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Bye weeks are a necessary part of the National Football League as well as your Fantasy Football team. The NFL players need them to recuperate from the weekly severe car-wreck that a football game puts on your body. Fantasy Football needs them to weed out the bad-strategy players. If there were no bye weeks, then you could draft down a consensus rankings list, hope for no injuries and go from there. Every league would be an MFL10 (of which I am not a fan).

There are really two ways to go about bye weeks in Fantasy Football. The first is the traditional route. You make sure your starters all have different byes and your backups can fill in. The second is the “Bye Week Stack” strategy. This is where you stack the majority of your starting lineup with one bye week. That way you might suck for one week, but are full strength every other week.

I am a believer in the Bye Week Stack, to an extent. I do not look at a player’s bye week AT ALL until the fifth or sixth round. I am grabbing the best value available, no questions asked. Now if I am in a dead heat between two players, then maybe I will try to stack a bye week up.

Either way, when selecting your backups you will need which guys pair with which top players the best as far as match-ups. You want your back-up to have a good match-up the week your starter is off. This kind of forward thinking will help you decide between two players on draft day, as well as cause less stress when your starters have their bye weeks.

Now we all know that nothing stays the same in Fantasy Football, so let’s stick to Bye Week Players that are Top 8 QB’s/TE’s, or Top 20 RB’s/WR’s by ADP.  The possible replacements will be mostly guys that are drafted in the later rounds as backups. Trying to guess which players that will be available on the waiver wire would be an act in futility.

You will definitely notice a theme with the possible replacements: bad defenses. Whoever is facing teams like the Saints, Eagles, Titans among others, will be a viable option in Fantasy.

Bye Week Analysis

 

Week 4: Green Bay & Philadelphia

Top Players on Bye

  • Aaron Rodgers
  • Eddie Lacy
  • Jordy Nelson
  • Randall Cobb

Possible Replacements

  • Philip Rivers
  • Darren McFadden/Alfred Morris
  • Corey Coleman
  • Josh Doctson

The early bye weeks are especially good to pair up your backups. It also helps if your top players have an early bye so that you do not waste a roster spot all season for a one-week fill-in.

The Eagles do not bring that much in elite Fantasy talent, but Green Bay makes up for it. Rivers is the perfect pair for a Rodgers’ owner who might be able to turn the Charger into something valuable via trade. San Diego faces four of the bottom 10 defenses in the league against Fantasy QB’s last season in Weeks 2-5, including getting the putrid Saints in Week 4.

I also like whichever older back in Dallas is splitting carries with Ezekiel Elliott against a 49ers’ defense that gave up the most rushing touchdowns in the league last year.

Week 5: Jacksonville, Kansas City, New Orleans, Seattle

Top Players on Bye

  • Blake Bortles
  • Drew Brees
  • Russell Wilson
  • Jamaal Charles
  • Mark Ingram
  • Thomas Rawls
  • Brandin Cooks
  • Doug Baldwin
  • Coby Fleener
  • Travis Kelce

Possible Replacements

  • Matthew Stafford
  • Ryan Tannehill
  • Ameer Abdullah
  • Andre Ellington
  • Derrick Henry
  • Latavius Murray
  • Danny Amendola
  • Eric Decker
  • Jordan Cameron

Week 5 is the heaviest hit quarterback week of all with three of the top signal callers off. There are a couple of juicy matchups with Stafford against the Eagles (second most passing TD’s against last season) at home and Tannehill against the Titans.

A few big time runners will be sidelined this week as well, but I like Ameer Abdullah against the Eagles too. Any running back in the San Diego/Oakland game will be a good start.

Week 6: Minnesota, Tampa Bay

Top Players on Bye

  • Adrian Peterson
  • Doug Martin
  • Mike Evans

Possible Replacements

  • James Starks
  • Matt Jones
  • Jarvis Landry

Not much to fill in for this week, with only a few top players. I do like Starks against the Cowboys after he torched them out of the backfield last season on swing routes.

Landry is probably too high to put as a pairing/replacement, but the cupboard is pretty vacant this week in the way of replacements with good matchups.

Week 7: Carolina, Dallas

Top Players on Bye

  • Cam Newton
  • Ezekiel Elliott
  • Jonathan Stewart
  • Dez Bryant
  • Greg Olsen

Possible Replacements

  • Alex Smith
  • Charles Sims
  • Tevin Coleman
  • Eric Decker
  • Laquon Treadwell
  • Julius Thomas

Some serious fire power will be missing from just two teams this week, but there are some great match-ups. As always, start first with whoever is playing New Orleans. In this case, Alex Smith will be a strong play.

Charles Sims gets a San Francisco team that gave up 99 catches to backs last season and Tevin Coleman should steal some carries against the Chargers who gave up the fifth most rushing yards last year. Treadwell could be in line for a breakout game against the lenient Eagles’ secondary.

Week 8: Baltimore, Los Angeles, Miami, N.Y. Giants, Pittsburgh, San Francisco

Top Players on Bye

  • Ben Roethlisberger
  • Carlos Hyde
  • LeVeon Bell
  • Todd Gurley
  • Antonio Brown
  • Odell Beckham

Possible Replacements

  • Tony Romo
  • C.J. Prosise/Alex Collins
  • Devontae Booker/Ronnie Hillman
  • Terrance Williams
  • Tyler Lockett

I can’t remember the last time that all of the Top 4 by ADP will be on a Bye Week at the same time. Luckily the Dolphins, 49ers and Ravens do not offer much in terms of elite talent, otherwise this could have been a monster hole week.

Tyler Lockett is a good pairing for Brown/Beckham owners as he gets the woeful Saints this week. Terrance Williams is another late flyer/waiver pick-up that could fill in nicely, he usually does well against the Eagles.

Speaking of the NFC East match-up, a Big Ben/Tony Romo pairing might be a genius idea. Both have injury history, and Tony would get the Eagles on Ben’s bye.

Running back wise, I would look to the possible platoons in both Seattle and Denver. Both have great match-ups that should yield plenty of carries for all.

Week 9: Arizona, Chicago, Cincinnati, Houston, New England, Washington

Top Players on Bye

  • Carson Palmer
  • Tom Brady
  • David Johnson
  • Jeremy Hill
  • Lamar Miller
  • Alshon Jeffery
  • DeAndre Hopkins
  • Julian Edelman,
  • Jordan Reed
  • Rob Gronkowski
  • Tyler Eifert

Possible Replacements

  • Matt Ryan
  • C.J. Spiller
  • Rashad Jennings
  • Derrick Henry
  • Breshad Perriman
  • Sterling Shepard
  • Antonio Gates
  • Kyle Rudolph

 

The quarterback play here is Matt Ryan with Tom Brady. Ryan gets the Bucs, Raiders and Saints (all bottom 10 pass defenses) to start the season during Brady’s suspension, then Tampa again here.

This is the biggest TE bye week, but there are a couple of good match-ups with guys going past TE12. Antonio Gates is currently at TE14, so he would be a serviceable pairing with one of these elites. He also gets the Titans in Week 9, the fifth worst defense against TE’s last season.

The always unreliable Kyle Rudloph will most likely be available on the waiver wire. He also gets a sweet match-up at home against the Lions.

Week 10: Buffalo, Detroit, Indianapolis, Oakland

Top Players on Bye

  • Andrew Luck
  • LeSean McCoy
  • Amari Cooper
  • Sammy Watkins
  • T.Y. Hilton

Possible Replacements

  • Mark Sanchez/Paxton Lynch
  • Jay Ajayi
  • Corey Coleman
  • Emmanuel Sanders
  • Laquon Treadwell
  • Will Fuller

Insert quarterback facing New Orleans here. I don’t care if it’s the Sanchize or Paxton Lynch (or even Trevor Siemain, who is gaining consideration for the starting gig), this is your waiver wire pick-up Drew Brees’ owners.

On another note, these rookie wide receivers have great match-ups in Week 10. They not only are good pairing for bye weeks, but have upside potential to take over full-time starting spots on your roster.

Jay Ajayi is being drafted as a starter in some leagues, so it is a little bit of cheating, but he would be a good pair with Shady McCoy. However, keep an eye on the Miami RB situation given that they recently signed Arian Foster.

Week 11: Atlanta, Denver, N.Y. Jets, San Diego

Top Players on Bye

  • C.J. Anderson
  • Devonta Freeman
  • Brandon Marshall
  • Demaryius Thomas
  • Julio Jones
  • Keenan Allen

Possible Replacements

  • Chris Ivory
  • LeGarrette Blount
  • Jay Ajayi
  • Corey Coleman
  • Kevin White
  • Torrey Smith

New England sneakily gave up the third most yards to opposing wide receivers last season, so Torrey Smith is a decent play here.

If Kevin White were to break out, I would bet the Giants would be a good team to do it against. No one gave up more receptions to wide receivers last season.

Jay Ajayi gets a Rams’ defense that gave up 104 catches to backs last season. He would be a good two-week starter over weeks 10-11. Again, keep an eye on the Miami RB situation.

Week 13: Cleveland, Tennessee

Top Players on Bye

  • DeMarco Murray
  • Delanie Walker
  • Gary Barnidge

Possible Replacements

  • Justin Forsett/Buck Allen/Kenneth Dixon
  • Charles Clay
  • Eric Ebron
  • Will Tye

For the first time since the league had 31 teams in 2001, there is a bye week later than Week 12. Luckily, these are arguably the least meaningful offenses in Fantasy Football.

A lot of you will need a tight end, and Eric Ebron against the Saints is a great matchup. Charles Clay against the Raiders is another good value to get off of the waiver wire.

Whoever is starting at running back for the Ravens should be your DeMarco Murray pairing.

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