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Week 9 Flex Rankings: What Can Brown Do For You?

Antonio Brown will make his grand return to the NFL stage in Week 9 when he dons a Tampa Bay Buccaneers uniform for the first time in his career. Fantasy managers who invested in the mercurial receiver will want to show off their shiny new toy right away. I certainly can understand the appeal of starting Brown this week in what could be a shootout. However, I have him ranked quite conservatively in my Week 9 Flex rankings. Question marks surround Brown and his role heading into a pivotal Sunday night matchup with the New Orleans Saints.

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It is anyone’s guess as to what his role will be in his Bucs debut. Head coach Bruce Arians did not offer much insight when he said that Brown’s workload, “could be 10 plays, it could be 35 plays.”  Further complicating matters is the potential return of slot wideout Chris Godwin from a broken finger. The Bucs have plenty of weapons as it is, so Brown will not see anything resembling the target share he enjoyed during his heyday with the Pittsburgh Steelers regardless of Godwin’s status. From an entertainment standpoint, I want to see Brown line up against Chauncey Gardner-Johnson as much as humanly possible. I wonder how much we see Brown on Sunday, and I suspect he falls short of Flex consideration this week.

Stars Not Bright on Thursday Night

Thursday night games already have a nasty habit of being less than aesthetically pleasing as it is. This week’s matchup between the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers is likely to follow suit. The skill level, particularly on the offensive side of the ball, appears much thinner than it did even a few short days ago. San Francisco lost quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, running back Tevin Coleman, and star tight end George Kittle in last week’s defeat in Seattle. Making matters worse, San Francisco placed wide receiver Kendrick Bourne on the reserve/COVID-19 list following a positive test on Wednesday. Deebo Samuel and Raheem Mostert are already out with injuries, leaving the 49ers painfully thin at the offensive skill positions as they prepare for the Packers.

JaMycal Hasty and Jerick McKinnon should split duties in the backfield for San Francisco. Green Bay has struggled to contain production on the ground dating back to last season. Mostert put up 220 rushing yards and four touchdowns in last year’s NFC Championship against Green Bay, so they are well aware of Kyle Shanahan’s rushing attack. I would expect both Hasty and McKinnon to see double-digit touches in this game, making both solid Flex options. Brandon Aiyuk figures to be the main target in the passing game. The absence of Bourne may allow Green Bay to shadow Aiyuk with Jaire Alexander. The third-year cornerback has earned Pro Football Focus’ top grade at the position through eight weeks. Aiyuk’s expected volume and his recent strong play supersede the difficult individual matchup in my estimation.

The Packers have issues of their own as well. Stud running back Aaron Jones is trying to return from his calf injury, but the team is pessimistic. Jamaal Williams has played well in Jones’ absence, but he and A.J. Dillon will sit this game out due to COVID-19 protocols. It leaves the Packers’ backfield in a state of flux. Dexter Williams and Tyler Ervin are likely to handle duties for Green Bay. The duo has combined for 37 offensive touches in 45 career games. Of course, this situation is less than ideal. I expect both running backs for the Packers to also approach 10 touches. But I would rather have both 49ers backs before either Williams or Ervin. I do not consider either Packers running back a must start based on my Week 9 Flex rankings, though I would give Ervin a slight bump in PPR formats.

Injury News and Notes

Fantasy managers who have survived thus far without Christian McCaffrey and Michael Thomas are likely to get their first-round picks back into their lineups this week. Both have resumed practicing this week, and all signs point to them being able to return. I generally tend to give marginal players a week to prove themselves healthy and productive, but you cannot bench either player this week. Sadly, McCaffrey’s return should signal the end of Mike Davis’ impressive fantasy run. Davis had the fourth-most fantasy points among running backs in PPR leagues over the last six weeks. Managers would be wise to hold onto Davis, as he would immediately return to being a must-start if McCaffrey were to suffer a setback or reinjure himself. Alvin Kamara is most likely to be hurt by the return of Thomas, but he is still an elite RB1.

Of course, the injury gods could not give us without taking away. Calvin Ridley and Kenny Golladay left their respective Week 8 games due to injury. Neither is likely to play in Week 9, though there is no official word on Ridley quite yet. The cliff notes version of each team’s pass-catching options reads the same: start Jones (Julio for Atlanta, Marvin for Detroit) at wide receiver as well as the tight ends (Hayden Hurst, T.J. Hockenson), who should each get a slight volume bump; slot receivers (Russell Gage, Danny Amendola) are ok to target in deep PPR leagues.

If you are looking for a deep league flyer who may benefit from one of these injuries, consider Marvin Hall on the Lions. He is rostered in just three percent of Fantrax leagues and has the speed to get behind Minnesota’s corners. He ran a 4.28 40-yard dash at his Pro Day. All three Vikings cornerbacks have allowed at least a 70 percent catch rate and nearly two yards per route covered. I currently have Hall outside of the starting range in 12-team leagues, but I may move him up a bit when I update my Week 9 Flex rankings on Sunday morning.

Week 9 Flex Rankings

1Dalvin Cook (MIN)vs. DETRB1
2Davante Adams (GB)at SFWR1
3Christian McCaffrey (CAR)at KCRB2
4Alvin Kamara (NO)at TBRB3
5DeAndre Hopkins (ARI)vs. MIAWR2
6Julio Jones (ATL)vs. DENWR3
7James Conner (PIT)at DALRB4
8Chase Edmonds (ARI)vs. MIARB5
9James Robinson (JAC)vs. HOURB6
10Derrick Henry (TEN)vs. CHIRB7
11Adam Thielen (MIN)vs. DETWR4
12David Johnson (HOU)at JACRB8
13Josh Jacobs (LV)at LACRB9
14Michael Thomas (NO)at TBWR5
15Keenan Allen (LAC)vs. LVWR6
16Clyde Edwards-Helaire (KC)vs. CARRB10
17Ezekiel Elliott (DAL)vs. PITRB11
18Tyreek Hill (KC)vs. CARWR7
19Tyler Lockett (SEA)at BUFWR8
20Travis Kelce (KC)vs. CARTE1
21Terry McLaurin (WAS)vs. NYGWR9
22Stefon Diggs (BUF)vs. SEAWR10
23Chris Godwin (TB)vs. NOWR11
24Justin Jefferson (MIN)vs. DETWR12
25David Montgomery (CHI)at TENRB12
26Will Fuller (HOU)at JACWR13
27Melvin Gordon (DEN)at ATLRB13
28A.J. Brown (TEN)vs. CHIWR14
29DK Metcalf (SEA)at BUFWR15
30Allen Robinson (CHI)at TENWR16
31Darren Waller (LV)at LACTE2
32Chris Carson (SEA)at BUFRB14
33Antonio Gibson (WAS)vs. NYGRB15
34Todd Gurley (ATL)vs. DENRB16
35D.J. Moore (CAR)at KCWR17
36JaMycal Hasty (SF)vs. GBRB17
37Marquise Brown (BAL)at INDWR18
38Jerick McKinnon (SF)vs. GBRB18
39Mark Andrews (BAL)at INDTE3
40Brandon Aiyuk (SF)vs. GBWR19
41Robby Anderson (CAR)at KCWR20
42Hunter Henry (LAC)vs. LVTE4
43Darius Slayton (NYG)at WASWR21
44Mike Evans (TB)vs. NOWR22
45Marvin Jones (DET)at MINWR23
46Jamison Crowder (NYJ)vs. NEWR24
47D.J. Chark (JAC)vs. HOUWR25
48Amari Cooper (DAL)vs. PITWR26
49DeVante Parker (MIA)at ARIWR27
50D'Andre Swift (DET)at MINRB19
51J.K. Dobbins (BAL)at INDRB20
52Jonathan Taylor (IND)vs. BALRB21
53Diontae Johnson (PIT)at DALWR28
54Ronald Jones II (TB)vs. NORB22
55Brandin Cooks (HOU)at JACWR29
56JuJu Smith-Schuster (PIT)at DALWR30
57Tim Patrick (DEN)at ATLWR31
58Mike Williams (LAC)vs. LVWR32
59Rob Gronkowski (TB)vs. NOTE5
60Tyler Ervin (GB)at SFRB23
61Leviska Shenault (JAC)vs. HOUWR33
62T.J. Hockenson (DET)at MINTE6
63Jerry Jeudy (DEN)at ATLWR34
64Chase Claypool (PIT)at DALWR35
65Leonard Fournette (TB)vs. NORB24
66CeeDee Lamb (DAL)vs. PITWR36
67Hayden Hurst (ATL)vs. DENTE7
68James White (NE)at NYJRB25
69Sterling Shepard (NYG)at WASWR37
70Henry Ruggs (LV)at LACWR38
71Evan Engram (NYG)at WASTE8
72Corey Davis (TEN)vs. CHIWR39
73Damien Harris (NE)at NYJRB26
74Zack Moss (BUF)vs. SEARB27
75Darnell Mooney (CHI)at TENWR40
76La'Mical Perine (NYJ)vs. NERB28
77Justin Jackson (LAC)vs. LVRB29
78Phillip Lindsay (DEN)at ATLRB30
79J.D. McKissic (WAS)vs. NYGRB31
80Matt Breida (MIA)at ARIRB32
81Noah Fant (DEN)at ATLTE9
82Cole Beasley (BUF)vs. SEAWR41
83Jakobi Meyers (NE)at NYJWR42
84Jonnu Smith (TEN)vs. CHITE10
85Russell Gage (ATL)vs. DENWR43
86Danny Amendola (DET)at MINWR44
87Curtis Samuel (CAR)at KCWR45
88Nyheim Hines (IND)vs. BALRB33
89Devin Singletary (BUF)vs. SEARB34
90Christian Kirk (ARI)vs. MIAWR46
91Rex Burkhead (NE)at NYJRB35
92Dexter Williams (GB)at SFRB36
93Sammy Watkins (KC)vs. CARWR47
94Mike Gesicki (MIA)at ARITE11
95Gus Edwards (BAL)at INDRB37
96Wayne Gallman (NYG)at WASRB38
97Eric Ebron (PIT)at DALTE12
98Randall Cobb (HOU)at JACWR48
99Brian Hill (ATL)vs. DENRB39
100Jimmy Graham (CHI)at TENTE13
101Hunter Renfrow (LV)at LACWR49
102Joshua Kelley (LAC)vs. LVRB40
103Michael Gallup (DAL)vs. PITWR50
104Antonio Brown (TB)vs. NOWR51
105Dontrelle Inman (WAS)vs. NYGWR52
106Damiere Byrd (NE)at NYJWR53
107Adrian Peterson (DET)at MINRB41
108Latavius Murray (NO)at TBRB42
109Emmanuel Sanders (NO)at TBWR54
110Denzel Mims (NYJ)vs. NEWR55
111Jared Cook (NO)at TBTE14
112Le'Veon Bell (KC)vs. CARRB43
113John Brown (BUF)at SEAWR56
114Marquez Valdes-Scantling (GB)at SFWR57
115Breshad Perriman (NYJ)vs. NEWR58
116Zach Pascal (IND)vs. BALWR59
117Robert Tonyan (GB)at SFTE15
118N'Keal Harry (NE)at NYJWR60
119Marvin Hall (DET)at MINWR61
120Anthony Miller (CHI)at TENWR62
121Jordan Wilkins (IND)vs. BALRB44
122Larry Fitzgerald (ARI)vs. MIAWR63
123Keelan Cole (JAC)vs. HOUWR64
124T.Y. Hilton (IND)vs. BALWR65
125Nelson Agholor (LV)at LACWR66
126Trent Taylor (SF)vs. GBWR67
127Trey Burton (IND)vs. BALTE16
128Duke Johnson (HOU)at JACRB45
129Dalton Schultz (DAL)vs. PITTE17
130Deejay Dallas (SEA)at BUFRB46
131Marcus Johnson (IND)vs. BALWR68
132Chris Thompson (JAC)vs. HOURB47
133Preston Williams (MIA)at ARIWR69
134Christian Blake (ATL)vs. DENWR70
135Cordarrelle Patterson (CHI)at TENWR71
136Logan Thomas (WAS)vs. NYGTE18
137Frank Gore (NYJ)vs. NERB48
138Alexander Mattison (MIN)vs. DETRB49
139Jordan Akins (HOU)at JACTE19
140Irv Smith (MIN)vs. DETTE20
141Miles Boykin (BAL)at INDWR72
142Golden Tate (NYG)at WASWR73
143Ross Dwelley (SF)vs. GBTE21
144Willie Snead (BAL)at INDWR74
145Demarcus Robinson (KC)vs. CARWR75
146Kyle Juszczyk (SF)vs. GBRB50
147Lynn Bowden Jr. (MIA)at ARIRB51
148Richie James (SF)vs. GBWR76
149K.J. Hamler (DEN)at ATLWR77
150Greg Olsen (SEA)at BUFTE22
151David Moore (SEA)at BUFWR78
152Mecole Hardman (KC)vs. CARWR79
153Tony Pollard (DAL)vs. PITRB52
154Jakeem Grant (MIA)at ARIWR80
155Tyler Eifert (JAC)vs. HOUTE23
156Chris Herndon IV (NYJ)vs. NETE24
157James Washington (PIT)at DALWR81
158Chris Conley (JAC)vs. HOUWR82
159Troymaine Pope (LAC)vs. LVRB53
160Steven Sims (WAS)vs. NYGWR83
161Andy Isabella (ARI)vs. MIAWR84
162Kenny Stills (HOU)at JACWR85
163Mo Alie-Cox (IND)vs. BALTE25
164Devin Duvernay (BAL)at INDWR86
165Tre'Quan Smith (NO)at TBWR87
166Albert Okwuegbunam (DEN)at ATLTE26
167Cameron Brate (TB)vs. NOTE27
168Michael Pittman (IND)vs. BALWR88
169Gabriel Davis (BUF)vs. SEAWR89
170Jalen Richard (LV)at LACRB54
171Dawson Knox (BUF)vs. SEATE28
172Anthony Firkser (TEN)vs. CHITE29
173Jack Doyle (IND)vs. BALTE30
174Darren Fells (HOU)at JACTE31
175Ryan Izzo (NE)at NYJTE32
176Jamal Agnew (DET)at MINWR90
177Jordan Howard (MIA)at ARIRB55
178Devontae Booker (LV)at LACRB56
179James O'Shaughnessy (JAC)vs. HOUTE33
180Nick Boyle (BAL)at INDTE34
181Bryan Edwards (LV)at LACWR91
182Olabisi Johnson (MIN)vs. DETWR92
183Travis Homer (SEA)at BUFRB57
184Will Dissly (SEA)at BUFTE35
185Ian Thomas (CAR)at KCTE36
186Malik Taylor (GB)at SFWR93
187Adam Humphries (TEN)vs. CHIWR94
188Tyler Kroft (BUF)vs. SEATE37
189Kyle Rudolph (MIN)vs. DETTE38
190Benny Snell (PIT)at DALRB58
191Scott Miller (TB)vs. NOWR95
192Cole Kmet (CHI)at TENTE39
193Dion Lewis (NYG)at WASRB59
194Mike Davis (CAR)at KCRB60
195Patrick Laird (MIA)at ARIRB61
196Olamide Zaccheaus (ATL)vs. DENWR96
197Aaron Jones (GB)at SFRB62
198Devonta Freeman (NYG)at WASRB63
199Mark Ingram (BAL)at INDRB64
200Carlos Hyde (SEA)at BUFRB65

If you found Mick’s Week 9 Flex Rankings helpful, make sure to check out the rest of our NFL Week 9 Slate of Analysis.

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