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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
Raiders RB Latavius Murray won't return to Week 12 action
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10:07 pm ET) Raiders running back Latavius Murray has been ruled out for the remainder of his team's Week 12 game against the Chiefs.

Murary was taken to the back to be evaluated for a concussion in the first half and was ruled out early in the second half. He wraps up an impressive but brief debut on the national stage with four carries for 112 yards and two touchdowns.


Chiefs WR Junior Hemingway will not return
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(9:57 pm ET) Chiefs wideout Junior Hemingway will not return to Thursday's game against the Raiders.

Hemingway was evaluated for a concussion at halftime. He was ruled out shortly after the start of the third quarter. He hauled in one pass for 4 yards before leaving the game. 


Chiefs' Donald Stephenson ruled out
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(9:56 pm ET) Chiefs lineman Donald Stephenson has been ruled out against the Raiders.

Stephenson is dealing with a shoulder injury. He was initially ruled questionable, but the team downgraded him following an evaluation at halftime. 


Raiders RB Latavius Murray exits game with possible concussion
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9:38 pm ET) Raiders running back Latavius Murray is being evaluated for a concussion, the team announced.

Murray took a big hit on a kick return and headed to the locker room to be checked out. He's racked up 112 yards and two touchdowns on just four carries, including a 90-yard score early in the second quarter.


Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch misses practice Thursday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(7:10 pm ET) Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch missed a second straight day of practice Thursday with a back injury. He also missed two days of practice last week with calf and rib issues before suiting up against the Chiefs and racking up 124 yards on 24 carries.

Raiders' Derek Carr, Miles Burris active Thursday night
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(7:06 pm ET) Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (quad) and linebacker Miles Burris (hip) are active for Thursday night's game against the Chiefs. Both players were listed as probable coming in to the Week 12 matchup.

Chiefs will have Travis Kelce against Raiders
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(7:05 pm ET) The Chiefs will have tight end Travis Kelce against the Raiders Week 12.

Kelce entered the game listed as probable due to shoulder and rib injuries. He was never expected to miss the contest. The team will also have Zach Fulton, Phillip Gaines, Tamba Hali, Mike McGlynn and Sean Smith. All five were listed as probable coming into the game.

Anthony Fasano, who was listed as questionable, will attempt to give it a go. He's dealing with a knee injury.


Raiders list inactives for Week 12 vs. Chiefs
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(7:04 pm ET) The Raiders have listed the following players as inactive for Thursday night's matchup with the Chiefs: cornerbacks Carlos Rogers (knee) and T.J. Carrie (ankle), safety Jonathan Dowling (back), tight end David Ausberry (foot), guards Gabe Jackson (knee) and Tony Bergstrom and quarterback Matt McGloin.

Jackson was listed as questionable to play in the Week 12 divisional battle, while Rogers, Carrie, Dowling and Ausberry had previously been ruled out. The 0-10 Raiders are looking to end a 16-game losing streak Thursday.


Chiefs list inactives for Week 12
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(7:00 pm ET) The Chiefs have listed QB Aaron Murray, WR Donnie Avery, WR A.J. Jenkins, CB Chris Owens, CB Jamell Fleming, C Eric Kush and OL Laurent Duvernay-Tardif as inactive for Week 12 against the Raiders.

Both Jenkins and Avery had been rushed out prior to the contest. Fleming was listed as questionable due to a hamstring issue. The other four players are healthy scratches. 


Seahawks MLB Bobby Wagner practices in full, set to return
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(6:58 pm ET) Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner, who's missed five straight games with a toe injury, practiced fully Thursday, the team announced. He's on track to return Sunday against the Cardinals.

 
 
 
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