Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Draft Strategy: So Crazy, It Might Just Work

Alright. I’m going to admit that this draft strategy might be a little bit out there. I have no idea if I picked this up from an article or something in the last few seasons, or it was some kind of fantasy football induced dream, but this strategy is crazy enough that it might actually work. Caution: I have never used this strategy and the workings behind it are entirely theoretical. OK. Let’s do this.

Fantasy season starts out nice. For the first four weeks there is at least a small sense of parity in your league. But then bye weeks happen. And we all know that there is nothing as frustrating as having one of your key players out on a bye week. Even worse, two of them. So from Week 5 of the NFL through Week 10 or 11, your team is not performing at the highest level. It doesn’t matter how good your draft was, for those 6 weeks, your team is playing below 100% because one of your starters is off.

But what if there existed a loophole. A very time-intensive, beyond fantasy nerd, taking it way too seriously loophole. We might have found it. Rather than drafting your team to have alternating bye weeks so you don’t have more than two players off at a time, what if you intentionally drafted so all of your starters shared the same bye week?

Drafting all of your starters with the same bye week would enable you to play at full strength for 16 of the 17 games of the year. The only downfall would be the one week where everyone is off, but I see no harm in taking one automatic loss when you know you will be operating at 100% for the rest of the season.

The theory was in place, so now to put it into practice. Before entering any mock drafts to test my strategy, I decided to take a look at the NFL schedule, to see if it was even plausible. In Weeks 5 through 8, six teams will have a week off at a time. Week 9 will have four teams off. Week 11, four as well. So, I examined the first four bye weeks. Turns out, it is likely quite possible to only draft starters (and a few backups) from any one of these weeks.

For example, let’s take a look at Week 5. Week 5 sees a bye week for the Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns, Dallas Cowboys, Miami Dolphins, St. Louis Rams and Washington Redskins. Analyzing average draft positions*, we learn that in an 8- or 10-team league, with a mid round pick, you could compile an entire starting roster with players who share this bye week. Round 1: Ray Rice, Round 2: Steven Jackson or Peyton Hillis, Round 3: Miles Austin, Round 4: Dez Bryant or Brandon Marshall, Round 5: Tony Romo, Felix Jones, Jason Witten or Anquan Boldin. If you miss any of these players you can pick up Flacco in round 9 or Bradford in 10; Mike Sims-Walker in 9; or Chris Cooley in 12.

I have analyzed the results of Week 6-8 as well, and this strategy can be done, seemingly successfully, in all four rounds. So, if you’re in the same league you’ve been playing with for years and years, and you are looking for more of a challenge for yourself. Try this strategy out. I know that I will employ it in one of my leagues, just to see if it can work as well as it does on paper. If you decide to give it a whirl, let me know how it turns out.

To view the players available in weeks 6-8 that I omitted from this article, simply scroll to the bottom of the comments where I have posted the analysis.

And don’t forget to stay tuned to God Hates Losers throughout the season with daily updates, including weekly player rankings, draft strategy, pick’em, sleeper predictions, start’em sit’em, one-on-one answers to all your questions and much, much more. Tell your friends, dammit!

*ADP taken from fantasyfootballcalculator.com


  1. I tried this logic last year, although I didn't use it to dictate every decision - I still went for the best player, but I wasn't concerned if most of my players had the same week. I caught some flak for it during the draft as more than half of my starting lineup had the same bye week - but I raced out to a 10-0 anyway. However, that was probably mostly due to having Foster, McCoy and McFadden as my RBs...

    I've also long employed the weekly D/ST play. I refuse to pick one up before the last two rounds. That probably helped when I got Run DMC in the 13th round last year.

  2. The D/ST play you are talking about will be brought up again this week. Its pretty foolproof.

    Thanks for providing insight on this strategy. I'm excited to see how it turns out when I draft my entire starting line up with the same bye week.

  3. As promised here are the bye week layouts for Weeks 6, 7 and 8.

    Week 6 (Arizona Cardinals, Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, San Diego Chargers, Seattle Seahawks, Tennessee Titans)
    Round 1: Chris Johnson or Jamaal Charles
    Round 2: Larry Fitzgerald or Vincent Jackson
    Round 3: Philip Rivers, Dwayne Bowe or Antonio Gates
    Round 4: Ryan Mathews, Knowshon Moreno or Brandon Lloyd
    If you miss any of these players you have Kevin Kolb, Kyle Orton and Matt Cassel going between rounds 10 and 12; Marshawn Lynch or Beanie Wells in round 7; Sydney Rice in 6 and Kenny Britt in 7; and a slew of tight ends in the later rounds, including Zach Miller in 9, and Jared Cook and Todd Heap in 14.

    Week 7 (Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals, New England Patriots, New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49ers)
    Round 1: Michael Vick or LeSean McCoy
    Round 2: Hakeem Nicks or DeSean Jackson
    Round 3: Ahmad Bradshaw or Tom Brady
    Round 4: Jeremy Maclin or Wes Welker
    Round 5: Cedric Benson, Steve Johnson or Vernon Davis
    Later picks include Eli Manning in round 7 and Ryan Fitzpatrick in 13; Fred Jackson and BenJarvis Green-Ellis in round 6; and Chad Ochocinco in 6, Mario Manningham in 7, A.J. Green in 8 and Gronkowski in 10.

    Week 8 (Atlanta Falcons, Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, New York Jets, Oakland Raiders, Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
    Round 1: Aaron Rodgers, Darren McFadden or Roddy White
    Round 2: Michael Turner, Matt Forte or Greg Jennings
    Round 3: LeGarrette Blount or Shonn Greene
    Round 4: Mike Williams, Jermichael Finley or Santonio Holmes
    Later picks include Matt Ryan in round 6 or Josh Freeman in 7; Ryan Grant in round 5; Julio Jones in round 7, Plaxico Burress in 8 and Roy Williams in 10; Tony Gonzalez in round 8 and Kellen Winslow in 11.

  4. Yeah, I wouldn't use this strategy as an iron-clad rule since there may be better players or more value available at certain picks - but it's definitely not something to completely shy away from.

  5. Agreed. I hope I made it clear enough in the top of this post that I am not recommending this activity. I'm merely curious about the result. I'm only going to try it out because I'm in a little nothing league and want to see if I can pull it off.

  6. Who would you take Romo and Schaub? Also who would you start in week 1 James starks or bennie wells??

  7. Romo and Schaub are completely neck and neck for me. I think the Romo has a better arsenal of weapons, but I don't like the offensive line. I've run two mock drafts and when both Schaub and Romo are available, I took Schaub once and Romo the other time. I would figure they both have very good, nearly identical seasons.

    I would be quite uncomfortable starting either Starks or Wells because neither or them are really number one running backs. I suppose in this hypothetical situation I'd go with Wells, he's competing for the position with a rookie and will likely get more of the carries. But I would never start either of these guys in week one if I didn't absolutely have to.

  8. I did this back in 2007. Was considering it going into the draft, even looking at what week or two I would target based on players available, then things feel in place during the draft to do it. A downside is you are normally forced to reach a couple of times to get the player with the right bye week. If the first couple of rounds don't go as desired, do not attempt to be very weak 1 week and still have several other bye week issues. Go all or nothing. Unfortunately, my story did not have a happy ending. Not so much to the strategy, but injuries and performances below expectations. Here's how it went in the 10 ten draft: 1.8 Addai (had himas #8 on my list, the top 7 were gone), 2. Travis Henry (the novice players are saying "who???", I had him as my #10 RB after 1,200yds in '06), 3. R. Wayne, 4. J. Kitna (was #6 QB in '06), 5. H. Ward, ... wrapping up with Denver and Elam. So, my five top skill players and the K/D were all bye week 6. I was lucky that I didn't reach - although there was probably a couple of players still available I had ranked higher, they all were taken no earlier than the ranking that I had them at. Where they ended up based on their position: Addai #5, Henry #39, Wayne #4, Kitna #13, Ward #31, Den #24, Elam #13. So, despite my solid Colts, the rest weren't worthy of starting by mid-season. In fact, I overhauled my team before week 6 and actually WON that week after going something like 1-4 prior to my throw-away bye. I don't think the strategy is bad, but I'm never doing it again.

  9. It definitely has to be a perfect storm to work. I think that to do it this year, the best bet is week 7. I'm going to try it out, I've decided, in one of my throw-away leagues.

    Thanks for all the info. Good to get the perspective of someone who's attempted this.

  10. Sorry for all the details on the players, since that wasn't very helpful, but I was tired. A couple of points that I wanted to share was that it matters what type of league you are in. The advantage in this system is head-to-head won/loss record, as you expect the one loss in exchange for better odds four or five other weeks. That gets you to the playoffs if you have a playoff system, but nothing beneficial beyond getting there, especially if you have to reach for players. If there is no post-season in a H2H league, definitely try it. If Rotisserie scoring, don't do it, as you will have a horrible score that one week that you won't be able to make up. If you do it, include TE, K, D on the same bye week also. Another fun aspect is a low-cost league where you want to have a "homer" team just to enjoy, such as a late draft slot if you are PHI fan - go McCoy, Vick, D. Jackson with first 3 picks if you can.

  11. I stacked my bye weeks last year with Schaub, Foster(took a chance at the draft, pissed of the commish, he was next to pick and had his eye on him, LOL), Felix Jones, Austin, Bryant, Witten and a few others in a 16 team PPR, 1 player keeper league. I had pieces thrown in here and there that didn't fit into my bye week plans. The main thing I think is being lucky(having it "fall into place") and not making it a rule. Keep it as a guideline to see if a starter is available that'll fit into your team during that bye week. I ended up 8-5, won the 4 team division, made it to the second round of the playoffs, mainly on Foster. It's not a bad idea and I'll do a mock with and without this year to see if I can do it again. It damn near impossible to do after the 6th or 7th round as the best available would serve you better than keeping with the bye week, so make sure you get your QB, RB, WR's, TE and Flex starters by the end of those rounds. My D/ST, K and back ups were on different bye's, but it didn't seem to matter too much. Hope this helps.

  12. Awesome additions Mike. Glad to see that this strategy has paid off before. I'll definitely be trying it in some mocks this weekend.

    Thanks for reading!

  13. Just tried this in a mock, got (in order) McCoy-Phi, Nicks-NYG, Bradshaw-NYG, Johnson-Buf, Vernon Davis, Maclin-Phi, Eli, NE Def, Stephen Gostkowski.... took Def and K way to high, but OCD kicked in about half way through

  14. Haha. It can totally be done! Thats great.

    I'm going to be doing this in one of my throwaway leagues just to test it out this year. I'll have a few posts on it. Thanks for sharing!

  15. just had my "real" draft... thanks for the help, and yea, I went with wk 6 byes after 3 of 1st 4 picks had it... nice team, I was laughing the whole time.... Jamaal Charles, Hakeem Nicks(wk 7), Vincent Jackson, Gates, Moreno, Kolb, Malcom Floyd, Nate Kaeding, SD Def... Nicks only not wk 6 bye... Ill take it lol... again, thanks for the help, this site helped me cram for the "finals"

  16. Cool man. I'm glad that I could help! Looks like a great draft. Awesome receivers and tight end. Definitely a solid starting lineup.

    Good luck this year. Make sure you stick around for advice throughout the year.

  17. no doubt, got you bookmarked, and Im on here daily

  18. Makes no sense,After your first 3-4 picks always have to make roster moves,cause someone gets hurt or some one doesnt produce,stupidest thing ever!!!!!!!!!!