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Previewing Mecole Hardman for Super Bowl DFS

Chiefs WR Mecole Hardman has flown under the radar, but had a couple notable games this season. We break down his performance to date, his DraftKings and FanDuel salaries, and what to expect for Super Bowl 54.

Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Mecole Hardman against the Houston Texans in the AFC Divisional Round playoff football game at Arrowhead Stadium. Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers square off in Super Bowl 54 on Sunday, February 2nd. We’ll be breaking down everything you need to know to prepare your daily fantasy football lineups for the big game. We’re starting with a player-by-player preview for the skill position players on the two teams.

The Chiefs moved up to select Mecole Hardman with their first pick (56th overall; the 24th pick of the second round) in the 2019 draft. A three-year starter at Georgia, Hardman is just 21 years old and in the midst of an impressive rookie season. He’s incredibly fast, which is why more than one-third of his catches have gone for more than 20 yards.

DFS Super Bowl price

DraftKings Captain: $3,300
DraftKings Flex: $2,200
FanDuel: $6,000

DFS opponent position ranking

DraftKings: 8th
FanDuel: 12th

Season performance

Hardman is a third or fourth WR, and he’s primarily used as a big play threat. His box scores reflect that usage. Despite catching just 26 passes during the regular season, he scored six TDs and caught nine passes for more than 20 yards. He has as many games with zero receptions (four) as he does games with at least 60 yards. Though Hardman trailed fellow third-or-fourth-WR Demarcus Robinson in many key leading statistics - including snap count, targets, and air yards - Hardman’s speed helped him accrue more yards over the season, and the general consensus seems to be that Hardman has been better according to the ever-illusive “eye test”.

Playoff performance

Hardman hasn’t done much as a pass-catcher through his first two playoff games, though he made a massive impact with 142 return yards in the Divisional Round against the Texans. While those yards didn’t lead to any DFS points, they are a reminder that Hardman is a threat to score on special teams — and those TDs would count for DFS. He caught two of his four targets for 19 yards in that game, and then caught his only target for eight yards against the Titans in the AFC Championship.

Matchup

At first glance, the 49ers appear to be a tough matchup for Hardman — he’s got that big scary red “8th” to the left of his salary. But the DraftKings’ DvP metric incorporates several different variables, and in this case that complicated algorithm seems to be misleading, making the 49ers defense look better than it actually is. Over the second half of the season, the 49ers gave up the sixth-most DKFP per game to WRs. The 49ers have one of the best front-sevens in the league, and Richard Sherman remains an excellent corner, but overall this secondary isn’t one DFS managers need to fear.

Over the last seven games of the season, the 49ers allowed multiple WRs to score 10-plus DKFP five times. In the other two games, Davante Adams and Julio Jones scored 25.8 and 41.4 DKFP, while no other Packers’ WR saw more than four targets and Russell Gage scored 8.3 DKFP, narrowly missing the 10-point cut-off. The 49ers are susceptible to giving up big lines to multiple WRs in the same game, which is good for a secondary option like Hardman.

In the playoffs, the story has remained the same. The only two Vikings’ WRs to see a target scored at least 10 DKFP, and non-Adams Packers’ WRs combined to catch six of their eight targets for 69 yards (Vikings’ TEs combined to catch six of seven for 48 yards; Packers’ TE’s combined to catch eight of nine for 86 yards). Both teams had fantastic success when targeting their non-stars. Excluding Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, Adams and RBs, the 49ers are allowing an 83% catch rate to these non-star receivers in the playoffs.

DFS pricing and analysis

Rostering Hardman is a risk. There’s no way around that. He has a legitimate chance to score literally zero points in any week. But the upside is high, and the salary is tiny. As an example of how much Hardman opens up your cap, if you want to target the Chiefs’ receiving options, you can fit both Hardman and Travis Kelce ($11,800 combined) for a similar cap hit to Tyreek Hill ($11,000) alone. The matchup isn’t particularly intimidating for a secondary WR. His floor is similar to that of Demarcus Robinson ($3,900 captain; $2,600 flex), but his ceiling is higher. If you believe that the Chiefs can stay close or win and that the over/under (54) is reasonable, then Hardman should be in your pool of rosterable players.

I am an avid fan and user (my username is arikleen) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.