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Injury Updates Week 4: Matthew Stafford, Matt Forte, Willis McGahee

There are a few key fantasy contributors that have had a number of injury question marks surrounding their playing status leading up to Week 4 of the 2012 NFL season. Here’s a little bit about these three and what you should consider.

Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions QB vs. Minnesota Vikings

The quarterback injured his right hip in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter of the Lions’ game at Tennessee in Week 3. He returned to practice on Thursday, practiced in full on Friday and should be healthy enough to go against the visiting Minnesota Vikings.

If Stafford’s playing then you’re playing him.

The Vikings’ defense is ranked 18th against opposing fantasy quarterbacks, but they have not faced anything close to a QB like Stafford. Minnesota has played Blaine Gabbert, Andrew Luck and Alex Smith. All three quarterbacks have thrown for at least 200 yards and the Vikings have surrendered five touchdowns to one interception.

In two games against Minnesota last season, Stafford threw for 302.5 yards per game with four touchdowns and no interceptions.

Matt Forte, Chicago Bears RB vs. Dallas Cowboys (Monday night)

“Matt Forte continues to get better” and “he’s questionable for the game” Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith said this week of his star running back who returned to practice this week as he battles an ankle injury suffered Sept. 13.

Does he “get better” enough to play Monday night in Dallas? Is this a decoy to make the Cowboys waste time preparing for Forte, who thinks he will play.

Unless you have Michael Bush, it’d be pretty irresponsible to have Forte in your starting lineup when games kickoff today. And don’t go grab Felix Jones, Khalil Bell or Armando Allen as a fail-safe, either. This is why you draft, and hopefully you drafted qualify backups to address injured players like Forte.

As a Forte owner in multiple leagues, I would like to see him sit the next two weeks, get another week of rest during the Week 6 bye and then be at full strength when he has to face run defenses like Houston, San Francisco, Seattle, Minnesota twice and Arizona the rest of the fantasy season.

Yikes. Maybe he should play these next two weeks, have great success and then we can sell high.

Willis McGahee, Denver Broncos RB vs. Oakland Raiders

Denver running back Willis McGahee is listed as probable after a rib injury he suffered against Houston last week. The Broncos play host to the Raiders in a late game Sunday afternoon, so a probable, 30-year-old running back with a rib injury does not necessarily scream confident start. 

However, McGahee said this week “all systems go on my end,” and he does have 50 carries on the season — 30 more than his other backfield mates combined.

Oakland’s defense is ranked 25th against fantasy running backs. The Raiders have only faced one true feature back in Reggie Bush. He ran for 172 yards and two scores and caught another three balls for 25 yards.  San Diego and Pittsburgh combined for just 35 running back carries against the Raiders for 68 yards — but Oakland allowed 231 yards and a score and 384 yards and four scores through the air with no interceptions in either game.

So this could tell you two things: An injured McGahee might not be needed as much and Peyton Manning could have a field day against this Raiders’ secondary.

If you have a better option than McGahee, I might go with it.

— Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter