Bye weeks are in full force starting in Week 5 with four teams off each of the next four weeks. Sorting by "fantasy points against" is a decent way to plan ahead, but the more teams are on bye, the more owners are doing that exact same thing to force bidding wars in waivers.
You don't always get the player you really need on Wednesday morning, so looking ahead on Sunday morning or beforehand for the following week saves our waiver priority and FAAB cash. This is more difficult in 10-team leagues where it is more difficult to find the right player to drop for a stash, but the deeper your league and bench is, you can find that guy you will never actually start, and drop him.
In the shallower leagues, most owners find it difficult to drop players, so they will also struggle to find a guy to drop for the guy you just dropped, and may actually drop someone more advantageous to your roster than the guy you struggled to drop.
There are great examples somewhere on our roster of an RB5 or WR6 we would simply never play over the better options. Roster spots are finite, so having that dead weight on our roster works against us, as those players score zero on our bench. Filling them with someone we reasonably expect to get us points in the coming weeks becomes a profitable move.ashing
At every position, we will have decisions on whom to play for guys on bye. We will rack our brains and get meta about replacement players. Seeking out which of these players will have nice matchups ahead of time will help.
It is very difficult to do this with running backs. The fact is that there are not more than 25 RBs we can feel comfortable starting in standard league. With ten or 12 teams in a league, it does not take much math to discover that these players are on other rosters. We can try to see where their owners undervalue them and make a trade, though.
Cam Newton is the most notable QB on bye for Week 5 and we are probably already prepared for that and Week 6 shouldn't hurt us. But the owners of Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, and Andy Dalton will all be competing with one another for the best streaming option for Week 7 and there are not more than four to really like, so here are guys you will want to grab before Week 6:
Tyrod Taylor, Bills
Taylor is owned in 71% of Yahoo! leagues and less than 76% on ESPN. More telling is that he is being started in less than 45% of those leagues, down 10% on Y! His Week 5 opponent, the Titans, have only given up the 9th-most fantasy points per week (FPW) to QBs and owners cannot feel good about his Week 6 game against the Bengals, so his ownership percentages should plummet over the next five days to make him available where he isn't.
You want Taylor for Week 7 because he faces the Jaguars, who are giving up the 9th-most FPW, and that is deceptively generous to Jacksonville. Cam Newton only scored 12 in a game where the Panthers controlled the entire day and only threw 31 times.Sure, Tom Brady threw for 358 and two TDs in Week 3, but he's Tom Brady, and does that to everyone.
The Jaguars are among the juiciest matchups in the NFL for QBs, mostly when we see that the terrible Ryan Tannehill and Matt Hasselbeck can total 641 yards and three TDs with no INTs against them. No matter how much the Bills defense keeps Jacksonville down as Carolina did in their 20-9 Week 1 win, Taylor should have to throw more than Cam's 31 times.
Buffalo is 13th in run DVOA and 8th in pass DVOA, according to FootballOutsiders.com (FO) and is 26% in the NFL in drives which result in a score (30.6%). They are getting desperate for drive success and passing is their most successful tool, as Taylor has thrown for 793 yards in only 101 attempts since Week 1, averaging 7.93, while the Bills are only rushing for a league average 3.9 per attempt. Even if the Bills want to run it down the Jags' throats, who's to say they can?
Derek Carr, Raiders
The Raiders are a top-10 passing team with Carr, who has seven TDs to two INTs in the last three weeks, averaging 287 yards. Carr faces the Broncos in Week 5 and has a bye in Week 6, so is currently available in almost 56% of ESPN leagues and 50% on Y!--down 15% just in the last day. But Week 7, he should lick his chops for a dat with the Chargers.
The Raiders defense is still bad, so this should be a shootout, meaning that the Raiders should get a lot of plays to pass. San Diego is allowing the 6th-most net yards per attempt (7.1) through Week 4.
Alex Smith, Chiefs
Yeah, it feels dirty. But the Kansas City offensive line is tied for 10th in lowest stuffed rate through Week 4, according to FO. Usually not a bad place to be, but that is down from 5th in 2014 and 7th in 2013. Moreover, Smith struggles to get the ball downfield, so every failure in the run game forces leans on Smith.
Smith averaged less than 31 pass attempts per game in 2014, but is up to almost 36 per game through Week 4 in 2015. Jeremy Maclin has emerged as a primary target over Travis Kelce, giving him another weapon, and KC gets the Steelers at home in Week 7.
Fantasy players sorting by points against QB will be deceived by Pittsburgh allowing only the 14th-most points to QBs, which seems like a bad matchup for a below average fantasy QB. But the KC D is hemorrhaging yards and points and only one QB has thrown more than 33 times against PIT. Colin Kaepernick went 33/46 for 335 yards and two TDs in a largely garbage time game, Tom Brady threw four TDs in 32 attempts.
There is nice expectation for Vegas to like this game for a shootout because even a Michael Vick-led offense should force a high scoring affair.
Weeks 6 and 7 are going to be brutal for fantasy owners at RB. Joseph Randle, Latavius Murray, Todd Gurley, and Doug Martin are off in Week 6; Matt Forte, Giovani Bernard, Jeremy Hill, and Eddie Lacy in Week 7. C.J. Anderson and Ronnie Hillman will be off Week 7, too, if that matters to you.
Fantasy relevant RBs are rarely available in free agency, so when they are, pounce on them as free agents. Look for where a decent play to cover your bye is another owner's RB3 or RB4 and can afford to part with the player cheaply.
C.J. Spiller, Saints
The Saints have vocalized on numerous occasions that they want Spiller more involved in the offense. He gets the Falcons Week 6 who have been torched by pass-catching backs:
|Receiving RBs vs. Falcons|
|Darren Sproles, Eagles||7-76-0|
|Shane Vereen, Giants||8-76-0|
|Lance Dunbar, Cowboys||10-100-0|
|Chris Polk and Arian Foster, Texans||6-48-0|
Not counting Week 4, where the Falcons got up 35-0 and DeAndre Hopkins totaled 22 targets, receiving back have been great PPR plays. Note that all of these RBs had their best receiving games of the season against Atlanta.
Spiller's ownership rates remain high--74% at ESPN and 78% at Y!--but he still is not trusted by owners, only starting in under 30% of leagues on both sites. He faces the Eagles in Week 5, who have allowed only 178 yards in 22 catches with no TDs to RBs in the receiving game, for under double digits per week in PPR, so there is the chance that owners lose their patience and offer great trade value for Spiller or outright drop him.
Antonio Andrews, Titans
Hate to trust any Titans, but the alternatives have all been so bad and Andrews is the best they've got. They host the Dolphins and Falcons in Weeks 6 and 7. We've already mentioned the Falcons, who have allowed the most PFW to RBs this season. The Dolphins have actually looked better by only being the 9th-worst in PFW allowed, as they have allowed a 100-yard rusher in three of four weeks this season for the 2nd-most rushing yards allowed to date. The FPW allowed by Miami is skewed by them only giving up three rushing TDs, which are relatively random.
Andrews is only owned in around 21% of ESPN leagues and 11% at Y! and has to face the Bills excellent run defense in Week 5, so you should be able to get him in 12-team leagues as a free agent next week. In deeper leagues, don't be surprised to see a waiver wire battle over him if he gets volume this week, though, as other owners will be more aware of his upcoming juicy matchups.
James Starks, Packers
Starks is widely owned for a handcuff at 28.4% on ESPN and 21% on Y!. His ownership is falling with Lacy's health more secure,on one hand; on the other, he is among the supreme handcuffs in fantasy. The Packers have the Chargers in Week 6 at Lambeau. He has had 53 touches in the last three weeks, so this could be a blowout where Lacy and Starks are in a 2nd half timeshare that makes Starks a flex-worthy RB3 for the week.
If you thought the list of WRs off in Weeks 6 and 7 were a Murderers' Row, it gets a little easier with WRs, but the volume of players to replace for the weeks is very high. Amari Cooper, Mike Evans, and Vincent Jackson in Week 6; then, Alshon Jeffery, A.J. Green, Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, Randall Cobb, and James Jones in Week 7.
Where these players are owned, you can probably see them get dropped before you need them. Where they are available, note your risks to losing them to others.
Martavis Bryant, Steelers
If Bryant doesn't break out in Week 5 against the Chargers and expectedly struggles against the Cardinals in Week 6, buy low on him against the Chiefs in Week 7 and beyond for when Ben Roethlisberger comes back. Bryant owners waited patiently through a four-game suspension and tend to have shorter leashes after six total weeks of unusability for a roster spot during the bye weeks. Their trash becomes our treasure.
John Brown, Cardinals
If Brown has an underwhelming game in Week 5 against the Lions, buy low on him for the Chiefs in Week 6 and Ravens in Week 7. They're the bottom two in FPW allowed to WRs and these aren't just #1 guys being studs:
|vs. Chiefs||vs. Ravens|
|Nate Washington, Texans||6-105-0||Emmanuel Sanders, Broncos||8-65-0|
|Emmanuel Sanders, Broncos||8-87-2||Michael Crabtree, Raiders||9-111-1|
|James Jones, Packers||7-139-1||Marvin Jones, Bengals||5-94-1|
|Mohamed Sanu||4-84-0||Darrius Heyward-Bey, Steelers||4-31-1|
Where we own Brown, we're holding. He is owned in 76% of ESPN leagues and 85% on Y!, but his underwhelming fantasy production has him only started in 34.8% and 45%, respectively. Faith is waning and we should pounce on this buy-low candidate because his value should only go up after Week 6.
Kamar Aiken, Ravens
Every #1 WR this season on the outside has had strong outing against the 49ers, who Aiken has in Week 6. Mike Wallace's 6/63/0 slash was the only outlier and Randall Cobb doesn't count because he played mostly in the slot that game where James Jones went for a 5/98/0 line. Even if the Ravens score a lot early, their defense is not strong enough to expect a blowout where Justin Forsett and Lorenzo Taliaferro take them home with a 2nd half that is too run-heavy. Aiken's ownership rates are extremely low--under 31% on ESPN and a ridiculous 15% on Y!
Marvin Jones, Bengals
After being a hot waiver claim before Week 4, Jones' ownership plummeted to 39% on Y! and under 32% on ESPN. He has to face the Seahawks in Week 5, so may still be around to grab as a free agent for the Bills in Week 6, but don't risk that in deeper leagues where others are looking ahead.
In four weeks, five secondary WRs have scored eight or more fantasy points against the Bills, and five of the seven TDs Buffalo has sacrificed to WRs:
|Secondary WRs vs. Bills|
|Donte Moncrief, Colts||6-46-1|
|Aaron Dobson, Patriots||7-87-0|
|Rishard Matthews, Dolphins||6-113-2|
|Dwayne Harris, Giants||5-51-1|
|Rueben Randle, Giants||3-31-1|
Cole Beasley, Cowboys
Beasley has the Bills in Week 7, but a bye in Week 6, so there is time to pick him up. Escalating his value, especially in PPR, is that 50 of Brandon Weeden's 59 pass attempts are described as short by Pro-Football-Reference.com, and Beasley is the only trustworthy short-range target with Lance Dunbar out for the season. You should be able to pick him up as a free agent after Week 5 because of the coming bye in 12-team leagues, as he's still only 9% owned on ESPN and 10% on Y! In anything deeper, it is risky, as he can have a big volume week against the Patriots.
Tavon Austin, Rams
Austin had a huge Week 4 slash line of 6/96/2 to boost his ownership rates to around 39% on ESPN and 42% on Y! Completely foreseeable that he has a Week 5 against the Packers--who have given up the 4th-least PFW to WRs, including only two TDs--so add him to your watch lists because he could get dropped like dry ice with a bye in Week 6.
You want him for Week 7 against a Browns team which has given up a TD or 85 yards to a secondary WR in every game this season. Eric Decker scored on them in Week 1, Dorial Green-Beckham in Week 2, Seth Roberts in Week 3; and, although he didn't score, Dontrelle Inman got 88 yards.
Brian Quick has returned to the Rams from the shoulder injury he sustained last year after starting off with 21/322/3 in the first four weeks. The 6-4 WR should line up on the outside, opposite Kenny Britt, and Week 7 could be his breakout party, so Austin is risky. But the upside is worth a roster spot to monitor how Quick affects Austin's usage in Week 5 and reports out of St. Louis during and after the bye.
The only TE1s with byes in Weeks 6 or 7 are Jason Witten in the former and Martellus Bennett and Tyler Eifert in the latter. Where we are streaming TEs, even if we don't own these particular players, the owners of these particular players will get very aggressive in waivers to stash replacements.
TE is a very random position when looking at matchups. There is almost no predictive correlation, so we have t maximize the small edges where we can find them. We want to minimize our competition with them by grabbing:
Ladarius Green, Chargers
The Raiders are on bye in Week 6 and face the Chargers in Week 7. Where we are in one of the weird 12% of ESPN and 21% of Y! leagues where Antonio Gates is a free agent, he should get picked up by us right now. For the rest of us, chasing Ladarius Green is not at all a fishy play. San Diego's offensive line and wide receiver corps is very banged up, so they may be forced to line up two TEs.
The Raiders have given up at least 80 yards and a TD to a TE in every week of this season, including two to Tyler Eifert and Crockett Gillmore. Green is available in almost 85% of ESPN leagues and , but grab him before Week 6 games.
Zach Ertz, Eagles
With the Raiders on bye, owners trolling them will look to the next best thing and that is trolling the Giants. After allowing three TDs in Week 1 to Jason Witten and Gavin Escobar, no TEs have scored on them. But the pedestrian Jacob Tamme had 77 yards; then, Jordan Reed and Charles Clay volumed the hell out of them of 207 yards in 15 catches.
Ertz is a forgotten man in this offense, but Chip Kelly is exactly the type of coach to put a boot in the throat of a division rivals' weakness.
Ertz has the Panthers in Week 7 and I have a hypothesis that Caroline will become exploited by TEs. They are so strong up front and we have to expect that Josh Norman gets treated like a shutdown corner and avoided soon. Those balls have to go somewhere and the Eagles' O-Line play can force those checkdowns when Ertz is on the field. Don't expect too much, but with all of those TEs on bye, holding onto Ertz may be the best bet for our week.
Stats via Pro-Football-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.