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Minimizing the Impact of Bye Weeks in Best Ball Leagues (Fantasy Football)

by Sam Hoppen | @samhoppen | Featured Writer
Apr 26, 2020

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Best Ball league formats continue to grow in popularity among fantasy football players. A Best Ball league allows players to enjoy all of the draft-day fun with none of the in-season management work. The team you draft is your team for the entire season, and each roster’s highest-scoring players are automatically started every single week.

Obviously, one major difference in the way Best Ball leagues differ from your typical redraft league is that there isn’t any in-season management that takes place. That means you won’t be able to find bye-week fill-ins throughout the season, so you must plan ahead during the draft.

This guide will walk you through how to minimize the impact of bye weeks on your Best Ball roster and optimize your chances of success.

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Early-Round Strategy

For the first several rounds of your draft, you don’t need to consider bye weeks when making your choices. It’s not the end of the world if your first two running backs have the same bye week since you’ll have plenty of time in the later rounds to make up for that gap. In the early rounds, it’s more important to take note of your players’ bye weeks (so you’re prepared for the end of the draft) than using it as a part of your consideration set when choosing between multiple players to add to your team.

Additionally, don’t worry about your players having the same bye weeks as players at other positions. If your first two picks are a running back and a wide receiver with the same bye week, it’s not an issue because they’re not filling in for one another.

This mindset changes slightly as you enter the middle rounds. That’s because flex spots can typically be filled by running backs, wide receivers, or tight ends. You should try to come away with enough players at each position to avoid a bye week disaster for your flex spot. If your league is playing with multiple flex spots, then you may have to change your strategy ever so slightly, but don’t overweigh bye weeks so much for a spot that can be filled by several positions.

Drafting Quarterbacks and Tight Ends

Depending on your roster size and league format, you’ll likely come away with at least two or three quarterbacks and tight ends each. Because each of these positions typically only takes up one spot in your starting roster, it’s not worth drafting more than a couple as more than bye week fill-ins or as potential injury substitutions.

That said, it’s paramount that these players don’t share the same bye week so as to guarantee points at that position every week of the season (barring terrible injury luck). It’s fairly simple, but scoring zero points from your quarterback or tight end position in a given week is not going to bring you long-term Best Ball success.

As I mentioned earlier, don’t worry about quarterbacks and tight ends having the same bye weeks as other positions. However, make sure you pay keen attention to the bye weeks of the other remaining quarterbacks and tight ends so that their bye weeks don’t overlap.

Running Back Handcuffs

Drafting running back handcuffs — specifically the handcuffs of the starting running backs that you’ve already drafted — is a strategy that I typically advise against in fantasy football drafts, but especially in Best Ball leagues.

In Best Ball, you’re shooting for as much upside as possible, so drafting your own handcuff caps that in several ways. First, you’re guaranteed to lose production from both the starter and the backup during that team’s bye week. You’ve now locked in getting zero points from two players in a given week, which may force you to draft an extra running back.

Additionally, drafting a handcuff limits your upside when both running backs are healthy. Either your workhorse will score all of the points, rendering the handcuff useless, or they’ll cannibalize each others’ opportunities and give you two average-scoring players.

Sure, drafting your top running back’s handcuff secures a higher floor in the event of the lead running back getting hurt, but safety isn’t what you should be aiming for in Best Ball. Instead, draft the handcuff of a running back on another team, to give yourself even more upside if that team’s lead running back gets injured.

Late-Round Strategy

So you’re nine rounds through your Best Ball draft, and you’ve realized that your three of your four wide receivers all have the same bye week. What do you do now? The first step is simple: don’t panic because there’s still plenty of time to fill your roster in a way that maximizes your upside. Fortunately, Best Ball rosters have large enough benches to account for situations like this.

If you encounter this scenario, look for players that have positive matchups during the bye week that you need to fill. You’ll need to find as much upside as possible in players that are filling in during your bye week crater, and exploiting matchups is one way to do that.

At this point, because you’re drafting in reaction to a bye week crater, it might behoove you to draft players with minimal injury risk. For example, if your bye week crater has ended up being Week 10, then you’ll want to select players that are more likely to make it to that point in the season without suffering an injury.

Don’t think that you need to avoid players with that bye week at all costs, though. If you find a player that’s clearly a tier ahead of the next-best player but has the same bye week as the one you’re trying to fill, take him knowing that you’ll need to dedicate an extra roster spot to the position you just drafted.

In conclusion, accounting for bye weeks is even more prevalent in Best Ball drafts and is an important consideration when constructing your team. To help manage the bye week landscape in Best Ball drafts, be sure to check out FantasyPros’ Bye Week Cheat Sheet. While bye week timing isn’t everything in Best Ball drafts, there are some specific ways you can readjust your draft strategy to avoid a disastrous bye week crater.

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Sam Hoppen is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Sam, check out his archive and follow him @SamHoppen.

Best Ball, Featured, NFL