Good-Byes
By Jeff Pasquino
August 9th, 2010

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 2010 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 have six teams on a bye.

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
ADP
RB4
Adrian Peterson
MIN/4
2
WR5
Miles Austin
DAL/4
17
RB8
Jamaal Charles
KC/4
23
WR7
Sidney Rice
MIN/4
24
QB4
Tony Romo
DAL/4
33
RB18
Felix Jones
DAL/4
49
TE4
Jason Witten
DAL/4
52
WR18
Percy Harvin
MIN/4
56
WR29
Dwayne Bowe
KC/4
58
RB45
Marion Barber
DAL/4
65
WR40
Dez Bryant
DAL/4
74
QB10
Brett Favre
MIN/4
82
TE8
Kellen Winslow
TB/4
89
RB36
Cadillac Williams
TB/4
94
RB51
Thomas Jones
KC/4
113
TE13
Visanthe Shiancoe
MIN/4
114
TD2
Minnesota Vikings
MIN/4
118
RB7
Rashard Mendenhall
PIT/5
10
WR3
Randy Moss
NE/5
15
WR14
Brandon Marshall
MIA/5
16
QB6
Tom Brady
NE/5
34
RB25
Ronnie Brown
MIA/5
51
WR16
Hines Ward
PIT/5
59
WR23
Mike Wallace
PIT/5
68
WR47
Wes Welker
NE/5
72
RB26
Justin Forsett
SEA/5
77
RB27
Ricky Williams
MIA/5
79
WR32
T.J. Houshmandzadeh
SEA/5
88
WR89
Julian Edelman
NE/5
116
RB40
Laurence Maroney
NE/5
120
WR2
Larry Fitzgerald
ARI/6
8
RB12
DeAngelo Williams
CAR/6
18
RB19
Jonathan Stewart
CAR/6
30
RB11
Chris Wells
ARI/6
31
WR15
Steve Smith
CAR/6
35
RB21
Cedric Benson
CIN/6
40
WR13
Chad Ochocinco
CIN/6
46
RB32
C.J. Spiller
BUF/6
62
RB28
Fred Jackson
BUF/6
90
WR30
Steve Breaston
ARI/6
92
WR38
Antonio Bryant
CIN/6
104
RB31
Tim Hightower
ARI/6
106
QB19
Carson Palmer
CIN/6
110
WR1
Andre Johnson
HOU/7
5
WR6
Reggie Wayne
IND/7
11
WR10
Calvin Johnson
DET/7
13
QB3
Peyton Manning
IND/7
20
RB24
Shonn Greene
NYJ/7
25
TE2
Dallas Clark
IND/7
37
QB5
Matt Schaub
HOU/7
42
RB20
Joseph Addai
IND/7
43
RB16
Jahvid Best
DET/7
50
WR55
Pierre Garcon
IND/7
70
TE11
Owen Daniels
HOU/7
78
RB57
Ben Tate
HOU/7
80
TD1
New York Jets
NYJ/7
93
RB44
Donald Brown
IND/7
95
WR41
Braylon Edwards
NYJ/7
99
WR46
Santonio Holmes
NYJ/7
101
RB42
Steve Slaton
HOU/7
103
QB16
Matthew Stafford
DET/7
112
RB39
LaDainian Tomlinson
NYJ/7
119
RB3
Ray Rice
BAL/8
3
RB15
Michael Turner
ATL/8
14
WR4
Roddy White
ATL/8
19
WR11
DeSean Jackson
PHI/8
21
WR12
Steve Smith
NYG/8
36
WR20
Anquan Boldin
BAL/8
38
RB22
LeSean McCoy
PHI/8
41
RB34
Matt Forte
CHI/8
53
WR17
Hakeem Nicks
NYG/8
55
TE7
Brent Celek
PHI/8
60
WR25
Jeremy Maclin
PHI/8
61
RB37
Brandon Jacobs
NYG/8
64
QB8
Jay Cutler
CHI/8
66
QB9
Kevin Kolb
PHI/8
67
TE6
Tony Gonzalez
ATL/8
69
QB12
Matt Ryan
ATL/8
73
QB11
Eli Manning
NYG/8
76
QB13
Joe Flacco
BAL/8
81
RB33
Jerome Harrison
CLE/8
83
RB29
Ahmad Bradshaw
NYG/8
87
RB52
Montario Hardesty
CLE/8
96
WR68
Devin Aromashodu
CHI/8
98
WR26
Devin Hester
CHI/8
102
RB35
Chester Taylor
CHI/8
108
WR31
Derrick Mason
BAL/8
109
WR35
Johnny Knox
CHI/8
115
RB1
Chris Johnson
TEN/9
1
RB2
Maurice Jones-Drew
JAX/9
4
RB5
Frank Gore
SF/9
6
RB6
Steven Jackson
STL/9
7
RB10
Knowshon Moreno
DEN/9
29
WR19
Michael Crabtree
SF/9
44
TE5
Vernon Davis
SF/9
47
WR22
Mike Sims-Walker
JAX/9
57
WR48
Kenny Britt
TEN/9
85
WR27
Santana Moss
WAS/9
86
QB14
Donovan McNabb
WAS/9
91
WR39
Eddie Royal
DEN/9
107
TE12
Chris Cooley
WAS/9
111
RB38
Clinton Portis
WAS/9
117
QB1
Aaron Rodgers
GB/10
9
QB2
Drew Brees
NO/10
12
WR8
Greg Jennings
GB/10
22
WR9
Marques Colston
NO/10
26
RB14
Ryan Grant
GB/10
27
RB17
Ryan Mathews
SD/10
28
RB9
Pierre Thomas
NO/10
32
QB7
Philip Rivers
SD/10
39
TE1
Antonio Gates
SD/10
45
WR50
Vincent Jackson
SD/10
48
TE3
Jermichael Finley
GB/10
54
RB13
Reggie Bush
NO/10
63
WR34
Donald Driver
GB/10
71
WR37
Robert Meachem
NO/10
75
RB43
Darren McFadden
OAK/10
84
RB30
Michael Bush
OAK/10
97
RB23
Darren Sproles
SD/10
100
TE10
Zach Miller
OAK/10
105

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
17
2
6
5
3
5
13
1
5
7
0
6
13
1
7
5
0
7
19
3
7
6
2
8
26
5
9
10
2
9
14
1
6
5
2
10
18
3
7
5
3

Table 2: Bye Weeks vs. Positions

After reviewing Table 2 I decided to eliminate Weeks 5, 6 sand 9 (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 4 for example has just Adrian Peterson in the Top 12, so unless you have the first or second pick 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 10 first – Green Bay, San Diego, New Orleans and Oakland – as the best chance to make this happen. The good news is that 18 different skill position players are available from these four 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 three of these teams were in the playoffs last year and have good offenses, which is always a good thing for fantasy production.

Table 3 lists the 18 skill position players and the suggested rounds in which they are selected:

Rnd
Player
Player
Player
Player
1
Aaron Rodgers
Drew Brees
2
Greg Jennings
3
Marques Colston
Ryan Grant
Ryan Mathews
Pierre Thomas
4
Philip Rivers
Antonio Gates
Vincent Jackson
5
Jermichael Finley
6
Reggie Bush
Donald Driver
7
Robert Meachem
Darren McFadden
8
9
Michael Bush
Darren Sproles
Zach Miller
10

Table 3: Bye Week 10 Players vs. Projected Draft Round

Based on that list above, it looks like it is possible to take a stud quarterback in Round 1 followed by Greg Jennings and then a RB or WR in Round 3. Starting with a lineup of Aaron Rodgers, Jennings and Pierre Thomas allows for Antonio Gates to be snagged in Round 4, giving us starters at every position. Adding RBs or WRs (or one of each) in Rounds 6 and 7 and then taking Michael Bush in Round 9 finishes a roster with about seven out of ten picks all off in Week 10.

Other scenarios do exist for Weeks 7 and 8. 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 7:

Rnd
Player
Player
Player
1
Andre Johnson
Reggie Wayne
2
Calvin Johnson
Peyton Manning
3
Shonn Greene
4
Dallas Clark
Matt Schaub
Joseph Addai
5
Jahvid Best
6
Pierre Garcon
7
Owen Daniels
Ben Tate
8
NY Jets
Donald Brown
9
Braylon Edwards
Santonio Holmes
Steve Slaton
10
Matthew Stafford
LaDainian Tomlinson

Table 4: Bye Week 7 Players vs. Projected Draft Round

Based on that list above, it looks like it is possible to take a stud WR in Round 1 and then come back in Round 2 with another WR or Peyton Manning. This option works well with a later first round pick (10-12) because if you can get both Andre Johnson and Reggie Wayne with the first two picks then this is certainly an option. The one issue is that your starting backs are weak given the teams you have to choose from (Jets, Colts, Texans and Lions) in the first five rounds – only Shonn Greene, Joseph Addai and Jahvid Best are possibilities. If you are okay with Addai as your top back in Round 4 and want to start WR / WR / TE with Dallas Clark then this might be an option for your team.

The last group is the deepest of them all – Week 8. This is one of the two weeks with six teams off, so that affords us many more options. Table 5 breaks these players down by each round:

Rnd
Player
Player
Player
Player
Player
1
Ray Rice
2
Michael Turner
Roddy White
DeSean Jackson
3
Steve Smith (NYG)
4
Anquan Boldin
LeSean McCoy
5
Matt Forte
Hakeem Nicks
Brent Celek
6
Jeremy Maclin
Brandon Jacobs
Jay Cutler
Kevin Kolb
Tony Gonzalez
7
Matt Ryan
Eli Manning
Joe Flacco
Jerome Harrison
8
Ahmad Bradshaw
Montario Hardesty
9
Devin Aromashodu
Chester Taylor
10
Derrick Mason
Johnny Knox

Table 5: Bye Week 8 Players vs. Projected Draft Round

With our group of Week 8 players we have an issue in Round 1 with only Ray Rice available, but if he is our pick and we have the third or fourth spot in the draft than this can still work. DeSean Jackson should make it back in Round 2 to Pick 21 and then it is “best player available” in Round 3 as Steve Smith from the Giants would be a reach. Rounds 4 (2 players), 5 (3 players) and 6 (5 players) affords us 10 players to select from, making a scenario of Matt Forte, Hakeem Nicks and Tony Gonzalez quite possible. Selecting Eli Manning, Devin Hester and Chester Taylor with the next three choices gives the “Take Week 8 Off” team a solid lineup:

  • QB – Eli Manning
  • RB – Ray Rice, Matt Forte, Chester Taylor
  • WR – DeSean Jackson, Hakeem Nicks, Devin Hester
  • TE – Tony Gonzalez
  • Plus a RB or WR taken in Round 3.
  • 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.

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

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