By: Little Italy (Publisher)
Follow on Twitter: @LILITALY853
In this series I will take one player from each team to add to my All 32 Bust Team for 2021.
WR: Mecole Hardman
When it comes to the Chiefs third year receiver a quote from the late great DMX comes to mind, “Don’t Believe everything you hear, don’t believe everything you read, and only believe half of what you see.” This quote fits exactly how I am handling Hardman in 2021. You see reports from back in March express how the Chiefs are “bullish” on the third year WR, as they have been since drafting him in the 2019 draft as a second round pick, a pick that many including myself viewed as a reach. The fact is the Chiefs say they are high on Mecole Hardman yet, they fail to give him a meaningful role on this offense when opportunity presents itself. Some argue and are banking on the fact that with Sammy Watkins now attempting to catch passes from Lamar, Hardman will be given his best shot at a meaningful role in this high-powered offense. I’m not buying this narrative.
The fact is, if it hadn’t been for the 2019 off field legal issues of Tyreek Hill, Hardman would be a Jet right now, as the team was very high on him. The Chiefs snagged him early to be that Hill insurance policy in case he was unavailable. This is all Hardman is to this Chiefs team, a Tyreek Hill insurance policy in the event he’s injured or suspended, as their skillsets pretty much mirror each other. The Mecole Hardman Hype Train hasn’t gotten up to full speed yet but by the end of training camp I’m willing to bet it will. I will not be aboard said hype train. I do not believe he benefits from the Watkins departure, as much as many believe he will. All you have to do is look at weeks 6-11 last season when Watkins was inactive. Hardman played on avg of 48.2% of the offensive snaps during this span, three games in which he played on 43% or less. Outside of his 9 target-7 catch-96 yard-1TD game against the Jets in week eight his numbers were far from good. During the other four games during this "Watkins-less" span, Hardman averaged a disgusting, 2 targets-1.5 catches-30 yards-0 TD’s. Is this the opportunity one would expect for a receiver a team is high on? During this same span Demarcus Robinson, a player the team reportedly views as just a special teamer/WR4, saw more action averaging 4.6 targets-3.8 catches-42.8 yards-.4 TD’s in Watkins absence.
As much as my dynasty shares would love to see a Hardman breakout in 2021, I feel a bust season is more likely in the cards for Hardman. The speed he possesses in a high-powered offense is appealing; however, his inconsistency week to week is not. Hardman had eight games in 2020 where he failed to reach 30 yards receiving. Hardman also had seven games in which he caught fewer than three passes. If that is not enough to turn you off how about the fact that he saw fewer than three targets in nine of fifteen games played in 2020. These numbers should tell you how he is going to be used on this Chiefs offense and that is a role player who can’t be counted on as an every down player. If the opportunity was there this season his upside would push towards WR3 numbers in this offense, but I would much rather take a shot on AFC West Rival Henry Ruggs III’s upside in 2021 drafts this summer.