It used to be that "scat back" types had minimal value in fantasy football, but as Darren Sproles of the New Orleans Saints showed very aptly last year, that isn't necessarily the case any more.
In fact, the latest diminutive running back to merit consideration in fantasy football leagues isn't even a running back any more, as Dexter McCluster of the Kansas City Chiefs has been moved to slot receiver for the 2012 season.
The fourth-year pro had something of a breakout season in 2011, when injuries decimated the Kansas City backfield. McCluster gained 4.5 yards a pop in 114 carries last year en route to over 800 total yards; he also chipped in 46 catches and scored a pair of touchdowns.
However, the Chiefs have used McCluster more-or-less exclusively as a slot receiver this season, and it's a role that McCluster has taken to fairly well. The 24-year-old has reeled in 10 catches for 114 yards in two games, and the speedster drew the praise of Kansas City offensive coordinator Brian Daboli after his six-catch, 82-yard effort in the season opener, as reported by Jay Skurski of The Buffalo News.
"Each week is a different week with different defenses that guys face," offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, the St. Francis graduate, told Kansas City reporters. "Sometimes there are spots in the middle of the field that we're working a little bit. The tight ends had some passes; Dexter McCluster had some passes."
McCluster appears to have carved himself out a larger role in the Kansas City passing game, and fantasy owners in need of depth at the wide receiver spot would be well-served to give him a look, especially with a very favorable matchup on tap against the New Orleans Saints.
With that said, in some formats McCluster has even more value. Many fantasy providers still afford McCluster positional eligibility as both a running back and wide receiver, and given the rash of injuries that have already hit the running back spot, McCluster can be a welcome stopgap for RB-needy fantasy squads, especially those in leagues that award a point for receptions.
Granted, the Kansas City offense is hardly a juggernaut, but whether it's depth at wideout or a loophole running back, give Dexter McCluster a look if you have the roster space.
After all, nothing ventured, nothing gained.