Our week 4 column looks at the running back handcuff performances of 2013 along with favorable and unfavorable matchups for the week. Injuries seem to keep piling up as well and it has to be affecting your team in someway. There is hope though as we look to the waiver wire for reinforcements and the status of the injured players going into the weekend.

08:59am EST | Sep 26
Handcuff Performances

If there is one thing we have learned from the first three weeks of the 2013 fantasy football season is that drafting your handcuff might be the single most important thing you’ll do all year. 

Sometimes the decision was obvious due to injury concerns (Arian Foster & Ben Tate), other times it was a little tougher considering the history of the handcuff (CJ Spiller & Fred Jackson) and then there’s New England (Steven Ridley, Shane Vereen, Brandon Bolden, LaGarette Blount etc.).

Hopefully you had the room to pick them up and that someone else in your league isn't benefiting from your misfortunes. Here is the breakdown of starter vs. handcuff through week 3:

  • Arian Foster: 49 rushes, 190 yards, 1 rushing touchdown, 8 receptions, 37 yards
  • Ben Tate: 27 rushes, 184 yards, 0 touchdowns, 8 receptions, 22 yards 

  • Reggie Bush:  30 rushes, 115 yards, 7 receptions, 145 yards, 1 receiving touchdown
  • Joique Bell: 34 rushes, 119 yards, 3 rushing touchdowns, 14 receptions, 177 yards

  • CJ Spiller: 43 rushes, 153 yards, 0 rushing touchdowns, 9 receptions, 29 yards
  • Fred Jackson: 32 rushes, 169 yards, 1 rushing touchdown, 13 receptions, 113 yards

  • Ray Rice:  25 rushes, 72 yards, 1 rushing touchdown, 11 receptions, 44 yards
  • Bernard Pierce: 52 rushes, 144 yards, 2 rushing touchdowns, 3 receptions, 5 yards

Whether you are having injury issues, or you are worried about timeshares eating into your players’ fantasy value, it would be wise to try and swing a deal to grab your handcuff either off the waiver wire or through a trade. It may cost too much for some of them, so look at grabbing the handcuff of the guy you are trying to deal with for leverage if available. It isn't a guarantee for completing the deal, but it will improve your chances and keep your fantasy hopes alive. 

08:57am EST | Sep 26
Injury Concerns

Once again we have some key players suffering injuries that can affect how you set your lineup and how often you are refreshing Twitter on Sundays for a status update. We’re now into the start of the bye weeks, so we should see some names on this list get some much needed rest in order to get back to the field healthy and productive. 

  • Jermichael Finley – Concussion (BYE)
  • Eddie Lacy – Concussion (BYE)
  • Miles Austin – Hamstring (Questionable)
  • Nate Burleson* – Arm (Out)
  • Daryl Richardson – Foot (Questionable)
  • Andre Johnson – Shin (Probable)
  • Jacoby Jones – Knee/Head (Doubtful)
  • Roddy White – Ankle (Probable)
  • Reggie Bush – Knee (Questionable)
  • Ray Rice - Hip-Flexor (Questionable)

We’ll update the status of each player throughout the week as information becomes available. 

08:54am EST | Sep 26
Favorable Matchups

Jay Cutler VS Detroit Lions

This game will be a shootout between Stafford and Cutler, but the Detroit D will have a hard time matching up with Brandon Marshall while the Bears are more equipped to track Calvin Johnson.  Expect Cutler to find his favorite target early, especially on trips to the red-zone. 

Indianapolis Colts @ Jacksonville Jaguars

We saw what Andrew Luck and Co. are capable of offensively after their week 3 victory against San Francisco. Jacksonville is the 25th worst ranked fantasy defense this year and with the recent addition of Trent Richardson and a seemingly healthy Ahmad Bradshaw, the Colts offense has plenty of running and receiving options at their disposal. Look for TY Hilton and Reggie Wayne to increase their output from week 3 as well.

Tony Romo @ San Diego Chargers

While the Chargers are playing great football offensively, they are still allowing teams to score on them regularly. The defense only has one take away this season coming in week 1 with an interception against Schaub. Romo has been in control of his offense so far with plenty of options including Dez Bryant, Miles Austin and Jason Witten. In week 3, when those three were covered he found new targets which resulted in a dominant performance over St. Louis. Looks like another shootout game in week 4. 

Wes Welker VS Philadelphia Eagles

In week 3, Alex Smith found Donnie Avery a number of times on short crossing routes that led to big gains. Wes Welker has made a career out of this route and Peyton Manning has already found the former Patriot 19 times for 190 yards and 4 touchdowns. Even if Kelly and his staff find a way to plug this whole, Peyton Manning will find another way to hit Welker. Potential for a huge game here for #83. 

08:53am EST | Sep 26
Unfavorable Matchups

Arian Foster & Ben Tate VS Seattle

Each running back had a difficult time getting anything going against Baltimore in week 3 and Seattle’s D is just as good at stopping the run. Foster is getting healthy and Tate has proven he can handle the ball when needed, but this is still a tough matchup. 

Tony Gonzalez VS New England Patriots

New England currently sits as the no. 1 ranked fantasy defense against tight-ends. This doesn’t necessarily mean Gonzalez won’t get targeted or make catches, he will just have a harder time producing at his regular levels. 

Ryan Tannehill @ New Orleans Saints

Rob Ryan likes to blitz. A lot. Tannehill will be under pressure constantly, so this will be a good test to see how far the sophomore quarterback has come. With limited receiving options, Tannehill may have a difficult time finding open receivers if his offensive line is leaking defenders all day.

08:52am EST | Sep 26
Week 4 Free Agent Pickups

Ryan Broyles, WR, Detroit Lions

With Nate Burleson out with a broken arm, Broyles moves into the No. 2 receiver slot for Stafford. He has proven he can handle this in the past even with all his knee issues. He may move back to the No. 3 option if the Lions pull the trigger on a few trade rumors circulating as we speak, but for now he is a solid pickup at WR. 

Willis McGahee, RB, Cleveland Browns

If you’re in a big league with limited options, it’s always nice to pick up a starting running back, even if he did only have 9 yards on 8 carries in his first week for the Browns. He’ll provide good cover for the often injured elite running backs so stash him if you can and only start him if you have no other option.

Donnie Avery, WR, Kansas City Chiefs

Even after his performance against the Eagles racking up 141 yards on 7 catches, he is only owned in 4.3% of fantasy leagues (ESPN). He’s a deep league pickup as Alex Smith loves throwing to him on the short crossing routes (sorry Bowe owners) and Avery seems to make the most of his touches. He would be a decent starter at Flex against the woeful Giants in week 4 if you’re options are limited.