It’s difficult to project out what Allen Lazard’s full 2022 season might look like after just four games without Davante Adams. For starters, the Green Bay Packers’ new number one receiver missed the team’s first game with an injury, which is not uncommon for him, and I would argue he’s still rounding into form. With that said, if he can stay healthy and maintain his current pace, he should finish with something like 64 receptions (on 91 targets) for 922 yards and 11 scores. That’s a pretty good line, and if given the opportunity, I’ll take the over on every one of those stats. I think Lazard was recovering from his early injury, and that the Packers were working him back in to the game slowly until last week. I think he can be better than this.
It’s not fair to compare anyone to Davante Adams, because Adams is one of the league’s greats but also because Adams is such an odd receiver in how he generates value. Adams is the league’s best route runner and is essentially uncoverable, but he’s not a burner and he relies so heavily on volume and low-efficiency targets for production that there really isn’t any other player like him. He is able to make something positive out of those targets while, for essentially every other receiver in the NFL, those plays are pointless.
Adams is dangerous all over the field, but the quick throws and smoke screens make up a lot of his pure volume stats. Wen using efficiency metrics, they knock his production a bit, even though they do tend to be net positive plays. (This is all captured by Football Outsiders’ counting efficiency stat, DYAR.)
Lazard is almost the polar opposite of Adams, doing almost all of his damage on the most efficient routes you can run, and doing it brilliantly. He is the DVOA receiver to Adams DYAR receiver.
Take a look at his catches this season:
Allen Lazard Receptions and First Downs
|10/2/2022||Packers||Patriots||3||14:48||3||10||GNB 19||Aaron Rodgers pass complete deep right to Allen Lazard for 32 yards (tackle by Jonathan Jones)||32||-1.07||2.32||3.39||x|
|9/25/2022||Packers||Buccaneers||4||3:37||2||4||GNB 32||Aaron Rodgers pass complete deep right to Allen Lazard for 26 yards (tackle by Antoine Winfield)||26||0.94||2.79||1.85||x|
|10/2/2022||Packers||Patriots||1||9:45||1||10||GNB 25||Aaron Rodgers pass complete short middle to Allen Lazard for 24 yards (tackle by Devin McCourty and Jack Jones)||24||0.61||2.19||1.58||x|
|10/2/2022||Packers||Patriots||5||6:07||2||7||GNB 13||Aaron Rodgers pass complete deep left to Allen Lazard for 22 yards (tackle by Adrian Phillips)||22||-0.56||1.27||1.83||x|
|10/2/2022||Packers||Patriots||3||2:58||1||10||NWE 46||Aaron Rodgers pass complete short middle to Allen Lazard for 19 yards (tackle by Adrian Phillips)||19||2.52||3.78||1.26||x|
|10/2/2022||Packers||Patriots||2||5:09||2||8||GNB 11||Aaron Rodgers pass complete short right to Allen Lazard for 13 yards (tackle by Jack Jones)||13||-0.63||0.54||1.17||x|
|9/18/2022||Packers||Bears||1||12:22||3||7||CHI 36||Aaron Rodgers pass complete short middle to Allen Lazard for 8 yards (tackle by Eddie Jackson)||8||2.15||3.71||1.56||x|
|9/25/2022||Packers||Buccaneers||2||11:47||3||7||TAM 45||Aaron Rodgers pass complete short left to Allen Lazard for 7 yards (tackle by Mike Edwards)||7||1.55||3.05||1.5||x|
|9/25/2022||Packers||Buccaneers||2||8:47||1||6||TAM 6||Aaron Rodgers pass complete short right to Allen Lazard for 6 yards, touchdown||6||5.83||7||1.17||x|
|9/25/2022||Packers||Buccaneers||4||5:04||3||4||GNB 20||Aaron Rodgers pass complete short right to Allen Lazard for 6 yards (tackle by Antoine Winfield)||6||-0.68||0.67||1.35||x|
|10/2/2022||Packers||Patriots||2||0:07||1||10||GNB 35||Aaron Rodgers pass complete short left to Allen Lazard for 6 yards (tackle by Myles Bryant)||6||1.27||1.53||0.26|
|9/18/2022||Packers||Bears||2||0:35||2||1||CHI 5||Aaron Rodgers pass complete short middle to Allen Lazard for 5 yards, touchdown||5||5.67||7||1.33||x|
Lazard has 12 catches on the year, and 11 of those 12 have converted first downs or touchdowns. The 12th, a 6-yard gain on 1st and 10 with only 7 seconds left in the half, was more of a throwaway play, but it still gained positive EPA. That’s an incredible success rate, which shows up, as it always does for Lazard, in his DVOA, where he currently ranks 2nd overall, trailing Mike Evans.
Lazard is just 11th in DYAR, but unlike in previous years, there is good reason to expect him to ascend the leaderboard, especially if he stays healthy. Lazard’s volume has already started to tick up, and even if he settles in around 6-7 targets per game, he’s a solid bet to be among the league-leaders in DYAR in addition to his normal elite spot in the DVOA rankings.
I might be getting ahead of myself, and perhaps defenses will start to key on Lazard more than they currently do, but I wrote before the season that I didn’t think his efficiency would slip without Adams to draw the other team’s elite coverage. So far, that has been the case. Since 2018, when Lazard joined the league, 164 players have caught at least 100 passes. Lazard ranks 15th overall in yards per target over that time period at 9.2 just a hair behind Tee Higgins and Tyreek Hill.
I like “Yards per Target” as a receiver stat because it incorporates catch percentage and explosiveness together in one statistic, and it’s worth noting that so far this year, Lazard is averaging 10.2 yards per target. The NFL only started tracking targets in 1992, but since that time, the Packer single season record for Y/T is held by Jordy Nelson’s incredible 2011, when he averaged 13.2, followed by Nelson’s 2013 season where he averaged 10.3. Cobb is currently third with 10.1 in his 2014 season.
My point is that, on a per-play basis over the course of his relatively short, relatively injury-plagued career, Allen Lazard has been one of the best modern Packer receivers ever. So far, in a more advanced role without Davante Adams, he has, on a per-play basis, been one of the greatest modern Packer receivers ever. He’s also an outstanding red zone target, as detailed in the Football Outsiders’ almanac:
He’s also one of the league’s best blocking wide receivers.
I’m not sure everyone is prepared for what we should call him if he keeps this up all season.