NFL Week 4 injury analysis

BY foxsports • September 27, 2012

This Given Sunday is examining the biggest injury questions before each week of the NFL season. Here are the top-five health-related storylines entering Week 4.

Fred Jackson

If you handcuffed C.J. Spiller to Jackson, you got lucky. Now, the tables have turned. Spiller's hurt and Jackson's status is up in the air. Jackson wasn't "overly pleased" with how practice went Wednesday, according to the Buffalo News. As a result, there's a lot of concern that he'll have to miss his third consecutive game Sunday against New England.

Spiller hasn't been ruled out yet either, but the shoulder injury he suffered in Week 3 required the cart and he wasn't able to take part in practice early in the week. The Pats have been pretty stout against the run early this season and Tashard Choice is a mystery back, so fantasy owners would be smart to avoid the Buffalo backfield like the plague this week, if possible.

Matthew Stafford

The Lions quarterback has been hampered by a hip injury that kept him out of Wednesday's practice. There's a chance we won't know if Stafford's going to play against Minnesota until 90 minutes before kickoff, but the good news for fantasy peeps is that it's an early start so you'll know in time to go to Plan B.

He's a tough dude who's fought through injuries in the past, but with a Week 5 bye looming, the Lions could play it safe and hope that they can still get past the Vikings sans Stafford.

Matt Forte

After missing a win over the Rams due to an ankle sprain suffered in Week 2 against Green Bay, Forte looks to return this week against the Cowboys. Helping him out is the fact that he'll have one extra day to prepare with the Chicago-Dallas game taking place Monday night.

Of course, that won't do his fantasy owners any good unless they have Michael Bush, DeMarco Murray or Felix Jones on their roster to take his place. "He has a long way to go still, but he is making progress,'' coach Lovie Smith told the Chicago Tribune on Wednesday. "Hopefully we can get him out there."

Oh, and Bush — Forte's backup — is dealing with a shoulder injury. Bears fans should be worried, and Forte fantasy owners should consider grabbing Kahlil Bell.

Reggie Bush

Bush missed Wednesday's practice after suffering a knee injury against the Jets in Week 3. The initial assumption at the time of the injury was that he'd probably have to miss some time, so it's surprising to hear that there's a chance he'll suit up in Arizona in Week 4.

I believe the Dolphins have enough confidence in Daniel Thomas to leave Bush back in South Florida. If that's case, at least we'll know before Sunday if he's going to have a chance to play. If he travels with the team, all bets are off. In that case, it'd be smart to avoid the Dolphins' backfield (if possible) against a very good Cardinals defensive front.

Jeremy Maclin

Maclin sat out Philadelphia's Week 3 debacle in Arizona with a hip pointer. He was a full participant at practice Wednesday and is confident he'll play against the Giants Sunday night. Still, history has taught us to watch situations like these — with players like these — very closely. If there's a chance Maclin will be a surprise scratch — and right now there is — then you'd be gambling by leaving him in your lineup Sunday afternoon.

But against that weak New York secondary, it might be worth the gamble.