Fantasy Doctor: Bye weeks aren’t goodbyes to your seasons

Say bye-bye to your fantasy stars.

Of course, it’s only for one week of the season. But starting last week with the Packers and the Panthers, bye weeks have begun, and that means shifting fantasy players around weekly to accommodate holes in your lineup.

Like it or not, the bye week is crucial even in the fantasy world. While it doesn’t provide owners with a week off to recuperate (or gloat), it does play an definite role in maintaining a dynasty. If owners want to be successful, their play strategies have to incorporate a method in dealing with the pesky bye weeks.

Now, I’m not here to break down and analyze how bye weeks affect fantasy players and teams. This isn’t about how a week off might have benefited the struggling Packers. It’s about you. It’s about what you can control. And, as always, it’s about how much you gamble.

The typical method for fantasy owners is a careless one. More times than not, owners sign into their leagues and are smacked with the realization that they are down two receivers and a tight end this week. Then the panic sets in. You scramble to the waiver wires, make risky pickups and, before you know it, you’re unconvincingly rooting for players you barely knew existed prior to this week. You could get lucky and you could win the week, but wouldn’t you rather replace “could” with “should”?

Another feasible option is to just accept the bye week for what it is and take the hit. For someone with Peyton Manning, Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker and Julius Thomas, Week 9 is going to be about as cheerful as the final season of Breaking Bad. But how can losing a single week compare to the 285 points those four have combined for in the first four weeks of play?

If you’re lucky enough to find yourself in this situation, good for you. For the most part, you get off easy in these bye weeks. But you should be wary of such a mind set if you don’t have an army of Broncos to lead the charge. Having Matthew Stafford, Reggie Bush and Calvin Johnson might feel secure, but having Martellus Bennett and Brandon Marshall could cripple you two weeks in a row. Again, you find yourself looking at your team in terms of “could” instead of “should.”

Honestly, the best option is to familiarize yourself with your players’ bye weeks in advance. Have a battle plan when Philip Rivers is out in Week 8. Actively cycle players on and off your bench for the best fit in the weeks to come. Keep tabs on the waiver wires, and when it all goes down, be ready to swipe the one you’ve had your eye on. Most importantly, though, don’t just have a plan for next week, have a plan for the season.

Week 4 is over and done, and after the way the Bears performed Sunday, I couldn’t be happier. It’s a new week and with a new week comes new pickups and drops from your always-faithful fantasy doctor:

PICKUPS

Alex Smith (quarterback, Chiefs, owned in 45.6 percent of ESPN leagues) — Who would have guessed after being shoved out of San Francisco by Colin Kaepernick that Alex Smith would be ranked 10th in the league for fantasy points? Week to week, Smith has thrived in Andy Reid’s new system in Kansas City, and most fantasy owners are missing out on the earnings. He has his flaws with an average 60.3 percent completion rate, but he’s thrown more touchdowns (7) and fewer picks (2) than some of the big names like Joe Flacco (5 and 7), Robert Griffin III (6 and 4) and Russell Wilson (6 and 3). With the bye weeks in full swing, Smith looks good on any bench.

Nate Washington (wide receiver, Titans, 17.8 percent) — I can hardly believe how few people have claimed Nate Washington since Sunday’s performance. Following up an eight-catch, 131-yard performance in Week 3, Washington grabbed four in the air for 105 yards and two touchdowns, one of which came after Jake Locker went down in the third quarter. Sure, he faced a terrible defense in Week 3 and got lucky with a few touchdowns in Week 4, but now-starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is going to need a reliable man downfield. Who better than Washington?

DROPS

Brandon Myers (tight end, Giants, 91.8 percent) — Brandon Myers duped everyone in the first two weeks. Thirteen catches for 140 yards and a touchdown looked promising for a tight end. Since then, though, he’s been on a steady decline. The Giants are 0-4 and we all know Eli will eventually bounce back, but how long will it take? And when the Giants are finally back on track, what’s to make anyone think Myers will get more looks than Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks or even Da’Rel Scott? He’s a bad bet with a fleeting chance for the occasional good game. Final verdict? Pitch him to the waivers and let someone else stress over him.

T.Y. Hilton (wide receiver, Colts, 97.8 percent) — Since his huge six-catch, 124-yard game in Week 2, expectations have skyrocketed for T.Y. Hilton. Well, I’m finally going to put my foot down and say that 97.8 percent is way too high. Andrew Luck is a versatile quarterback. He’s thrown to 12 targets so far on the year, three for touchdowns. I firmly believe he has the potential to become one of the greats. I do, however, think that Hilton is just too risky, even at the flex. He may flare up one or two weeks this season, but don’t let that stop you from doing what you’ve got to do. He’s not even good enough to fill bye week holes, let alone hold an actual position on your roster. Let him go.

J.J. is a sophomore in Media. He can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @Wilsonable07.