2023 NFL Schedule Release: How can the Bye Weeks help us in Best Ball Tournaments

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The NFL schedules are finally out and that means we now have a large piece of the puzzle for drafting our Best Ball teams in the most effective way. No, I’m not talking about Week 17 correlation ( which does have a little value), I’m talking about factoring the Bye weeks and how that can help us create the best line-ups.

While the old mantra of don’t worry about bye weeks might apply to re-draft leagues, they mean quite a bit more when it comes to Best Ball, particularly with the tournament format. You can’t just pick up players from the waiver wire to cover your overexposure to a particular week. Contrary to popular belief this is even more so for the tournament style.

A lot of advice out there is to focus on building your team for Week 17 because that is where all the money is. That is true, but the first 14 weeks are also where 5/6 of the teams get eliminated. You could have the best week 17 line-up there is, but it’s not going to matter if you can’t even make the playoffs. We saw this last year as a number of top Week 17 players (Tom Brady, Daniel Jones, D’Andre Swift, Mike Evans, D.J. Moore) had very low advance rates to the playoffs. A large part of that was the disappointing performances of those players in the regular season, but some teams did make it, and quite a few others probably just missed out by a few points.

So how can factoring the bye weeks help us maximize our chance of advancing to the playoffs, and have more shots to make it to the finals? There are two areas that I think we can key in on — positional investment and draft capital investment.


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Positional Investment:

This is the more important one, and the easiest one to avoid negative situations. We have 18 roster spots and limited build structures we can use. The two most popular builds for Quarterback are 2 and 3-player options. In two QB builds it becomes a necessity to ensure that the bye weeks aren’t overlapping. It is never acceptable to take a zero from this position if you can help it. In three QB builds if you really feel the value is warranted you can take two from the same bye, but ideally, it wouldn’t be the top 2. Tight end is a position where you can take the same approach.

Running back we typically see between a Hyper-fragile 4 RB build and a Zero RB 7 player build. In a 4 RB build, you have to spread out your byes between all the backs, and can’t afford any overlapping. With 5 running backs you can afford two to have the same bye week, but that’s it. With 6 and 7 RB builds, I would still stick with no more than two from a single week. Part of the issue is these builds typically have weaker running back options, so you can’t count on the guys at the top to produce week-in-week-out. Also, some of the backs you take late might be clear back-ups who won’t even score more than a handful of points some weeks. Given that case, you are going to want multiple players viable every week, to ensure you aren’t rostering backs scoring 5 points or less.

Receivers typically see between 7-10 players drafted so it’s not too hard to ensure you won’t be taking zeroes like at some of the other positions. The bigger issue here is that WR scoring can be streakier, meaning even top WRs will have multiple games under 10 points. That’s just not going to cut it if you want to be one of the top 2 teams. Ideally, you never want to have fewer than 5 WR options in a week, and if you are rostering 9 or 10 it should probably be a minimum of 6.


Draft Capital Investment:

Though not as important as ensuring strong options on a weekly basis positionally, you also don’t want to over-invest your top players all with the same bye week. You will naturally be stacking a couple of teams up with 2-4 players per stack. If you start combining those stacks with having the same bye week, you might quickly be down 5-7 players in a single week. That’s bad enough, but if the majority of those are from your first 8-10 rounds, you are going to have a tough time putting up a respectable score that week. There is also a positional aspect to this as well, as unless it’s part of a team stack (i.e. Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins), you probably want to avoid taking your top two backs or receivers on the same bye week. These are the players who should have the best chance for spike weeks and without them, you will be behind.

This might seem minor and something you can make up down the road, but likely it can set you back to where you can’t recover. There are a lot of leagues where the difference in point totals between the 2nd place and 3rd, 4th, and 5th is within 15 points. That is just over a point a week, and one bad week could be the difference between the playoffs and a dead line-up.



Below I will break down each bye week and some positional groups and high draft areas that could be impacted. In conclusion, though, the key takeaway is to find balance and always ensure you aren’t putting yourself in a bad spot. Getting to the playoffs should carry a fair amount of weight with how you build your team, because if you don’t make it nothing else matters. You still want to be targeting the best players with the highest upsides, but bye weeks should start to factor into your strategy.


2023 NFL Bye Weeks:

*ADP ranks are based on Underdog from 5/12


Week 5: Browns, Buccaneers, Chargers, Seahawks

  • Byes are starting a week earlier this year and the first week starts off by sitting 3 of the top 16 QBs, 3 of the top 15 RBs, and 10 of the top 50 wide receivers. The tight end position is pretty much unscathed here, but that is a pretty big chunk of top-end RBs and quality receivers.


Week 6: Packers, Steelers

  • With just two teams and neither one considered a fantasy powerhouse there won’t be as much risk if you end up with multiple pieces from the Steelers and Packers.


Week 7: Bengals, Cowboys, Jets, Panthers, Texans, Titans

  • One of two 6-team bye weeks; this will test your depth and ability to balance your roster. Luckily it is a fair split of three highly projected offenses (Bengals, Cowboys, Jets) and three that you probably wouldn’t want too many pieces of anyways (Panthers, Texans, Titans). Running back is probably the position that is hit the most as Tony Pollard, Derrick Henry and Breece Hall are all top 10 RBs. Miles Sanders, Dameon Pierce, and Joe Mixon are in the 17-21 range, so starting talent will be an issue.


Week 8: None


Week 9: 49ers, Broncos, Lions, Jaguars

  • If Sean Payton turns around the Broncos, this could end up as four really good offenses with a number of key weapons. Tight end is probably the position that is weakened the most, with George Kittle, Evan Engram, and Greg Dulcich as top 15 TEs currently.


Week 10: Chiefs, Dolphins, Eagles, Rams

  • This is going to be a painful week for a lot of drafters as they won’t have a lot of early-round selections. Currently, 8 of the top 24 players in ADP would be on bye this week. This includes two of the top 3 QBs, the top TE, and 5 of the top 13 WRs.


Week 11: Colts, Falcons, Patriots, Saints

  • Overall for losing 4 teams, this is not that bad fantasy-wise. None of these teams project to be major fantasy assets this year, so this probably isn’t a group of teams you are trying to stack up. Running back does see 3 of the top 11 on bye, but that is about it.


Week 12: None


Week 13: Bears, Bills, Giants, Raiders, Ravens, Vikings

  • Another 6-team bye week, and this one hurts a little at every position. QB has the biggest blow with 3 of the top 5 and 5 of the top 14 on bye. Top end receiver loses 3 of the top 7, but luckily little else until the 40-65 range. RB and TE both take some losses as well. Currently 4 of the top 20 RBs (though Dalvin Cook situation could change that), and 5 of the top 14 TEs.


Week 14: Cardinals, Commanders

  • This week will likely have the least impact on how your roster build. Just two teams and neither has a top-end offense. Individually there are pieces, but no clear massive loss to try to balance.


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