Can Mecole Hardman or Demarcus Robinson be started in fantasy football?

With Sammy Watkins out with an injury, can either Chiefs wide receivers Mecole Hardman or Demarcus Robinson step up in fantasy football?

As much as we love to play on the revenge game motivation, unfortunately, we don’t get that on Monday night as Kansas City Chiefs’ wide receiver Sammy Watkins will miss the game against his former team – the Buffalo Bills -with a hamstring injury. Can other Chiefs wide receivers like Mecole Hardman or Demarcus Robinson step up and fill the role while being a valuable asset for fantasy football? On a team loaded with talent and in what could be an AFC Championship preview, Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs will need everyone playing on a high level.

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Sammy Watkins has been ruled out for Monday Night Football

In what was first hoped to have been a small tweak during their Week 5 game against the Las Vegas Raiders, it sounds like Sammy Watkins will miss “multiple weeks” while recovering from a hamstring strain. However, it is positive news that he will avoid landing on the IR.

Of all the Chiefs wide receivers, Watkins leads the team in targets in three of the five games before his injury. He had caught 19 of his 27 targets for 198 yards and one touchdown.

While those numbers arent staggering by any means, it opens up a large hole in the offense as to who will be the third passing option behind WR Tyreek Hill and TE Travis Kelce. Knowing the respect that defenses must give them opens the door up for whoever is next in line to be in consistently favorable matchups.

When looking at the Chiefs’ depth chart, that would fall on either Mecole Hardman or Demarcus Robinson. But who should fantasy managers target if they need to fill a spot on their team either tonight or that will bring value in the coming weeks?

Mecole Hardman will get an expanded opportunity tonight

Watkins’ absence from a hamstring injury opens up a hole at the Chiefs’ No. 2 wide receiver spot. Mecole Hardman has the edge over fellow depth WR Demarcus Robinson. Despite playing a similar amount of snaps, Robinson hasn’t surpassed three targets in a single contest. Compare that to Hardman’s pair of touchdowns and stable 12.75 fantasy points per game average since Week 2.

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He ran 36 routes last week, which was the third-most in his career, and Watkins was on the field for 20 routes, so it wasn’t just the loss of Watkins that gave him the extra work. When Mecole Hardman sees targets, he is one of the most efficient players in the NFL. In five games in Hardman’s career where he’s seen more than four targets, he’s scored at least 11.3 PPR points in four of them.

The sophomore receiver’s route tree versatility should prove valuable against a tough Bills defense. The 22-year old possesses elite speed but is comfortable in the slot for those short to medium passes from Patrick Mahomes. Moving him around while Buffalo’s secondary worries about Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce provides an excellent opportunity for Hardman to take advantage of an expanded role while Watkins is out.

Demarcus Robinson is a shakier fantasy option than Mecole Hardman but could be viable in DFS

Despite more playing time than other Chiefs wide receivers, Demarcus Robinson has produced less in every category in comparison to Mecole Hardman. In fact, he’s barely put up any numbers at all through five weeks. In 2020, he has eight receptions on 15 targets for 50 yards and zero touchdowns.

It’s not to say he hasn’t had chances. He has dropped two would-be touchdowns already. Drops and his inability to get consistent separation has been an issue as the passer rating when throwing to Robinson is a far cry from last year as it went from 93.7 to 60.4.

I could see Robinson in the three to five catch range with 40+ yards window tonight but he lacks the upside needed to trust him in fantasy other than a cash saver in a DFS lineup.

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Tommy Garrett is a writer for PFN covering Fantasy Football. You can read more of his work here and follow him at @TommygarrettPFN on Twitter.

Tommy Garrett is a Fantasy Analyst for Pro Football Network and is a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA). You can read all of Tommy’s work here, listen to him on PFN’s Fantasy Football podcast, and check out his contributions in PFN’s free fantasy newsletter. Give him a follow on Twitter: @TommyGarrettPFN.