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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: Ray Rice files grievance against Ravens
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10/21/2014) Running back Ray Rice has filed a grievance against the Ravens challenging the team's decision to terminate his contract in early September, Pro Football Talk reports.

Rice is arguing that the Collective Bargaining Agreement allows just one penalty per infraction. The league suspended the former Raven two games after reviewing the domestic-violence incident, but after a second video of the same incident was brought to light in the public forum, Rice was cut by the team and suspended indefinitely by the league.

Rice's grievance against the league is set for Nov. 5 and 6, while his grievance against the Ravens doesn't have a scheduled date for resolution. He'll look to seek the salary he would have earned if he had been reinstated in Week 3 in his grievance against the Ravens.


Arians: Cardinals TE Troy Niklas unlikely to return in Week 8
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10/21/2014) Cardinals coach Bruce Arians indicated Tuesday that tight end Troy Niklas (ankle) is unlikely to play in Week 8 against the Eagles, FOXSports.com reports.

Niklas has missed the last two weeks after suffering an ankle sprain. He has one reception for 16 yards on the season.


Report: Patriots expected to sign DE Alan Branch
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10/21/2014) The Patriots are expected to sign free-agent defensive end Alan Branch, the Boston Globe reports.

Branch was released by the Bills after a DUI arrest in August. The Patriots reportedly are going to be without defensive end Chandler Jones (hip) for about a month, leaving a need to add depth on the defensive line.


Report: Patriots DE Chandler Jones (hip) out multiple weeks
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10/21/2014) Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones missed practice Tuesday with a hip injury and is expected to be sidelined for about a month, the Boston Globe reports.

Jones recorded four tackles and a sack in the team's Week 7 win over the Jets last Thursday after entering the contest listed as probable. He has posted 4.5 sacks over six games this season.


Panthers LB Luke Kuechly to avoid fine after ejection
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10/21/2014) Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly will not be fined for making contact with an official during his team's Week 7 loss to the Packers, NFL.com reports.

Kuechly was ejected from Sunday's game after the incident, which the linebacker contends happened because he wasn't aware it was an official pulling him from behind after a play. Panthers coach Ron Rivera disagreed with the decision to eject Kuechly and predicted the linebacker wouldn't face a fine.


Seahawks sign TE Brett Brackett, waive TE RaShaun Allen
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10/21/2014) The Seahawks claimed tight end Brett Brackett off waivers from Tennessee Tuesday and waived tight end RaShaun Allen. Brackett played two games with the Titans before being waived Monday.

Colts add Jeff Demps, Konrad Reuland to practice squad
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10/21/2014) The Colts signed running back/return specialist Jeff Demps and tight end Konrad Reuland to the practice squad Tuesday, the team announced. The team released quarterback Dominique Davis and wide receiver Chandler Jones to make room for the new additions.

Identifying a few streaming DST options
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(10/21/2014) If you need to pick up and play a DST unit in Week 8, Jamey Eisenberg identifies three worth snagging in his waiver-wire column: the Colts (59 percent owned) in Pittsburgh, the Cowboys (43 percent) against Washington, and the Dolphins (36 percent) in Jacksonville.

Hitting the wire for tight ends
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(10/21/2014) With how up-and-down many tight ends have been this season, identifying the right ones on waivers can be a key. In his Week 8 waiver-wire column, Jamey Eisenberg tries to pin down the best ones for you to target this week.

Ravens tight end Owen Daniels, coming off a six-catch performance with a touchdown in Week 7, is the top pick for the 41 percent of CBSSports.com leagues in which he is available. A big reason why is a matchup against the Bengals, who have allowed four double-digit Fantasy scoring games by tight ends this season.

The remainder of the top five for the week is rounded out by Coby Fleener of the Colts (44 percent owned), Charles Clay of the Dolphins (34 percent), Jared Cook of the Rams (47 percent) and Kyle Rudolph of the Vikings (32 percent), who makes more sense as a stash option if you can afford the roster space. 


Prioritizing waiver-wire picks at wide receiver
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(10/21/2014) In his Week 8 waiver-wire column, Jamey Eisenberg takes a look at the wide receivers most worth adding ahead of this week's games.

The list is headlined by new Seahawks' No. 1 Doug Baldwin (33 percent owned), with Odell Beckham (68 percent) of the Giants, Davante Adams (21 percent) of the Packers, Allen Robinson (34 percent) of the Jaguars and Brandon LaFell (56 percent) of the Patriots rounding out the remainder of the top five.

If you need to drop someone to make room for any pickups this week, he also recommends possibly parting ways with the Vikings' Cordarrelle Patterson (81 percent) or the Steelers' Markus Wheaton (35 percent). 


 
 
 
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