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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: Six teams in the mix for Vikings RB Adrian Peterson
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(11:07 pm ET) The Vikings are reportedly going to give it one more week of searching for a trade partner for running back Adrian Peterson, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

A source told the newspaper if Peterson is not traded by next week, the Vikings will keep him. Minnesota is still reportedly talking with the Cardinals, Falcons, Cowboys, Jaguars, Chargers and Buccaneers to get a possible deal done, according to the source.

Peterson was reinstated last week by the league for his suspension stemming from child-abuse charges. He is under contract with the Vikings for the next three seasons for $43.25 million, including $12.75 in 2015.


Report: S Johnson Bademosi, LB Craig Robertson re-sign with Browns
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(6:33 pm ET) The Browns have reportedly re-signed safety Johnson Bademosi and inside linebacker Craig Robertson, according to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Caplan.

Bademosi totaled 12 tackles in 14 games last season while Robertson made 99 tackles with two interceptions and one touchdown in all 16 games.


Report: Fullback Will Johnson re-signs with Steelers
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(6:29 pm ET) The Steelers and fullback Will Johnson have reportedly agreed to terms, bringing the veteran back for his fourth season with the club, according to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Caplan.

Johnson, who was a restricted free agent, has played 47 of a possible 48 games in his career, totaling four carries for seven yards and 29 catches for 219 yards and two touchdowns.


Report: Rams sign S Rodney McLeod, TE Cory Harkey to RFA tenders
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(6:26 pm ET) The Rams have reportedly signed safety Rodney McLeod and tight end Cory Harkey to their restricted free agent tenders, according to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Caplan.

Harkey had eight catches for 55 yards and a touchdown last season while McLeod totaled 72 tackles with two interceptions in 16 games.


Report: Rams QB Austin Davis signs RFA tender, set to return in 2015
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(6:18 pm ET) Rams quarterback Austin Davis agreed to sign his restricted free agent tender and will be back in St. Louis in 2015, according to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Caplan.

Davis got his first chance to start in the league in 2014, starting 10 games for St. Louis. He threw for 2,001 yards with 12 touchdowns and nine interceptions after starter Sam Bradford went down in the preseason.


WR Kamar Aiken, CB Tramain Jacobs sign ERT with Ravens
by Ted Leshinski | Staff Writer
(5:43 pm ET) The Ravens have announced that wide receiver Kamar Aiken and cornerback Tramain Jacobs each signed their exclusive-rights tenders on Monday, reports the Baltimore Sun. 

Aiken's offer was for $585,000 while Jacobs' was $510,000. 

Aiken played in 16 games for Ravens last season, catching 24 passes for 267 yards. Jacobs played in three games in 2014, finishing his rookie campaign on injured reserve (thigh).


Giants CB Prince Amukamara (torn biceps) 'about 90 percent' recovered
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(5:21 pm ET) Giants cornerback Prince Amukamara said he's "about 90 percent" healed from his torn biceps injury suffered in Week 9 that ended his 2014 season, reports the New York Daily News

Amukamara left the Monday night game against the Colts with the injury and did not return the rest of the season. 

In eight games last year, Amukamara recorded 45 tackles (37 solo), 11 pass defenses and three interceptions.


WR/KR Jeremy Ross signs exclusive right tender with Lions
by Ted Leshinski | Staff Writer
(5:00 pm ET) Wide receiver and kick returner Jeremy Ross has signed his exclusive right tender with the Lions, the team has announced.

Ross, a four-year NFL veteran, started 13 of the Lions' 16 games last year and caught 32 passes for 284 yards.

Steelers shouldn't be worried about Antonio Brown skipping workout
by Ted Leshinski | Staff Writer
(4:49 pm ET) Wide receiver Antonio Brown skipping the team's voluntary workout on Monday and possibly beyond, most likely trying to force a new deal, shouldn't scare the Steelers at this point, according to ESPN.com. 

But if he should miss the team's mandatory minicamp in June, the Steelers may have a problem. 

Brown, a breakout star in 2014, signed a six-year deal with the Steelers in 2012. So with three years remaining he has almost no leverage. 

The possible strategy for Brown is to make it public now that he's seeking a new contract to help his case down the line.


DE Mike Daniels may be Packers' top free-agent target for 2016
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4:21 pm ET) As he enters the final year of his rookie contract, Packers defensive tackle Mike Daniels is probably the top free-agent priority for 2016, reports ESPN. 

Daniels' future could be similar to Randall Cobb, who resigned with Packers in the offseason (four years, $40M), or Tramon Williams, who left the Packers after eight seasons to sign with the Browns.

"All of that is just a distraction," Daniels said. "I'm here to play football. I'm here to get better ... All that [contract] stuff, that's nothing but a huge distraction."


 
 
 
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