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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
Eben Britton blown out of Windy City
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:40 am ET) Guard Eben Britton has been let go by the Bears. He started four games for Chicago a year ago after serving as a part-time starter for Jacksonville from four seasons.

Mikel Leshoure sent packing by Lions
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:37 am ET) Running back Mikel Leshoure has been waived by the Lions, the Detroit Free Press has reported.

Leshoure peaked with Detroit in 2012, when he played in 14 games and rushed for 798 yards as the featured back. He was active for just three games in 2013.


Report: Giants place two receivers on IR
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:34 am ET) The Giants have placed wide receiver Mario Manningham and Trindon Holliday on injured reserve, per Yahoo! Sports.

Manningham has been dealing with ongoing knee problems that limited him to six games, including three starts, in 2013. Holliday, who doubles as a kick returner, missed most of the preseason with a hamstring injury.


Chris Ogbonnaya out in Cleveland
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:27 am ET) The Browns have waived veteran running back Chris Ogbonnaya, league sources have told the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Ogbonnaya contributed a career-high 48 receptions for 343 yards last year and added 49 carries for 240 yards.


Report: Nate Palmer could be destined for IR with torn MCL
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(10:23 am ET) Packers linebacker Nate Palmer has sustained a torn MCL, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which is further reporting he could land on injured reserve.

Palmer was active in just eight games as a rookie last season and contributed to 17 tackles.


Last-year starter Chris Scott banished from Panthers
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:18 am ET) The Panthers have cut guard Chris Scott, who started eight games in 2013. He had played in only two games in his previous five seasons.

Silas Redd survives as Redskins dump three running backs
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:14 am ET) The Redskins have cut running backs Lache Seastrunk, Chris Thompson and Evan Royster, leaving the third spot behind Alfred Morris and Roy Helu to Silas Redd.

Royster is the most notable of the departures. But his reps have lessened in each of the last three seasons.


Dion Lewis out, Isaiah Crowell likely in for Cleveland
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:10 am ET) Running back Dion Lewis has been cut by the Browns in the wake of the surprising 100-yard performance Thursday by Isaiah Crowell, per the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Crowell appears set to make the team ahead of Lewis, who lost last season to injury. Lewis averaged 4.8 YPC in limited action for Philadelphia in 2011 and 2012.


Report: Nate Burleson waived by Browns
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:06 am ET) The Browns have cut veteran wide receiver Nate Burleson, sourses have told the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

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Texans dump Brandon Harris Friday
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(8/29/2014) The Texans have waived cornerback Brandon Harris on Friday, according to Comcast SportsNet Houston. Harris was a 2011 second-round pick out of the University of Miami that never started a game in Houston.

 
 
 
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