Good-Byes
By Jeff Pasquino
August 24th, 2012

I'll share a little something about myself today. I'm not exactly a conventional thinker. That's sometimes good, often times bad, but there are enough "Aha" moments where you have a revelation that might be just enough to say that all the oddball ideas that pop in your head are worth it if you can have one of those thoughts that pays off. Whether this is one of those moments is yet to be decided, but I think there is some hope.

First off, I'll set the stage for the discussion. When the NFL announced their 2011 season, we all poured over it and looked for fantasy implications. The first thing that jumped off the page was the bye weeks, as usual. Most Keeper League and Dynasty League players love to check that first so as to see if they have bye week issues in store for the coming season. That's when it dawned on myself and several others that the NFL hates us at times - no really, they do. Trust me. Otherwise, how could they not understand that these weeks where six teams have a bye week just wreak havoc with our fantasy teams?

The six teams off in one week started the first year of NBC's flex scheduling (2006), as the NFL wanted to adjust the bye weeks so that they would be done and gone by Week 11 and also so as to not have a team with a week off before Week 4. The net result of that simple math was that instead of eight weeks with four teams on a bye, the NFL would have two weeks where six teams took time off. In 2009 it got even worse as in Weeks 7, 8 and 9 six teams had a bye week (and as a result only two were off in Week 10). I guess you can consider it to be good news that "only" Weeks 8 and 9 in 2010 had six teams on a bye. As for this year, only Week 7 has six teams off, but byes do run from Week 4 to Week 11 (with just two teams on a bye in Week 4).

All those byes made me think about the common question we have every year about bye weeks. Does it make good sense to collect players with the same bye weeks so as to have your team at full strength all the other games rather than patching your team for seven weeks during the year?

At first I didn't like the idea, since you are basically writing off a week on your schedule. Walking into a 13-game schedule at 0-1 already is not a great idea in my book. It gets even worse if you are in a league with fewer games or that punishes exceptionally bad performance weeks (such as the "All Play" format where you play everyone every week). All that aside, I thought I would at least see if I could come up with a recipe to do just the thing that people asked for - draft a team with all the same bye weeks.

I decided I would use three rules:

  • Focus on a complete starting lineup (1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR and a TE)
  • The lineup had to be complete by Round 10 (Pick 120)
  • No reach picks
  • By Rule #3 I mean that if you wanted to accomplish #1 and #2 but you had to draft a player in Round 5 that normally is still available in Rounds 6 or 7, that's off the table. We're not going to blow up our entire draft board just to get this together.

    Next I decided to get all of the Top 120 picks based on recent ADP and sort them by Bye Weeks. Here is what I found:

    Pos
    Player
    Team/Bye
    Rank
    RB21
    Donald Brown
    IND/4
    47
    WR22
    Antonio Brown
    PIT/4
    54
    WR25
    Mike Wallace
    PIT/4
    58
    RB31
    Isaac Redman
    PIT/4
    76
    QB12
    Ben Roethlisberger
    PIT/4
    83
    WR33
    Reggie Wayne
    IND/4
    91
    WR1
    Calvin Johnson
    DET/5
    4
    RB5
    Darren McFadden
    OAK/5
    7
    RB9
    DeMarco Murray
    DAL/5
    12
    RB14
    Doug Martin
    TB/5
    19
    QB5
    Matthew Stafford
    DET/5
    34
    WR12
    Dez Bryant
    DAL/5
    37
    WR19
    Vincent Jackson
    TB/5
    48
    WR20
    Miles Austin
    DAL/5
    49
    TE6
    Brandon Pettigrew
    DET/5
    67
    WR28
    Denarius Moore
    OAK/5
    72
    RB30
    Kevin Smith
    DET/5
    73
    WR29
    Darrius Heyward-Bey
    OAK/5
    75
    QB10
    Tony Romo
    DAL/5
    78
    TE8
    Jason Witten
    DAL/5
    81
    QB14
    Josh Freeman
    TB/5
    97
    WR37
    Titus Young
    DET/5
    99
    WR41
    Mike Williams
    TB/5
    107
    RB45
    Felix Jones
    DAL/5
    119
    RB4
    Matt Forte
    CHI/6
    6
    TE1
    Jimmy Graham
    NO/6
    9
    RB11
    Darren Sproles
    NO/6
    15
    QB2
    Drew Brees
    NO/6
    16
    QB4
    Cam Newton
    CAR/6
    27
    WR7
    Brandon Marshall
    CHI/6
    30
    RB18
    Maurice Jones-Drew
    JAX/6
    33
    WR11
    Steve Smith
    CAR/6
    36
    WR16
    Marques Colston
    NO/6
    44
    RB24
    Jonathan Stewart
    CAR/6
    55
    RB27
    Mark Ingram
    NO/6
    66
    RB32
    DeAngelo Williams
    CAR/6
    82
    RB33
    Michael Bush
    CHI/6
    85
    RB34
    Rashad Jennings
    JAX/6
    86
    RB39
    Pierre Thomas
    NO/6
    100
    WR43
    Lance Moore
    NO/6
    110
    WR44
    Justin Blackmon
    JAX/6
    114
    WR45
    Brandon LaFell
    CAR/6
    115
    QB17
    Jay Cutler
    CHI/6
    120
    RB3
    LeSean McCoy
    PHI/7
    3
    RB7
    Jamaal Charles
    KC/7
    10
    WR2
    Julio Jones
    ATL/7
    14
    RB12
    Ryan Mathews
    SD/7
    17
    RB15
    Reggie Bush
    MIA/7
    25
    WR6
    Roddy White
    ATL/7
    28
    WR17
    Demaryius Thomas
    DEN/7
    45
    WR18
    Dwayne Bowe
    KC/7
    46
    QB6
    Michael Vick
    PHI/7
    50
    WR23
    Jeremy Maclin
    PHI/7
    56
    WR24
    DeSean Jackson
    PHI/7
    57
    TE4
    Antonio Gates
    SD/7
    59
    RB25
    Willis McGahee
    DEN/7
    62
    QB8
    Matt Ryan
    ATL/7
    65
    RB28
    Michael Turner
    ATL/7
    68
    RB29
    Peyton Hillis
    KC/7
    70
    WR30
    Eric Decker
    DEN/7
    77
    QB11
    Philip Rivers
    SD/7
    80
    WR32
    Malcom Floyd
    SD/7
    84
    QB13
    Peyton Manning
    DEN/7
    87
    TE9
    Tony Gonzalez
    ATL/7
    89
    RB38
    Jacquizz Rodgers
    ATL/7
    95
    RB40
    Ronnie Hillman
    DEN/7
    102
    WR40
    Robert Meachem
    SD/7
    105
    TE11
    Brent Celek
    PHI/7
    106
    RB1
    Arian Foster
    HOU/8
    1
    RB2
    Ray Rice
    BAL/8
    2
    RB13
    Fred Jackson
    BUF/8
    18
    WR4
    Andre Johnson
    HOU/8
    23
    WR5
    A.J. Green
    CIN/8
    24
    WR15
    Steve Johnson
    BUF/8
    42
    RB23
    C.J. Spiller
    BUF/8
    53
    WR26
    Torrey Smith
    BAL/8
    63
    RB26
    BenJarvus Green-Ellis
    CIN/8
    64
    TE10
    Jermaine Gresham
    CIN/8
    98
    WR42
    Anquan Boldin
    BAL/8
    108
    QB16
    Matt Schaub
    HOU/8
    118
    RB8
    Steven Jackson
    STL/9
    11
    TE2
    Rob Gronkowski
    NE/9
    20
    QB3
    Tom Brady
    NE/9
    21
    WR10
    Wes Welker
    NE/9
    35
    RB19
    Frank Gore
    SF/9
    39
    TE3
    Aaron Hernandez
    NE/9
    41
    RB22
    Shonn Greene
    NYJ/9
    52
    TE5
    Vernon Davis
    SF/9
    61
    WR27
    Brandon Lloyd
    NE/9
    69
    RB37
    Stevan Ridley
    NE/9
    93
    WR35
    Santonio Holmes
    NYJ/9
    94
    WR36
    Michael Crabtree
    SF/9
    96
    TD1
    San Francisco 49ers
    SF/9
    111
    QB15
    Alex Smith
    SF/9
    112
    QB1
    Aaron Rodgers
    GB/10
    5
    RB10
    Trent Richardson
    CLE/10
    13
    WR3
    Larry Fitzgerald
    ARI/10
    22
    WR14
    Jordy Nelson
    GB/10
    40
    WR21
    Greg Jennings
    GB/10
    51
    QB7
    Robert Griffin III
    WAS/10
    60
    TE7
    Jermichael Finley
    GB/10
    74
    WR31
    Pierre Garcon
    WAS/10
    79
    RB35
    Ryan Williams
    ARI/10
    88
    RB36
    Evan Royster
    WAS/10
    90
    WR39
    Greg Little
    CLE/10
    103
    RB41
    James Starks
    GB/10
    104
    RB43
    Cedric Benson
    GB/10
    113
    RB44
    Chris Wells
    ARI/10
    116
    TE12
    Fred Davis
    WAS/10
    117
    RB6
    Chris Johnson
    TEN/11
    8
    RB16
    Ahmad Bradshaw
    NYG/11
    26
    RB17
    Marshawn Lynch
    SEA/11
    29
    WR8
    Victor Cruz
    NYG/11
    31
    WR9
    Percy Harvin
    MIN/11
    32
    WR13
    Hakeem Nicks
    NYG/11
    38
    RB20
    Adrian Peterson
    MIN/11
    43
    QB9
    Eli Manning
    NYG/11
    71
    WR34
    Kenny Britt
    TEN/11
    92
    WR38
    Nate Washington
    TEN/11
    101
    RB42
    Toby Gerhart
    MIN/11
    109

    Table 1: Top 120 Players By ADP, Sorted By Bye Weeks

    Next I took a look at the positional breakdown for each Week's players.

    Week
    Players
    QBs
    RBs
    WRs
    TEs
    4
    6
    1
    2
    3
    0
    5
    18
    3
    5
    8
    2
    6
    19
    3
    9
    6
    1
    7
    25
    4
    9
    9
    3
    8
    12
    1
    5
    5
    1
    9
    13
    2
    4
    4
    3
    10
    15
    2
    6
    5
    2
    11
    11
    1
    5
    5
    0

    Table 2: Bye Weeks vs. Positions

    After reviewing Table 2 I decided to eliminate Weeks 4, 8, 9 and 11 (too few players). Remember, I'm not reaching for a TE2 or QB2 or a committee to make this happen. After those weeks were eliminated I noticed that it does seem possible to pull this off if everything goes correctly, but much will depend on what draft pick you have to start and also how things start to shake out in the draft. Week 7 for example has just LeSean McCoy in the Top 8-9 players, so unless you have one of the first three picks in Round 1 I would not focus on this concept.

    I wanted to see if I could choose a week and mock out a reasonable attempt at this. I chose Week 7 first six teams, including Philadelphia, Kansas City, Atlanta, San Diego, Denver and Miami as the best chance to make this happen. The good news is that 25 different skill position players are available from these six teams, and also that they appear to be spread around the draft board enough that, given a little luck, this might be possible. Even better is the fact that two of these teams were in the playoffs last year and both San Diego and Philadelphia have good offenses, which is always a good thing for fantasy production.

    Table 3 lists the 25 skill position players and the suggested rounds in which they are selected:

    Rnd
    Player
    Player
    Player
    Player
    1
    Lesean McCoy
    Jamaal Charles
    2
    Julio Jones
    Ryan Mathews
    3
    Reggie Bush
    Roddy White
    4
    Demaryius Thomas
    Dwayne Bowe
    5
    Michael Vick
    Jeremy Maclin
    DeSean Jackson
    Antonio Gates
    6
    Willis McGahee
    Matt Ryan
    Michael Turner
    Peyton Hillis
    7
    Eric Decker
    Philip Rivers
    Malcom Floyd
    8
    Peyton Manning
    Tony Gonzalez
    Jacquizz Rodgers
    9
    Ronnie Hillman
    Robert Meachem
    Brent Celek
    10

    Table 3: Bye Week 7 Players vs. Projected Draft Round

    Based on that list above, it looks like it is possible to take a stud running back in Round 1 followed by Julio Jones or Ryan Mathews and then a WR in Round 3. Starting with a lineup of McCoy, Mathews and Roddy White allows for the addition of Demaryius Thomas or Dwayne Bowe in Round 4 followed by snagging Antonio Gates in Round 5, giving us starters at three positions. Rounds 6 and 7 tees up two quarterback possibilities (Matt Ryan, Philip Rivers) while Rounds 8 and 9 give plenty of depth options as well, including a solid TE2 in Brent Celek.

    Other scenarios do exist for Weeks 5 and 6. While some of these weeks appear weaker (sic) due to the teams involved, a good roster can be built using this bye week collection strategy. Table 4 gives us a look at Week 5:

    Rnd
    Player
    Player
    Player
    1
    Calvin Johnson
    Darren McFadden
    DeMarco Murray
    2
    Doug Martin
    3
    Matthew Stafford
    4
    Dez Bryant
    Vincent Jackson
    5
    6
    Brandon Pettigrew
    Denarius Moore
    7
    Kevin Smith
    Darrius Heyward-Bey
    Tony Romo
    8
    9
    Josh Freeman
    Titus Young
    Mike Williams
    10
    Felix Jones

    Table 4: Bye Week 5 Players vs. Projected Draft Round

    Based on that list above, it looks like it is possible to take a stud WR or RB in Round 1 and then come back in Round 2 with Doug Martin. This option gives good teams to choose from (Dallas, Detroit) and two younger offenses starting to build (Tampa Bay, Oakland). Round 5 is a void of Week 5 players, but things pick up for Rounds 6, 7 and 9 as you can secure seven Week 5 bye players before deciding if you want Felix Jones in Round 10.

    The last group is the last real option to pull this off Week 6. Again, only four teams are off this week (Chicago, New Orleans, Carolina and Jacksonville) but good offenses are definitely in the mix. Table 5 breaks these players down by each round:

    Rnd
    Player
    Player
    Player
    Player
    1
    Matt Forte
    Jimmy Graham
    2
    Darren Sproles
    Drew Brees
    3
    Cam Newton
    Brandon Marshall
    Maurice Jones-Drew
    Steve Smith
    4
    Marques Colston
    5
    Jonathan Stewart
    6
    Mark Ingram
    7
    DeAngelo Williams
    8
    Michael Bush
    Rashad Jennings
    9
    Pierre Thomas
    10
    Lance Moore
    Justin Blackmon
    Brandon LaFell
    Jay Cutler

    Table 5: Bye Week 6 Players vs. Projected Draft Round

    Problems start to emerge here with this strategy, however, after Round 3. With eight names in the first three rounds, unless players start to trickle down into Round 4 the pickings will be slim in Rounds 4-9. That might make you punt on this strategy, or just go part-way with bye week combinations.

    There are a number of ways to try this out and make it a successful draft, but remember my earlier warnings about planning for a loss in your fantasy season. Good luck.

    Questions, suggestions and comments are always welcome to pasquino@footballguys.com.

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