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Player Challenge Strategies for Week 11

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: Russell Wilson, SEA (vs. MIN)

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You really don't need to dip down below Tony Romo for this four-week challenge, but Wilson's Week 11 matchup against the Vikings is too enticing to pass up. Wilson has scored 25 points in three of his last four weeks. He has multiple touchdown passes in four straight games and faces off against a Minnesota team that has allowed the second-most Fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks this season. In their last three games, the Vikings have given up an average of 28 Fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks, including two games with 30 or more QB rushing yards (a strength of Wilson's). The possible addition of Percy Harvin for Week 11 will end up being icing on the cake.

A deeper alternative for daily leagues: Mike Glennon, TB (vs. ATL)

The Falcons have allowed 22.6 Fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks this season, allowing multiple touchdowns in each game. While Glennon is coming off a disaster against the Dolphins Monday night, he seemed to be out of sync with Vincent Jackson, which should be corrected in practice this week. Glennon averaged 19.8 Fantasy points per game over his previous four, with just one interception and seven touchdowns. He's not the most enticing of options, but a bounceback opportunity against a favorable opponent will likely get him back up to the 18-20 point zone.

Running Back

My picks for the Player Challenge: LeSean McCoy, PHI (vs. WAS); Frank Gore, SF (@NO)

Opposing running backs have scored 10 or more Fantasy points against Washington seven times this season, scoring an average of 21 Fantasy points per game -- the fifth-most in the league. The 47.2 receiving yards per game gained by opposing running backs is the sixth-highest average. The team has also allowed nine touchdowns to running backs over the last five games. While Washington has only given up two 100-yard games to opposing backs, one of them came in Week 1, against Philadelphia, when McCoy ran 31 times for 184 yards and a touchdown.

While the Saints have been solid against the pass this year, they've allowed an average of 16.9 Fantasy points per game to opposing running backs -- with five rushing touchdowns scored in the last four weeks. In that four-week span, Chris Ivory, Stevan Ridley and DeMarco Murray have all run for 85 or more yards against the Saints and scored a touchdown. Additionally, Gore has scored five touchdowns on the road this season, with two scored at home. Gore is a nice play this week because there's always the threat of the 49ers lightening his load as the season progresses in order to keep him healthy and fresh for the playoffs.

A deeper alternative for daily leagues: Rashard Mendenhall, ARI (@JAC)

Before clamping down Chris Johnson in Week 10, the Jaguars had been on a three-game run of allowing 30 or more Fantasy points to opposing running backs. In that span, Ryan Mathews had a 110-yard game and a touchdown, Knowshon Moreno ran for three touchdowns and Frank Gore scored two touchdowns. If you assume that Jaguars team will show up Sunday -- and not the one that came out of the bye winless and having extra time to gameplan for the Titans -- things look pretty good for Rashard Mendenhall. Argue that Ellington is the better back all you like, but Mendenhall is still the lead in Arizona and he fits the Mathews/Gore profile far better than Ellington does.

Wide Receiver

My picks for the Player Challenge: Antonio Brown, PIT (vs. DET); Vincent Jackson, TB (vs. ATL)

The Lions -- Brown's Week 11 opponent -- have been terrible against the pass lately, giving up seven touchdowns to opposing wide receivers over the last three games, helping the position to an average of 35 Fantasy points per game. While Brown hasn't been the top-shelf receiver many had hoped for in 2013, he has posted two straight double-digit Fantasy point games (in standard formats) and has four games of 70 or more receiving yards in his last five. Josh Gordon, A.J. Green and Brandon Marshall have all put up 100-yard games against the Lions since Week 6, while six different receivers have caught a touchdown in that span. With the Lions struggling against the pass -- and especially against opponents' best receivers -- Brown should make himself Player Challenge-worthy in Week 11.

Jackson has been mired in a bit of a slump, but with the Falcons rolling into town it could be just the right matchup for him. Jackson caught 10 passes for 138 yards and two touchdowns in Week 7 against the Falcons and they haven't gotten much better since -- giving up four touchdowns to opposing wide receivers in their last three games and allowing three Seahawks wideouts to eclipse 75 receiving yards in Week 10. While Jackson hasn't hit double-digit Fantasy points in standard leagues in the last three weeks, he has still averaged eight targets in that span and has proven to be a favorite target of Mike Glennon.

A deeper alternative for daily leagues: Mike Wallace, MIA (vs SD); Jason Avant, PHI (vs. WAS)

I know Wallace is universally owned, but he's being started in about 50 percent of CBSSports.com leagues and I wanted to highlight his matchup against San Diego. The Chargers have been destroyed by opposing wide receivers lately, giving up 24 or more Fantasy points per game to the position over their last three games. They've allowed four multiple-touchdown games to opposing wide receivers this season, including a three-touchdown game in Week 10. No. 1 wide receivers have all performed well against the Chargers, and Wallace -- coming off a game in which he had to deal with Darrelle Revis -- should be itching to shine in Week 11.

Avant, however, is the more interesting of the pair. Washington has been terrible against opposing wideouts this season, allowing 200 or more receiving yards to opposing wide receivers in three of the team's last four games. With DeSean Jackson and Riley Cooper legitimate passing targets, it stands to reason Washington could focus defensive efforts on those two, allowing Avant to have one of his patented out-of-nowhere performances (11 games of 75 or more receiving yards for the Eagles despite starting just 47 times in his career).

Tight End

My pick for the Player Challenge: Jordan Reed, WAS (@PHI)

I don't like to stray much from the upper echelon of the tight ends, but Reed has a stellar matchup in Week 11 against an Eagles team that has allowed the second-most receiving yards per game. While the Eagles have been decent against tight ends this season -- allowing an average of 5.4 Fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends -- they've really only faced two top-notch guys at the position (Jason Witten and Julius Thomas). And while the Eagles held Reed -- who has two touchdowns and three games with 60 or more receiving yards over his last four -- to 38 yards in Week 1, that was a totally different role for Reed with Fred Davis still getting significant time.

DST

My pick for the Player Challenge: Seahawks

The Vikings have been a nice opponent for DSTs to face this season, with defenses scoring about 10.3 Fantasy points per game when they face Minnesota. They enter Week 11 with a mess at quarterback and a still-erratic wide receiver situation. The Seahawks seemed to fix their run defending problems in Week 10, while maintaining a tough pass defense (allowing 200 receiving yards per game, the second-fewest in the NFL). With New Orleans, San Francisco and the Giants on tap the next three weeks, this is the game that gives the Seahawks the best chance to rack up Player Challenge points.

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
Jets backfield takes shape following Johnson signing
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(5:53 pm ET) With the Jets signing Chris Johnson on Wednesday, the rest of their backfield should start to take shape, reports the New York Daily News.

The report says Johnson and Chris Ivory will work as a tandem, and Bilal Powell will be the No. 3 running back. Mike Goodson is expected to be released before the start of the season.


Chris Johnson excited for 'fresh start'
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(5:48 pm ET) New Jets running back Chris Johnson's two-year deal is worth $8 million with another $1 million in incentives, reports Pro Football Talk. Johnson was scheduled to make $8 million for the Titans in 2014 alone before he was released.

Meanwhile, Johnson told the Tennessean that he's looking forward to this opportunity with the Jets.

"I have a fresh start. Now I am going to go out there with a chip on my shoulder," Johnson said. "I know a lot of people are doubting me. I want to prove everybody wrong who has doubts in me."


Bengals sign punter T.J. Conley
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4:21 pm ET) The Bengals signed free agent punter T.J. Conley on Wednesday. 

Conley punted in 16 games for the Jets in 2011. He averaged 42.7 yards on 92 punts, and his 38.8-yard net average was the highest in Jets history. He had 32 inside-20 kicks with just six touchbacks, and his plus-26 differential on inside-20s to touchbacks ranked tied for third in the NFL.

Conley did not play in the 2012 or 2013 regular seasons. He was with the Jets in the 2012 preseason and with Cleveland in the 2013 preseason.

Conley will challenge incumbent Kevin Huber for the starting job, but most likely he won't make the final roster.


Chris Johnson signs two-year deal with the Jets
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(3:19 pm ET) The Jets have signed running back Chris Johnson to a two-year deal, league sources told ESPN's Adam Schefter. 

Johnson told reporters on Tuesday he was taking free agency one day at a time and added that he had other visits planned, but the Jets must have made him an improved offer to lock up the one-time 2,000-yard running back. 

Johnson has totaled at least 1,400 yards in each of his last four seasons with the Titans since running for 2,006 yards in 2009. He also scored 10 touchdowns in 2013 (four receiving). 


Clay Matthews says it's thumbs up for training camp
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(1:37 pm ET) Packers linebacker Clay Matthews said he's diligently rehabbing his injured thumb, comparing it to a torn ACL rather than a typical bone break. As part of the injury he also had surgery on his forearm, which got damaged when he re-injured the thumb late last season. But he told USA Today that he'll be ready for the start of training camp, though he'll miss offseason workouts. 

Mike James resumes running and cutting
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(1:28 pm ET) Buccaneers running back Mike James is working his way back into football shape after breaking his left ankle last season. He told the Tampa Bay Times that he's been running and cutting and is aiming to get back to full strength and speed. Asked if he would be ready for the team's April minicamp, James said he and the team are "taking everything day by day." 

Josh Freeman signs with Giants
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(12:33 pm ET) The Giants have signed quarterback Josh Freeman, reports FOX Sports.

Freeman spent last season with the Buccaneers and Vikings. His only appearance for Minnesota was against the Giants, and he completed 20 of 53 passes for 190 yards and an interception.

Freeman will try and make the final roster for the Giants as a backup to Eli Manning, who is coming off ankle surgery this offseason. The Giants also have Curtis Painter and Ryan Nassib on the roster.


Rob Gronkowski will 'take his time' coming back
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(12:26 pm ET) Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski will "take his time and then take more time" coming back from a torn ACL suffered last season, a source told Bleacher Report

Gronkowski's heart was questioned last year when he took his time coming back from forearm and back procedures. This year he might not care how long he takes as he wants to practice patience in his rehab. 

The knee injury happened in December of last year. Usually it takes nine months to come back from an ACL injury without incident. That would mean he'd be ready to hit the field by late August. 


Haloti Ngata turned down extension with Ravens
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(11:10 am ET) Looking to free up cap space earlier this offseason, the Ravens offered a "lucrative, long-term" deal with defensive lineman Haloti Ngata so that he wouldn't cost $16 million in cap space. Ngata, 30 years old with two years left on his current deal, wasn't willing to take the extension, NFL Network reports. 

Report: Ravens planning to add two running backs
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(10:47 am ET) The Ravens are aware of what's been going on with Ray Rice this offseason but were planning to add a pair of running backs this offseason anyway. NFL Network reports that they now believe that one of those two might have to start depending on what happens with Rice. 

The veteran running back had a horrible 2013 season (under 1,000 total yards) and then was indicted on a third-degree aggravated assault charge when he struck his then-fiancee and current wife Janay Palmer in an Atlantic City casino. 


 
 
 
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