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USATSI

In today's newsletter, we focused on all the latest injury news you need to know heading into Week 16. I've also got the answers to some of your most intriguing #AskFFT questions. If you'd like to receive these updates to your mailbox, please be sure to sign up for our newsletter.

I couldn't get to everyone who wrote in, but I'll try to before Saturday, and we'll be live on our YouTube Channel Sunday morning at 11 a.m. ET to answer any other questions you might have heading into your playoff matchups.

#AskFFT Mailbag

Kevin: Ordinarily I don't consider opponents' players in making my lineup decisions. But, in my semifinal in Week 16 I will be facing a team with Tyreek, Waddle and Achane. I have Tua. I have been holding Geno Smith for this week as the Dolphins have a tough matchup against my Cowboys, but now do I consider that my opponent has so many Dolphins pass catchers in my QB decision? This is a six-point non-PPR league; if any of his Dolphins go off with passing TDs, I would be matching that with Tua. So, do I roll with Tua to help nullify his Dolphins or Geno Smith in a better matchup despite not playing last Monday night?

We'll start with this one, because I always think the "Should I consider my opponent's lineup when setting my own" questions are interesting. As a general rule, you should just start your best players, and in this case, I do think that's Tua, so the point here is kind of moot; you're starting Tua because I think he is likely to outscore Smith, who is ranked nine spots lower in my QB rankings this week.

But what if it were closer? What if it were, say, Tagovailoa vs. Goff, who is ranked one spot lower than Tagovailoa? That question should almost never be used as anything more than a tiebreaker, but I do think QB9 vs. QB10 is effectively a tie, so it can come up there. And, the problem is, with Tua in particularly, we have an example of him doing poorly in a tough matchups while his teammates did well otherwise: In Week 12 against the Jets, Tagovailoa had just 9.82 points in six-point-per-pass-TD leagues, while Raheem Mostert had 21.4, Hill had 25.4, Waddle had 19.4, and even Jeff Wilson outscored him with 10.3. 

Of course, the opposite is possible, with Tua doing well while his primary weapons don't, but it's less likely for a team like Miami that funnels so much of its offense through three or four guys. Your opponent has three of those four guys, and Tua tends to go as Hill and the rest of those guys do in a way that is less true for, say, Dak Prescott. Sixteen of Tagovailoa's 25 passing touchdowns have gone to Hill or Waddle, while only three other players have multiple receiving touchdowns; Prescott's top two accounting for 13 of 28 touchdowns, with seven total players scoring multiple times. 

I still think you should just start the guy you have ranked higher, and in my case, that's Tagovailoa. That game with the Cowboys should turn into a shootout, and the Dolphins are at home, which should help their cause. But the Cowboys excel at pressuring the QB and forcing turnovers, and a few negative plays could really turn Tagovailoa's Fantasy game sideways. I'm starting him ahead of Smith, but it might be a tougher decision with someone ranked higher. 

Jeremy: Can any of us Bijan Robinson managers trust him in a great matchup against the Colts? I've got James Conner revved up and raring to go on my bench. He's been going at a pretty steady pace lately. Who should make it into my flex spot?

At the risk of oversimplifying, I'll say this: Your goal is to win this week, not to avoid losing. Conner is the avoid losing play; he seems like a safer bet, with at least 14 carries in five of six games since coming back from injury in mid-November. He's a safe bet for, say, 12-plus points – though I will point out he's only hit that mark twice in that same five-game stretch, because his passing game role has largely disappeared this season, and he has nine catches over that five game span. He's got a solid floor, and if he finds the end zone, you'll be happy you started him.

Robinson's range of outcomes is a lot wider, because the Falcons are weird and they do weird things. Week 15 surely left a bad taste in your mouth, as Robinson ended up with just eight touches and 0.4 points in full-PPR, but it's not the only time Robinson has disappointed. That being said, it had been a while – Robinson hadn't been in single digits in full PPR since Week 9 before last week. 

And, while Robinson's role in the running game fluctuates frustratingly, the passing game role has mostly been there, with at least five targets in 10 of 14 games this season. Since the start of November, Robinson is averaging 14 carries and 4.5 targets per game, and that includes last week's stinker. Given the matchup and the passing game role, I'm sticking with Robinson here. 

Lee: I am rich in running backs and trying to figure out who my starters should be this week. I'm choosing from K. Williams, A. Ekeler, D. Montgomery, J. Mixon and J. Ford. Even though he has a tough matchup, Williams is a must start. I'm also leaning heavily toward benching Ekeler and starting Montgomery and Mixon in the other two slots. Am I crazy not starting Ekeler?

We'll start with Mixon, because he's having such a funny season. Mixon is actually averaging 4.5 more points per game in four games without Joe Burrow, which is surprising. Now, maybe you think it's not surprising, because surely the Bengals are leaning on the run more with Burrow out, but you'd be wrong to asusme that: Mixon is actually averaging about a carry fewer per game in the four games without Burrow. Nor has his receiving game role increased; he's averaging an identical four targets per game in both splits. 

The difference? He broke a reception of at least 28 yards in three of four without Burrow, and he had four rushing touchdowns in those four games, compared to four in the previous 10. None of that strikes me as particularly sustainable, so I'm not buying his recent play. He's an RB2, and not a particularly high-end one for me. 

Of course, Ekeler is hardly a high-end option himself. He doesn't have the near-guaranteed 14-ish carries Mixon gets, and he is also playing in an offense without its starting QB. Mixon might be a better bet to get into the end zone, and I'd project him for probably 20-plus more rushing yards, at minimum, too. But I'd also feel pretty confident projecting Ekeler for a couple more catches than Mixon, with the attendant increase in yards that comes with it. It's a close call, and it might come down to format: It's a coin flip in full-PPR, but Mixon gets the edge in any other scoring format. 

Steve: I have a QB dilemma. I roster both Russell Wilson & Kyler Murray. I'm leaning towards playing Murray but I'm not sure. In addition, Geno Smith & Minshew are available through waivers. How would you handle it?

I've got Murray ranked the highest of that group, though I'll grant his play hasn't really justified it to this point. He hasn't been great as a passer, averaging 6.4 yards per attempt with a paltry 2.4% touchdown rate, and having a beat-up Marquise Brown as his best wide receiver certainly hasn't help. But I do think it's reasonable to assume some positive regression with the touchdown rate – his career mark is 4.1%, for the record. 

But the edge for Murray comes with his rushing production. We've gotten three touchdowns on the ground in five games so far, and he has run the ball at least six times in four of five games. He's got a decent chance to add anywhere from five to 12 points just with his legs in any given week, which just always makes both the floor and ceiling higher here. The Bears defense has been much better of late, holding four of their past five opponents to 20 or fewer points, and we haven't really seen them tested by a rushing QB like Murray yet this season. But I still think Murray is the best choice here. 

Mark: Half-PPR, DeAndre Hopkins has been an up-and-down WR3 for me. Thielen or Noah Brown are my alternatives. Which one do I start?

We've seen enough flashes that I still think Hopkins is a legitimate game-changer at the WR position despite being 31. Consistency has been the issue, and I think that's more a function of poor QB play. 

You might look at the splits between Hopkins' play with Ryan Tannehill (10.8 PPR points per game) vs. Will Levis (15.4) and assume that Levis' ankle injury is a bad sign for Hopkins' chances, but I'm not sure things are that clear-cut. The game here mostly comes down to touchdowns – Hopkins has six in eight games with Levis, but had none with Tannehill. But, it's worth remembering that three of those six touchdowns came in Levis' first game, and he's actually caught just 46% of his passes from Levis this season. I think a healthy Tannehill is probably a better passer than Levis at this point in this careers, and I'm not downgrading Hopkins if Levis is out this week.

And, comparing him to Brown and Thielen, I think Hopkins is the obvious choice. Both Brown and Thielen have their own QB problems, and Thielen has been so mediocre over the past month or so that I don't even really consider him a starting-caliber option at this point. Brown is harder to write off, given the upside he's shown at times this season, but with Nico Collins trending toward a return and C.J. Stroud looking unlikely to play, I'll give Hopkins the edge over him, too.