Case for trading fantasy stars like Demaryius Thomas during byes

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Bye week blues (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)
Bye week blues (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)

A party doesn't start until something gets broken. A playoff series doesn't start until a road team gets a win.

And a fantasy football season doesn't start until the bye weeks arrive.

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I've never understood grousing about bye weeks. I like them. I think they make fantasy football more interesting and they reward the better owners. (Heck, I wish the league would add a second bye week for everyone, tuck them in front of those crummy Thursday night games.)

In my eyes, a fantasy season doesn't really start until owners have to start making tricky decisions, doing things they're conflicted on.

There's good news and bad news with the 2014 bye week slate. On the friendly side, there are five different weeks where just two teams are sitting out, and I don't see a skinny bye that contains a pair of juggernauts. Most of us will navigate those weeks just fine.

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There's one bye week that rests four teams, and that shouldn't be too bad either. The Cowboys, Ravens, Jets and Jaguars sit in Week 11. A little pesky, but we'll get through it.

And then there are three Bye Week Nightmares. Consider what happens in Weeks 4, 9 and 10.

• Week 4 Byes: Broncos, Seahawks, Bengals, Cardinals, Browns, Rams

• Week 9 Byes: Packers, Falcons, Bears, Lions, Bills, Titans

• Week 10 Byes: Colts, Chargers, Redskins, Patriots, Vikings, Texans

Everyone can see the scoring power in that mix.

If you're facing a bunch of sitdowns for Week 4, it might not be a big deal if you're 2-1 or 3-0. You're probably going to make the playoffs anyway. If you're 1-2 or 0-3, you might have to roll up the sleeves and get to work. Consider some of the data from 2013 Yahoo leagues, compiled in this fascinating blog from Automated Insights. Assume a 12-team league where six teams make the playoffs (you can search on different specs if you like):

• If you started 3-0 last year, you made the playoffs 84.8 percent of the time

• If you started 2-1, you made the playoffs 63.8 percent of the time

• The 1-2 teams made the playoffs 36.1 percent of the time

• The 0-3 teams made the playoffs 15.5 percent of the time

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Let's focus on the struggling side of that data for a second. If you started 1-2 last year, your next result has about 26 percent of leverage attached. A 2-2 team basically was a coin flip to get into the playoffs last year, while a 1-3 team ultimately qualified around 24 percent of the time.

The 0-3 club faces a leverage week of about 16 percent. You'll be at 24 percent to dance after a Week 4 win, and around eight percent if you lose.

I don't think the specific takeaways are difficult here, but I'll spell them out for you.

If you're off to a poor start, you need to shift into win-now mode. Don't be reckless about it - don't trade resting stars for 60 cents on the dollar - but now is the perfect time to start shopping your biggest Week 4 sitters. You're in week-to-week gear now. You might have to consider moving your big-name Broncos, your snappy Seahawks, your bust-out Bengals.

Beastie Boy (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
Beastie Boy (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

If you're off to a great start, it's time to look at how you can "help" the struggling teams. Look at the 0-3 owner and find his best talent tied to a Week 4 bye. Maybe you can liquidate some depth in the goal of a better starting lineup down the road. I doubt a buy-low on a slow-starting Demaryius Thomas type can work in most pools, but maybe you can start a discussion if the Demaryius owner is 0-3. If you're ever going to execute a reasonable trade for Peyton Manning or Marshawn Lynch, the time is right now. 

A team off to a terrific start might be able to justify holding a player on suspension or in limbo. But if you're 1-2 or 0-3, it's must harder to justify.

The leaders can do some future planning. The chasers have to play for today. (And to be fair, I'll never hold "play for today" against anyone, even a leader. No league reshuffles and brings on constant chaos like the NFL.)

I've heard some 3-0 owners talking about embracing the Week 4 bye, basically flagging this week for the wealth of riches later. I can see at least considering that move if you've had a dream start, but remember how much the league changes from week to week. Your roster composition might be far different in October or November. I wouldn't go down this extreme path unless I felt the planets were in perfect alignment for me.

The same goes for late-stacking the byes. Your view on everything could be vastly different then; it's a fun theoretical, but one I would shy away from. It doesn't mean it can't work, but I'm not going to put it in play. 

That's enough theory for one day. Onto some Week 3 observations. 

• I only have one Tom Brady share, but it might be my most important league. Sure, I'm concerned. Brady used to have incredible pocket awareness, but I haven't seen it in several years. He also used to be a QB who could get by with mediocre protection, but he relies on it far more today.

• Anytime Jared Cook gets into a sideline argument, I'm assuming the other guy is right. The player who drops the pass is supposed to be the guy who gets yelled at. I'd like to see Austin Davis keep the Rams' quarterback gig; if nothing else, he unlocks Brian Quick

• No one knows when the Titans will see the light and let Bishop Sankey command the offense, but it's a move that's screaming to be made. Remember, the Chargers needed a few weeks before they played their best players in 2013. I suspect Ken Whisenhunt will shake things up soon. You want Sankey wherever you can get him.

• Montee Ball looks slow and indecisive, and the Broncos don't have an easy rushing slate after their bye (Cardinals, Jets, Niners, Chargers, h/t Andy Behrens). Ball is the only name-brand Denver player I'm worried about.

• Forget about shutdown cornerbacks - Sammy Watkins was playing with a shutdown quarterback in Week 3. Getting open is never a problem with Watkins, but EJ Manuel will leave plays on the table. Don't blame the coaching staff in this instance; they're being creative with Watkins. 

• I'm still a believer on Mike Wallace. The quarterback play can't stay this bad forever, and Wallace has produced in spite of it.

• Yes, I'm still making excuses for Keenan Allen. Trade him to me if you want. The schedule has been nasty, and even the weather was a factor in Week 3. I still expect him to be a very good fantasy player this season. 

• Quarterback sacks are usually more about the quarterback than the offensive line. Blake Bortles was sacked just once in his Week 3 relief appearance. Chad Henne was dumped 13 times in the previous six quarters. I charted all of Henne's Week 2 sacks at Washington (10 counted, one more on penalty), and considered him worthy of blame on about two-thirds of them. The Jags have a poor offensive line, but Henne was making it look far worse. Jacksonville should have a respectable offense by the second half of the year, perhaps sooner. 

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