Fantasy Football for Schmucks: The Case for Allen Lazard
For the past couple of years we have been wondering who in the world will step up as Aaron Rodgers number two target. Plenty of names have been brought up and we have seen them fail, all falling short of expectations. That is until a very unknown, determined player emerged with absolutely zero expectations! Let's have a chat about why Allen Lazard will unquestionably become the Packers WR 2 this season.
Lazard is a physical specimen, standing 6' 5" and weighing in at 227lbs. At the combine he ran a really solid 4.55 forty yard dash, placing himself in the 87th percentile for speed score according to PFF's player profiler. He also showed pretty good burst with a 38 inch vertical! Let's not pass on this vertical jump. It is the 4th best for a player at least 6'5" and the best since 2005! This ranks him above players such as Mike Evans (37"), Marques Colston (37") and Calvin Johnson (36"). His pro comp on player profiler happens to be Marques Colston, the New Orleans Saints all-time receiving yardage leader! Lazard's impressive combine numbers and comp show he has the physical traits to be a great professional!
Allen Lazard was an ESPN 300 recruit coming out of high school. He was recruited by some big-time programs! Courted by the likes of Notre Dame, Stanford, Nebraska, and California. However, the Iowa raised Lazard decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and joined the Iowa State Cyclones. When he got to Iowa State the team was pretty terrible. They were 3-9 the year before he arrived on campus. This is probably one of the factors that played into him being undrafted plus not being at a "big name program". He posted solid numbers in his time there, however, and became Iowa States career receptions and receiving yardage leader. Also acruing the most 100 yard games in school history with 12. He truly broke out in his junior year bringing in 69 of 119 targets for 1018 yards and 7 touchdowns! Instead of entering the draft following this impressive season he wanted to help change the culture at Iowa State so he stayed on for his senior year. Lazard helped the 2017 Cyclones finish with an 8-5 record, posting 142 yards and a touchdown on 10 receptions to help the team get their first bowl victory since 2009 over No. 19 Memphis in the Liberty Bowl! Throughout his time he was First team All Big 12 x2 and Second team All Big 12 once! He did all of this despite the quarterback carousel he endured in both his junior and senior season. The pass attempts were split pretty evenly between two separate quarterbacks each year. It is always a good sign when a player can overcome a bad situation!
Welcome to the NFL
It was time for the 2018 NFL Draft. Allen Lazard waited with his family for his name to be called. Pick after pick eagerly awaiting that life changing phone call that he had been drafted. Sadly that moment never happened for him and he went undrafted. He did not let this upset him and was soon signed to a free agent deal with the Jaguars.
The Iowa State product didn't make much noise in Duval County getting stuck on the practice squad. He then got claimed off of waivers by the Green Bay Packers after the team endured an unfortunate string of injuries to their WR corps. He finally got onto a 53 man roster. He played in one single game for the Packers catching one pass for seven yards. He was then relegated back to the practice squad.
In 2019 the Packers again dealt with injury and he was called up to the 53 man roster. He sat on the sidelines for game 5 of the season. Then in the 4th quarter of week 6 Rodgers approached the WR coach about Lazard and asked "if No. 13 could come in for a little bit." per ESPN. He proceeded to catch 4 of 5 targets for 65 yards and a TD! More impressive than his stat line is the fact that Lazard played a major role in the game. On what ended up being the game winning drive, he had 3 receptions. (Time for a rant). It is notorious that Aaron Rodgers will not mince words with his WRs. The man started his career with the likes of Donald Driver, Greg Jennings, James Jones, and has since had Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, and Devante Adams. He does not accept a young WR dropping the ball or mental mistakes like running the wrong route. Lazard earned his trust by sitting next to Rodgers in meetings and showing Rodgers his confidence on the field. (Back to the article). After the Week 6 victory Rodgers heaped more praise on Lazard saying: “The thing that got me was, which you love as a quarterback, and that's receivers coming back and telling you he wants the ball and what routes he wants to run. The big first down we had to him on the out route, that was him coming back to the huddle and telling me what play he wanted. For a young guy to do that, how can you not have confidence in that." I mean come on that some of the highest praise for an undrafted rookie WR – coming from one of the best QBs of all time. That strong connection continued last year. In 11 games he posted a stat line of 35 receptions on 52 targets for 477 yards and 3 TDs. This ranked him second on the team in receiving yards on the 6th most targets! Lazard's 117.9 passer rating when targeted ranked him 12th in the league among WR with at least 40 targets. His 12 3rd down conversions on 35 receptions also show a strong trust Rodgers has in the young WR.
We all know that Rodgers can sustain at least two fantasy relevant WRs. We have seen it many times in the past. Whether it was Randall Cobb and James Jones or Jordy Nelson and Davante Adams there are plenty of targets to go around.
Many people think that the Packers will throw far less in their scheme, but Rodgers in the same scheme still threw the ball 569 times in 2019 (8th most attempts in the NFL). The Packers drafted ZERO WR in the stacked 2020 draft showing they trust that they have in their WR corps. What they have is little competition for Lazard. The only WR added of note is Devin Funchess, who is coming off an injury. He has been very underwhelming with one season over 550 yards receiving. Green Bay also has 115 vacated targets with the departure of the corpse of Jimmy Graham and Geronimo Allison.
Lazard should command a good portion of those targets after having a full season on the starting squad getting practice reps in with Rodgers.
Lazard is going extremely late in drafts. In 0.5 PPR redraft his ADP is 184 overall or WR 65, per Fantasy Pros, with him coming off of the board at 210 overall or WR 67 in dynasty. Players being drafted around Lazard in redraft include Kenny Stills, Damien Harris, and Jaylen Samuels. Players drafted ahead of him in dynasty: Donovan Peoples-Jones, Quintez Cephus, and Thaddeus Moss. Do not do this! The upside of Lazard is much higher than everyone named here.
We all know Rodgers has to trust the WR he is throwing to. With him speaking highly of Lazard it makes him worth the pick! Rodgers has stated that Lazard was called on alot in important situations and he rose to the occasion. He also claimed Lazard was an ascending talent. You can grab him at the end of the draft in redraft and he is easily acquirable in dynasty. Go grab him now before he breaks out and you miss the bus!
Edited by : Ned Lancaster