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Player Challenge strategies for Week 12

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

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My pick for the Player Challenge: Drew Brees, Saints (@ATL)

The Falcons have given up the fourth-most Fantasy points this season to opposing quarterbacks (22.6), as each quarterback faced has scored at least two touchdowns. In Week 1 -- against the Falcons -- Brees completed 26 of 35 passes for 357 yards and two touchdowns, kicking off the scoring streak. Since then, Brees has been a passing machine, failing to go over 300 yards in a game just twice this season. In his last four games, Brees has passed for 12 touchdowns. A top option at quarterback, this is his best matchup over the next few weeks.

A deeper alternative for daily leagues: Scott Tolzien, Packers (vs. MIN)

Scott Tolzien has put together two nice passing yardage games in a row -- 280 yards in Week 10 (against the Eagles) and 339 in Week 11 (against the Giants). The problem? Turnovers. Tolzien has thrown one touchdown against five interceptions in the two games. While the Eagles and Giants aren't the best in the league on pass defense, they do rank sixth and 13th, respectively, in interceptions. In Week 12, Tolzien gets to face the Vikings, who rank 20th in interceptions, have allowed the fourth-most passing yards per game and have given up a league-worst 23 passing touchdowns. Tolzien now has two games under his belt and will get a start this Sunday with something to prove. Against a very bad pass defense, he has a great chance to emerge as a sleeper.

Running Back

My picks for the Player Challenge: Zac Stacy, Rams (vs. CHI); Eddie Lacy, Packers (vs. MIN)

The Bears began the season with a stellar run defense -- allowing an average of 11 Fantasy points per game to opposing running backs. Since Week 3, however, the Bears have held opponents to fewer than 22 just once. They've allowed eight rushing touchdowns over the last five games and five running backs in that span have run for 95 or more yards. Stacy has three rushing touchdowns in his last two games and has carried the ball 26 or more times in his last three. He has two 100-yard games on the season, despite seeing significant touches in just six games. Additionally, Stacy has multiple receptions in four of his last five games and is coming off a week of rest thanks to a bye.

The Vikings are only slightly worse on run defense than they are against the pass, allowing the sixth-most Fantasy points per game to opposing running backs. They've allowed backs to score multiple touchdowns in five games this season and have given up either two touchdowns or a 100-yard rusher in three of the last four. While Lacy has just 100 total rushing yards over the last two weeks, he has touchdowns in four of his last five and has run for 80 or more yards in five of his last seven. Scott Tolzien should be able to get things going in the passing game this week, opening up plenty of opportunities for Lacy to bounce back.

A deeper alternative for daily leagues: Chris Ogbonnaya, Browns (vs. PIT)

Ogbonnaya's Week 11 performance was significant on a few levels. First, his 14 touches were the most for him this season and they came against a stout Bengals defense. Willis McGahee saw his fewest carry total (six) since joining the team. And, maybe most importantly, this all came after the team's bye, when the Browns had time to re-tool and reassess roles. Ogbonnaya's increased role should continue into Week 12, against a Steelers team that has allowed six touchdowns over the last four weeks to opposing running backs.

Wide Receiver

My picks for the Player Challenge: Vincent Jackson, Buccaneers (@DET); Marques Colston, Saints (vs. ATL)

The Lions have allowed 10 touchdowns over their last four games to opposing wide receivers. And of those touchdowns, seven came from No. 1 receivers (A.J. Green had one, Dez Bryant had two, Brandon Marshall had two, Antonio Brown had two). The Lions have given up the fourth-most passing yards per game on top of all the scoring, and Vincent Jackson is coming off a 10-catch, 165-yard game against the Falcons.

Here's a fun fact about Marques Colston -- the Saints wideout has his best yardage production in November, averaging 84.1 yards per game. In September, October and December, Colston averages 66.2, 67.5 and 68.6 yards per game, respectively. Additionally, the Falcons have allowed the fourth-most Fantasy points per game to opposing wideouts this season, giving up seven touchdowns to wide receivers in the last five games, with two 100-yard performances yielded in the last two. Colston has dropped from elite status this season, but he has a great November history, is riding some momentum and is lined up for an excellent Week 12 matchup.

A deeper alternative for daily leagues: Cordarelle Patterson, Vikings (@GB)

With the Vikings essentially out of it this season, there's no harm in the team trotting Patterson out there with a larger role, to see what the team has. He was targeted a season-high nine times in Week 11 (with Greg Jennings out) and a possible quarterback change to Josh Freeman could give him a fresh set of eyes under center. Patterson has just one game with more than 30 receiving yards this season -- and has scored just one touchdown -- but Green Bay is a great matchup for Patterson. The Packers have allowed an average of 31 Fantasy points per game to opposing wideouts over the last three. If Patterson is due for a breakout, this would be where it happens.

Tight End

My pick for the Player Challenge: Jimmy Graham, Saints (@ATL)

You're going to use Graham once in the four-week period of this game and Week 12 is the best matchup for the foreseeable future. In Week 13, Graham faces the Seahawks and in Week 14 he has the Panthers. But Week 12 brings Atlanta. And while the Falcons have given up the ninth-fewest Fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends, Graham scored a touchdown against them in Week 1 and they've given up occasional big games to the better tight ends. If you consider Graham more of a wide receiver, things get better, as the Falcons (as evidenced above) have not been very good against wideouts this season.

DST

My pick for the Player Challenge: Panthers (@MIA)

The Panthers have established themselves as a tough defensive opponent. They have the fourth-most Fantasy points, the third-most interceptions, 10th-most sacks and fewest points allowed. The Dolphins -- Carolina's Week 12 opponent -- have been intercepted 11 times this season (six times in the last five games), have given up about four sacks over their last four games and have failed to score more than 20 points in three of their last four. Throw in the offensive line issues and this looks like a great week to start the Panthers in the Challenge.

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
Colts acquire LB Sio Moore from Raiders
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(8:23 pm ET) The Raiders traded linebacker Sio Moore to the Colts for a late-round draft pick in 2016, the Colts announced. Moore produced 90 tackles and three sacks in 11 games last season.

Report: Seahawks sign RB Fred Jackson
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(7:30 pm ET) The Seahawks reached a one-year deal with running back Fred Jackson on Friday, a source told NFL.com. Jackson is expected to serve as Marshawn Lynch's primary backup.

Bills RB Karlos Williams expects to play in Week 1
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(7:24 pm ET) Bills running back Karlos Williams was confident he would be healthy enough to play in Week 1, reports ESPN.com.

"Most definitely, most definitely," he said. "Definitely on special teams, try to work myself into the rotation as the week goes on. Try to get in there for the first game next week."

Williams has been out after undergoing an unspecific procedure in mid-August.

"Bad things happen to people sometimes, you can say that," Williams said. "But no, it was kind of a freak accident that kind of happened. A lot of pain. The trainers definitely took care of that. They found out what it was, got it taken care of and had a quick surgery. And actually a pretty quick recovery. I'm just happy to be back from that. But it was a very, very delicate situation."


Bears cut TE Dante Rosario
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(6:47 pm ET) The Bears released tight end Dante Rosario on Friday, reports the Chicago Tribune. Rosario caught 16 passes for 116 yards in 16 games last season.

Texans QB Tom Savage dealing with shoulder sprain
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(6:32 pm ET) Texans quarterback Tom Savage suffered a right shoulder sprain during Thursday's preseason game, reports the Houston Chronicle. The injury will keep Savage out for four-to-six weeks.

Colts not ruling LB Robert Mathis out for Week 1
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(6:04 pm ET) Colts linebacker Robert Mathis still has a chance of playing in Week 1, reports ESPN.com. Mathis is recovering from a torn Achilles.

"There's a possibility," Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. "He's been practicing and we're getting him more reps. Every day he’s going through individual drills and we’re increasing the snaps he takes during the course of practice with each day. It started out with five snaps and we’ll increase that number again [next] week. We'll just evaluate how the week goes. Rob is doing great. He's making great progress."


Report: Cowboys interested in Broncos RB Montee Ball
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(6:00 pm ET) The Cowboys are not willing to trade for Broncos running back Montee Ball, but they would be interested if he was released, a source told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Ball has fallen down the depth chart in Denver.

Safety Zeke Motta suspended two games
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(5:47 pm ET) The NFL suspended safety Zeke Motta for two weeks, a source told NFL.com. Motta was released by the Falcons earlier this year after two seasons.

Eagles release RB Raheem Mostert
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(5:34 pm ET) The Eagles parted ways with running back Raheem Mostert on Friday, his agent confirmed. Mostert led the league in yards from scrimmage and total yards during the preseason.

Jaguars part ways with RB Storm Johnson
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(5:33 pm ET) The Jaguars cut running back Storm Johnson on Friday, the team announced. Johnson rushed for 86 yards on 29 carries last season.

 
 
 
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