Tip Drill: Bye Week Breakdown

Scott Pianowski
July 28, 2008

Easy and breezy, the Tip Drill series goes down like a Popsicle on a steamy training-camp afternoon. We'll delve into deeper strategic concerns later in the year; our aim here is to give you a quick hitter. Use the ones you like, pass over the ones you don't. One tip size does not fit all leagues, and your mileage may vary.

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Don't fear the unknown. Don't fear the reaper. Don't fear the bye week.

There are two common misconceptions about bye weeks and let's clear them up today:

Bye Week Management is a Big Part of Drafting (False)

If no one trades in your league and your free-agent picks are extremely limited, okay, fine, give a lot of respect to the bye-week layout. But in most common leagues, trading flows constantly and the waiver-wire cooks all season. And with that, it's a grave error to overreact to bye weeks as you're sitting down to draft. Do consider the bye-week aspect when judging players, but only as a tie-breaker.

"Value now, balance later" should be your mantra on draft night. Get as much bang-for-the-buck as the room will allow. Don't forget that the future trade value of Player X is a major part of his value today. So what if your team is light for Week 9? That's two months away. Let's focus on stocking the roster for now.

Bye Weeks Limit Your Options (False)

Okay, so you can't mindlessly roll out your best starting lineup when bye week season kicks in. Fine. But when fewer teams are on the field, subtle nuances come into play.

During the short weeks you'll be forced to delve deeper into the player pool, always a good thing for a skilled owner. Let the donators be afraid to scout lesser-known players - it's right in your wheelhouse.

Bye week season is also a great time to spring a few trades. Many of your opponents will be afraid to make speculation-based deals - you offer them Donovan McNabb for Derek Anderson and they think, "hmm, what do you know that I don't?" But trades born out of need - say they need a receiver this week, you need a quarterback - are easier to push through. Also consider that the must-win vibe increases every week in fantasy football, so when late October and early November roll around, you can usually land some tasty exchanges if you locate the owners who need to desperately win today, next week be damned.

Some bonus out-the-door tippage related to bye weeks

The NFL used to have uniformity to the bye weeks but that's been out the window for a few years now. This season we see byes from Weeks 4-10, but they're not the same in size: six teams sit in Week 4 and Week 8, while just four teams rest in the other short weeks. Again, this isn't something to radically alter your strategy over, just know it's out there. Teams sitting in Week 4: Lions, Colts, Dolphins, Patriots, Giants, Seahawks. Resters in Week 8: Bears, Bengals, Broncos, Packers, Texans, Vikings . . . If you're going to be emotionally tied to your tight end, kicker and defense, it's not a bad idea to steer them away from the same bye week so you don't have to waste too many bench spots on fringe positions. Me, I'll be waiver-happy with kickers and defenses every year, so this is less important to me than it may be to you . . . All else equal a late bye week is always preferred to an early bye week; the first third of the free-agent season generally brings the richest harvest, so you want as much flexibility on your bench as possible during that time.

Over to you, Yahoo Nation. What's your take on handling bye weeks?