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Player Challenge strategies for Week 10

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: Drew Brees, Saints (vs. DAL)

You don't really need a case for Drew Brees, but in a game like the Player Challenge, where you only pick four quarterbacks over the span of the four weeks, it's important to pick the best week for Brees to succeed. Week 10 may be it. Brees faces the Cowboys, who have given up the third-most Fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks. Four quarterbacks have thrown for 400 or more yards against the Cowboys, while three have thrown for three or more touchdowns. Only three quarterbacks have attempted fewer than 40 passes against Dallas and none have thrown fewer than 35. Brees fits the mold of Eli Manning (450 yards, four TDs), Philip Rivers (401 yards, three TDs), Peyton Manning (414 yards, four TDs) and Matthew Stafford (488 yards, two TDs) and is in line for a nice performance in Week 10.

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A deeper alternative for daily leagues: Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins (@TB)

While Tannehill doesn't have the greatest numbers, he has an improving running game, a dangerous weapon in Mike Wallace and several 300-plus yard passing games under his belt over the past two seasons (including two this year). His Week 10 opponent, the Bucs, have been bad against quarterbacks lately, giving up 25 or more Fantasy points to their four most recent opponents, allowing three or more touchdowns in each game. The Dolphins may see some complications from essentially losing two offensive lineman in the last two weeks, but the matchup is good enough -- and Tannehill has enough mobility -- to take the risk in deeper leagues.

Running Back

My picks for the Player Challenge: Chris Johnson, Titans (vs. JAC); Reggie Bush, Lions (@CHI)

Johnson has scored an average of 22.5 Fantasy points over his last two games, with three touchdowns, seven receptions and his first 100-yard game of the season. Week 10 brings a dream matchup against the Jaguars, who have allowed 94 points to opposing running backs over their last three games -- spurred on by eight touchdowns.

Bush, meanwhile, has a date with the Bears, who have given up 25 or more points to opposing running backs in their last five games. Over their last three, running backs have scored seven touchdowns on the Bears, with Brandon Jacobs and Eddie Lacy running for 100 yards each. Bush has run for 100 yards just once this season, but he set a season-high in receptions against Dallas in Week 8 (with eight) and has four weeks of double-digit Fantasy points. He'd also carried the ball 20 or more times in two consecutive games heading into the team's Week 9 bye.

A deeper alternative for daily leagues: Mike James, Buccaneers (vs. MIA)

The Dolphins have given up two touchdowns in a game to opposing running backs in three of the last four. And while they have yet to give up a 100-yard game, the 21.8 Fantasy points per game given up to running backs essentially makes up for it. Over the last five games, the Dolphins have given up 25 or more Fantasy points to opposing backs three times, including 54 total points over the last two games. James had a huge game against the Seahawks in Week 9 -- he could carry that momentum forward in a decent Monday night matchup.

Wide Receiver

My picks for the Player Challenge: Victor Cruz, Giants (vs. OAK); Brandon Marshall, Bears (vs. DET)

Cruz has been selectively disappointing this season -- scoring a total of 17 points across three would-be stellar matchups against the Eagles (twice) and Vikings. But coming off a bye, with two wins in a row, there's some hope for Cruz to turn things around and recapture the early season magic (20 or more Fantasy points in two of his first four games). It helps that he's playing the Raiders, who have given up 28 or more Fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers in three of their last four games -- including a 55-point bonanza from the Eagles wideouts in Week 9. If Cruz fools us for a fourth time, then it might be a good idea to stop chasing matchups. But the Raiders are too tempting to pass up this weekend.

Marshall is like Brees -- you're going to use him over the course of the four-week challenge, you just want the right week to do it. Week 10 brings the Lions, who have given up five touchdowns in the last two games to opposing wide receivers (and nine in the last five). Marshall was targeted 14 times in his Week 4 matchup against the Lions, catching seven passes for 79 yards, and while he may still be playing with Josh McCown as his quarterback in Week 10, that shouldn't be reason to worry -- McCown targeted Marshall 13 times Monday night, resulting in Marshall's third 100-yard game of the season and fourth touchdown in four games.

A deeper alternative for daily leagues: Jarrett Boykin, Packers (vs. PHI)

Boykin doesn't seem like a great alternative, coming off a one-target performance in a game marred by Aaron Rodgers' collarbone injury. Add in the return of James Jones, and it's an even less-tempting play. Still, Randall Cobb is out for another two months, and Boykin should see some significant action in the right situations. Week 10 -- when the Packers host the Eagles -- could be one of those games. The Eagles have given up 31.3 Fantasy points per game to opposing wideouts this season, including three games of 40 or more points. They've allowed four wide receivers to post 80 or more yards in the last three games and give up an average of 221 yards per game to opposing wide receivers. Boykin may have laid a virtual egg in Week 9, but this matchup makes him an intriguing deep/bargain play in Week 10.

Tight End

My pick for the Player Challenge: Jimmy Graham, Saints (vs. DAL)

This is arguably the league's best tight end facing off against a defense that has allowed the fourth-most Fantasy points per game to tight ends. And the Cowboys haven't faced too many elite tight ends this season -- having given up 136 yards and a touchdown to Antonio Gates and 122 yards and two touchdowns to Julius Thomas. Graham has been stellar lately, pushing through a foot injury to score four touchdowns in his last two games, and is set up to have a great game in Week 10.

DST

My pick for the Player Challenge: Seahawks

I know it's a total cop-out to pick the Seahawks against the Falcons, so let's just throw a low-end bonus sleeper option out there: the Texans. Houston had four sacks in Week 9, its second-highest total of the season. They face the Cardinals in Week 10, and Arizona has been sacked 23 times this year, while throwing the second-most interceptions in the NFL. Houston has a lot of talent on defense and could take advantage of a decent matchup to put up some nice numbers.

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: Late December the best case for Eagles' Nick Foles
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:18 am ET) Eagles quarterback Nick Foles is hoping to return in late December, according to philly.com.

Foles has yet to have a follow-up on his broken collarbone, but is expected to go next week. He was initially slated to miss 6-8 weeks due to the issue, but that could be optimistic. The best case scenario for Foles is a possible Week 16 return against Washington. Foles has been preparing as though he's going to return again this season, according to offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur. "He's involved in every single meeting," Shurmur said. "He's out there on the field. He's throwing and running."

Foles has already missed three games due to the injury.


Report: Texans RB Arian Foster likely to start on Sunday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(11/26/2014) Texans running back Arian Foster is likely to start Week 13 against the Titans, according to the Houston Chronicle

Foster "looked pretty good" in practice, according to coach Bill O'Brien. Barring a setback, it's believed Foster will return to the starting lineup. He missed the last two games due to a groin injury. 


Cowboys QB Tony Romo probable for Thursday's game
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(11/26/2014) Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is probable heading into Thursday's game against the Eagles.

Romo was listed with a back injury, but was able to practice in full on both Tuesday and Wednesday. 

Josh Brent, Tyrone Crawford, Doug Free, Nick Hayden, Rolando McClain and Terrance Williams were also listed as probable, and should play.

The team did not list any players as questionable, though Jeff Heath was listed as doubtful.

Jack Crawford, Tyler Patmon and Dekoda Watson were all ruled out prior to Thursday. 


Bears list Week 13 injury report
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(11/26/2014) The Bears have listed their Week 13 injury report prior to Thursday's game.

Wideout Brandon Marshall has been listed as probable with an ankle injury. He's been limited in practice throughout the week, but should play. Eben Britton, Jordan Mills and Brock Vereen were also listed as probable.

First-round pick Kyle Fuller will come into the contest as a game-time decision. He's questionable due to a knee injury. Both Jeremiah Ratliff and Trevor Scott will be listed as doubtful.

Lance Briggs, Darryl Sharpton, Chris Williams and Brian De La Puente have already been ruled out. 


Seahawks list Week 13 injury report
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(11/26/2014) The Seahawks have released their Week 13 injury report.

Marshawn Lynch is listed as probable due to a back injury. He was able to put in full practice on Wednesday. Jermaine Kearse, Marcus Burley and James Carpenter have also been ruled probable. 

Demarcus Dobbs and Jeremy Lane are listed as questionable. Dobbs is dealing with a knee injury. Lane has a glute issue.

Finally, Max Unger, Cooper Helfet and Kevin Pierre-Louis have been ruled out. None of the three were able to practice during the week. 


Raiders' Latavius Murray 'feeling better every day'
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(11/26/2014) Raiders running back Latavius Murray is "feeling better every day," according to CSN.

Murray was able to return to practice on Wednesday, but has not been cleared to return from his concussion just yet. Despite that, Murray seems optimistic about his status. "I’ve felt fine, and I’m feeling better each day," Murray said. "With these kind of things you have to take it one day at a time and follow the right procedures." Murray was on his way to a huge game before leaving with the injury Week 12. 


Seahawks' Cooper Helfet to miss Thursday's game
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(11/26/2014) Seahawks tight end Cooper Helfet will miss Thursday's game against the 49ers.

Helfet is dealing with an ankle injury. He was not able to take part in practice during the week, and is already listed as out.


Vikings OL Phil Loadholt expects to be ready for camp
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(11/26/2014) Vikings offensive lineman Phil Loadholt expects to be ready for training camp.

Loadholt will have season-ending surgery on a torn pectoral muscle soon. The team placed him on IR, meaning he won't be back this season. 


Ravens sign Emmanuel Ogbuehi to practice squad
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(11/26/2014) The Ravens have signed tight end Emmanuel Ogbuehi to the practice squad on Wednesday.

Ogbuehi had been on the practice squad earlier in the season, but was cut in September. The team placed tight end Konrad Reuland on the practice squad injured list, making room for Ogbuehi to return. 


Rams wideout Damian Williams clears waivers
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(11/26/2014) Rams wideout Damian Williams cleared waivers on Wednesday.

Williams was released by the club on Tuesday, and was not picked up by a club on waivers. He's now free to sign with any team. 


 
 
 
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