The 2014 first-round pick, who is in his third season with the Chiefs after tenures with the Buffalo Bills and Los Angeles Rams, posted 222 yards on 21 receptions with a pair of touchdowns through Kansas City's first five outings before he sat in Week 6 with a hamstring injury.
Watkins has not played since Week 5 and will miss his fourth consecutive game Sunday. The fact that the Chiefs have a bye in Week 10 may have contributed to the decision to hold him out.
The 27-year-old, who showed moments of greatness in a three-touchdown, 198-yard season opener in 2019 and in the team's Super Bowl LIV run (14 catches for 288 yards), has had a career marred by minor injuries, having appeared in all 16 games just once through seven seasons.
With Watkins sidelined, the Chiefs will look to Mecole Hardman and Demarcus Robinson to take his spot among a stacked receiving corps that features tight end Travis Kelce and wideout Tyreek Hill, alongside new addition Le'Veon Bell and rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
For fantasy football purposes, Hardman is the Chiefs wide receiver who figures to benefit most from Watkins' absence against Carolina.
The second-year wideout had seven catches for 96 yards and a touchdown last week, and he figures to be quarterback Patrick Mahomes' No. 2 target in terms of wide receivers behind Hill.