The Titans designated A.J. Brown (chest) to return from injured reserve early in the week, but his status is still up in the air for Week 16’s Thursday Night Football matchup against the 49ers. His availability will have a big effect on fantasy WR rankings and start ’em, sit ’em decisions. Knowing the latest injury updates will be key ahead of your first lineup call of the week. It also might be beneficial to know which players could become fantasy relevant if he doesn’t play. We have it all below.
We’ll continue to update this article with news on Brown up until the official active/inactive report comes out on Thursday around 6:50 p.m. ET. For all the latest fantasy updates, follow us on Twitter @SN_Fantasy.
Is A.J. Brown playing on Thursday night?
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports that Brown is likely to play in Week 16 against the 49ers, but we’re always looking to be prepared for a setback, so keep an eye out as we head toward Thursday. Because Brown is still technically on the IR-R list, he doesn’t have an official injury designation, but for all intents and purposes, consider him “questionable.”
If he’s active, he’ll face off with the Niners’ defense that has allowed the 11th-most fantasy points to WRs through 15 weeks, so there’s obviously a lot of intrigue around his status. Julio Jones (hamstring) is apparently going to play, but Brown could easily still lead the team in targets. Ultimately, his upside is sky high, but we’re sure many fantasy owners will be worried about a letdown or a possible aggravation of his injury.
If he’s out, Nick Westbrook-Ikhine has some appeal as a one-week fill-in with the favorable matchup, but his ceiling is limited, especially if he’s being perceived as the No. 1 WR by the 49ers’ defense. He or Chester Rogers could be solid DFS plays, but we’re not ready to say they’re anything close to trustworthy in the semifinals of the fantasy playoffs.
At the end of the day, Brown’s upside feels worth the roll of the dice in this spot. You can be cautious, but you can’t be scared this deep into the playoffs. Fantasy isn’t an exact science — and we’ve all experienced bad breaks — but he could very well command 10-plus targets, and we know he’s a threat to take any reception to the end zone. He does have a 10-catch, 155-yard, one-TD game on his 2021 resume, so it’s not as if he’s been awful when active. That game came without Jones in the lineup, too. Unless you’re ridiculously loaded at WR, start Brown.