If you want to have a successful fantasy football draft, there's more than just having an in-depth knowledge of player values. You also need an intimate understanding of the bye weeks. There aren't many owners who wouldn't love to have Drew Brees on their team. But when the Saints quarterback is on a bye (Week 10), who would be the best backup to draft and start in his absence? That's valuable information, but countless owners don't think about it on draft day. Fantasy owners would also love a backfield duo of Cedric Benson and DeAngelo Williams, right? Well, both of them are off in Week 6. But if those are the best players on the board, it doesn't make sense to pass on them to avoid the bye-week conflict. Instead, it's a better idea to target someone like Arian Foster, who faces an awful Chiefs run defense that week, as a third running back in the middle rounds.
Below is a list of all the starting quarterbacks and running backs and their respective bye weeks. More importantly, we've also included the best bye-week replacements for those starters. While it's harder to avoid drafting running backs with the same bye based on values, it's still important to know which alternative runners have attractive matchups. What's more, it's also vital to know which No. 2 fantasy runners should thrive based on favorable opponents when your No. 1 back is on a bye week. Print this out and bring it to your draft!
Week 4 byes
Replacements - Favre and Romo are the lone starting fantasy quarterbacks with a bye in Week 4. If you land either of these field generals on draft day, you should target Carson Palmer (at Browns) or Alex Smith (at Falcons) as your top reserve in the middle to late rounds. In smaller leagues, Jay Cutler (at Giants) is also a nice option, while Matt Hasselbeck (at Rams) and Kyle Orton (at Titans) warrant consideration in larger formats.
Replacements - Peterson and Charles are the top running backs off in Week 4. Barber and Williams are closer to flex options in most fantasy leagues, though the former has a ton of sleeper appeal in 2010. The backs with the best matchups this week include Shonn Greene (at Bills), Ryan Grant (vs. Lions), Knowshon Moreno (at Titans), Foster (vs. Raiders), Jonathan Stewart (at Saints), Pierre Thomas (vs. Panthers) and Justin Forsett (at Rams).
Week 5 byes
Replacements - Brady is the lone No. 1 fantasy quarterback on a bye in Week 5. Roethlisberger could be at the end of his suspension at this point, but he'll be drafted as a backup in most formats while being forced to miss at least four games. If Brady is your starter, chances are you won't take him out of your lineup outside of this week. In his absence, consider Matthew Stafford (vs. Rams), Matt Ryan (at Browns), Palmer (at Buccaneers) or Mark Sanchez (vs. Vikings).
Replacements - Mendenhall is without question the most valuable running back with a bye, and there are plenty of No. 2 or 3 options with great matchups. That list includes Ryan Mathews (at Raiders), Joseph Addai (at Chiefs), Beanie Wells (vs. Saints), Jahvid Best (vs. Rams), Matt Forte (at Panthers) and Barber (vs. Titans). If you land Mendenhall late in Round 1, targeting Mathews in the second round is an extremely attractive choice.
Week 6 byes
Replacements - There isn't a single starting fantasy quarterback off in Week 6, and Edwards won't even be drafted outside of deep leagues or formats that require two starting quarterbacks. If you decide to pass on the position until the middle rounds and utilize the matchups instead, consider Cutler (at Seahawks), Eli Manning (vs. Lions), Kevin Kolb (at Falcons), Stafford (at Giants), Vince Young (at Jaguars), Roethlisberger (vs. Browns) or David Garrard (vs. Titans).
Replacements - Owners with a late pick in the first round could land Benson and Williams in their fantasy backfield. In that scenario, it makes sense to also target someone like Ahmad Bradshaw (vs. Lions), Foster (vs. Chiefs) or Cadillac Williams (vs. Saints). The other runners with tremendous matchups this week include Mathews (at Rams), Greene (at Broncos), Thomas (at Buccaneers), Forte (vs. Seahawks) and Clinton Portis (vs. Colts).
Week 7 byes
Replacements - Manning and Schaub will be two of the first six quarterbacks taken in most drafts, and the former won't ever be taken out of a fantasy starting lineup outside of a bye week. Owners who do land either Manning or Schaub should target Kolb (at Titans), Roethlisberger (at Dolphins), Palmer (at Falcons), Garrard (at Chiefs) or Cassel (vs. Jaguars). Anderson (at Seahawks) and Freeman (vs. Rams) are worth a look in larger formats.
Running backs - Greene, Addai, Best, Foster.
Replacements - Two of the more prominent No. 2 fantasy backs (Greene, Addai) and a top rookie runner (Best) are off the board for fantasy owners in Week 7. Alternative running backs with the most favorable matchups include Moreno (vs. Raiders), LeSean McCoy (vs. Raiders), Wells (at Seahawks), Thomas (vs. Browns), Jerome Harrison (at Saints), Cadillac Williams (vs. Rams) and Darren McFadden (at Broncos).
Week 8 byes
Replacements - A number of a low-end fantasy starters are off in Week 8, so owners who want to start quarterbacks based on their weekly matchups should take interest. Donovan McNabb (at Lions), Palmer (vs. Dolphins) and Jason Campbell (vs. Seahawks) are solid options based on the level of their opponents. If you're in a deeper league, Anderson (vs. Buccaneers), Moore (at Rams) and Edwards (at Chiefs) will be worth a look as well.
Replacements - Two of the top running backs in fantasy football are off this week, as Rice and Turner will both be on byes. If you're lucky enough to land one of these runners in Round 1, targeting Mathews (vs. Titans) or Stewart (at Rams) makes sense. Other backs with favorable matchups include Wells (vs. Buccaneers), Foster (at Colts), Spiller (at Chiefs), Forsett (at Raiders), Portis (at Lions) and McFadden (vs. Seahawks).
Week 9 byes
Quarterbacks - McNabb, Young, Smith, Garrard, Orton, Bradford.
Replacements - Outside of McNabb, there isn't one quarterback off in Week 9 who'll be drafted as a starter. As a result, owners who want to use weekly matchups should consider Eli Manning (at Seahawks), Flacco (at Dolphins), Ryan (vs. Buccaneers), Sanchez (at Lions) or Campbell (vs. Chiefs). In larger fantasy leagues, consider field generals like Anderson (at Vikings), Hasselbeck (vs. Giants) and Freeman (at Falcons).
Replacements - Four running backs (Johnson, Jones-Drew, Gore, Jackson) that will be drafted in the first round are off in Week 9, so this is an important time to understand the matchups. Greene (at Lions), McCoy (vs. Colts) and Stewart (vs. Saints) are all nice options. Other running backs with favorable opponents include Thomas (at Panthers), Jacobs (at Seahawks), Forte (at Bills), McFadden (vs. Chiefs) and Maroney (at Browns).
Week 10 byes
Replacements - Three of the four quarterbacks off in Week 10 are ranked in the top five at their position from a fantasy perspective. If you land one of these elite players, the best backups to target include Flacco (at Falcons), Young (at Dolphins), Smith (vs. Rams) or Sanchez (at Browns). If you wait until the late rounds, the best options are Henne (vs. Titans), Anderson (at Seahawks), Hasselbeck (vs. Cardinals) and Orton (vs. Chiefs.)
Running backs - Grant, Mathews, Thomas, McFadden.
Replacements - Grant, a borderline No. 1 fantasy back, and Mathews, the top fantasy rookie are the most prominent runners off in Week 10. Several players have solid matchups for owners to consider, a list that includes breakout candidates like Greene (at Browns) and Moreno (vs. Chiefs), along with Wells (vs. Seahawks), Brown (at Titans), Stewart (at Buccaneers), Best (at Bills), Spiller (vs. Lions) and Cadillac Williams (vs. Panthers).