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Player Challenge strategies for Week 14

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: Matthew Stafford, Lions (@PHI)

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The Eagles have allowed 21.5 Fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks this season, including two straight weeks of 24 or more points (to Robert Griffin III and Carson Palmer). While the Eagles had a nice six-game run (from Weeks 5-10) in which they allowed 19 or fewer points in four of those games, they seem to have fallen back on early season habits. Stafford has thrown three touchdowns in three of his last four games. He hasn't scored fewer than 21 points since Week 5 and has only dipped below that benchmark twice this season.

A deeper alternative for daily leagues: E.J. Manuel, Bills (@TB)

Manuel has two straight games of 20-plus Fantasy points. Steve Johnson and Robert Woods are getting farther away from their injuries. And his Week 14 opponent, the Bucs, have allowed multiple touchdowns from opposing quarterbacks in every game since Week 4. Additionally, Manuel may get himself back into run mode this week -- the Bucs have allowed quarterbacks to run for four touchdowns and have allowed 35 or more rushing yards from a quarterback four times this season.

Running Back

My picks for the Player Challenge: DeMarco Murray, Cowboys (@CHI); Jamaal Charles, Chiefs (@WAS)

The Bears didn't allow a running back to score in Week 13 -- they had given up 12 touchdowns in the previous seven games -- but they did allow Adrian Peterson to run for 211 yards. It was the fourth straight week the team gave up 100 rushing yards to an opposing back. While Murray's Fantasy point total from Week 13 was inflated by three touchdowns, he's still been in a bit of a groove over his last three games, putting up double-digit Fantasy points in standard leagues (and catching 15 passes over his last four for PPR goodness).

Charles, meanwhile, gets to face a team that has allowed an NFL-most 17 rushing touchdowns. And while Washington has held opposing teams to a league average-ish 108.8 rushing yards per game, the defense has allowed 46.5 receiving yards per game to opposing running backs, the seventh-most in the NFL. Charles is third among running backs in receiving yards (452), is fourth in receptions (55) and is first in targets (87).

A deeper alternative for daily leagues: Stepfan Taylor, Cardinals (vs. STL)

If Andre Ellington is out again for Week 14, the Cardinals may again look to Taylor to fill his supplemental role. Taylor quietly racked up 60 total yards in Week 13 and had 14 touches in Week 8 against the Falcons. This matchup works to his advantage, as the Rams have allowed the third-most running back receiving yards. In the last four games, the Rams have allowed 70 or more receiving yards to running backs three times and 10 or more receptions to running backs twice.

Wide Receiver

My picks for the Player Challenge: Vincent Jackson, Buccaneers (vs. BUF); Calvin Johnson, Lions (@ PHI)

The Bills have been a bit of an enigma lately. After allowing 15 wide receiver touchdowns in the first eight weeks, they tightened up the pass defense and have given up just one in their last four games. However, those four games were against the Chiefs, Steelers, Jets and Falcons. The only star-ish receivers they faced in that run were Antonio Brown (who had a 100-yard game) and Roddy White (who had a 100-yard game). The Bills, almost predictably, shut everyone else down. Jackson, meanwhile, has cooled considerably since his hot start, with Mike Glennon throwing the ball fewer than 25 times in each of the last five games. Still, Jackson has gone over 60 yards receiving in each of his last two, despite seeing only eight total targets. And he has three games of 130 or more receiving yards this season.

Johnson has three straight 100-yard games and hasn't dipped below single digits in Fantasy points since Week 6, when he was coming off an injury. But this is more about the Eagles, who have allowed three touchdowns to wide receivers in their last two games. And when the Eagles face a stud, they tend to let him do studly things: Larry Fitzgerald scored a touchdown in Week 13, Dez Bryant had 110 yards in Week 7, Vincent Jackson had 114 yards and two touchdowns in Week 6, Demaryius Thomas and Wes Welker combined for 162 yards and four touchdowns in Week 4.

A deeper alternative for daily leagues: Andre Holmes, Raiders (@NYJ)

Andre Holmes has seen his targets increase in each of the last three weeks, from three, to five, to 11 in his Week 13 breakout against the Cowboys. Holmes' role in the Raiders passing game looks a little like Keenan Allen's when he was emerging -- replace a hobbled receiver, show some skill for a week or two, then enter the 100-yard stratosphere. This is not quite the same situation, but it's also not out of the realm of possibility that Holmes continues producing. Matt McGloin likes Holmes, the Raiders have an underrated offense and Holmes could end up being a late-season bloomer.

Tight End

My pick for the Player Challenge: Vernon Davis, 49ers (vs. SEA)

In the Player Challenge, you really don't need to go much deeper than the big four tight ends. Unfortunately, none have a real slam-dunk matchup this week. Rob Gronkowski is facing the Browns, Jimmy Graham has the Panthers and Julius Thomas has missed two straight games, so I want to save him for a later week. Enter Vernon Davis, who faces off against Seattle in Week 14. The Seahawks have been pretty solid against tight ends all season, but have given up three touchdowns to the position over the last four, giving up 40-yard games to three tight ends. Davis was shut down in Week 2 (three receptions for 20 yards) when the teams first met, but the Seahawks have been shaky lately and the other top options are all facing tougher matchups/situations.

DST

My pick for the Player Challenge: Raiders

This is your good, old fashioned "stream against the Jets" strategy. The last three DSTs to face the Jets have put up 24, 21 and 24 Fantasy points. They've picked up seven interceptions, recorded 11 sacks, recovered three fumbles and allowed just 20 total real points. The Raiders haven't been the most solid of options, but they have multiple sacks in eight straight weeks and have recovered four fumbles in the last four games (while forcing 10).

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: Former Browns DE Phillip Taylor visits Steelers
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(5:57 pm ET) A day after the Browns cut him, defensive end Phillip Taylor  visited the Steelers, according to NBCSports.com.

Cleveland paid Brown $5.47 million to not be a part of the organization on Tuesday. He was a first-round pick in 2011.


Saints place Vinnie Sunseri, Nick Toon, Ronald Powell on IR
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(5:33 pm ET) After going unclaimed on waivers, the Saints placed safety Vinnie Sunseri , receiver Nick Toon and linebacker Ronald Powell on injured reserve, according to The Times-Picayune.



Raiders sign LB Lorenzo Alexander
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(4:51 pm ET) The Raiders signed veteran linebacker Lorenzo Alexander on Wednesday, the team announced. Alexander has played nine seasons in the NFL and totaled 179 tackles.

Former Bears linebacker Lance Briggs retires
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(3:38 pm ET) Linebacker Lance Briggs announced his retirement from the NFL on Wednesday, reports ESPNChicago.com. Briggs played his entire 12-year career with the Bears totaling 1,177 tackles and 15 sacks.

Briggs later said on his Twitter account that he hasn't filed his retirement papers and nothing is official. 


Panthers sign QB Derek Anderson to contract extension
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(1:04 pm ET) The Panthers reached a two-year contract extension with quarterback Derek Anderson, the team announced Wednesday.

"I’m excited about this for my family. To be here with the players, coaches and management we have – everything is top notch," Anderson said. "It was a no-brainer for me."

Anderson will backup Cam Newton. He was slated to become a free agent after the 2015 season.


Report: Bills RB LeSean McCoy may not be ready for Week 1
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(12:36 pm ET) While Bills coach Rex Ryan recently said he was optimistic running back LeSean McCoy would be ready for the regular season opener, a source indicated to ESPN that McCoy's status for Week 1 is in jeopardy.

"Well we certainly expect him to be ready to go, I hope," Ryan said, per ESPN. "If not then the next man has to step up. Boobie [Dixon] got a lot of reps out there today. Bryce Brown got a lot of reps [Wednesday]. So we will see. I am not going to put that all on one man. If he is not ready to go, he won't be in there."

McCoy has not been able to play during the preseason after he suffered a hamstring injury at practice. He has been able to conduct some light footwork, agility and cardio drills, but his conditioning needs work.

"It's way too early to say whether [McCoy] will play or not. He is doing a little bit more every day. But hell yes, I'm concerned about that," the source said. "I can't say for sure he's going to be with us Week 1. I can't say that at all. It will take everything we got just to get him ready for game day, and then we get to game day [there's] no way he can be in great football shape. So I think he will be on a pitch count, I think at the very best."


Giants K Josh Brown dealing with bruised leg; sign K Chris Boswell
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(12:27 pm ET) With Giants kicker Josh Brown trying to recover from a bruised leg, the team signed kicker Chris Boswell, reports the New York Daily News.

Boswell was signed to handle the kicking duties during Thursday's preseason finale. Brown reportedly suffered the injury while attempting to make a tackle during the second preseason game.


Report: Bills considering cutting QB Matt Cassel
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(12:17 pm ET) The Bills are reportedly discussing releasing quarterback Matt Cassel, sources told WGR 550 in Buffalo. Cassel was competing for a starting spot, which he lost to Tyrod Taylor.

Report: Colts DT Arthur Jones needs ankle surgery
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(12:07 pm ET) The 2015 season for Colts defensive tackle Arthur Jones is in doubt with the tackle reportedly needing surgery to repair torn ligaments in his ankle, sources told NFL.com.

Jones could be placed on the injured reserve/designated to return list. Jones produced 23 tackles and 1 1/2 sacks in nine games last season.


Bears acquire TE Khari Lee from Texans for draft pick
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(11:38 am ET) The Texans traded tight end Khari Lee to the Bears on Wednesday, the Bears announced. In exchange for Lee, the Texans will receive a sixth-round draft pick in the 2017 draft.

 
 
 
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