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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
Vikings place Adrian Peterson on Exempt/Commissioner's Permission list
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(2:04 am ET) The Vikings released a statement early Wednesday morning that running back Adrian Peterson has been placed on the Exempt/Commissioner's Permission list, which means he cannot play until further notice.

The statement was signed by Zygi Wilf and Mark Wilf.

"This has been an ongoing and deliberate process since last Friday’s news," the statement said. "In conversations with the NFL over the last two days, the Vikings advised the League of the team's decision to revisit the situation regarding Adrian Peterson. In response, the League informed the team of the option to place Adrian on the Exempt/Commissioner’s Permission list, which will require that Adrian remain away from all team activities while allowing him to take care of his personal situation until the legal proceedings are resolved. After giving the situation additional thought, we have decided this is the appropriate course of action for the organization and for Adrian."


NFLPA files appeal on behalf of Ray Rice
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9/16/2014) The NFL Players Association announced Tuesday that it has filed an appeal in the case of former Ravens running back Ray Rice, CBSSports.com NFL insider Jason La Canfora reports.

Rice was initially suspended two games for an offseason domestic-violence incident, but he was cut from the team and suspended indefinitely by the league after a new video of the incident surfaced last week. The argument in the appeal is that Rice is being punished twice for the same offense. The NFLPA has requested that an independent arbitrator hear the appeal rather than commissioner Roger Goodell.


NFL, NFLPA finishing up new drug policy
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9/16/2014) The NFL and the NFL Players Association are finalizing a new drug policy Tuesday evening, and a formal announcement is expected to be made by Wednesday morning, CBSSports.com NFL insider Jason La Canfora reports.

The NFLPA has begun to notify players of the revamped suspensions under the new policy, including Browns receiver Josh Gordon officially having his suspension reduced to 10 games. Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker, Rams wide receiver Stedman Bailey and Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick are among the handful of players who should be able to rejoin their respective teams Wednesday in preparation of playing in Week 3.

However, Dolphins defenders Dion Jordan and Reshad Jones are not expected to be affected by the change in policy, the Palm Beach Post reports, leaving their suspensions active for two more games.


John Abraham yet to pass concussion protocol
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9/16/2014) Cardinals linebacker John Abraham didn't pass the concussion protocol Tuesday, FOXSports.com reports. Abraham will attempt to be cleared Wednesday as he looks to return from his Week 1 injury.

Arthur Jones to miss 2-4 weeks with high ankle sprain
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9/16/2014) Colts defensive lineman Arthur Jones will be sidelined 2-to-4 weeks while recovering from a high ankle sprain, NFL.com reports.

The Colts have already dealt with issues stopping the run in the team's first two games, and Jones' absence could mean their defensive woes could continue. Fortunately, the team faces a juicy matchup against the pedestrian Jaguars offense in Week 3.


Davon Coleman suffers calf injury
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9/16/2014) Cowboys defensive tackle Davon Coleman strained his left calf muscle while doing squats in the weight room Monday, the Dallas Morning News reports.

The rookie drew the start in Week 1 against the 49ers but becomes the latest in a long line of injuries to the Dallas defense. He remains hopeful he'll be able to suit up this Sunday.


Report: Vikings could 'reverse course' on Adrian Peterson move
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9/16/2014) The Vikings may "reverse course" on the decision to let running back Adrian Peterson play in Week 3, Pro Football Talk reports.

With Minnesota governor Mark Dayton calling for Peterson's suspension and the team losing sponsor Radisson Hotels in the wake of Peterson's re-activation, the team may decide to de-activate the running back yet again and keep him off the active roster until his legal situation has been resolved.


Raiders make it official, sign Vincent Brown
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(9/16/2014) The Raiders made it official Tuesday, signing former Chargers wideout Vincent Brown. He had 41 catches for 472 yards and a touchdown last season with San Diego.

Lions make roster moves
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(9/16/2014) The Lions put cornerback Nevin Lawson (dislocated toes) on injured reserve, signed cornerback Danny Gorrer and promoted linebacker Julian Stanford from the practice squad.

Cardinals sign Victor Butler, release two players
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9/16/2014) The Cardinals announced Tuesday they signed outside linebacker Victor Butler. Arizona also announced it released linebacker Marcus Benard and punter Drew Butler.

 
 
 
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