Dexter McCluster Injury Makes Chiefs WR Jon Baldwin a Wise Fantasy Pickup

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistSeptember 24, 2012

NEW ORLEANS, LA - SEPTEMBER 23:  John Baldwin #89 of the Kansas City Chiefs is unable to bring in a pass defended by Roman Harper #41 of the New Orleans Saints during a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on September 23, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Dexter McCluster suffered an ugly elbow injury on Sunday, leaving his playing status up in the air after a good start to the season. If the Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver is forced to miss any time, Jon Baldwin would get a nice fantasy addition.

Randy Covitz and Adam Teicher of the Kansas City Star report McCluster had his arm in a sling after the team's victory over the New Orleans Saints, but no immediate timetable for his return was available. It certainly wasn't a good sign, though.

Even though he was on the fringe of the fantasy radar heading into the season, McCluster was solid through three games. He ranked second on the team with 13 catches for 142 yards, behind only Dwayne Bowe.

With the Chiefs defense struggling to keep opponents from running up the score, Kansas City has to throw a lot. If McCluster is forced to the sidelines, Baldwin, the team's first-round pick from last season, should pick up the slack.

Baldwin made just 21 catches in 11 games as a rookie. His transition to the NFL wasn't as smooth as the organization hoped while the Chiefs offense struggled as a whole. But he's got the talent to make an impact if given more playing time.

His size (6'4'', 230 pounds) gives him an advantage over most cornerbacks, and he was one of the team's training-camp standouts. He performed so well, it's actually surprising he didn't have a bigger role from the start instead of McCluster.

Baldwin has made six catches over the last few weeks, averaging more than 16 yards per grab. If McCluster is out of the picture, his targets should rise considerably, and his other numbers will finally follow suit.

That means now is the time to pick him up. Fantasy owners know that any player with high upside is snapped off the waiver wire quickly, and Baldwin definitely fits in that category. He should be a good flex option.

It wouldn't be a surprise to see him take the expanded role and run with it, never relinquishing it back to McCluster once the playmaker returns. By that point, he'll be long gone off the free-agent market, though. Owners have to be ahead of the curve.

That means taking a chance on Baldwin before it's too late.