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Player Challenge strategies for Week 9

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: Cam Newton, Panthers (vs. ATL)

Newton's on a weird little streak lately, with two games of 30 or more Fantasy points and two of 16 or fewer in his last four games. He's essentially been a matchup play -- his two big games came against the Vikings and Bucs -- who have given up the seventh- and eighth-most Fantasy points per game to quarterbacks this season. Newton's two down games came against the Cardinals and Rams, who have both given up fewer than 20 Fantasy points per game to quarterbacks. Week 9 brings the Falcons, who have given up 20 or more points to opposing quarterbacks in all but two games. Every quarterback they've faced has thrown at least two touchdowns, and they have just four interceptions on the season.With a few of the top quarterback options on a bye this week, Newton makes for a decent Player Challenge risk.

A deeper alternative for daily leagues: Jason Campbell, Browns (vs. BAL)

I watched Campbell very closely this past week, and I saw a player who was throwing the ball deep often, and doing so almost effortlessly. With Jordan Cameron and Josh Gordon on the other end of those passes, Campbell could turn into a decent Fantasy option no matter who he's playing -- he scored 24 Fantasy points in Week 8 against a Chiefs defense that had allowed just one 20-plus point game all season, and had held five quarterbacks to 15 or fewer Fantasy points.

Running Back

My picks for the Player Challenge: Jamaal Charles, Chiefs (@ BUF); Adrian Peterson, Vikings (vs. DAL)

Keep a close eye on Charles' knee injury as the week progresses; he bruised it in Week 8 and had to be taken out of the game to test it on the stationary bike. If he plays (which is very likely), he gets to face off against a Buffalo defense that hasn't allowed a lot of Fantasy points to opposing running backs (an average of 13.3 per game), but has allowed the fifth-most rushing yards. Those yards are eventually going to beget touchdowns, and it's only a matter of time until the Bills break. The only running backs who have scored touchdowns against the Bills this season are Willis McGahee and Giovani Bernard. Charles could add his name to the list by Sunday night.

Peterson, meanwhile, is coming off his third straight game with 13 or fewer carries. Over a career that reaches back to 2007, those three games rank among his 15 lowest for rushing attempts. He's averaged 8.7 Fantasy points per game since his Week 5 bye. After scoring five rushing touchdowns in his first five games, Peterson has scored one over his last three. Maybe the Vikings, having been out of those last three games, decided to take it easy on Peterson's hamstring, which has been bothering him for over a month. But with a favorable matchup against Dallas in Week 9 -- the Cowboys have given up six touchdowns in the last four games to opposing running backs, and have given up the most receiving yards in the league to running backs -- Peterson looks primed for a return to dominance.

A deeper alternative for daily leagues: Giovani Bernard, Bengals (vs. MIA)

The Dolphins have given up the third-most receiving yards per game to opposing running backs (53.3 yards). Bernard has established himself as a pass-catching specialist, with four games of four or more receptions this season. He ranks ninth among all running backs with 242 receiving yards, having caught 26 receptions on 33 targets. While he may not get enough rushing attempts to be worth a start in most standard leagues, Bernard has a great matchup for his skill-set in Week 9, and could be used as a cheap buy in daily leagues, or even as a starter in deeper formats.

Wide Receiver

My picks for the Player Challenge: Dez Bryant, Cowboys (vs. MIN); A.J. Green, Bengals (A MIA)

The Vikings haven't been great against the pass this season -- the 24.3 Fantasy points per game given up to opposing wide receivers is 10th in the NFL, and they've allowed 288 receiving yards per game (fourth-most in the NFL). Their 16 receiving touchdowns allowed are the second-most, as well. Bryant, meanwhile, has scored the second-most Fantasy points among wide receivers this season, helped along by his eight touchdowns (second-most) and 641 yards (eighth-most). He's scored two touchdowns in three of his last five games and has failed to reach double-digits in Fantasy points just three times.

Green, meanwhile, has three straight games with 100 or more receiving yards, with two touchdowns in each. While he has to face the challenge of a Thursday night game this week, Green will also benefit from Marvin Jones going nutty in Week 8 -- with the hope that defenses will have to focus a little bit more on Jones, leaving Green free to do his damage. Matchup-wise, the Dolphins are a tough team to go up against, having allowed just two 100-yard games to opposing wide receivers all season and giving up their first receiving touchdown in Week 8, to Aaron Dobson. So while this is far from a sure thing, it's worth taking a risk on Green benefiting from Jones' emergence.

A deeper alternative for daily leagues: Rod Streater, Raiders (@ PHI)

The Eagles have been bad against opposing wide receivers, giving up 14 touchdowns in eight weeks to the position, and allowing an average of 31.5 Fantasy points per game. While Streater has just one touchdown and two games with 50 or more receiving yards this season, this is a week where he could do some damage. Supplemental players like Leonard Hankerson (two touchdowns), Eddie Royal (three touchdowns), Donnie Avery (141 yards), Rueben Randle (two touchdowns), and Terrance Williams (one touchdown) have torched the Eagles (while the lead receiver tends to gather a lot of the yardage). Streater hasn't seen the same success as Denarius Moore this year, but he's actually pretty close (23 receptions to Moore's 27) and fits nicely into the archetype of receivers who have been successful against the Eagles this season.

Tight End

My pick for the Player Challenge: Jordan Cameron, Browns (vs. BAL)

The Ravens have given up the eighth-most Fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends this season. And although most of it came against the Broncos in Week 1, they've actually been pretty decent lately against tight ends. But Cameron already faced off against the Ravens once this season, catching five passes for 95 yards. And that was without Josh Gordon pulling away some defensive attention.He's a top-level talent at the position who should get close to -- or even eclipse -- those Week 2 numbers.

A deeper alternative for daily leagues: Coby Fleener, Colts (@ HOU)

The Colts are coming off their bye week, giving them ample time to prepare for life without Reggie Wayne and Dwayne Allen. Fleener has a chance to make some waves in this offense, having seen five or more targets in three of his last four games, a span in which he also has two touchdowns. Fleener's Week 9 opponent, the Texans, have given up three touchdowns to tight ends over the last three games.

DST

My pick for the Player Challenge: Saints

This is all based on matchups. The Jets rank among the top three teams -- in a bad way -- in sacks and interceptions. The Saints are top 10 in forcing both. While Geno Smith could still have a good game, I like the idea of getting a couple points here and couple more there for all the sacks and interceptions that New Orleans could rack up. It's an iffy play for a shallower format like the Player Challenge, but the upside here is tremendous.

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
Report: Patriots RB Shane Vereen expected to go Week 8
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:39 am ET) Patriots running back Shane Vereen is expected to play Week 8 against the Bears.

Vereen missed Friday's practice due to an illness, and is considered questionable for Sunday's game. Despite the illness, it would be a surprise if Vereen did not play, according to the report. Vereen scored two touchdowns Week 7 against the Jets. 


Chargers RB Ryan Mathews could return Week 9
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(10/24/2014) There's a chance Chargers running back Ryan Mathews will return Week 9, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

"That's in my head," Mathews said. "I'm just going keep doing my treatment this week, come back on Monday, and see what they say." Mathews has missed six straight games due to an MCL sprain. Mathews was able to put in some work prior to Thursday night's game, though he was not a candidate to play. He seemed to handle the workout well. 


Report: Reggie Bush unlikely to play Week 8
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(10/24/2014) Lions running back Reggie Bush is unlikely to play Week 8 against the Falcons.

Bush is considered doubtful due to an ankle issue, so the move shouldn't come as a big surprise. With Detroit on a bye Week 9, the team will rest Bush another week so that he's healthy down the stretch. 


Report: Lions WR Calvin Johnson unlikely to go in London
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(10/24/2014) Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson is unlikely to play Week 8 in London, according to ESPN.

Johnson was officially listed on the team's final injury report as questionable due to an ankle injury. With Detroit on a bye Week 9, the team is leaning toward resting Johnson in order to make sure he's healthy down the stretch. 


Cardinals DE Calais Campbell a game-time decision Week 8
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(10/24/2014) Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said Friday that defensive end Calais Campbell will be a game-time decision Sunday against the Eagles in Week 8, per ESPN. Campbell missed the last two games after suffering a Grade 2 MCL sprain against Denver in Week 5. He returned to the practice field Thursday and Friday and was officially listed as questionable.

"I feel explosive and everything, so it depends on what you consider limited," Campbell said. "In my opinion, I feel like I can play football and help the team win."

Raiders CB D.J. Hayden could be activated before Sunday's game
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(10/24/2014) Raiders coach Tony Sparano told reporters Friday that D.J. Hayden is "good to go," but would not commit to whether the cornerback will be activated off the Physically Unable to Perform List in time for Week 8 against the Browns, ESPN reports. The team is expected to place Usama Young and LaMarr Woodley on the season-ending injured reserve list, which would open a spot for Hayden.

The Raiders have 12 days remaining to activate Hayden, or else he lands on the injured reserve list.


Raiders will place Usama Young, LaMarr Woodley on IR
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(10/24/2014) Raiders safety Usama Young and defensive end LaMarr Woodley will likely be placed on season-ending injured reserve list, Tony Sparano told the Bay Area News Group on Friday. Young suffered a torn ACL and MCL and Woodley suffered a torn bicep Week 8 against Arizona.

Saints RB Mark Ingram: 'I've got to step up' for my teammates
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10/24/2014) Saints lead back Mark Ingram wants to return the favor to the backfield mates that carried the load when he missed three games with a broken hand by performing well with them out.

Ingram has been thrust back into the featured back role for Sunday night against Green Bay with injuries sidelining Pierre Thomas and Khiry Robinson.

"A couple guys are down, so I've got to step up and pull my weight and do my job," Ingram told the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

Ingram certainly pulled his weight before his injury. He rushed for 143 yards on 6.0 YPC with three touchdowns in the first two games. But he managed just 16 yards on 10 attempts at Detroit in Week 7.


Patriots add LB Davis, WR Krause to practice squad
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(10/24/2014) The Patriots announced a pair of minor roster moves Friday. The team re-signed linebacker Ja'Gared Davis to the practice squad and signed rookie wide receiver Jonathan Krause to the practice squad, per the team's official website.

Seahawks SS Kam Chancellor all but cleared for Week 8
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10/24/2014) Seahawks strong safety Kam Chancellor has been deemed probable for the Week 8 game at Carolina despite an ankle issue. He practiced in full Thursday and Friday after not participating Wednesday.

Chancellor has started in every game this season and has registered 44 tackles.


 
 
 
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