The 6-1 Packers are expected to be without top wide receivers Davante Adams and Allen Lazard against the 7-0 Cardinals on Thursday, as both were placed on the reserve/COVID list. The loss is immense, as the duo was responsible for 44% for the team's targets this season, but on the plus side, Marquez Valdes-Scantling could be activated from injured reserve in time for the game.
Adams was the only player on Green Bay's roster with more targets than Valdes-Scantling' 16 prior to the latter suffering a hamstring injury in Week 3. Assuming "MVS" is back, we should expect him to operate as the team's top perimeter receiver, with Equanimeous St. Brown on the other side and Randall Cobb working the slot as per usual.
All of these receivers will make for risky fantasy plays this week, though the matchup is fairly neutral (and perhaps good for the perimeter targets). Arizona's defense has faced 148 WR targets (12th most) and has allowed 10 touchdowns to the position (eighth), but is allowing the lowest catch rate (58%) and fourth-lowest yards per target (7.3) to the position. Of course, Aaron Rodgers' throws have to go somewhere, so you have some flex options if you're in a pickle.
Valdes-Scantling should be your top choice and he's available in just over 98% of ESPN leagues. Cobb has had one good game this season, but obviously should be relied on more often this week. He's a PPR flex option and is available in 85% of leagues. Targets also figure to rise for the team's tight ends and running backs. Robert Tonyan has been his usual, touchdown-dependent self this season, producing 14-plus fantasy points in the two game he scored, but totaling an 8-40-0 receiving line in his other five outings. However, he did score a total of four touchdowns in the two games Adams was out in 2020, including a three-score game against Atlanta (his only career game with more than one touchdown). Tonyan is on the TE1 radar this week.
Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon could each see an extra target or two, but Jones was already 11th among backs in the category, so there's not too much room for growth. Even with an extra touch or two, Dillon can't be trusted in lineups. A 19th-place finish in Week 5 is his only fantasy outing better than 30th and he's coming off a 4-touch, 8-yard showing in Week 7.
Green Bay is set to face a tough Arizona defense on the road and on five days rest without two of its top targets. Aaron Jones is the only lineup lock from this offense, with Rodgers downgraded to a fringe top-10 option at quarterback, Tonyan upgraded to a fringe top-10 play at tight end and Valdes-Scantling (assuming he's activated) and Cobb your best flex options.
For more on this evolving situation, please continue to check our Week 8 fantasy football rankings. Look for Mike Clay's Shadow Report on Wednesday for a look at the Packers' receivers matchups versus the Cardinals and a full game Thurday Night Football game preview with Clay's Thursday Playbook.