Bye week management impacts fantasy success

If you want to have a successful fantasy football draft, there's more than just having an in-depth knowledge of players. You also need an intimate understanding of the bye weeks. There aren't many owners who wouldn't love to have Aaron Rodgers on their team. But when he's on a bye (Week 4), who would be the best backup quarterback to start in his absence? Wouldn't it be nice to have the backfield duo of Ray Rice and Matt Forte? Well, both of them are off in Week 8. That's valuable information. That doesn't mean you should avoid certain runners to avoid bye-week conflicts, but it is a good idea to target other backs with favorable matchups that week in an effort to replace your superstars.

Below is a list of the starting quarterbacks and running backs and their respective bye weeks for the 2013 campaign. More importantly, we've also included their best bye-week replacements. Again, it's much harder to avoid drafting running backs with the same bye based on value, but it's still important to know which alternative runners have attractive matchups. It's also vital to know which No. 2 backs should thrive based on their opponents when your No. 1 runner has a bye week.

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Week 4 byes -- Carolina Panthers, Green Bay Packers

Quarterbacks: Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton

Replacements: Rodgers and Newton are two of the top-five quarterbacks in fantasy football, so owners who draft them shouldn't be looking to target a backup until the middle to late rounds. After all, you won't be benching either of them outside of a bye or long-term ailment. The best options at the position based on matchups are: Eli Manning (at Chiefs), Ben Roethlisberger (at Vikings), Joe Flacco (at Bills), Jay Cutler (at Lions) and Alex Smith (vs. Giants). Matt Flynn (vs. Redskins) and Ryan Tannehill (at Saints) are also nice deep-league choices.

Running backs: Eddie Lacy/Johnathan Franklin, Jonathan Stewart/DeAngelo Williams

Replacements - The Panthers backfield remains a question mark heading into the 2013 season, as Stewart and Williams will continue to share carries while also losing some goal-line opportunities to Newton and Mike Tolbert. As a result, it's hard to trust either of them as more than a potential flex starter in most fantasy formats. Lacy is considered the favorite to start in Green Bay and could return flex-starter value if he earns the top spot on the Packers depth chart. Other running backs with favorable opponents (based on fantasy points) in Week 4 include Chris Ivory (at Titans), Lamar Miller (at Saints), Montee Ball (vs. Eagles), BenJarvus Green-Ellis/Giovani Bernard (at Browns), Ryan Mathews (vs. Cowboys) and Ahmad Bradshaw (at Jaguars).

Week 5 byes - Minnesota Vikings, Pittsburgh Steelers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Washington Redskins

Quarterbacks: Robert Griffin III, Josh Freeman, Ben Roethlisberger, Christian Ponder

Replacements: Griffin III is the lone quarterback of the four on a bye this week who will be drafted as a No. 1 fantasy option at his position. Freeman and Roethlisberger are No. 2s, especially in a season that will have so much depth at the quarterback position. For those owners who don't land the talented Redskins field general in drafts, there are a few alternatives to consider in place of your No. 1 starter based on the matchups alone. That list includes Eli Manning (vs. Eagles), Jay Cutler (vs. Saints), Sam Bradford (vs. Jaguars) and Brandon Weeden (vs. Bills).

Running backs: Adrian Peterson, Doug Martin, Alfred Morris, Le'Veon Bell.

Replacements - This week sees three different No. 1 running backs on a bye, including the top player at the position from 2012 in Peterson along with top-10 runners Martin and Morris. If you happen to land one or two of these runners in 2013, there are several options to consider as No. 3 runners or matchup-based starters. The best options at the position include Chris Ivory (at Falcons), sleeper David Wilson (vs. Eagles), Montee Ball (at Cowboys), Ryan Mathews (at Raiders), Jonathan Stewart/DeAngelo Williams (at Cardinals) and Rashard Mendenhall (vs. Panthers).

Week 6 byes - Atlanta Falcons, Miami Dolphins

Quarterbacks: Matt Ryan, Ryan Tannehill

Replacements: Ryan emerged as one of the top-10 quarterbacks in fantasy football last season, so owners will want to insure him with another field general with a favorable matchup in Week 6. Based on the 2013 opponents, that list includes Michael Vick (at Buccaneers), Josh Freeman (vs. Eagles), Andy Dalton (at Bills), Alex Smith (vs. Raiders), Jay Cutler (vs. Giants) and Matt Flynn (at Chiefs). Keep in mind, however, that the matchup on paper for Vick won't be as favorable based on 2012 totals with the addition of SS Dashon Goldson and CB Darrelle Revis in Tampa Bay.

Running backs: Steven Jackson, Lamar Miller

Replacements: Jackson will be a surefire No. 2 fantasy runner in Atlanta, while Miller will be one of the top fantasy sleepers at his position in 2013 drafts. The borderline No. 2 or 3 runners and flex starters to target this week due to the matchups include Reggie Bush/Mikel Leshoure (at Browns), Darren Sproles/Mark Ingram/Pierre Thomas (at Patriots), Le'Veon Bell (at Jets), Eddie Lacy/Johnathan Franklin (at Ravens), BenJarvus Green-Ellis/Giovani Bernard (at Bills) and Ryan Mathews (vs. Colts).

Week 7 byes - New Orleans Saints, Oakland Raiders

Quarterbacks: Drew Brees, Matt Flynn

Replacements: Brees is one of the top three quarterbacks in the world of fantasy football, so he won't be a candidate to be benched outside of a bye week or missed time due to injuries. If you're one of those lucky owners who do land the veteran out of Purdue, the field generals with the easiest matchups in Week 7 include Eli Manning (at Vikings), Andy Dalton (at Lions), Matt Schaub (at Chiefs) and Ryan Tannehill (vs. Bills). Flynn won't have much value in drafts.

Running backs: Darren McFadden, Darren Sproles/Mark Ingram/Pierre Thomas

Replacements: McFadden and Sproles are No. 2 fantasy runners -- Sproles has more value in PPR leagues -- but there aren't a lot of No. 2 or 3 fantasy backs with great matchups this week. The best options include Lamar Miller (vs. Bills), Montee Ball (at Colts), Eddie Lacy/Johnathan Franklin (vs. Browns), Ryan Mathews (at Jaguars) and Isaiah Pead/Daryl Richardson (at Panthers).

Week 8 byes - Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Bears, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, San Diego Chargers, Tennessee Titans

Quarterbacks: Andrew Luck, Joe Flacco, Matt Schaub, Philip Rivers, Jay Cutler, Jake Locker

Replacements: There is just one player on a bye who will be drafted as a surefire No. 1 fantasy quarterback this week, and that's Luck. Schaub, Rivers, Flacco, Cutler and Locker are No. 2 options or matchup-based starters at best. Owners who do land Luck as their top field general should target the likes of Michael Vick (vs. Giants), Eli Manning (at Eagles) and Alex Smith (vs. Browns). Brandon Weeden (at Chiefs) will also be worth a look in deeper formats.

Running backs: Arian Foster, Ray Rice, Chris Johnson, Matt Forte, Ryan Mathews, Ahmad Bradshaw

Replacements: This week is loaded with strong running-back options who will be on a bye including two first-rounders (Foster, Rice), so it's important to know the alternatives. Of the borderline No. 2 or 3 runners or worse who will be out on the gridiron, the players with the best matchups are Chris Ivory (at Bengals), Lamar Miller (at Patriots), Le'Veon Bell (at Raiders), Reggie Bush/Mikel Leshoure (vs. Cowboys), Darren Sproles/Mark Ingram/Pierre Thomas (vs. Bills) and BenJarvus Green-Ellis/Giovani Bernard (vs. Jets).

Week 9 byes - Arizona Cardinals, Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Giants, San Francisco 49ers

Quarterbacks: Peyton Manning, Colin Kaepernick, Matthew Stafford, Eli Manning, Carson Palmer, Blaine Gabbert

Replacements: There is no shortage of good quarterbacks on a bye this week, including both of the Manning brothers, Kaepernick and Stafford. Unfortunately, the list of No. 2 or 3 quarterbacks with good matchups is a short one. The best choices include Alex Smith (at Bills), Christian Ponder (at Cowboys), Matt Flynn (vs. Eagles) and Mark Sanchez (vs. Saints). Other options with decent matchups based on 2012 fantasy points are Ben Roethlisberger (at Patriots) and Philip Rivers (at Redskins).

Running backs: Maurice Jones-Drew, Frank Gore, David Wilson, Reggie Bush/Mikel Leshoure, Montee Ball, Rashard Mendenhall

Replacements: Every starting running back on a bye this week is at least a viable flex starter or better, so the matchups are even more important for owners who draft them ... and need to replace them. Unfortunately, most of the second, third or fourth fantasy runners have difficult matchups. Of the backs with the most attractive opponents, Chris Ivory (vs. Saints), Le'Veon Bell (at Patriots), Jonathan Stewart/DeAngelo Williams (vs. Falcons) and Isaiah Pead/Daryl Richardson (vs. Titans) are the best options.

Week 10 byes - Cleveland Browns, Kansas City Chiefs, New England Patriots, New York Jets

Quarterbacks: Tom Brady, Alex Smith, Brandon Weeden, Mark Sanchez

Replacements: Aside from Brady, there isn't a single sure-fire No. 1 fantasy quarterback who is on a bye this week. Smith could have some No. 2 value, but neither Weeden nor Sanchez will even be drafted in most 2013 leagues. If you do land the Patriots signal-caller, the best reserve options based on the matchups include Eli Manning (vs. Raiders), Ben Roethlisberger (vs. Bills), Christian Ponder (vs. Redskins) and Jake Locker (vs. Jaguars).

Running backs: Jamaal Charles, Trent Richardson, Stevan Ridley, Chris Ivory

Replacements: Three of the four running backs on a bye this week are top-12 options at the position, and Ivory has some deep breakout appeal as the favorite to start for the Men in Green. If you end up with one or two of Charles, Richardson or Ridley, the best bye-week replacements include David Wilson (vs. Raiders), Le'Veon Bell (vs. Bills), Eddie Lacy/Johnathan Franklin (vs. Eagles), Darren Sproles/Mark Ingram/Pierre Thomas (vs. Cowboys) and BenJarvus Green-Ellis/Giovani Bernard (at Ravens).

Week 11 byes - Dallas Cowboys, St. Louis Rams

Quarterbacks: Tony Romo, Sam Bradford

Replacements: This is a short list of bye-week players, as the Cowboys and Rams are the lone teams off the gridiron. Owners who land Romo as their starter should consider Michael Vick (vs. Redskins), Andy Dalton (vs. Browns) and Matt Schaub (vs. Raiders) as reserves based on their favorable matchups.

Running backs: DeMarco Murray, Isaiah Pead/Daryl Richardson

Replacements: Murray has No. 2 runner value, while the winner of the Richardson versus Pead competition will have some sleeper appeal. Alternative running backs with good matchups this week include Chris Ivory (at Bills), David Wilson (vs. Packers), Montee Ball (vs. Chiefs), Eddie Lacy/Johnathan Franklin (at Giants), BenJarvus Green-Ellis/Giovani Bernard (vs. Browns), Ahmad Bradshaw (at Titans) and Rashard Mendenhall (at Jaguars).

Week 12 byes - Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals, Philadelphia Eagles, Seattle Seahawks

Quarterbacks: Russell Wilson, Michael Vick, Andy Dalton, Kevin Kolb

Replacements: Wilson is the lone No. 1 fantasy quarterback on a bye this week, though both Vick and Dalton both have the skills to be regular starters in most leagues. The signal-callers with the best matchups this week include Josh Freeman (at Lions), Matt Schaub (vs. Jaguars) and Philip Rivers (at Chiefs).

Running backs: Marshawn Lynch, LeSean McCoy, C.J. Spiller/Fred Jackson, BenJarvus Green-Ellis/Giovani Bernard

Replacements: This week is chock full of stud runners on a bye, as three (Lynch, McCoy, Spiller) will be drafted within the first 12 overall selections. Chris Ivory (at Ravens), David Wilson (vs. Cowboys), Lamar Miller (vs. Panthers), Reggie Bush/Mikel Leshoure (vs. Buccaneers), Le'Veon Bell (at Browns), Darren Sproles/Mark Ingram/Pierre Thomas (at Falcons) and Rashard Mendenhall (vs. Colts).

Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on NFL.com and NFL Network and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) Hall of Fame. Have a burning question on anything fantasy related? Tweet it to @Michael_Fabiano or send a question via Facebook!

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