Fantasy Football Strategy: Stacking Bye Weeks

Fantasy Football

Auction Draft Strategy: Stacking Bye Weeks

Fantasy FootballGenerally when I’m in the draft room I pay zero attention to bye weeks, but I’ve always had this little voice in the back of my head telling me to try out “stacking.”

Up until now I’ve ignored this voice, but it’s finally gotten to the point where I’ve decided to dive in and really see if th

is is a viable fantasy football strategy.

So what is stacking bye weeks?

In a nutshell, it’s taking the studs and duds strategy and putting it on steroids. You’re choosing one week to target and then just drafting players with only that bye week. Basically, you’re punting one week in order to optimize your chances at winning the other seven weeks where teams are on a bye.

When is punting a week okay?

First off – and I can’t stress this enough – this draft strategy is only viable in auction draft formats. You’re already cutting your available player pool by almost 80-90 percent so introducing any outside variables is a recipe for disaster. You’d have to rely on too many people outside of your control in a snake draft for this to work.

Without crunching any numbers I’m ruling out any shallow leagues or leagues that start a lot more players than normal. The issue with shallow leagues is that the waiver wire pool is too deep for you to gain a big enough advantage during your “full strength” weeks. The issue with deep starting lineups is that you’ll be forced to start more sub-optimal players to make it worthwhile due to budget and player pool constraints.

You also need to know yourself and your tendencies. Are you okay taking risks? If not, this strategy will probably cause more anxiety than joy and fantasy football should be fun if nothing else. This is why I am targeting those drafters who generally take the studs/duds approach in auction drafts. If you’re taking that approach why not go all out by also stacking bye weeks?

Pros and Cons

A pros and cons list is the most tried and true method of deciding whether something is a good idea or not – just roll with me on this.

  • Pro: By taking the studs/duds approach you’re allocating dollars to the best players. An added bonus is that your bench construction will be devoted to handcuffing since you’re not worried about filling it with “fliers” to fill in your bye weeks throughout the year. This should help mitigate some of the injury risk that typically comes with the studs/duds approach.
  • Con: You’re picking players from only a handful of teams so you are very susceptible to a “down” week or bad matchup ruining your Sunday.
  • Pro: You’re picking from the best of the best offenses so how often are they really letting you down? Almost never. Plus, you get the added bonus of one of the most popular DFS strategies – stacking a QB/WR so that you maximize your fantasy points scored when they score a touchdown.
  • Con: Like any stud/dud strategy, if you get hit hard with a couple of injuries your bench will likely not have enough firepower to sustain the hit.

Proof of Concept

Gridiron Experts Memberships 2015Alright, so if you’ve made it this far then congrats (I think). It sounds like you’re ready to give this a shot and can stomach the results/process.

For the purposes of this exercise, I’m going to assume a 14-team PPR league (QB, RB, RB, WR, WR, WR, TE, DST, K, 6 BN). Like I said before, this strategy is best utilized in a deeper league format. Before we go any further, the goal is to spend $192 on the seven skill position slots ($27.4 per slot) and then leave $1 each for the DST, kicker, and six bench slots.

So basically what we’re going to do is take a studs and duds auction strategy and put it on steroids. The first step is to identify the highest-octane offenses for 2015 and see if any are bunched in the same bye week.

The offenses I’m really looking out for are Green Bay, Indianapolis, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Denver, New Orleans, New York (NFC), and Dallas. Here are the 2015 bye weeks:

Week 4 – New England, Tennessee
Week 5 – Carolina, Miami, Tampa Bay, New York (AFC)
Week 6 – Dallas, Oakland, St. Louis, Tampa Bay

Week 7 – Chicago, Cincinnati, Denver, Green Bay
Week 8 – Buffalo, Jacksonville, Philadelphia, Washington
Week 9 – Arizona, Baltimore, Detroit, Houston, Kansas City, Seattle
Week 10 – Atlanta, Indianapolis, San Diego, San Francisco
Week 11 – Cleveland, New Orleans, New York (NFC), Pittsburgh

You’ll notice some were crossed out due to either the lack of quality and/or quantity of teams available. You’ll also notice that Week 9 made the cut despite not having any high-octane offenses. This is because it’s the only bye week with six total teams, which presents you with two advantages.

First, you have two extra teams to choose from, which negates some of the quality concerns. Second, by punting the most aggressive bye week you are increasing your chances of lucking into a win as other teams will likely be scrambling this week as well.

Let’s get to the pairings (and yes, they are ranked from my favorite to least favorite)!

Note: All auction values are taken from FantasyPros.com auction $ generator and are based on the league settings mentioned above. You’ll notice a 10 percent buffer added to account for the unpredictability of auction drafts.

Punting Week 7 (CHI, CIN, DEN, GB)

From top-to-bottom this is probably the best group of offenses to choose from. Here’s a table of the available players with their auction values per Fantasy Pros

Graph

Make no mistake about it, this is a stacked roster for a 14-team league. You get two RB1, a WR1, and a Peyton Manning/Emmanuel Sanders pairing that connected for nine TDs last year. I also like Kevin White and Tyler Eifert as fliers in 2015. With the 10 percent buffer applied to our used budget, we are only left with $6 for 8 roster spots, but it’s close enough where you could pull it off.

The rest of the draft

You absolutely need to draft Brock Osweiler as a backup QB to insure your Manning pick and if you can swing Marvin Jones for $1 that would be a great bonus get. Unfortunately, the running backs will be tough to handcuff as the Bengals don’t really have a cheap option and Montee Ball will likely go for more the one dollar. However, some $1 RB options could be James Starks or Juwan Thompson.

Punting Week 11 (CLE, NO, NYG, PIT)

This grouping has potential to be my favorite and it’s because of the QB/WR pairing I’m able to score as well as the RB core.

graph 2

I think Ben Roethlisberger is the best quarterback value of 2015 and pairing him with the best PPR wideout is a no-brainer. I also think Mark Ingram is one of the better RB values so you can quickly see why this group is higher on my list.

I avoided Martavis Bryant at $11 because I do think his hype train will drive that price way up, but also I wasn’t sure how I felt drafting two WRs from the same team. That said, you definitely could swing it given the big surplus we were left with – and that’s including an extra drafted running back!

The rest of the draft

For a backup QB I would look outside the Week 11 byes to find a cheap backup option in case Big Ben goes down with an injury. You should also try to grab two of those three $1 running backs above, specifically Andre Williams and DeAngelo Williams.

I think Markus Wheaton is a wide receiver who is being overlooked in fantasy this year and at $1 he’s worth a flier as is Taylor Gabriel. Then there’s always whoever emerges as the Saints third wide receiver – the popular name being Nick Toon at the moment.

Punting Week 9 (ARI, BAL, DET, HOU, KC, SEA)

This grouping doesn’t have any elite offenses, but with two extra teams there are plenty of good options which is why I am a big fan.

graph 3

Russell Wilson is by far the best QB of this bunch so I made sure to nab him and I love the value of the two rookies Ameer Abdullah and Breshad Perriman. The money I saved there allowed me to splurge on perennial studs Marshawn Lynch and Calvin Johnson. I don’t love taking two Chiefs pass-catchers, but there are plenty other options I could go with.

The rest of the draft

You’ll definitely want to lock up the Seattle backfield so drafting both Christine Michael and Robert Turbin wouldn’t be a terrible idea. Another sneaky PPR option could be Theo Riddick.

Also, grabbing the safe Alex Smith at a low price could be nice insurance for Wilson. There aren’t a lot of good, $1 wide receivers, but Michael Campanaro and Cecil Shorts are two that could be solid PPR plays.

Punting Week 10 (ATL, IND, SD, SF)

Another one of our high-octane offenses (Indianapolis) shows up in this group along with three other offenses with some sneaky value. Let’s take a look.

graph 4

I almost had to draft Andrew Luck here because of the lack of high-priced players in this grouping and I made sure to pair him up with T.Y. Hilton. Going with two rookies at running back is a bit risky, but I could just as easily replace one with Frank Gore and adjust elsewhere.

The rest of the draft

The backup QBs in this grouping aren’t even worth drafting so I would probably just try to find a random $1 QB and break my bye week rule. As for backup running backs, two that jump out at me immediately are Dan Herron and Mike Davis. I would even take a flier on rookie Josh Robinson.

When it comes to pass-catchers, I want every part of the Colts wide receiving core so Donte Moncrief and Philip Dorsett would definitely be on my roster. If I could swing Stevie Johnson at $1 as well I would run to the rooftop and scream for joy.

Some parting thoughts

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Obviously these auction values will not reflect exactly what will happen in your auction draft and the player values will likely move up/down considerably as we get into the heat of training camps.

This article was done more as a proof of concept to see if this is a viable strategy.

I think there are three things you can do both before and during your draft to help optimize your results.

  1. Keep your lips sealed – The moment you open your mouth about what you’re doing is when people will start bidding you up and making your life hell during the draft. Keep quiet and people likely won’t notice until it’s too late.
  2. Nominate your handcuffs before the stud – I don’t recommend doing this for all of your players, but if you’re dead set on drafting Peyton Manning/Brock Osweiler you’ll have a much higher chance of getting Osweiler at $1 early in the draft as opposed to after Manning is off the board.
  3. Be prepared to scrap the strategy – Look, we all want to go into the draft thinking we know exactly what’s going to happen, but it’s very possible that you go in with a plan and then three of your targeted players go for way more money you can afford. The key with auctions is always remaining flexible.

Final Thoughts

That’s it. If you’re still with me congrats, you probably don’t have ADHD. I’d love to hear (if people have tried this in the past with success or failure and hopefully we have some success stories in 2015!

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