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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
Titans' Whisenhunt explains why Akeem Ayers was traded to Patriots
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:36 am ET) Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt expressed Wednesday part of the reason the team traded Akeem Ayers to the Patriots was that he didn't provide a big enough boost on special teams, according to The Tennessean. Ayers, who was inactive for five of the team's seven games, was a second-round pick in 2011.

"I think we had an opportunity, and I think it was good for both parties,'' Whisenhunt said. "It gave Akeem a chance to get a fresh start, and it gave us a chance to get something in exchange for that.

"I think really a big part of it was special teams. When you're in that role, you've got to be able to contribute special teams wise, and we needed that, and we just didn't feel like we were getting enough in that area."


Healthy Gerhart could put squeeze on Jaguars RB Robinson
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:30 am ET) Jaguars running back Toby Gerhart appears on the verge of returning to game action after missing the last two weeks with a foot sprain. He practiced on a limited basis Wednesday.

"He said he felt pretty good," Gus Bradley told the Florida Times-Union. "I think the last two weeks have been tough on him, but today he felt a lot better and felt like it was beneficial to have that time off."

Now it must be determined if he's still the featured back. He managed a 2.6 YPC average in 48 attempts before going down. Meanwhile, Denard Robinson emerged in Week 7 to rush for 127 yards on just 22 carries in the team's first victory of the season, a lopsided defeat of Cleveland.

"I think we'll continue to mix and match a little bit," said offensive coordinator Jeff Fisch. "I don't exactly how that will all play out yet."

The Jaguars host Miami on Sunday.


Seahawks coordinator 'disappointed' about Harvin's tenure with team
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:29 am ET) Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell expressed his disappointment wide receiver Percy Harvin wasn't able to have more personal success with the team prior to being traded to the Jets last week. Bevell, who was the Vikings offensive coordinator during Harvin's first two years in the NFL (2009-10), was hoping his history with Harvin would be a major factor during his tenure with Seattle.

"I was disappointed, you know. I was disappointed. I did have a history with him, and I thought it would be a different outcome. But I guess that’s just the way it went," Bevell said, per The News Tribune. "I think we have a phenomenal atmosphere here. It’s led by coach (Pete) Carroll. I think he gives the guys great freedom to be who they want to be. I think he sets the tone for the whole program. It’s an upbeat program. Obviously we are very positive here. It’s just disappointing."

Harvin recently expressed his disappointment with how he was used on offense in Seattle. Bevell said he called bubble screens and hitch routes for Harvin to keep teams from double-teaming him downfield.

"I had many conversations with him about it, just about his role and the things that we would ask him to do. He never articulated that to me," Bevell said. "I mean, he caught a deep ball in the Washington game (40 yards for what would have been a touchdown but for a personal foul on guard James Carpenter that negated the catch); unfortunately it got called back. But the thing was we wanted to make sure he was going to be involved in the game and get the touches. You know, you can just double team somebody and just take him out of the game (with deeper balls). He never did. But we’ve moved on past that. It’s left in the past."


Report: Lions blew protocol Sunday in case of LaAdrian Waddle
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:19 am ET) The Lions allowed right tackle LaAdrian Waddle to return to the game Sunday against New Orleans after slamming his head to the turf on the extra point that secured the victory, the Detroit Free Press has reported.

Jim Caldwell admitted that Thursday despite claiming that he and general manager Martin Mayhew followed NFL concussion protocol "to the letter."

Waddle stayed in the game for the kneel-down play that ran the final seconds off the clock. "We knew exactly when it occurred and what happened within the context of it," Caldwell said. "It was the last play of the game for him. It was actually on a field goal, the PAT at the end. It's the last play of the game for him."

Protocol requires that a player must be removed if a brain injury is suspected. Yet Waddle was indeed in the game thereafter. Why was he allowed to return to the field?

"Well, in terms of they knew exactly what happened to him in terms of he banged his head on the ground after where he gets up," Caldwell said. "It wasn't to the point where they thought he was concussed at the time. The final snap of the game, we knew it was only one snap, then the doctors reviewed him, took a look at him, it wasn't one of those situations where he felt he had to go in the locker room right away. But they did know he banged it when he came off, and that he was good."

Waddle did not participate in Wednesday practice.


Reggie Bush, three TEs sit out practice Thursday for Lions
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:18 am ET) Lions running back Reggie Bush (ankle), tight end Eric Ebron (hamstring), tight end Joseph Fauria (ankle) and tight end Brandon Pettigrew (foot) all sat out practice Thursday. Bush was the only player of the four to practice Wednesday.

The Lions are preparing to play the Falcons in Week 8.


Mayhew: Lions plan to activate T.J. Jones off PUP list soon
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:14 am ET) Lions general manager Martin Mayhew said Thursday the team plans to activate wide receiver T.J. Jones off the PUP list in the coming weeks, per the team's official website. Jones has been sidelined all season due to a shoulder injury.

Mayhew: Lions have no intentions of dealing Ndamukong Suh
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:10 am ET) Lions general manager Martin Mayhew said he has no intentions of trading defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh, who could be a free agent after the season. Mayhew added he doesn't expect the team to be active at the trade deadline, according to the team's official website. 

Lions WR Calvin Johnson could be game-time decision Week 8
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9:59 am ET) Lions coach Jim Caldwell said wide receiver Calvin Johnson felt good Thursday after practicing in a limited capacity Wednesday, according to the team's official website. Caldwell said Johnson would do more at practice Thursday and he did just that.

At Thursday's portion of practice open to the media, Johnson was seen cutting and running routes. Johnson was running routes with his helmet on Thursday.

The veteran wide receiver is trying to make his way back into the lineup Week 8 at Atlanta after missing the last two games due to an ankle injury. Johnson said he could be a game-time decision Sunday, per ESPN.

"You want to push it. I want to push it, but we're trying to be smart about it," Johnson said. "Trying to take advice from the training staff that they are giving me and go with that."

Johnson has totaled just three catches for 19 yards in his last two games and hasn't scored in his last four games.


Report: Darrelle Revis apologizes to Belichick for tardiness
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9:50 am ET) Patriots cornerback Darrelle Revis returned to the team's facility Tuesday hours after being sent home for tardiness so he could meet with head coach Bill Belichick to apologize, according to CSNNE.com.

A source close to Revis said the veteran cornerback is "very contrite" about having overslept Tuesday morning and showing up late to the team's facility, as first reported by The Boston Globe on Wednesday.

"He understands the policy and understands he broke the policy," the source said.


Seahawks RB Robert Turbin to fill fullback role
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:33 am ET) Seahawks running back Robert Turbin will continue to serve as the team's fullback after starting fullback Derrick Coleman broke a bone just before kickoff in Week 7, Pro Football Talk reports.

"I just want to win," Turbin said about his new role. "I want to help the team as much as I can. I’m a team guy. If they need me to take on the role for the next few weeks or whatever the case may be, than sure."

Seattle reportedly brought in free-agent fullback Greg Jones for a workout Tuesday but decided to roll with Turbin in the role. However, the team could choose to run fewer two-back formations while Coleman is out.


 
 
 
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