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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
Report: Stevan Ridley meeting with the Jets on Wednesday
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1:19 pm ET) Former Patriots running back Stevan Ridley visited another AFC East team on Wednesday -- the Jets, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN. Ridley, a free agent, visited the Dolphins a day before his visit with the Jets.

Ridely tore his ACL in the sixth game last season and finished with 340 rushing yards and two touchdowns. He has rushed for 2,817 yards and 22 touchdowns in his four-year career with the Patriots.

>> Want more NFL offseason? >> Mock drafts | Free agency tracker


Report: Romo restructures deal, saves Cowboys $13M in cap space
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1:07 pm ET) Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo has restructured his contract, according to Yahoo Sports. He will save the Cowboys $13 million in salary cap space.

Romo indicated in a radio interview Tuesday he was going to restructure his contract and also said he was willing to take a pay cut so the team could re-sign running back DeMarco Murray, who eventually signed with the Eagles.

"DeMarco ended up asking me, 'Why don't you take a pay cut?' I said, 'I will. I would take a pay cut to go do this,'" Romo said. "I was like, 'They're going to restructure me.' That's the same thing in some ways, just for the salary cap purposes. He was like, 'OK, now we're back to being friends again.' I would take $5 million less if it meant getting him back.

"He knew that. It was just funny how he was literally worried about that part of it for a week. I'm like, 'That's not the reason.' I'm like, 'Obviously I'll restructure. I would even take a pay cut.' He was like, 'OK, we can be friends again.' It's amazing what you think about in those moments."


Dan Herron signs exclusive rights tender with Colts
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:42 pm ET) Colts running back Dan Herron signed his exclusive rights tender on Wednesday, according to the Herald Bulletin. Herron started three of 16 games for the Colts in the regular season, and all three postseason games. The 26-year-old rushed for 351 yards and one touchdown on 78 carries. He rushed for 170 yards on the ground in the postseason.

Saints sign cornerback Kyle Wilson
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(11:55 am ET) The Saints agreed to terms with cornerback Kyle Wilson on Wednesday, the team announced.

Details of the contract were not disclosed. Wilson spent the last five seasons playing for the Jets. In 2014, he totaled 26 tackles and one sack. He has three career interceptions.


Saints extend contract of guard Jahri Evans
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(11:51 am ET)  The Saints announced Wednesday they extended the contract of offensive guard Jahri Evans by one year.

The Saints were hoping to rework his contract to create more cap space. Evans has started all but two games for the Saints over the last nine seasons.


Malcolm Jenkins: Eagles players not surprised by McCoy trade
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11:12 am ET) While most folks were shocked when the news broke in early March the Eagles were trading running back LeSean McCoy to the Bills, apparently McCoy's Philadelphia teammates were not

Safety Malcolm Jenkins told NFL Network on Wednesday it was not surprising when it was announced McCoy was being traded for linebacker Kiko Alonso.

"In the locker room a lot of guys weren't surprised by the trade, what we were more surprised of was that it was just a player-for-player trade," Jenkins said. "I think everybody thought we would have gotten more -- Kiko, plus a couple draft picks, you know, somebody else...

"You look at the style of runner that Chip wants in his offense and even though Shady is one of the best backs in the league, he's not necessarily what Chip is looking for all the time. Chip thinks he's a great running back, he knows his talent is there, but our (system) is really predicated on downhill, somebody who is going to hit the hole every time. It's about getting up in the defenders face as fast as you can and that's not necessarily Shady's running style."

The Eagles replaced McCoy's absence in the backfield by signing former Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray, who rushed for 1,845 yards in 2014, and former Chargers running back Ryan Mathews.

"When you talk about what you can get for -- if you are looking to acquire more talent -- I just think Shady's cap number and what we were able to get in return for Shady, I think made sense," Jenkins said. "And some guys in the locker room who kind of know what's going on weren't surprised by it."


Joe Lombardi: Lions excited to see what Broyles does in offseason
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:57 am ET) The Lions are not yet giving up on wide receiver Ryan Broyles, who has been hampered in his career by knee and Achilles injuries. 

“I think he’s a guy you have a lot of respect for because he’s had three major injuries and fought his way back,’’ Lions offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi said Tuesday, per The Oakland Press. “When he’s been in there he’s been productive. We’re excited to see where he is now after a full season of not coming back from an injury. He’s had a full year to be healthy we’re excited to see what he does in the offseasaon.’’


Michael Thomas signs tender with Dolphins
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(10:54 am ET) Michael Thomas, an exclusive rights free agent, formally signed his one-year tender with the Dolphins on Wednesday morning, reports Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald. The 24-year-old played in eight games last season, making 18 tackles, until landing on IR with a chest injury.

>> Want more NFL offseason? >> Mock drafts | Free agency tracker


Report: Rolando McClain agrees to one-year, $3M deal with Cowboys
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:19 am ET) The Cowboys have reached an agreement with linebacker Rolando McClain on a one-year deal, a source told The Dallas Morning News. McClain's deal will pay him $3 million in base salary and potentially another $1 million in incentives.

McClain made his return to the NFL in 2014 after twice retiring. The former first-round pick thrived in his first season with Dallas, totaling 81 tackles (65 solo), one sack and two interceptions in 13 games. 

Although, he did have some injury issues last season. Knee and groin injuries, as well as an illness forced McClain to miss three regular season games. He was then limited in the playoffs due to a concussion.

McClain remained a sought-after free agent this offseason despite reports he is facing a four-game fine for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Also, an arson investigation into a fire that destroyed his Alabama home in December remains open but inactive.


Texans' O'Brien: WR DeAndre Hopkins can 'be one of the best'
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(12:28 am ET) Texans head coach Bill O'Brien is very encouraged by the performance of wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins last season, per ESPN. O'Brien went as far as to say that Hopkins can be one of the best.

"He had a really productive year," Texans coach Bill O'Brien said. "The thing that we really like about Hop and that we want him to continue to do is his work ethic. He’s a hungry player. He works every single day. He came into the spring a year ago and he was learning the offense and thinking out there, then all of a sudden you could see all the work he put in and learning, he just took off."

Due to the departure of wide receiver Andre Johnson, the progression of Hopkins will be under the microscope as he is now the focal point of the passing offense.

"We just want to see him continue and progress," O'Brien said. "We think he can be one of the best, we think he is one of the best. We have a lot of confidence in him and we’re looking forward to seeing him progress when the offseason program starts."

In two years with the Texans, Hopkins has reeled in 128 receptions for 2012 yards and eight touchdowns.


 
 
 
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