A question that many fantasy players ask themselves is whether or not they should worry about bye weeks when drafting. From experience, I usually try to make sure that my backups don’t have the same bye weeks as my starters if possible but I will not pass on a backup I like because he has the same bye week as one of my starters. Injuries will happen, players will surprise or disappoint and by the time your starter’s bye week arrives, you will likely have picked up another backup on waivers. Some people have asked me whether or not it matters if your starters are all off in the same week or if your starters should all have different bye weeks. My initial impression was that it did not matter enough to worry about but I decided to test it out.
The hardest part of this analysis was to figure out how to test this in order to find out the impact different bye weeks strategies have on fantasy wins. Using statistics from last season, I created an average team of 14 players (2 QB, 4 RB, 6 WR and 2 TE) who played all 16 games. For example I took a quarterback who finished in the top 12 and a backup quarterback who was in the 13 to 24 range. I tried to choose players who were in the middle of those ranges when possible. I took these players exact statistics from the first 16 weeks of the season but moved around the bye weeks in order to be able to test different strategies. I then created five teams with all the same players but those players had bye weeks at different times. Here are the five teams I created:
Team A: All starters are off on the same week.
Team B: All starters are off on different weeks.
Team C: No starters from the same position are off on the same week; top QB, RB, WR and TE are off on the same week.
Team D: No more than two starters are off at the same time and none at the same position.
Team E: Four starters are off one week and three are off on another week.
Once this was done I had to find a way to simulate a large number of seasons to see if one strategy was superior. I wanted this to be as fair as possible so for every week in a season, each player was given the number of points he earned in a random week during the season. For example, player A could have the number of points he earned in week seven for week one of my simulation and player B could have his totals from week three for week one of my simulation. Over a large number of simulations, each team would have the same number of points scored on average but they would have a different number each week. Once I had the number of points for each week for each player, I added them together and had a points total for each team for 16 weeks.
The next step was to determine the number of wins for each team throughout the season. What I did is that the top team each week will earn 1.0 win, the second best team will earn 0.75, third will earn 0.50 and so on. This gave me a total number of wins for each team for one season. Finally once I had totals for one season, I simulated 5,000 seasons and averaged the number of wins for each team. Here are the results:
Team A – 7.98
Team B – 8.00
Team C – 7.99
Team D – 8.01
Team E – 8.02
As you can see these numbers are all very close to each other and the biggest difference with the average number of wins is 0.02. That is the equivalent of one additional win every 50 seasons. You can see that team A which has all its starters off on the same week have the lowest number of wins which may or may not be a coincidence. However, the difference is so small that it is not worth worrying about.
In conclusion, as you can see there is no advantage whether your starters all have their bye week at the same time or all on different weeks. As I had initially thought, bye weeks are not worth worrying about and you will be in much better shape if you draft players you like best instead of worrying about bye weeks. In leagues where you are not allowed to pick up players on waivers you will want to make sure that your starters and backups at the same position don’t all have the same bye week but other than that, forget about bye weeks and draft the best players.