity, strength of Week 12 opponents and expected game script are among the factors I considered when determining the players to avoid. My full Top 30 rankings are below.

No players are on bye in Week 12, which means plenty of running back options are available to pick for your starting lineup.

New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley is my No. 16 fantasy football play for Week 12. File Photo by Hugo Philpott/UPI

Saquon Barkley

Barkley ranks sixth among running backs in fantasy points per game this season, but is outside the Top 15 in the same category over the last four weeks.

The New York Giants star failed to eclipse 83 rushing yards in four of his last six games. He did score four touchdowns over that stretch, but wasn't used much as a pass catcher.

RELATED Fantasy football: Burks, Heinicke, Perine lead add/drops for Week 12

This week, the Giants will battle the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys allowed the fifth-fewest fantasy points, tied for allowing the fourth-fewest rushing touchdowns (0.4) and surrendered the second-fewest receiving yards per game to running backs through 11 weeks.

None of those statistics bode well for Barkley's Week 12 outlook. He still should be in starting lineups, but I wouldn't expect RB1-level production. He is my No. 16 option.

New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara (41) makes a cut away from Los Angeles Rams cornerback Derion Kendrick on Sunday at the Caesars Superdome in New Orleans. Photo by AJ Sisco/UPI

Alvin Kamara

Kamara is another player averaging RB1 production on a per-game basis. The New Orleans Saints running back also ranked inside the Top 10 for fantasy points per game for his position over the past four weeks.


Unlike Barkley, Kamara has provided more value as a pass catcher than as a runner. However, Kamara failed to eclipse 89 yards from scrimmage in any of his last three appearances. He also didn't score during that stretch.

This week, the Saints will face the San Francisco 49ers on the road. The 49ers allowed the fewest rushing yards, the second-fewest fantasy points and the ninth-fewest receiving yards per game to running backs through 11 weeks. Look for the Saints to fall behind early in this matchup and key their defensive focus on Kamara as a pass catcher.

He can still be in lineups, but you should anticipate mid-range RB2 production. He is my No. 18 play.

Atlanta Falcons running back Cordarrelle Patterson is a risky RB2 play in Week 12. File Photo by Terry Schmitt/UPI

Cordarrelle Patterson

Patterson lands at No. 21 in my Week 12 running back rankings. The Atlanta Falcons veteran totaled just 52 rushing yards, but salvaged his Week 11 performance with a kick return for a touchdown.

He failed to eclipse even that mediocre rushing total in five of his last six games. He also wasn't used much as a pass catcher in any game this season and is part of an inconsistent running-back-by-committee strategy in the Falcons backfield.


This week, the Falcons will face the Washington Commanders. The Commanders allowed the fifth-fewest rushing yards, sixth-fewest fantasy points and tied for allowing the fourth-fewest rushing touchdowns (0.4) per game to running backs through 11 weeks.

Patterson is my No. 21 option and should be plugged in as a low-end RB2 or flex play if you don't roster a better option.

D'Onta Foreman

Foreman erupted for 130 yards and a score on 31 carries in Week 10, but totaled just 23 yards on 11 carries in Week 11. This week, Foreman and the Carolina Panthers will meet the Denver Broncos.

The Broncos allow the 11th-fewest fantasy points per game to running backs. They allowed more than 100 rushing yards in Week 11 to Josh Jacobs, but held Derrick Henry to just 53 rushing yards a week earlier.

I expect the Broncos to focus on shutting down the Panthers' ground game. Foreman is a fringe RB2/flex play and lands at No. 25 in my rankings.

Kansas City Chiefs running back Isiah Pacheco is my No. 27 fantasy football play. File Photo by Jon Robichaud/UPI

Isiah Pacheco

Pacheco was a Top 20 play in Week 11, when he totaled 107 yards on 15 carries in the Kansas City Chiefs' 30-27 win over the Los Angeles Chargers. This week, he is my No. 27 play due to a tough matchup against the Los Angeles Rams.


The Rams allowed the fourth-fewest rushing yards and tied for allowing the third-fewest rushing yards per attempt (3.9) so far this season. They also allowed the seventh-fewest rushing yards and eighth-fewest fantasy points per game to the position.

I expect the Chiefs to get most of their production from quarterback Patrick Mahomes and the passing game. Pacheco received fewer than 10 carries in two of his last four starts. Look for the Chiefs running back to achieve a similar workload this week. He is a touchdown-or-bust RB2/flex play.

Week 12 fantasy football running back rankings

1. Kenneth Walker III, Seattle Seahawks vs. LV

2. Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts vs. PIT

3. Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans vs. CIN

4. Tony Pollard, Dallas Cowboys vs. NYG

5. Austin Ekeler, Los Angeles Chargers at ARI

6. Jeff Wilson Jr., Miami Dolphins vs. HOU

7. Miles Sanders, Philadelphia Eagles vs. GB

8. Christian McCaffrey, San Francisco 49ers vs. NO

9. Josh Jacobs, Las Vegas Raiders at SEA

10. Aaron Jones, Green Bay Packers at PHI

11. James Conner, Arizona Cardinals vs. LAC

12. Rhamondre Stevenson, New England Patriot at MIN


13. Travis Etienne, Jacksonville Jaguars vs. BAL

14. Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings vs. NE

15. Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns vs. TB

16. Saquon Barkley, New York Giants at DAL

17. Dameon Pierce, Houston Texans at MIA

18. Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints at SF

19. Jamaal Williams, Detroit Lions vs BUF

20. Najee Harris, Pittsburgh Steelers at IND

21. Cordarrelle Patterson, Atlanta Falcons at WAS

22. Antonio Gibson, Washington Commanders vs. ATL

23. Devin Singletary, Buffalo Bills at DET

24. Rachaad White, Tampa Bay Buccaneers at CLE

25. D'Onta Foreman, Carolina Panthers vs. DEN

26. David Montgomery, Chicago Bears at NYJ

27. Isiah Pacheco, Kansas City Chiefs vs. LAR

28. Latavius Murray, Denver Broncos at CAR

29. Samaje Perine, Cincinnati Bengals at TEN

30. Michael Carter, New York Jets vs. CHI

This week in the National Football League

Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce sheds Los Angeles Chargers safety Derwin James Jr. and gets to the end zone for the winning touchdown during the second half at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif., on Sunday. The Chiefs beat the Chargers 30-27. Photo by Mike Goulding/UPI | License Photo

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