The Kansas City Chiefs are running it back with virtually the same roster as they mount their Super Bowl defense in 2020.
Though the team was rumored to be looking at upgrades at wide receiver in free agency, KC ended up bringing back Demarcus Robinson on a reported one-year, $2.29 million deal. While that's solid news for Chiefs fans, it could hamper fellow wideout Mecole Hardman heading into what fantasy fans are hoping is a breakout season for the sophomore out of Georgia.
As a rookie in 2019, Hardman caught 26 passes for 538 yards and six scores, averaging 20.7 yards per catch—leading Kansas City in that category.
For a team that prides itself on speed at all positions, Hardman simply can't be overlooked. The wideout ran a 4.33 in the 40-yard dash—only a few milliseconds off teammate Tyreek Hill's 4.29 in 2016.
That gives quarterback Patrick Mahomes two receivers capable of burning defenses and quickly getting behind the secondary.
On March 24, ESPN's Mike Clay ranked Hardman the 51st-best wideout available, calling him a quality option with upside for fantasy owners. That will largely depend on how often Mahomes targets the 22-year-old.
It's easy to give Hardman the boom-or-bust label, but that may be over-simplifying things. While he was named to the Pro Bowl after his rookie year, he didn't top 97 yards receiving in any game this season, though he added a touchdown on special teams.
Those numbers mostly come down to the fact that the wideout was only on the field for 45 percent of Kansas City's offensive snaps last year, per Pro Football Reference—a number that should go up in Year 2.
Hardman saw just 41 targets last season, catching more than half even as Robinson saw 14 more targets than he did while only catching six more of them. With Sammy Watkins and Hill still earning the bulk of Mahomes' attempts, Hardman will need to prove he's developing into a solid third option before he becomes a must-start on a weekly basis.
That process began early this offseason as Hardman told ESPN's Adam Teicher he'd already been working out on his own since before March.
"Ain't no time to rest like that," Hardman said. "It's definitely tough [in trying to win back-to-back championships]. But we've got guys in the room that can make it happen. We've got the coaching staff for it. Now we know what it takes to get there and win it."
Reported deals via NFL.com's free-agency tracker.