If you want to have the most successful fantasy football draft possible, there's more than just having an in-depth knowledge of player values, sleepers and busts.
You also need an intimate understanding of the bye weeks.
There aren't many fantasy leaguers who wouldn't love to have Drew Brees on their team. But when the Saints quarterback is on a bye (Week 5), who would be the best backup to draft and start in his absence? Well, owers who land Brees might want to target Ben Roethlisberger in the middle to late rounds. The Steelers quarterback faces the clawless Detroit Lions and their vulnerable pass defense at Ford Field.
You'd also probably love to have a backfield of Steve Slaton and Brandon Jacobs. That's sort of like having your own "Thunder and Lightning" at your disposal. But did you know that they both have the same bye week? That will leave you more than a little thin at running back in Week 10. 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.
What does make sense is to target Willie Parker as a No. 3 fantasy runner in the middle rounds. He faces a Bengals defense that seems to always struggle against the run. You might even want to take Felix Jones based on a matchup against a Packers team that ranked 26th in the league in run defense last season. Fred Taylor, who faces the Colts, is another viable based on the previous level of his opponent.
Below on the right is a list of all the top quarterbacks and running backs and their respective bye weeks. Listed in the left column are the best bye-week replacements based on the final defensive statistics (vs. the pass or the run) from last season. For example, if you draft Tom Brady (who you will almost never reserve outside of his bye week), you might want to target Joe Flacco as your No. 2 quarterback.
Flacco faces a Broncos defense in Week 10 that ranked 27th in pass defense and an even more dreadful 29th in total team defense.
While it's harder to avoid drafting running backs with the same bye based on player values (as I mentioned above), it's still important to know which alternative runners can help you take home a win even when your superstars aren't on the field.
Be sure to print this out and bring it with you to your draft!