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Who will Chiefs turn to with WR Sammy Watkins ruled out vs. Browns?

January 16th, 2021

The Kansas City Chiefs will be without WR Sammy Watkins against the Cleveland Browns in the AFC’s divisional round of the playoffs.

The Chiefs are no strangers to being without Watkins, though. Out of 53 possible games since 2018, including the playoffs, Watkins has only played in 39 of those games. Watkins’ impact on the field when he does play, however, can’t be understated. Particularly in the playoffs, his production has been vital, with a total of 24 catches, 464 yards and one touchdown over the span of the past two postseasons. That’s no small chunk of production, but Chiefs HC Andy Reid isn’t batting an eye at his absence.

“Yeah, listen, we all love Sammy,” Reid said on Friday. “He’s done a heck of a job here, but with any situation like this, we just say next guy up and we go. I’m not sure anybody blinks on that, you just giddy-up and go. And that’s not because Sammy’s not a great player, that’s not it. It’s just one of those things, how this team’s wired, and we do the best we possibly can. From a coaching standpoint on down with the players, just do the best you can and here we go. So, that’s what we’re doing.”

Fans would like to hope that it’ll be second-year WR Mecole Hardman or undrafted fan-favorite Byron Pringle to take the majority of the snaps in place of Watkins. The truth is that another veteran receiver has typically seen the greatest increase in snap share when Watkins hasn’t played this season.

When Watkins first suffered a hamstring injury in Week 5, Demarcus Robinson was the player to see extra playing time on offense. Robinson saw an increase in snaps from 41% to 68% of the Chiefs’ total snaps in Week 5 with Watkins’ injury. In Week 6, he’d play in 95% of the offensive snaps for Kansas City. He never saw less than 55% of the snaps on offense until Week 14, two weeks after Watkins’ returned from his first injury.

The former 2016 fourth-round draft pick is one of the more trusted receivers in the offense. His chemistry with Patrick Mahomes has always been special since the two worked together on the scout team in 2017. He’s good at finding the soft spots in the secondary when plays breakdown and Mahomes is forced to improvise.

On the year, Robinson has 45 receptions on 59 targets for 466 yards and three touchdowns. In Week 17, Robinson got the start for Kansas City and played in 89% of the snaps, recording six catches for 58 yards. Hopefully, he can carry over some of that success into the postseason, especially in an increased role with the starters.


Predictions for Chiefs vs. Browns, divisional round

This content was originally sourced and posted at Yahoo! Sports – News, Scores, Standings, Rumors, Fantasy Games »
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