First, Target players who already had their bye.
Many Fantasy owners don’t factor this in, but hear me out: A player who already had his bye week gets a significant bump in value going forward.
In Week 4 the Cardinals, Bengals, Browns, Broncos, Rams and Seahawks had a bye. That obviously means players from those squads have an extra game before your Fantasy season ends. An extra game is roughly 10 percent of their upcoming production, considering you’re only working with about 10 weeks before the Fantasy playoffs begin.
Let’s say, for example, you own Jordy Nelson and have an opportunity to deal him for Demaryius Thomas. It might seem like a bad idea based on recent production, but 10 games from Thomas, as opposed to nine games from Nelson, could be the difference in making the Fantasy postseason.
In another example, when ranking the top RBs going forward, I would put Marshawn Lynch ahead of players with similar statistics because he has an extra game remaining. Most owners would prefer Demarco Murray, but you’ll be without a RB1 in Week 11 when Dallas has a bye. Fantasy owners should take upcoming bye weeks into account when deciding on trade options.
Also, pay attention to the whacky NFL schedule. Some weeks, only two teams have a bye. Other weeks, it’s as many as six clubs that aren’t playing. The more teams on a bye, the harder it is to replace your players for that specific week.
For example, in Week 6 only the Saints and Chiefs are on a bye. Drew Brees owners will have 30 starting QBs playing to replace him with. In Week 10 the Texans, Colts, Vikings, Patriots, Chargers and Redskins are all off. That means Fantasy owners of Andrew Luck, Phillip Rivers and Tom Brady will be fighting for a replacement out of only 26 available QBs.
The teams with favorable bye weeks are the Dolphins, Raiders, Chiefs, Saints, Eagles, Bucs, Giants and 49ers. The Panthers and Steelers also have a two-team only bye week, but I’m not considering them “favorable” because Week 12 is so critical to Fantasy playoff seeding.
1. Don’t ever sell low on your No. 1 pick. Way too many people have mentioned silly deals involving Calvin Johnson or Shady McCoy with a mediocre return. Seriously, just hold onto them. Especially Megatron.
2. Tom Brady owners are obviously frustrated, and rightfully so. But, he’ll go off for 350 yards and three TDs the week after you give up on him. His offensive line and receivers appear to be tragic at the moment, but I’ll be surprised if he continues to be a complete bust from a Fantasy perspective. While he might not finish as a Top 12 QB, he should have some big statistical weeks eventually… even if the stats come in garbage time.
3. If you play in a league that allows a TE to be your flex… it’s not as crazy as it used to be to start two TEs. Jimmy Graham, Martellus Bennett and Larry Donnell all rank in the Top 10 in receptions. Graham and Delanie Walker rank in the Top 10 in receiving yards. Six tight ends are among league leaders in TD receptions and none of these statistics include Week 4 sensation Travis Kelce. This isn’t your father’s NFL.
4. Suspended WR Justin Blackmon is allegedly in a 90-day voluntary program to help kick his substance-abuse issues. Blackmon has the tools to be an absolute Fantasy stud one day and owners in Dynasty leagues should keep an eye on the situation. You could pull a fast one on your league by adding him later in the season. Consider him Josh Gordon Lite, except he’s probably not seeing an NFL field until 2015.
5. Remember the name Brian Tyms. He’s returning from an “Adderall” suspension in Week 5 and is talented enough to emerge as a legitimate target for Brady in New England. The Florida A&M product was great in the preseason, catching 11 passes for 188 yards and two TDs. He’s in a perfect situation because the Patriots are desperate for a playmaker.
6. Reggie Bush should finally have a big week if Joique Bell (concussion) isn’t cleared to play against the Bills.
7. Two weeks ago, I lost a Fantasy matchup by one point. On the following Thursday, a stat correction to the Baltimore defense gave me a one-point victory. After Week 4, Jeremy Maclin had an 11-year reception taken away that could have also impacted Fantasy standings. The moral of this story is to keep your fingers crossed, all week, if you only win by a point or two. The league appears to be correcting statistics late on Wednesdays and it impacts Fantasy scoring.
8. I expect big things from Sammy Watkins now that Kyle Orton has taken over at QB and his ribs appear to be feeling better. He should be a legitimate, high-upside WR2 once him and Orton develop some chemistry.
9. Darrin Reaves could run away with the starting-RB job in Carolina if he makes the most of his Week 5 opportunity. The Panthers are desperate for a playmaker, other than Kelvin Benjamin. Reaves ran a 4.54 forty with an extremely impressive 10-foot-3 broad jump at UAB’s Pro Day back in March. He’s a great example of why Fantasy owners need to pay attention to depth charts.
10. Arian Foster (hamstring) is noncommittal about his Week 5 status and remains the most annoying player to own for Fantasy purposes. Cancel your Sunday morning plans if you’re thinking about using him this week.
Questions? Hit me on Twitter @briansflood