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Seahawks Running Back Thomas Rawls Ready To Retake Significant Fantasy Football Role

Scott Engel at previews Week 12 around the NFL from a fantasy football perspective.

Last season, Thomas Rawls was a breakout star in Fantasy Football. This week, for the first time in 2017, he will have the opportunity to regain his form of last season, as he will be the clear No. 1 running back for the Seahawks at Tampa Bay. He is certainly among the must-start RB choices in Fantasy Football for Week 12.

Rawls will make his first start since Week 2, when he was part of a time share. He saw his first action since then last week against the Eagles, when he rushed for 57 yards on 14 carries. After one game of being eased back into action and sharing time at running back, Rawls will now be prepared to be the clear feature back he was for the Seahawks in 2015. Against the Eagles, Rawls displayed the physical, determined style that made him a surprising standout last season. Having also learned some of the finer points of the game spending time with and around Marshawn Lynch last year, Rawls can translate that approach into impressive Fantasy totals.

The Seahawks should move the ball crisply at Tampa Bay. A strong passing game will help Rawls operate in a balanced attack and he will get some chances to finish off scoring drives near the goal line. Tampa Bay allows 114.7 rushing yards per game, 10th most in the NFL, and has yielded nine rushing TDs. Rawls is ready to assume a large part of the offensive load again, and the matchup looks good for him. He should be locked into Week 12 Fantasy lineup. Rookie Alex Collins is his likely handcuff for those who want to roster the likely "Next Man Up" on the Seahawks depth chart.

Other running backs of note this week include the New York Giants' Rashad Jennings, who has rushed for 80-plus yards in each of the past two games and has a very good matchup at Cleveland, and Lamar Miller, who rushed for over 100 yards and a TD last week. Miller faces the Chargers, who have allowed an AFC-high 14 rushing TDs. Maintain faith in Spencer Ware, as the Broncos have the fourth-worst rushing defense in the NFL. Chris Ivory is starting to see an expanded role for the Jaguars and is a quality flex play vs. Buffalo. Wendell Smallwood also has flex potential as his Eagles take on the Packers. He may be in for a larger role this week.

Russell Wilson has recaptured his place among the best quarterbacks in Fantasy Football, with six TD passes, a scoring run, and even a TD reception in the past three games. The TD reception last week gave owners a nice two-point bonus, as Wilson customarily is awarded four points for a passing score, yet he was good for six on the receiving TD. He has not scored less than 24 points on in the past three games. Tampa Bay allows the sixth-most Fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks on (18.82). The Buccaneers rank 17th in sacks (21) and with a mobile Wilson with a wide array of pass-catchers against the Tampa Bay secondary will be very difficult to defend this week. Wilson should continue to create ample time for himself to throw, and the play of the offensive line has improved in recent weeks. With good momentum and a friendly matchup, Wilson is a Top 5 Fantasy start at his position.

Expect another good outing from Eli Manning against Cleveland. He has thrown nine TD passes in his past three games. If you are searching deeper for QB help this week because of injury situations, consider Carson Wentz against the Packers, who have allowed 30 or more points in four consecutive games. Carson Palmer also faces the Falcons, who have the NFL's worst pass defense.

Tampa Bay allows the fourth-most Fantasy Points Per Game on to opposing wide receivers (25.98), and Doug Baldwin is a Top 10 Fantasy wide receiver for Week 12. He has re-entered the Top 12 overall at his position with 38.90 Fantasy Points over his past two games. As Wilson has started to soar again recently, Baldwin has been regaining the look of a No. 1 Fantasy WR. He's beating defenders on quick hitters and large gainers downfield, and will present a lot of problems for the Tampa Bay secondary this week. Tyler Lockett is always a threat for a big play and can be used in larger leagues for this matchup.

Other wide receivers to consider for this week include Dorial Green-Beckham and Jordan Matthews of the Eagles. The Packers defense has issues in the secondary and allows an NFL-high 28.43 FFPG to opposing wide receivers. Green-Beckham is a top sleeper play for Week 12. Miami's DeVante Parker is a good WR3 start against the 49ers, who allow an NFC-high 27.71 FFPG to opposing wideouts. Rishard Matthews should continue to be locked into lineups as the Titans take on the Bears (25.47 FFPG allowed to WRs). In larger leagues, consider Arizona's J.J. Nelson vs, Atlanta as another sleeper play.

Jimmy Graham is now the fourth-highest scoring tight end on in standard scoring with 85.90 points. He has three TD catches in his past three games and may be the best TE start of the week. Wilson has developed a great on-field rapport with Graham and he'll present major matchup problems for Tampa Bay.

The reliable Seahawks defense has not scored less than six Fantasy points in its past seven games. Teams facing the Buccaneers have picked up 10 interceptions, so there will be opportunities for the Seahawks to force some turnovers. Look for Kam Chancellor to be very active in coverage with a big lead role in the secondary and Richard Sherman could make Tampa Bay pay if he covers top Bucs WR Mike Evans frequently and the ball still comes in his direction often.

Zach Ertz is coming on strong at TE for the Eagles and is a very good start as he faces the Packers. Gary Barnidge should see a boost in production with Josh McCown at QB for the Browns. The Titans are the top defensive play of the week vs, Chicago and don't overlook the underrated Chargers against Houston.

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In their all-time regular-season series, the Seahawks and Buccaneers have faced off 12 times with the Seahawks leading the series 8-4. The two teams will play again this Sunday at Raymond James Stadium.

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