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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
Jets' Muhammad Wilkerson sitting on Monday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(11/28/2014) Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson will not play on Monday against the Dolphins, according to ESPN.

Wilkerson said he won't need surgery on his injured toe, but he would still need time to recover. It's the first time in his career that Wilkerson will miss a game. "It’s a little weird, but I’m going to do my best to support my teammates," Wilkerson said. 


Raiders active RB George Atkinson for Week 13
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(11/28/2014) The Raiders have activated running back George Atkinson for Week 13 against the Rams.

The team will be without Latavius Murray for the contest. Murray was unable to pass the proper concussion tests. Atkinson will have to battle for carries, as the team is expected to have Marcel Reece, Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew for the game. 


Raiders carries will be determined by 'flow' of the game
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(11/28/2014) The Raiders will distribute their carries based on the "flow" of the game on Sunday, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

Latavius Murray has been ruled out due to a concussion, leaving Marcel Reece, Maurice Jones-Drew and Darren McFadden in the backfield. Head coach Tony Sparano confirmed that carries would depend on both "flow" and the game situation. It's unclear which player will get the start. 


Seahawks place Kevin Pierre-Louis on IR, claim Loucheiz Purifoy
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(11/28/2014) The Seahawks have claimed defensive back Loucheiz Purifoy off waivers from the Colts and placed linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis on injured reserve, ending his season, per KJR-950 AM in Seattle. Pierre-Louis injured his shoulder Week 11 against Kansas City. His season ends with 13 combined tackles and one fumble recovery in seven games played.

Patriots DT Siliga back at practice, but still on IR/DTR list
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(11/28/2014) Patriots defensive tackle Sealver Siliga has returned to practice, but he remains on the injured reserve/designated to return list as he continues his recovery from a foot injury that has limited him to three games this season.

Bears LB Lance Briggs lands on season-ending IR list
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(11/28/2014) Bears linebacker Lance Briggs may have played his last game in Chicago.

According to Albert Breer of the NFL Network, the Bears have placed him on the season-ending injured reserve list with a groin injury.

His season ends with one interception and one forced fumble, along with 35 combined tackles in eight games played. The 34-year-old will become a free agent at the end of the season.


Quartet of Raiders get red light for battle with Rams
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(11/28/2014) Four Raiders have been ruled out for their Sunday game in St. Louis, including running back Latavius Murray (concussion). The others are safety Jonathan Dowling (back) and cornerbacks Carlos Rogers (knee) and Neiko Thorpe (hand).

Listed as questionable is guard Gabe Jackson (knee) while safety Larry Asante (shoulder), cornerback T.J. Carrie (ankle) and tight end Brian Leonhardt (concussion) are probable.


Broncos rule out Montee Ball, Ronnie Hillman for Week 13
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(11/28/2014) The Broncos ruled out running backs Montee Ball (groin), Ronnie Hillman (foot) along with cornerback Kayvon Webster (shoulder) for Week 13 against Kansas City. Deemed questionable were cornerback Aqib Talib (hamstring), tight end Julius Thomas (ankle) and safety Quinton Carter (ankle).

Meanwhile, the following players were ruled as probable for Sunday: Linebacker Brandon Marshall (concussion), defensive end Quanterus Smith (ankle), safety David Bruton (finger), tight end Virgil Green (calf) and backup running back Juwan Thompson (knee).


Broncos LB Brandon Marshall passes concussion tests
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(11/28/2014) Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall has passed the league-mandated concussion protocol and was back on the practice field as a full participant on Friday. The team has designated him as probable for Week 13 against Kansas City.

Marshall suffered the injury the previous week against Miami. He has totaled 94 tackles and one sack, along with two forced fumbles in 11 games.


Broncos' Aqib Talib returns to practice, questionable for Week 13
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(11/28/2014) Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib returned to the practice field on Friday after sitting out the previous two days of practice with a hamstring injury. The Broncos have officially listed him as questionable for Week 13 at Kansas City.

Talib suffered the injury Week 12 vs. Miami. He has registered two interceptions, one forced fumble and 43 total tackles through his first 11 games with the Broncos.


 
 
 
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