With the kickoff of Thursday Night Football quickly approaching, fantasy football managers are searching for much-needed clarity on several critical players. One of the biggest questions left on everyone’s mind has to be, “is Allen Lazard playing tonight?”. Due to several players already out for a variety of reasons, the Packers could use all the help they can get and the return of one of their brightest stars of the season. Fantasy managers could get a welcome boost in Week 9 if Allen Lazard makes him return from the injury that has forced him out since Week 3.
Update: Mike Garafolo reported that Allen Lazard will not be activated ahead of the Green Bay Packers Week 9 game against the San Francisco 49ers.
Allen Lazard’s has been ramping up his workload after returning to practice while trying to not reaggravate his injury
Allen Lazard has not suited up for the Packers since suffering an injury against the New Orleans Saints in Week 3 of this season. After a hot start, Lazard had core muscle surgery and was placed on the injured reserve, giving the Packers flexibility as he recovered and worked his way back onto the field.
Last week, Lazard returned to practice for the Packers on Wednesday and Thursday. While the team didn’t list Allen Lazard on the injury report, they don’t have to since he is still on IR; his return last Wednesday opened a 21-day practice window for him to be reactivated. According to Lazard’s social media account, he made the trip with the team to Santa Clara, indicating he has a shot to play tonight.
Is Allen Lazard playing tonight?
It was believed that we would see Lazard suit up tonight against the 49ers. After flying with the team, getting in practice time last week, and game prep this week, Lazard should suit up. It all comes down to what we know by 4:00 PM. That is the cutoff window that every team has to activate a player off of the IR to be eligible to play, followed by the inactive report that will come 90-minutes before kickoff.
If Allen Lazard is active, he is in the WR3/Flex range for fantasy football. In his short time on the field this year, Allen Lazard has 13 receptions on 17 targets for 254 yards and two touchdowns.
In three weeks with the team, Lazard put up 52.1 PPR points (17.4 avg) and was the undisputed WR2. Marquez Valdes-Scantling, the player tasked with replacing Lazard, has scored just 49.4 points (7.1 avg) in over double the games played compared to his counterpart.
Given that it would be his first game back, Lazard could play limited snaps, but with no other Packers receiver stepping up in Lazard’s absence, he could still easily see six or more targets. Knowing the lack of players that will be available for the Packers on Thursday, they need Allen Lazard more than ever to be back on the field and put his injury behind him.
The passing game will be forced to carry the load due to multiple missing RBs, potentially Aaron Jones
Out of all of the Packers’ narratives this week, the backfield is the most significant one, as NFL protocols have forced several players out of competing on Thursday night.
On Monday, Packers rookie RB AJ Dillon tested positive and was immediately placed on NFL’s reserve list. This led to rapid testing to occur, starting with all players who were deemed to be in close contact with Dillon. Because of Dillon’s positive test, the NFL determined that RB Jamaal Williams was a “close contact and high-risk” player and has been ruled out for the Thursday Night Football due to the timeframe on a short week, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.
If things stay where they are right now, this leaves the Packers with Tyler Ervin and Dexter Williams as the only active running backs available.
Combined, Ervin and Williams have 15 total NFL carries during their careers, though Ervin has had a few bright moments. He’s had four rushing attempts for 43 yards (his longest a 21-yard run) and has seen nine targets on the season, catching six for 33 yards. More of a receiver than a running back, Ervin would likely be the lead in the committee approach against a solid 49ers run defense.
The 49ers rank 32nd in Defense Points Against Consistency (DPAC) with a score of 5.51, meaning they are a matchup that you want to avoid in fantasy unless you have someone who is a weekly must-start, which is what Aaron Jones would be if he is active for this week.
Without Jamaal Williams to vulture any work, Jones could see 20 carries and an additional five to seven targets in this matchup if he was fully healthy. However, there is a growing pessimism that is not the case.
Jones is currently considered a game-time decision by offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, per The Athletic’s Matt Schneidman.
Aaron Jones’ calf injury has caused him to miss two straight games, and the fact that the team plays on a Thursday leaves him questionable for Week 9. As of right now, Jones has only been a limited participant in practice. Head coach Matt LaFleur said that it would be Jones’ call to make, but I have a hard time thinking that an organization that has always been on the conservative side of injury decisions would roll Jones out at anything less than 90% health.
If Jones is out, it will fall squarely on the shoulder of Aaron Rodgers to carry the load for this team while relying on both Davante Adams and hopefully Allen Lazard, so long as he is playing tonight.
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