Your fantasy football playoffs are coming up soon, so you need to know who you can trust in your starting lineup on a weekly basis. Even if the player is a big name, that doesn’t necessarily justify their inclusion, which is where our Week 12 panic meter comes into play.

As always, the following list provides cases for why you should not worry at all, be a little bit worried, and be in a full panic for bigger names on your fantasy football rosters. This is not any advice to move on from any players in the ‘Full Panic’ section, but you should absolutely be exploring moves to try and move that problem somewhere else.

No Need to Panic

Saquon Barkley

The workload is there for Saquon Barkley, but trusting the New York Giants offense to include even one fantasy-relevant option is a tough call to make. His Week 12 performance against the New England Patriots (13 touches, 54 yards) certainly doesn’t do much to instill confidence, but Barkley is the entirety of the Giants offense.

After his Week 13 bye, Barkley faces the Packers, Saints, and Eagles, which certainly aren’t walks in the park, but Barkley should be able to remain a fringe RB1 for the rest of the season, even with some injury concerns still lingering.

Some Panic

Jerome Ford

Consistency is key in fantasy football, but Jerome Ford’s last three games have taken that to a whole new level. Scoring exactly 11.9 fantasy points (PPR format) in matchups with the Ravens, Steelers, and Broncos, Ford has clearly been the lead back for the Browns.

But an inconsistent workload over the past few weeks is a cause for concern, especially with Kareem Hunt cutting into his share of touches. With either Dorian Thompson-Robinson or PJ Walker starting this week for Cleveland, it could be more of the same production for Ford, so temper your expectations.

Justin Herbert

It’s been a solid year when looking at Justin Herbert’s season-long stats, as he currently sits as the QB5. But big-time questions surrounding the offense as a whole, combined with no one outside of Keenan Allen showing up on a weekly basis, limits Herbert’s upside.

It’s fair to say that, barring a miraculous late-season comeback, the Los Angeles Chargers will likely be searching for a new head coach. So will the team continue to play hard in an uphill battle to make the playoffs? Herbert won’t give up, but will the resources around him figure things out?

Austin Ekeler

For our discussion on the best fantasy football breakout and sleeper candidates, listen below:

As is the case with Herbert, Austin Ekeler has had his fair share of moments this year, albeit far less than Herbert. But what differs here is how bad Ekeler has looked, especially considering the likely draft capital you invested in him during the offseason.

If the Chargers want to get back to winning games, they need to rely more on Ekeler and his dual-threat abilities – but until they go back to him, then inserting Ekeler as a top-7 running back on a weekly basis cannot be expected.

Full Panic

James Conner

It may have been a stretch to expect a solid return from James Conner after his injury, but his lack of involvement in the offense, especially in the passing game, has been concerning.

It doesn’t take an expert to understand that the Arizona Cardinals are not a great football team this year, so expecting them to have multiple players that are relevant for fantasy football isn’t realistic – but Conner should be in that category.

If Conner gets worked more into the passing game, then his ceiling will increase back to that RB2 area – but for the meantime, don’t be afraid to sit him if you have better options.

Cooper Kupp

While his first two games of the 2023 season were strong (Weeks 5-6), Cooper Kupp has looked like the shell of a player that helped you take home a fantasy football championship last year. Whether it is due to the ineptitudes of the Rams offense or Matthew Stafford, Kupp has looked far from his usual self.

Things can certainly still turnaround for Kupp and the Rams, as they still have a chance to make the playoffs via the Wild Card. But if this offense continues to not feed their playmakers (which includes Puka Nacua as well), then Kupp’s standing as a plug-and-play WR1 likely won’t be true for the rest of the season.