Allen Lazard: Waiver Wire Worthy as the WR2 in Green Bay? (2019)
Entering the 2019 season, there was plenty of debate as to who would be the WR2 in the Green Bay Packers’ offense. Davante Adams is and has been Aaron Rodgers‘ favorite target for several seasons now, and deservedly so. But Rodgers has supported multiple fantasy-viable wide receivers in the past, and there were plenty of options on the Packers to be that second target. Geronimo Allison and Marquez Valdes-Scantling both flashed in the past, and both players had a lot of offseason chatter about their 2019 prospects. Both players have had plenty of opportunities to prove they could be Robin to Adams’ Batman this season. They even had a chance to fill in as Batman when Adams missed several weeks this season with a turf toe injury. Instead of either seizing the opportunity, though, it’s another player that has worked his way into a significant role in the Packers’ offense and might even become their WR2.
Lazard was a four-year starter during his time at Iowa State. He amassed 3,360 yards on 241 receptions while turning 26 of those catches into touchdowns. While his 40-time is lacking (37th percentile), Lazard is still an impressive physical specimen who comps to Josh Gordon and Kenny Golladay physically. Two areas where Lazard excelled in were leaping and his contested catch ability. Below is an excellent example of how well he fights for the football.
— Matt Caraccio (@Matty_S2S) January 26, 2018
Concerns about Lazard’s lack of speed and a bad week of practices at the Senior Bowl contributed to Lazard going undrafted in the 2018 NFL Draft. He signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars as an undrafted free agent but was cut before the 2018 season and landed on Green Bay’s practice squad in December of that year. He played just one game his rookie season, Week 17, and had one reception on one target. He was inactive the first four weeks of the 2019 season and played just one snap in Week 5.
After a mind-numbing amount of drops from the other Packers’ wide receivers, Rodgers locked onto Lazard in the fourth quarter in Week 6 against the Detroit Lions. Lazard rewarded Rodgers’ faith with 65 yards on four receptions.
Lazard played 23% of the offensive snaps against the Lions but has played at least 47% of offensive snaps in every game since. Valdes-Scantling has seen his snaps decrease since cresting at 95% in Week 5, dealing with injury and ineffectiveness. He’s scored 1.40 fantasy points or fewer in three of five games since Week 5. Geronimo Allison hasn’t scored more than 7.30 fantasy points since Week 4 and has seen his snap share decrease as well.
— Cyclone Football (@CycloneFB) October 15, 2019
While Valdes-Scantling and Allison are trending in the wrong direction, Lazard’s arrow is pointing up. Per airyards.com, his 314 Air Yards leads the Packers from Week 6 through 10. His 21% market share of Air Yards, and 61 yards after the catch, both rank second behind Davante Adams during that same stretch. Aaron Rodgers is a quarterback that is all about trust. If he can’t trust a wide receiver to run the correct routes, or more importantly, catch the ball, he’s not going to continue to target that wide receiver. Lazard has a significantly higher catch rate (75%) than both Allison (62%) and Valdes-Scantling (52.4%) this year. This is despite the fact that Lazard’s aDOT (13.1) is much higher than Allison’s (7.9) and within hailing range of Valdes-Scantling’s (16.4). Lazard is also a good stash in dynasty leagues with Geronimo Allison a free agent after this season.