We’ve got some time on our hands in terms of waiting for football at the moment. What better time to take an in depth look into the fantasy football profile of Mecole Hardman of the Kansas City Chiefs?
Paying a premium
When it comes to fantasy relevant players, the Chiefs are at the top of the list. Former NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes is not lacking offensive weapons as he is armed with one of the top receivers in the league in Tyreek Hill and arguably the best TE in the game, Travis Kelce. However, those two will not come cheap in redraft leagues as you will have to spend a high pick on them come draft day. According to fantasyfootballcalculator.com, Hill’s average draft position is 1.10; with Kelce is not far behind at 2.07, making him the number 1 TE off the board. To get the premium talent, you must grab it early.
If you want to get some value, you will have to look a little further down the WR depth chart in Kansas City. If you’re looking for a late round fantasy WR to breakout this year, look no further than Mecole Hardman. With an ADP of 8.09 in standard leagues, Hardman provides some deep value at the WR3/Flex position.
Mecole Hardman’s speed and big play ability makes him an ideal fantasy breakout candidate for the 2020 NFL fantasy season. When it comes to explosive plays in the NFL, he is at the top of the list with his superstar WR partner, Hill. Couple this splash play potential with a shift in playing time and picking up Hardman could be a league winning move.
Diminishing Special Teams role to lead to more offensive exposure?
The speedster really showed his worth as a special teams returner in 2019; racking up 704 kick return yards and one score. He made the Pro Bowl as a rookie averaging 26.1 yards per return. If you’re in the rare league where kick return yards count for points, then you’ve already seen the value of Hardman in this role. But bad news on that front…
Special Teams Coordinator David Toub did not seem too optimistic about having Hardman return many kicks next season. In a Zoom Conference, Toub said,
“I’m not sure about Hardman…I don’t want to lose him. I think he’s just scratched the surface as a returner.”
This news could be foreshadowing Hardman’s increasing role in the Chiefs offense. A reduction of Special Teams snaps is a strategy that Kansas City has used in the past with their dynamic playmakers. For example, after Tyreek Hill’s rookie season in 2016, Kansas City minimized his special teams role, leading to his increased contribution in their offense and the rest is history. Hill is one of the most dynamic receivers in the NFL and Hardman is following a similar path.
Hardman’s limited target share last year did not stop him from posting incredibly dynamic numbers for a rookie. With only 41 targets, Hardman averaged 13.1 yards per target as he caught 26 of his 41 targets in 2019. That’s an incredible 20.7 yards per catch! Though the yards per catch is unsustainable, it’s a positive sign if his role in the offense increases, and he can secure more targets in 2020.
Furthermore, the speedster reached the endzone six times including 83 and 63-yard touchdowns. Clearly, Hardman has proven that he can be a big play WR in the league and a threat to take it to the house at any time.
Looking at Hardman’s targets last year, and the potential that Kansas City sees in their young receiver, extrapolating some potential statistics for the 2020 seasons shows the true value of Hardman. See below for a comparison of Hardman and two receivers that sit in a similar draft position, but could have situational issues (projections taken from the Sleeper app).
Christian Kirk is in a suddenly crowded WR room in Arizona and will be fighting for targets from Kyler Murray. Julian Edelman will be hoping for accurate targets from Jarrett Stidham and/or Brian Hoyer and simply can’t expect the same level of success he has enjoyed for years in New England.
|Receptions||Targets||REC yards||TD’s||Fantasy Points||Average Draft Position|
|Christian Kirk (ARI)||68||91||711||4||170||8.03|
|Julian Edelman (NE)||81||119||911||5||198.8||8.04|
There’s no question that Hill and Kelce are clearly at the top of the food chain to receive targets from Mahomes. However, after those two elite talents, there isn’t much legitimate competition for Hardman. Darius Robinson and Sammy Watkins are still in the WR corps and could soak up targets, with Watkins in particular proving he can take over games. But with that said, Hardman’s speed and explosiveness with the ball in hand will help him stand out over the other two. There’s a good chance that Hardman carves out a role with the “get the ball in his hands” type plays (screens/slants etc).
Hardman is a great breakout candidate, and with the opportunity in an elite level offense, he projects as more of a mid round flyer with big upside in terms of splash plays. The room for growth is an important factor in this pick, because despite the expectations of players like Kirk and Edelman to receive more targets, their (depth chart/QB) situation could easily lead to an disappointing fantasy season.
In terms of fantasy scoring and how he can be utlized in your team, you’re looking at a WR3/Flex floor and WR2 ceiling for Hardman; with room for more to come.
It’s worth taking a flier on the second coming of Tyreek Hill. Big plays mean big points!