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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
Eagles TE Trey Burton leaves with hamstring injury
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7:22 pm ET) Eagles tight end Trey Burton, who plays mainly on special teams, left the game against the Cowboys in the fourth quarter with a hamstring injury.

Frank Gore among 49ers probables active Thursday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(7:21 pm ET) Six players listed as probable for Week 13 on the 49ers' final injury report are active Thursday, including running backs Frank Gore (knee) and Bruce Miller (shoulder), safeties Eric Reid (ankle) and Raymond Ventrone (groin), defensive tackle Justin Smith (back) and wide receiver Brandon Lloyd (quad).

Gore struggled in Week 12, managing just 36 yards on 13 carries, but he wasn't thought to be in danger of missing the key NFC West battle.


Marshawn Lynch among Seahawks probables active Thursday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(7:18 pm ET) The Seahawks have four players listed as probable active for Thursday's game against the 49ers, including Marshawn Lynch (back), guard James Carpenter (ankle), wide receiver Jermaine Kearse (ankle) and cornerback Marcus Burley (hamstring).

Lynch totaled 82 yards on 18 touches against Arizona in Week 12 while dealing with a back issue, but he reportedly had a good week of practice before being listed as probable for Thursday's game.


Seahawks list Week 13 inactives vs. 49ers
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(7:14 pm ET) The Seahawks have listed the following players as inactive for Thursday night's matchup with the 49ers: cornerback Jeremy Lane (glute), center Max Unger (ankle), tight ends Cooper Helfet (ankle) and RaShaun Allen, linebackers Kevin Pierre-Louis (shoulder) and Allen Bradford and defensive tackle Travian Robertson .

Helfet, Pierre-Louis and Unger had all been previously ruled out for the Week 13 game, while Lane was questionable. Also questionable to play was defensive end Demarcus Dobbs (knee), but he's active for the game.


49ers list inactive for Week 13 vs. Seahawks
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(7:10 pm ET) The 49ers have listed the following players as inactive for Thursday night's battle with the Seahawks: defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey (forearm), tight end Vance McDonald (back), cornerback Tramaine Brock (hamstring), wide receivers Bruce Ellington (ankle) and Quinton Patton, quarterback Josh Johnson and tackle Anthony Davis.

Dorsey had previously been ruled out for the game, while McDonald, Brock and Ellington were all listed as questionable on the team's final injury report.


Pats waive S Don Jones
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(5:27 pm ET) The Patriots waived safety Don Jones, a core special teams player, reports ESPN.com.

Lions kicker Matt Prater has 10 points in Week 13 win
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(5:21 pm ET) Lions kicker Matt Prater finished with 10 points during a 34-17 win Week 13 vs. Chicago. Prater made field goals of 40 and 46 yards, while converting four extra points.

Prater has totaled 10 points twice in seven games and is averaging 6.3 points per game. The Lions are back in action Week 14 vs. Tampa Bay.


Bears kicker Robbie Gould ends field-goal drought Week 13
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(5:18 pm ET) Bears kicker Robbie Gould finished with five points during a 34-17 loss Week 13 at Detroit. He made a 35-yard field goal and two extra points.

Gould's field goal with 8:54 left in the third quarter was his first made field goal since there was 2 seconds remaining in the first half Week 6 at Atlanta. He had gone five games without a field goal -- missing two field-goal attempts in that span.

The Bears are back in action Week 14 vs. Dallas.


Lions RB Theo Riddick totals six catches Week 13
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(5:14 pm ET) Lions running back Theo Riddick had no carries during a 34-17 win Week 13 vs. Chicago, but he made his presence felt in the passing game. He totaled six catches for 54 yards, with his longest reception going for 19 yards.

Riddick has had five or more catches three times this season. He has 27 catches for 272 yards and three touchowns in 10 games. 

The Lions are back in action Week 14 vs. Tampa Bay.


Lions WR Golden Tate has eight-catch, 89-yard outing Week 13
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(5:10 pm ET) Lions wide receiver Golden Tate totaled eight catches for 89 yards during a 34-17 win vs. Chicago on Thanksgiving. He was targeted 10 times and his longest catch went 24 yards.

Tate has finished with fewer than 60 receiving yards just four times this season. The Lions are back in action Week 14 vs. Tampa Bay.


 
 
 
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