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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
Seahawks DT Jesse Williams to have kidney surgery Thursday
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(5/26/2015) Seahawks defensive tackle Jesse Williams is scheduled to have kidney surgery on Thursday, the team announced. 

This surgery will take place 10 days after he was diagnosed with Papillary Type 2 cancer. 

"He’s a battler all the way," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "He’s been up against it, too. He’s fought some difficult fights, and he’s fighting another one - maybe the fight of a young man’s life.

"We’ll be there with him and hope to pull him through.”


Seahawks' Lemuel Jeanpierre with first team, not Patrick Lewis
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(5/26/2015) The Seahawks worked in a new first-team center on Tuesday and it wasn't the one projected to fill Max Unger's vacant spot.

According to ESPN.com, Lemuel Jeanpierre worked with the first team during Tuesday's OTA practice. Patrick Lewis, who many projected to be the front-runner for the job, worked in as Jeanpierre's backup.

After practice, coach Pete Carroll said Jeanpierre earned the opportunity to begin OTAs as the first-team center.

Jeanpierre has been with the Seahawks since 2011 and Lewis joined the squad a year ago. Jeanpierre has 11 career starts and Lewis has four, all of which happened with Seattle in 2014.  


Falcons RB Devonta Freeman opens OTAs as starter
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(5/26/2015) The Falcons opened OTAs with running back Devonta Freeman getting the nod with the first team, according to ESPN.com

Freeman is entering his second year in the NFL, though there is a lot of buzz surrounding rookie draft choice Tevin Coleman out of Indiana. Though Freeman is the technical starter for now, it should be an open competition between these two and Antone Smith this August. 


Chiefs OLB Justin Houston a no-show to OTAs
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(5/26/2015) Chiefs outside linebacker Justin Houston did not show up to Tuesday's organized team activity practice, according to the Kansas City Star

Houston is reportedly seeking a long-term deal and would prefer not to sign the franchise tender the Chiefs are offering. The Chiefs placed a non-exclusive franchise tag on Houston earlier this offseason. 

The Chiefs have until July 15 to work out a long-term deal with the star outside linebacker. If they don't, teams could offer Houston deals with the Chiefs having the right to match. And if the Chiefs chose not to match, they would receive two first-round picks from the team signing Houston away. 

Houston totaled 22 sacks a year ago. Teammate Tamba Hali said that Houston has been working out and would like to practice with the Chiefs if it was possible. 

“Every two or three weeks, we talk,” Hali said. “He's working, he's working his tail off. Like any player, he wants to be here. But we know our league is a business, and we've got to allow that process to work itself out. He wants to be here. He's missing it.”


Titans RB Shonn Greene absent from OTAs
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(5/26/2015) Titans running back Shonn Greene did not attend Tuesday's OTA practice, according to The Tennessean

"Obviously we'd like to have him here," Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "But he's a veteran. He knows how to get himself prepared."

Greene told the Titans, Whisenhunt said, that he's unable to attend at the moment because he is the caretaker of a child. Greene ran for 392 yards and two touchdowns during the 2014 season. 


Eagles G Evan Mathis doesn't show up to OTAs
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(5/26/2015) For the second consecutive season, Eagles guard Evan Mathis was a no-show to OTAs, according to ESPN.com. 

Mathis has received permission to seek a trade though nothing has materialized. After failing to report to OTAs a year ago, Mathis showed up to the Eagles facility on time. 

Mathis is entering his 11th NFL season and fifth with the Eagles. 


Browns RB Isaiah Crowell opens OTAs as starter
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(5/26/2015) Isaiah Crowell opened Tuesday's OTA practice as the Browns' starting running back, according to ESPNCleveland.com. 

Crowell, an undrafted free-agent a year ago, and Terrance West split first-team reps. Crowell totaled 607 yards and eight touchdowns while West ran for 673 yards and four. Regardless of who the starter is, the Browns are likely to use a rotation at running back. 


Chiefs OLB Tamba Hali underwent minor knee procedure
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(5/26/2015) Chiefs outside linebacker Tamba Hali said he had a minor procedure performed on his knee this offseason, according to the Kansas City Star

Hali said the procedure was done to clean out some loose cartilage. 

It's not anything that'e expected to keep Hali off of the field. A year ago, Hali recorded 59 tackles and six sacks. 


Raiders QB Derek Carr (finger) has yet to start throwing
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(5/26/2015) Raiders quarterback Derek Carr did not participate in any passing drills during Tuesday's OTA practice, according to the Bay Area News Group. 

Carr has an injured right ring finger that he's not contemplating surgery for. He was able to take snaps and make pitches during practice. Though he's missing the reps now, Carr is expected to be back by the start of training camp. 


Seahawks CB Richard Sherman practices fully on Tuesday
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(5/26/2015) Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman did not have any limitations during Tuesday's OTA practice. 

According to the Seattle Times, Sherman, who suffered an elbow injury during this past postseason, was able to practice fully

There was a chance Sherman would need Tommy John surgery, though he decided to let the injury heal on its own. In 2014, Sherman recorded 57 tackles and four interceptions. 


 
 
 
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