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Fantasy football player profile: Mecole Hardman

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Dom Cintorino

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(As fantasy football dives headlong into draft season, some players warrant a little extra attention. All August, Dom Cintorino and Adam Pfeifer will do deep dives into some of the notable names. Follow along with our player profiles series. Today’s profile: Mecole Hardman)

Fantasy Football Value 2021 – Mecole Hardman

The fifth wide receiver selected in the 2019 NFL Draft has a lot of catching up to do. Through his first two seasons, Mecole Hardman hasn’t been able to get a whole lot going in this high-powered Chiefs’ offense. There’s been plenty of hype surrounding the speedster from the University of Georgia over the past two years. He made an impact in his rookie season, scoring six times on just 26 receptions. He was one of just three wide receivers with at least 40 targets and more than 20 yards per reception. This is when the Hardman hype-train started rolling. A popular “sleeper” in fantasy football drafts heading into 2020, Hardman saw regression in both touchdowns (4) and yards per receptions (13.65). His targets and receptions increased from his rookie season; he just wasn’t as efficient with them.

Still just 23 years old, the future looks as bright as ever for Hardman. He’s walking into what should be a nice role in a fantasy-friendly Kansas City offense. He’s the clear-cut No. 2 wide receiver behind just Tyreek Hill. With the departure of Sammy Watkins this offseason, there are 55 targets left behind. Watkins has a target share similar to Hardman in 2020, which was right around 10%. Both Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce saw over 20% of the team’s targets, combining for almost 45%. Assuming the two duplicate this number in 2021, it still leaves a nice chunk of targets up for grabs. Hardman won’t take over all of the targets that Watkins saw a season ago, but it’s not crazy to think he can get a target share near 15%. If Hardman got to that 15% mark, it would put him inside the top 50 wide receivers. This is a fairly high number considering Kelce had the second highest target share of all tight ends in 2020. 

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So enough with the Hill and Kelce talk. Let’s take a look at what is behind Hardman in the Chiefs wide receiver room. 

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FTN Fantasy’s season long projections show Byron Pringle and Demarcus Robinson as the next two in line. These two will be battling throughout the remainder of the offseason for that No. 3 spot on the roster. Pringle is now heading into his third season in the NFL at the age of 27. He appeared in just five games with the Chiefs last year, dealing with an ankle injury for a majority of the season. Robinson was brought back on a one-year deal, following a season where he saw just under a 10% target share. Even though he had a similar target share as Hardman, he saw the field much more often. Robinson had a snap share of 60.60% while Hardman only saw 45.28%. Even Sammy Watkins played more snaps than Hardman (51.31%). We should expect Hardman’s involvement in the offense to increase. FTN Fantasy’s projection has Hardman as the next man up behind Hill, as he should be. His 159.3 projected PPR points would put him at WR55. The upside he possesses is intriguing when we get down into this range.

When it comes to FTN Fantasy’s advanced receiving stats, Hardman did flash in a couple areas. Of all wide receivers with at least 60 targets, Hardman ranked second in receiving yards after the catch per reception. With his elite speed, all it takes is for him to get the ball in his hands. He had an average depth of target of 10.53 yards, and it might not be all that bad if this comes down a bit. Hardman saw most of his struggles in 2020 when it came to catching the football. His seven drops on the season made for the fourth-worst percentage (14.30%). Getting Hardman the ball early and in space could be just what he needs to finally have his breakout season. 

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What makes Hardman even more appealing is the offense he is in. This is a Chiefs team that led the league in passing yards (4,854) and third in pass attempts (630). If Hardman does in fact become the third highest targeted option in this offense, he provides nice value later in drafts.

Fantasy football ADP stock watch – Mecole Hardman

Using the FTN Fantasy ADP tool, Mecole Hardman is currently being selected as the 52nd wide receiver in fantasy football drafts. He’s being drafted around wide receivers such as Darnell Mooney, Henry Ruggs and Marvin Jones with his current ADP of 146.21. This is actually very similar to where we saw him come off draft boards a year ago (154.25). Over the last month, we have seen a rise in Hardman’s stock. In June, he had an ADP of 153.73. This already came down to 146.24 in July, as Hardman is coming off of boards almost a full round earlier. It’s remained steady thus far in August. However, a big preseason could push this number up even further. 

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NFL fantasy football ranking – Mecole Hardman

(Check out Jeff Ratcliffe’s top 100 0.5 PPR rankings.)

Taking a look at the FTN Fantasy PPR rankings, Mecole Hardman comes in as the WR55. While he does have the upside fantasy owners are always in search of, he hasn’t shown much of a floor. This is why we see his ranking all over the place. Hardman is ranked as high as the 28th wide receiver and as low as the 64th. As we proceed through draft month, I don’t see him getting outside of this range one way or the other. 

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