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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
Bengals WR A.J. Green ruled probable for SNF
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(2:22 pm ET) Bengals receiver A.J. Green was officially ruled as probable for Sunday night's contest against the Steelers despite dealing with a biceps injury.

Green was ineffective after suffering the injury Monday night against Denver with the injury. He leads the team with 61 catches for 959 yards and six touchdowns.

Cincinnati is a 3 1/2-point underdog at Pittsburgh. The Bengals can clinch the AFC North division title with a win.


Bengals list 12 players on injury report for Week 17
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(2:22 pm ET) The Bengals have listed 12 players on its final injury report for Week 17 at Pittsburgh -- six were ruled questionable, while the other six were labeled probable.

Cornerback Adam Jones (illness), linebacker Emmanuel Lamur (hamstring), cornerback Chris Lewis-Harris (illness), safety Reggie Nelson (illness), cornerback Terence Newman (illness) and wide receiver James Wright (knee) were deemed questionable.

Meanwhile, the following players were designated as probable: Guard Clint Boling (illness), cornerback Chris Carter (knee), cornerback Darqueze Dennard (shin), defensive end Wallace Gilberry (hamstring), wide receiver A.J. Green (biceps) and kicker Mike Nugent (illness).


Bears re-sign center Roberto Garza to one-year deal
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(2:12 pm ET) The Bears have re-signed center Roberto Garza to a one-year contract through 2015.

Garza has played for Chicago since 2005 and missed just six games in that timeframe. He will be 36 years old in March of 2015.


Bills' Dan Carpenter, Aaron Williams probable for Week 17
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(2:07 pm ET) The Bills listed kicker Dan Carpenter (right groin) and safety Aaron Williams (hip) were deemed probable for Sunday's season finale at New England. Cornerback Stephon Gilmore (concussion) and defensive tackle Marcell Dareus (knee) were ruled out for the game.   

Chad Greenway, Kyle Rudolph questionable for Vikings in Week 17
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(2:02 pm ET) Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway (knee) and tight end Kyle Rudolph (ankle) are listed as questionable for Week 17 against the Bears. Greenway was unable to practice all week while Rudolph only practiced Friday on a limited basis. 

Wide receiver Jarius Wright (back) is also listed as questionable.

Rookie linebacker Anthony Barr (knee) and Brandon Watts (hamstring) have been ruled out. 

Guard Charlie Johnson (ankle), Greg Jennings (hamstring), Antone Exum (knee), Mike Harris (foot), Chase Ford (foot), Robert Blanton (ankle), Andrew Sendejo (thumb), Sharrif Floyd (knee) and Matt Asiata (foot) are all listed as probable.

The Vikings are currently 6-point favorites against Chicago Sunday.


Jets' Percy Harvin, Nick Mangold deemed questionable in Week 17
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1:59 pm ET) Jets wide receiver Percy Harvin (rib) and center Nick Mangold (ankle) are the most notable players listed as questionable for Sunday's season finale at Miami. Defensive lineman Damon Harrison (illness), safety Jaiquawn Jarrett (shoulder), safety Dawan Landry (illness), cornerback Darrin Walls (shoulder) and defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson (toe, illness) joined Mangold and Harvin as questionable for Sunday.

Meanwhile, the following players were deemed probable: Safety Antonio Allen (hand), guard Willie Colon (knee), kicker Nick Folk (right hip), running back Chris Ivory (hamstring) and running back Chris Johnson (knee).

Safety Rontez Miles (shin) was the only player on New York's final injury report of the season ruled out for Sunday.


Packers' McCarthy not very concerned with Rodgers' calf injury
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1:52 pm ET) There is not a high level of concern for quarterback Aaron Rodgers and his calf injury, Packers coach Mike McCarthy told the media Friday.

Rodgers, who is probable with the calf injury, has been limited in practice all week. Rodgers sustained the injury in the first half of Week 16 against the Bucs when he was brought down awkwardly on a sack. 

Rodgers has thrown for 4,155 yards and 36 touchdowns this year.

The Packers are 7 1/2-point favorites in Week 17 against the Lions.


Giants release final injury report for Week 17 against the Eagles
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1:41 pm ET) Giants running back Andre Williams is dealing with a shoulder injury and listed as questionable for Sunday's game against the Eagles. Williams was limited in practice all week after rushing 26 times for 110 yards in Week 16 against the Rams.

The other running back in New York of interest, Rashad Jennings, was limited in practice all week with an ankle injury and is listed as probable.

Jennings missed Week 16 with the injury. 

Linebacker Devon Kennard (toe) will be out after missing practice all week and linebackers Paul Hazel (hamstring) and Jameel McClain (knee) are both probable.

The Giants are currently 2 1/2-point favorites against Philadelphia for Sunday's game.


Browns, Connor Shaw agree to terms on contract, will start Sunday
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1:17 pm ET) Connor Shaw has agreed to terms on a contract with the Browns, according to CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora on Friday. The team will make the announcement and add him to the 53-man active roster before Sunday's season finale against Baltimore. With Brian Hoyer sidelined this week with injuries to his right shoulder and biceps, Shaw will make his first career start, coach Mike Pettine told reporters, per the Akron Beacon Journal.

Cleveland opened as a 7-point road underdog. The line has now moved to 10 points in favor of the Ravens.


Colts rule out TE Allen, T Cherilus, LB Werner for Week 17
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1:13 pm ET) Colts coach Chuck Pagano told reporters tight end Dwayne Allen (knee), tackle Gosder Cherilus (groin) and linebacker Bjoern Werner (shoulder) will all miss Sunday's regular season finale against the Titans, per the team's official website. The Colts have already clinched the No. 4 seed, and are taking a cautious approach with their injured players this week. 

The Colts remain a 7-point road favorite against the Titans.


 
 
 
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