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Think Twice Before Drafting These Elite Fantasy Players: Bye Weeks and the FFPC Playoffs

If you play in the FFPC or any other high-stakes tournament that holds their playoffs in Weeks 12 and 13, you may want to take an extra close look at the teams that are on bye during Week 12 (The first week of league playoffs in most of these formats).  Take a look at the list of players below:

 
QB RB WR TE
Patrick Mahomes David Johnson Adam Thielen Travis Kelce
Philip Rivers Melvin Gordon Stefon Diggs Hunter Henry
Kirk Cousins Dalvin Cook Keenan Allen Kyle Rudolph
Kyler Murray Damien Williams Mike Williams Ricky Seals-Jones
Sammy Watkins
Larry Fitzgerald

Normally you would try to build your fantasy team around many of these players. Not so fast! As key members of the Chiefs, Chargers, Vikings, and Cardinals, all these players are guaranteed to score zero points in the first round of your league playoffs.

How to Play It

Does that make them off limits? Should we be adding them to our “Do Not Draft” lists? Every player becomes a value at some point, so I would not recommend avoiding any of these players altogether.  In fact, I’m not so sure I would drop them that far in my rankings. However, these players come with an asterisk on my draft sheet – I definitely take their bye week into consideration before pressing the “Draft” button.

For example, say I am picking at the end of the first round and I am set on taking a running back. I don’t want to play the first week of the H2H playoffs without my RB1, so although David Johnson and Melvin Gordon are higher in my rankings than Le’Veon Bell, in that scenario I would take Bell. If Johnson or Gordon fell well below value, I wouldn’t take a player like Derrick Henry or Aaron Jones ahead of either. But I would draft a player one or two spots down on my list if the difference wasn’t too great and they were in the same tier.

However, I am being careful not to draft two of my top-five players from these four teams. That would leave too large of a hole in my playoff lineup for my comfort.  I recently saw a draft where an owner took Gordon in the first round and came back with Dalvin Cook in the second.  That sounds like a good start … just not this year. This year, that’s suicide! If you’re starting the playoffs with your first two picks on the bench, then I hope you at least cashed by getting either the No. 1 or No. 2 seed. You are likely out of the running for the league championship!

Or consider another example: Travis Kelce. He’s consistently going off the board in the first round between the fifth and ninth overall picks. He is an incredible player and the consensus top fantasy tight end in 2019. With Tyreek Hill looking extremely likely to miss some time, I understand the hype! However, there is no way I am taking a TE that I cannot use in the first round of the playoffs that early, especially in a TE-premium format like the FFPC.

But … Mahomes!

There is one possible exception: the quarterback position. The hype for Patrick Mahomes is huge. I love him and had him on numerous teams last year. But given his ADP, I will probably not have him anywhere this year. With the depth at QB it’s not necessary to take one in Rounds 2 or 3 (where I have seen Mahomes often being drafted). However, if you are sold on Mahomes and really want him, you can likely find someone with a good matchup in Week 12 to compensate. Mitch Trubisky (NYG), Baker Mayfield (MIA), Sam Darnold (OAK), Ben Roethlisberger (@CIN), and Jimmy Garoppolo (GB) are all good options.

Isn’t Just Getting to the Playoffs More Important?

The opposing view to all of this would be to take the best player available regardless of their bye week.  Some might say, “You have to get to the playoffs first.” I normally subscribe to this theory, in a sense. If playoff weeks are not involved, everyone has to be off one week. If it is not excessive, I want the players I project to score the most fantasy points regardless of their bye. Nevertheless, it is important to monitor this throughout the draft. If you do draft two players with the same bye week in a position group, look for someone with a different bye to help fill out the position as you develop your roster. I don’t even worry about this for the first five or six rounds though.

But when bye weeks come in to play in the fantasy playoffs, it’s a different story. It is obviously important to draft a strong team that performs well in Weeks 1-11 so you make your league playoffs. But you could be 11-0, lose in Week 12, and you’re out! That’s why the Week 12 bye is so important and quite candidly, brutal this year! I don’t want to be without my top player at a position group for that matchup. If you absolutely can’t resist a player and the value is too high, I recommend trying to compensate with a little more depth at that position.1

Undoubtedly, fantasy football drives a huge portion of the NFL fan base. One would think the NFL would eliminate the Week 12 bye so this is not an issue. Weeks 4, 5, and 8 have only two teams on bye. Would it be that difficult to split teams with Week 12 byes up into those weeks? I’ll wait for the NFL to fix this problem (though I won’t hold my breath). In the meantime, it is wise to pay close attention to the teams that won’t be helping you during the first week of your playoffs and develop a draft strategy to compensate accordingly.

Image Credit: Jordon Kelly/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: Patrick Mahomes.

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  1. And like I mentioned earlier, draft no other top-five players with a Week 12 bye.  (back)
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