The Chiefs ruled Watkins out for the game on the week's final injury report, along with four other regulars: cornerback Kendall Fuller (thumb), defensive tackle Chris Jones (groin), offensive tackle Eric Fisher (core muscle) and guard Andrew Wylie (ankle).
Starting cornerback Bashaud Breeland is listed as questionable for non-injury reasons.
Watkins' absence means the Chiefs will play without at least one of their starting receivers since the first quarter in Week 1. That's when Tyreek Hill left their lineup with an injury to his sternum and right collarbone.
Hill returned for last week's game against the Texans but Watkins was absent by then. He injured the hamstring in practice two weeks ago. He tried to play in that week's game against the Colts but lasted only two plays.
He returned to practice this week, sparking hope he would play against the Broncos.