2017 Fantasy Football Draft Kit

2017 Fantasy Football Bye Week Draft Strategy: To Care or Not to Care?

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There a couple of major differences between fantasy football and the rest of fantasy sports that adds to the difficulty of the game. One of them is the bye week and how to draft with it in mind. No matter what you do, there is no way of getting around it. You know what they say: death, taxes, and bye weeks in fantasy football.

While you can’t avoid its pitfalls, there are ways you can lessen the effect of them in a draft. They aren’t groundbreaking theories, but theories that should be revisited and discussed nonetheless. Draft strategies are ever-evolving from ‘waiting on quarterbacks’ to ‘Zero RB’ – why can’t there be a new methodology surrounding bye weeks?

I will run through the popular theories out there right now and approve or debunk them based on my beliefs. I will be impartial here and research each avenue using mock drafts and history.

2017 Fantasy Football Bye Week Draft Strategy

Block From Thought

We will start with the easiest and laziest strategy when approaching bye weeks: ignore them completely. It’s human nature to find the easy way out, so this feels like a good place to start.

The way that this strategy works is that it gives you one less thing to think about during a draft. You just block your brain from thinking about bye weeks and draft the best value available. Worry about the bye weeks as they come in the regular season instead of letting it affect your draft. Sounds like a reasonable theory here, right?

For the most part, it is, but there are certainly downfalls. We will get to these later on.

Draft All Players on One Bye Week

Now we go to the other side of the spectrum on caring about bye weeks. This theory declares that you draft all your starters on the same bye week. The idea is that you are at full strength for every week but that bye week, which you ‘punt’ and take the loss. Instead of having to piece together players to cover bye weeks from Week 5 to 11, you just weather the storm that one week.

My favorite way to utilize this strategy – say you play a perennial powerhouse in Week 8. Well, just ‘punt’ that week if you feel like that team will field a strong roster. Then you don’t have to worry about being at your best and losing that week. You can then focus on beating up the rest of the league en route to a playoff appearance.

The obvious disadvantage here is that your player pool significantly shrinks if you have this as your deadset strategy going into the draft. You will have to reach on players to fulfill your theory and if you get snaked in certain rounds, you could be out of luck and forced to backtrack on your draft strategy after four or five rounds. That is not ideal and makes your draft even worse.

Bye Week Chart

To analyze this, let’s take a look at the bye weeks for the 2017 season and where the top players from each group are drafted.

RankBye WeekTeamsPotential 1st RoundersTop 100 Players
19Bears, Browns, Chargers, Vikings, Patriots, Steelers418
28Cardinals, Packers, Giants, Jaguars, Rams, Titans418
35Falcons, Broncos, Saints, Redskins312
411Panthers, Colts, Dolphins, Jets, 49ers, Buccaneers320
56Bills, Bengals, Cowboys, Seahawks312
610Ravens, Chiefs, Raiders, Eagles011
77Lions, Texans04

The rankings are pretty straightforward. Bye weeks 6, 10, and 7 provide little to no opportunity to use this strategy. However, the other four bye weeks are intriguing. Sure, you are going to have to reach on players in each scenario. However, the reaches aren’t egregious and can certainly form manageable teams.

To test this out, I used the FantasyPros Mock Draft Simulator and drafted solely players from each bye week listed in the heading below. The results were mixed, but provide insight into the approach in the draft room.

Week 9

PosPlayerRound
QBBen Roethlisberger8
RBIsaiah Crowell3
RBMike Gillislee5
WRAntonio Brown1
WRBrandin Cooks2
WRMartavis Bryant4
TEKyle Rudolph7
FLEXStefon Diggs6

The separating factor that makes this the best group is that the strategy unfolds for you in the draft. Starting with the quarterbacks, you either select Tom Brady early or wait for Ben Roethlisberger like I did above or Philip Rivers later in the draft. Same idea goes for tight ends too, either pick Rob Gronkowski early or wait on the position until Kyle Rudolph, Hunter Henry, or even Dwayne Allen makes himself available.

I know I didn’t take this route in my mock draft, but the best way to make this Week 9 theory work is to draft running backs early. Le’Veon Bell is a top three pick in all drafts and would be a great start to this strategy. The way you could make two backs work is if you are lucky enough to start Melvin Gordon and Jordan Howard in rounds one and two. I don’t mind Isaiah Crowell in the fourth round and Mike Gillislee is getting plenty of buzz as a breakout candidate.

The wide receivers in this group aren’t elite outside of Antonio Brown, but they are plentiful. Plenty of second rate receivers like Martavis Bryant, Brandin Cooks, Julian Edelman, and Keenan Allen can be drafted in rounds 2 through 5. Stefon Diggs is a favorite of mine and presents WR3 value in the sixth round. Kenny Britt and Cameron Meredith are top targets on their passing offenses and could be rotated in the flex spot. The opportunities are endless.

Week 8

PosPlayerRound
QBMarcus Mariota8
RBDeMarco Murray1
RBTy Montgomery4
WRJordy Nelson2
WRAllen Robinson3
WRLarry Fitzgerald5
TEDelanie Walker7
FLEXPaul Perkins6

It was a close call between Week 8 and Week 9 as my favorite bye week. The main difference between the two was the depth at quarterback and tight end. Aaron Rodgers definitely is on part with Brady in the last group, but Eli Manning and Carson Palmer don’t instill a ton of confidence in the secondary group. I love Marcus Mariota this year and think he can turn it up with the supporting cast on the Titans, but he is getting drafted pretty damn high.

As for the tight ends, it’s Delanie Walker, thirty feet of crap, then everyone else. Rookie Evan Engram is the next best ranked tight end of the group at No. 25. Enough said.

Where the group makes up ground is the abundance of skill position players. There’s a nice mix of run-heavy and pass-heavy teams. The ‘air it out’ offenses like Green Bay, Arizona, and New York boast three receivers each that are valuable playmakers. For my money, I like the secondary and tertiary options in each of these offenses. I will be rostering Brandon Marshall, John Brown, and Davante Adams wherever I can.

My goal in this scenario is similar to the Week 8 strategy – draft a running back in the first round. Either snag stalwart David Johnson with that top pick or grab DeMarco Murray at the back end. This allows you to take on more risk with your RB2 with someone like Leonard Fournette or Ty Montgomery. Paul Perkins is a ‘must own’ player for this team and could be the make or break player for this roster.

Week 5

PosPlayerRound
QBKirk Cousins8
RBDevonta Freeman1
RBC.J. Anderson5
WRMichael Thomas2
WRTerrelle Pryor3
WREmmanuel Sanders6
TEJordan Reed4
FLEXJamison Crowder7

While the quantity of player in the top 100 is much less in this group, the quality is amazing. There’s a wealth of backs and receivers from high octane offenses. If the Broncos can improve their quarterback play and make Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders top 20 options again, look out!

Speaking of quarterbacks, I love the trio of Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, and Kirk Cousins here. They are spread out between rounds 5 through 8 in most drafts too so you aren’t overspending.

The one issue with this bye week is that you are forced to strongly consider Jordan Reed as your tight end. Cobi Fleener is the only other tight end with a recognizable name to the average fan in this group. Austin Hooper and A.J. Derby are super sleeper candidates, but they don’t deserve a roster spot in most formats.

Week 11

PosPlayerRound
QBCam Newton8
RBCarlos Hyde3
RBChristian McCaffrey4
WRMike Evans1
WRT.Y. Hilton2
WRDonte Moncrief6
TEGreg Olsen5
FLEXDeSean Jackson7

Let’s get the negatives out of the way first this time. First and foremost, this group of teams has the least amount of proven running backs. Jay Ajayi had a stellar year, but you must choose him in the first round. Carlos Hyde is always injured and has terrible team context. Frank Gore is old albeit effective. The Jets, Buccaneers, and Panthers are running unknown timeshares early on in the season. It’s not pretty, to say the least!

Secondly, similar to the Week 5 scenario, you are forced to take Greg Olsen has your tight end in this situation. Jack Doyle is a decent late round tight end option, but you will be hard pressed to call him your starter from Day 1.

On to the positives, check out that wide receiver core! Miami wideouts Jarvis Landry and Devante Parker were even available at decent value too. I also love the easy strategy with this quarterback class. Either draft Andrew Luck at a value in the fifth round or wait on Jameis Winston and Cam Newton later on.

Care to a Point

The most logical and popular theory, somewhat caring about bye weeks is a common approach. As mentioned earlier, it’s important to draft at the highest value in each round. However, being cognizant of which players have bye weeks at certain times is vital to draft success.

Bye weeks can be an important tiebreaker in some cases. If you are in round six and are having a hard time picking between Tyreek Hill and Golden Tate as your WR3 or flex, look at the rest of your roster first. If Amari Cooper and Alshon Jeffery are your first two wide receivers, maybe you don’t need to draft Hill with the same Week 10 bye week. This becomes more important when you have multiple players with an early bye week and you haven’t had time to scour the waiver wire for bench depth.

That brings me to the next point, handcuffs, in my opinion, are useless for those who care about bye weeks. Well, in the scenario above where you over-care about them, you want to have handcuffs for your top running backs. In this case though, if you have a running back on a bye week, why waste a roster spot on a running back with the same bye week? It’s like they have a bye week every week AND that week so you can’t even use them the one week your star back isn’t playing.

Conclusion

Obviously I am going to pick the ‘Care to a Point’ strategy as the safest route, but let’s not completely discredit the other strategies. If you accidentally end up with a Green Bay stack like in the ‘Block From Thought’ theory, is that such a bad thing? Conversely, if you purposely end up with a Week 9 stack and win almost all your fantasy matchups outside of that week, that’s a raging success!

What I will do, since I am in many leagues this year, is pick a league or two to try something different than ‘Caring to a Point’. In a home league where I am just looking to have some fun and the buy-in is low, why not try drafting to a specific bye week?

However, what I will stress the most is to stick to your plan no matter what. Don’t bail on a plan five rounds in because things didn’t go your way. On the other hand, if you are trying to avoid drafting players on the same bye week and you couldn’t five rounds in, don’t all of a sudden try to draft more players with the same bye. Draft as you prepared!


2017 Fantasy Football Position Previews
QuarterbacksRunning BacksWide ReceiversTight Ends

For more F6P preseason coverage please visit our 2017 Draft Kit section.

About Tyler Thompson

Follow me on Twitter at @therealwody. For all the latest news and best advice out there, like us on Facebook, Google+ and Instagram.

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