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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
Vikings place Adrian Peterson on Exempt/Commissioner's Permission list
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(2:04 am ET) The Vikings released a statement early Wednesday morning that running back Adrian Peterson has been placed on the Exempt/Commissioner's Permission list, which means he cannot play until further notice.

The statement was signed by Zygi Wilf and Mark Wilf.

"This has been an ongoing and deliberate process since last Friday’s news," the statement said. "In conversations with the NFL over the last two days, the Vikings advised the League of the team's decision to revisit the situation regarding Adrian Peterson. In response, the League informed the team of the option to place Adrian on the Exempt/Commissioner’s Permission list, which will require that Adrian remain away from all team activities while allowing him to take care of his personal situation until the legal proceedings are resolved. After giving the situation additional thought, we have decided this is the appropriate course of action for the organization and for Adrian."


NFLPA files appeal on behalf of Ray Rice
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9/16/2014) The NFL Players Association announced Tuesday that it has filed an appeal in the case of former Ravens running back Ray Rice, CBSSports.com NFL insider Jason La Canfora reports.

Rice was initially suspended two games for an offseason domestic-violence incident, but he was cut from the team and suspended indefinitely by the league after a new video of the incident surfaced last week. The argument in the appeal is that Rice is being punished twice for the same offense. The NFLPA has requested that an independent arbitrator hear the appeal rather than commissioner Roger Goodell.


NFL, NFLPA finishing up new drug policy
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9/16/2014) The NFL and the NFL Players Association are finalizing a new drug policy Tuesday evening, and a formal announcement is expected to be made by Wednesday morning, CBSSports.com NFL insider Jason La Canfora reports.

The NFLPA has begun to notify players of the revamped suspensions under the new policy, including Browns receiver Josh Gordon officially having his suspension reduced to 10 games. Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker, Rams wide receiver Stedman Bailey and Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick are among the handful of players who should be able to rejoin their respective teams Wednesday in preparation of playing in Week 3.

However, Dolphins defenders Dion Jordan and Reshad Jones are not expected to be affected by the change in policy, the Palm Beach Post reports, leaving their suspensions active for two more games.


John Abraham yet to pass concussion protocol
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9/16/2014) Cardinals linebacker John Abraham didn't pass the concussion protocol Tuesday, FOXSports.com reports. Abraham will attempt to be cleared Wednesday as he looks to return from his Week 1 injury.

Arthur Jones to miss 2-4 weeks with high ankle sprain
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9/16/2014) Colts defensive lineman Arthur Jones will be sidelined 2-to-4 weeks while recovering from a high ankle sprain, NFL.com reports.

The Colts have already dealt with issues stopping the run in the team's first two games, and Jones' absence could mean their defensive woes could continue. Fortunately, the team faces a juicy matchup against the pedestrian Jaguars offense in Week 3.


Davon Coleman suffers calf injury
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9/16/2014) Cowboys defensive tackle Davon Coleman strained his left calf muscle while doing squats in the weight room Monday, the Dallas Morning News reports.

The rookie drew the start in Week 1 against the 49ers but becomes the latest in a long line of injuries to the Dallas defense. He remains hopeful he'll be able to suit up this Sunday.


Report: Vikings could 'reverse course' on Adrian Peterson move
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9/16/2014) The Vikings may "reverse course" on the decision to let running back Adrian Peterson play in Week 3, Pro Football Talk reports.

With Minnesota governor Mark Dayton calling for Peterson's suspension and the team losing sponsor Radisson Hotels in the wake of Peterson's re-activation, the team may decide to de-activate the running back yet again and keep him off the active roster until his legal situation has been resolved.


Raiders make it official, sign Vincent Brown
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(9/16/2014) The Raiders made it official Tuesday, signing former Chargers wideout Vincent Brown. He had 41 catches for 472 yards and a touchdown last season with San Diego.

Lions make roster moves
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(9/16/2014) The Lions put cornerback Nevin Lawson (dislocated toes) on injured reserve, signed cornerback Danny Gorrer and promoted linebacker Julian Stanford from the practice squad.

Cardinals sign Victor Butler, release two players
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9/16/2014) The Cardinals announced Tuesday they signed outside linebacker Victor Butler. Arizona also announced it released linebacker Marcus Benard and punter Drew Butler.

 
 
 
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