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Player Challenge strategies for Week 7

Senior Fantasy Writer
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This column is primarily designed to help strategize for our four-week Player Challenge games, but is essentially about great matchups and overlooked stats, offering deeper options for those in daily leagues.

Quarterback

My pick for the Player Challenge: Tony Romo, Cowboys

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The Philadelphia Eagles -- Romo's Week 7 opponent -- have been extremely kind to opposing quarterbacks this season, allowing 25 Fantasy points per game, the third-worst average in the NFL. Four quarterbacks have thrown for 300 or more yards against the Eagles this season, and five have thrown multiple touchdowns. Only one has attempted 35 or fewer passes. Romo scored just 10 Fantasy points in Week 6, but had 50 the week before and has three additional weeks of 20 or more points. His 14 passing touchdowns this season are second only to Peyton Manning.

A deeper alternative for daily leagues: Nick Foles, Eagles

On the other side of this Cowboys/Eagles game is Foles, who hasn't officially been named the starter (as of Tuesday), but will likely take the reins once again for the Eagles. Foles -- who was in contention for the starting quarterback job until late in the preseason -- threw for 296 yards and three touchdowns against the Bucs, a team that had allowed just one multiple-TD game from a quarterback heading into Week 6. This came a week after Foles subbed in for an injured Michael Vick and threw for 197 yards and two touchdowns against the Giants in a little over a half of play. Foles is a good fit for Chip Kelly's system and is a smart start against a Cowboys team that has allowed 25 or more points to opposing quarterbacks four times (with three quarterbacks scoring 30 or more and one scoring 40 or more).

Running Back

My picks for the Player Challenge: DeAngelo Williams, Panthers; Matt Forte, Bears

Now's a good time to remind everyone that this is my actual lineup in the Player Challenge. I'm not throwing names at a wall and hoping they stick. So if you don't like this Williams call, feel free to plug in one of the top right RBs and run with him (I kept writing and then deleting his name, but finally just decided to go with him). I'm taking a leap of faith here and plugging in a running back I've liked all season long. He's already had his bye, yet is 12th in rushing attempts, 10th in rushing yards and averages 4.3 yards per carry. He's just not scoring touchdowns. In Week 7, he faces the Rams, who have allowed the second-most Fantasy points to opposing running backs. St. Louis has given up seven touchdowns to running backs this season, and all three running backs who have gotten 20 carries against the Rams (DeMarco Murray, Frank Gore and Arian Foster) have run for more than 150 yards. And while it isn't necessary to pull from outside of the top eight running backs for the Player Challenge, there is plenty of hope here that Williams gets a lot of carries and scores his first touchdown(s) of the season with this stellar matchup.

Forte, meanwhile, gets to play against a Washington defense that has allowed 21 Fantasy points per game to opposing running backs, including five touchdowns over five games and an average of 47.8 receiving yards (eighth in the NFL). Forte has the sixth-most Fantasy points and receiving yards among running backs. This Week 7 matchup should give him a nice boost in stats.

A deeper alternative for daily leagues: Mike Tolbert, Panthers

With all that said about DeAngelo Williams above, I'm not going to ignore Tolbert's production this season -- two rushing touchdowns and one receiving score. Additionally, look at the rushing touchdowns the Rams have allowed this year:

Jason Snelling, Week 2 (one touchdown, two carries)
Kendall Hunter, Week 4 (one touchdown, 11 carries)
Anthony Dixon, Week 4 (one touchdown, three carries)
Ben Tate, Week 6 (one touchdown, 10 carries)

So, of the six rushing touchdowns the Rams have given up, four have come from secondary (and even tertiary) backs.

Wide Receiver

My picks for the Player Challenge: Victor Cruz, Giants; Dez Bryant, Cowboys

Victor Cruz is in a bit of a rut, having scored 10 total Fantasy points over the last two games. But he's still seen eight or more targets in all but one of his games (Thursday night against Chicago) and has gone over 100 receiving yards three times. A Monday night matchup with the Vikings -- who have given up 308 net passing yards per game and the seventh-most Fantasy points to wide receivers -- could be the fix. Minnesota has allowed three touchdowns to wide receivers in the last two games, and four wide receivers have gone over 100 yards against the Vikings over their five games this season.

Bryant, meanwhile, should be in line for a big performance against the Eagles, who have given up 13 touchdowns to opposing wideouts this season, as well as a league-worst 35 Fantasy points per game. Six wide receivers have multiple-touchdown games(!) against the Eagles, and nine wide receivers have scored double-digit Fantasy points. While Bryant caught just five catches for 36 yards against Washington in Week 6, he's also scored 20 or more points three times this season, and has six touchdowns through six games, despite battling back problems. Putting the player who has the third-most receiving touchdowns against the defense that has given up the second-most could be a Fantasy boon for Bryant owners.

A deeper alternative for daily leagues: Keenan Allen, Chargers

I'm not sure if he's moved into the upper echelon just yet in daily formats, but Allen may be worth that middle-ground amount in most formats. The Jaguars have allowed nine touchdowns to opposing wide receivers this season, and have given up 20 or more points to the opposing team's cadre of receivers in five of their six games. Allen has 27 targets and two touchdowns in his last three games, averaging 101 yards per game in that span.

Tight End

My pick for the Player Challenge: Antonio Gates, Chargers

Gates has been a little erratic this season, with two games of 120-plus yards and two of 50 or fewer. He has two touchdowns, though, and five straight games with at least seven targets. So it's safe to say he's at least scraping the upper echelon of tight ends. His Week 7 opponent, the Jaguars, have given up an average of 10 Fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends this season, the seventh-worst rate in the NFL. And this is with games against Anthony Fasano (zero points, Week 1) and Mychal Rivera (three points, Week 2) factored in. The Jags have since allowed five touchdowns to opposing tight ends, with Julius Thomas being the only one in the top 10 of Fantasy points scored.

A deeper alternative for daily leagues: Kyle Rudolph, Vikings

The Giants -- Minnesota's Week 7 opponent -- have been pretty miserable against tight ends this season, giving up 11.7 Fantasy points per game. And Kyle Rudolph is coming off his best game of the season, scoring his second touchdown of the year and catching nine passes for 97 yards in Week 6. Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave told SiriusXM earlier last week that the team wanted to get Rudolph more involved in the offense, and the switch to Matt Cassel at quarterback, along with a bye in Week 5, may have helped that along. Sean McGrath and Brent Celek have two of the five touchdowns scored against the Giants this season; if Rudolph can carry the momentum forward, he could have a nice game with this great matchup.

DST

My pick for the Player Challenge: Chiefs

Best DST in the game going against a Houston team without a quarterback. Arian Foster may run wild against the Chiefs, but the upside here may allow for that and still have Kansas City putting up the best point total of the week. I wish I had more to write about this, but you're going to use the Chiefs once in this four-week period, and a matchup against the Texans suddenly seems a little better than one against the Bills in Week 9.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Nando Di Fino at @NandoCBS . You can also send our staff an e-mail at fantasybaseball@cbsinteractive.com .

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Player News
Walt Aikens out indefinitely with hand injury
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(8/20/2014) Dolphins rookie safety Walt Aikens is out indefinitely with a hand injury, the Miami Herald reports. He suffered the injury in practice this week and may not be ready for the start of the regular season.

Le'Veon Bell, LeGarrette Blount charged with possession
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(8/20/2014) Steelers running backs Le'Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount were charged with marijuana possession Wednesday, with Bell also being charged with DUI, 93.7 The Fan reports.

Bell and Blount reportedly had 20 grams of marijuana in the car at the time of the stop, and an unidentified female with the two was also charged. All three were said to be "cooperative" with the police.


Jordan Palmer to be No. 2 quarterback Friday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(8/20/2014) Bears quarterback Jordan Palmer will be the first signal caller off the bench to relieve starter Jay Cutler in Friday's preseason game against the Seahawks, ESPNChicago.com reports. Jimmy Clausen served as the No. 2 QB in the last preseason game.

"Jay will work certainly into the second quarter and we'll make a decision during the second quarter what we're going to do with him," Trestman said. "That will be dependent on a number of different things. And then after that we'll have Jordan, so expect Jordan to play the third quarter and Jimmy to play the fourth. We'll continue to rotate these guys around. We've got another week after this one and that's the way we'll operate this week."

Palmer and Claussen are batting to win the primary backup spot behind Cutler.


Geno Atkins might play Sunday, good to go for season opener
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(8/20/2014) Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins, who's coming back from a torn ACL, participated in team drills Wednesday and convinced defensive coordinator Paul Guenther he's ready to play a couple series Sunday at Arizona, reports the team's website. Whether or not Atkins plays Sunday, coach Marvin Lewis said the two-time Pro Bowler "is a go" for the regular-season opener in Baltimore.

Tyrann Mathieu practices for first time since injury
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(8/20/2014) Cardinals safety Tyrann Mathieu, who tore two knee ligaments last Dec. 8, practiced Wednesday for the first time since the injury, reports the Arizona Republic. He was limited to individual drills, but coach Bruce Arians said he's "amazed" Mathieu has come back so quickly.

Mathieu hopes to graduate to team drills in the next couple days. "There are going to be days where I get sore," Mathieu said. "I'm sure in the middle of a game, I'll get sore, I'll get tight, but I have to push through it. I think it's all about what I tell myself. I try to keep positive thoughts in my mind."


Bengals give Vontaze Burfict contract extension
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(8/20/2014) The Bengals signed linebacker Vontaze Burfict to a multi-year contract extension, reports ESPN's Adam Caplan. Burfict led the NFL with 171 tackles last year.

Cardinals add two defensive linemen
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(8/20/2014) In the wake of Darnell Dockett's torn ACL, the Cardinals signed defensive linemen Isaac Sopoaga and Ryan McBean, reports Pro Football Talk. Sopoaga played in 14 games last year for the Eagles and Patriots, while McBean has not played in a regular-season game since 2011.

Steven Jackson might return to practice 'soon'
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(8/20/2014) Falcons coach Mike Smith said running back Steven Jackson has increased his rehab and conditioning work with trainers could return to practice "soon," reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Smith reiterated that Jackson, who has a hamstring injury, is on track to play in the Sept. 7 regular-season opener against New Orleans.

"We are encouraged by what he has done over on that side with athletic performance [trainers]," Smith said.


Dwayne Bowe likely to watch Saturday
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(8/20/2014) Chiefs receiver Dwayne Bowe (quad) did not practice again Wednesday and is not expected to play Saturday against the Vikings, reports ESPN.com.

Jamaal Charles still out, not expected to play Saturday
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(8/20/2014) Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles did not practice again Wednesday due to his bruised foot, and he's not expected to play Saturday against the Vikings, reports ESPN.com. The team will be cautious with all its injured players, the report said.

Charles is considered day-to-day, and is fully expected to be healthy for the season opener.


 
 
 
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