Early Thursday afternoon, as fantasy football fans were preparing for the Denver Broncos and New York Jets primetime matchup, the news broke that Green Bay Packers wide receiver Allen Lazard would miss significant time with a core muscle injury. Lazard, who is coming off of the best game of his career, has been a terrific weapon in a Packers offense that is second in the NFL in yards per game. With a Packers WR position that is already incredibly thin, could someone like Marquez Valdes-Scantling step up for Green Bay? And are there other fantasy options that managers can target to replace Lazard on this Packers depth chart?
Packers Depth Chart: What WR can step up for your fantasy team with Allen Lazard injured?
One of the most talked-about storylines from the 2020 NFL Draft was that the Packers did not spend a single valuable draft pick on a wide reciever. In what was heralded as one of the deepest, most impressive WR classes in recent memory, the organization was criticized across the board.
Head coach Matt LaFleur and quarterback Aaron Rodgers seemed hellbent on proving those critics wrong, and heading into Week 4, they had done just that. Averaging over 459.7 yards per game, critics began to wonder if the team had ever really needed another WR option.
That all started to change when Rodgers’ top target Davante Adams missed Week 3 with a hamstring injury. He is now questionable for Week 4, albeit he did return to practice yesterday.
While fans panicked at the thought of this offense without Rodgers’ favorite target, Allen Lazard made his presence felt. Fantasy football players who were able to scoop up Lazard to replace Adams were rewarded with a 146 yard, one TD performance from the third year WR.
Related | NFL Week 4 Fantasy Injury Report
But now, with Lazard likely heading to IR to join fellow WR Equanimeous St. Brown, who will step up? The reality is, it is unlikely that anyone will be able to replace the production that Lazard and Rodgers had. Lazard has caught 13 passes for a team-high 254 yards through the first three games. Additionally, Rodgers has a perfect passer rating when targeting him (158.3) this season.
The two were forming a connection that made Lazard a legit fantasy football star and a WR2 option with or without Adams on the field. A look down the Packers depth chart is bleak, but there are some names that might be worth adding to your fantasy rosters with Lazard out for an undetermined amount of time.
Can Marquez Valdes-Scantling step up for your fantasy team?
The top waiver wire target with the news of the Allen Lazard injury is Marquez Valdes-Scantling. Owned in only 35% of most fantasy leagues, Valdes-Scantling will see the biggest boost in this offense.
People may forget, but Valdes-Scantling was a highly touted prospect coming out of college, and with an elite RAS score 9.27, it is easy to see why.
Through three weeks, Valdes-Scantling has a league-high 18.4 air yards per target and has received 32.2% of the Packers air yards. He also has eight catches for 165 yards and a touchdown. Rodgers has one of the best deep balls in the game, and Valdes-Scantling is often the recipient of this.
Rodgers has 887 yards and nine touchdowns with zero interceptions in his opening three games. To put that into perspective, he is behind only Patrick Mahomes in QBR (total quarterback rating) and is 10th in our Offensive Value Metric, behind names like Lamar Jackson and Dak Prescott.
With Rodgers having another impressive season, and with the team facing off against one of the worst secondaries in the NFL with the Atlanta Falcons, Marquez Valdes-Scantling is a must-start.
Are there any other Packers wide receivers worth owning in fantasy football?
To put this bluntly, not really. The rest of the Packers depth chart is unproven at best. Darrius Shepherd and Malik Taylor are on the active roster, and the Packers have four receivers – Robert Foster, Reggie Begelton, Caleb Scott, and Juwann Winfree – on the practice squad.
The one name in that list that could see a bump because of Allen Lazard’s injury is Foster. He has the most experience, having played 26 games with the Buffalo Bills, and brings an impressive speed to the table. If the team decides to bring him up from the practice squad, he could start to form a connection with Rodgers. However, none of these guys are with a waiver spot or any of your FAAB at this point.
Packers Depth Chart: Which tight end will rise to the top?
The position that could benefit the most from the Allen Lazard injury would be the tight ends. The trio of Robert Tonyan, Mercedes Lewis, and Jace Sternberger played a big role in the team’s Week 3 win over the New Orleans Saints. The three of them combined for nine catches, 104 yards, and two touchdowns.
Tonyan was the biggest benefactor with five catches for 50 yards and one of the two touchdowns. Tonyan has quickly emerged as the top TE in this passing game and has scored two weeks in a row. With Lazard missing time and Tonyan becoming a trusted weapon of Rodgers, he is worth an add in fantasy. If you are playing in any sort of TE premium league, your waiver claim should already be done.
The other two tight ends, Lewis and Sternberger, will also see an increase in targets, but will likely not compare to Tonyan. Lewis is used as more of a blocking TE, so it would just be Sternberger who could vulture passes. With how much this offense likes to throw the ball, I am not overly concerned.
Will the Packers depth chart be enough against this high powered Falcons team?
Realistically, even with the Lazard injury, the Packers offense will be able to put up points this week. They are going up against a Falcons team that has allowed 108 points against in the first three weeks, including 1,051 passing yards and 339 rushing yards.
To make matters worse for the visiting team, the Falcons will be without starting cornerback Darqueze Dennard, who has been placed on IR.
There are not a lot of proven options when you look at this Packers depth chart, but for fantasy purposes, when facing Atlanta, start everyone. If Adams makes his return this week, he is in contention for WR1 on the week. If not, Marquez Valdes-Scantling will likely be the main benefactor of this terrible secondary. I also like Tonyan and Sternberger to help mask the loss of Lazard this week.
With a betting point total at 56.5 for this game, expect a plethora of fantasy points across the field.