With the Chiefs resting starters which players can benefit the most?
Updated: Jan 2, 2021
With the number 1 seed locked up in the AFC, the Chiefs are expected to rest several starters in week 17 against the Chargers. This opens the door for several players on the Chiefs that have either struggled this season or maybe haven't gotten opportunities from being buried on the depth chart this week to have an opportunity to make an impact and possibly an early impression for 2021.
Mecole Hardman, in his sophomore season, Hardman has been unable to capitalize on a promising rookie season in 2019. Comparing the two seasons statistically in 2019 Hardman caught 26 passes for 538 yards and 6 touchdowns. In 2020 Hardman has caught 39 passes for 535 yards and 4 touchdowns. The most concerning thing is his yards per reception have decreased drastically going from 20.7 in 2019 to 13.7 in 2020. Hardman has continued to struggle with consistency and drops as he has had several games where he has been completely shut down. If he can provide a spark with Tyreek Hill sitting it would provide him a level of confidence going into the playoffs.
Khalen Saunders, after injuring his elbow in Week 1 against the Texans, Saunders returned in week 7 against the Broncos. He has been inactive in every game since, While he was injured, UDFA Tershawn Wharton took over his spot and has shown a level of athleticism and speed that Saunders failed to show. With Chris Jones likely sitting this would be a good opportunity for Saunders to show he can still be a contributor on this team.
Deandre Baker. after signing Baker to the practice squad earlier this season, the Chiefs have activated him the past two weeks and he has played on special teams but not on the defense so this week with the Chiefs top defensive backs likely playing a limited role this is a prime opportunity to see what Baker can do for you heading into 2021.
Some other players that should get extended run are Willie Gay Jr, with Ben Nieman out and Anthony Hitchens still on the Covid-19 list you should see Gay get all kinds of freedom Sunday. Another player to watch is Martinas Rankin who hasn't played yet this season coming off an ACL injury from last season. He was playing great before he went down. With the way the offensive line is playing right now this is the perfect time to throw him into a meaningless game and see what you have. This game is doesn't mean much in the grand scheme of things but the Chiefs can still get a lot of information out of this game.