Commentary

FBO: Week 4 fantasy matchups

Managing the loss of key players due to byes means paying extra attention to matchups

Updated: September 30, 2010, 5:13 PM ET
By Bill Barnwell | Football Outsiders
Gradkowski/Kuhn/Heyward-Bey US Presswire, Getty Images, US PresswireWith usual starters facing bye weeks, guys like Gradkowski, Kuhn and Heyward-Bey gain value.

With three weeks in the books, we come to that dreaded time of year for fantasy owners: bye weeks. For the next seven weekends, you'll likely be forced to juggle your roster to account for the absence of the players you would normally depend on. But it's where fantasy playoff runs are forged.

You can use the bye weeks to gain a competitive advantage on your opponents by churning the bottom of your roster each week to account for matchups. Think about the players buried on your bench. Are you going to feel confident about putting Jerome Harrison in the lineup anytime soon? What about Josh Morgan? David Garrard? The hopes you had for your players before the season aren't easy to let go of, but good fantasy owners recognize reality and are proactive about making changes. By being aggressive with acquiring freely available talent, you can turn three- and four-point positions into eight- or 10-point slots. Pull off a couple of those moves each week and you'll turn losses into wins.

Of course, there's risk involved. You may not get a shot at having the Harrisons of the world on your roster again and, if situations change, that may come back to bite you. You may also have the right idea and pick up a player with a good matchup, only for the player to not get the playing time or level of performance you anticipate. That will happen. But look at what we saw a week ago, before the bye. Players who were free in most standard leagues -- Roy Williams and BenJarvus Green-Ellis -- put up big numbers in games where they had ideal matchups.

The other key is to be cruel. Williams had a great day last week, but he's got a bye this week; there's no reason he should be on your roster going forward, so get rid of him. Yes, you might have had some great times together in Week 3. But he doesn't get to play the Texans every week. With this strategy, you must be willing to churn your bottom two or three roster spots every single week.

So as we move into the byes, this column will focus a little closer on those marginal players that could be difference-makers on a weekly basis. This week, there's one player whose history is so gruesome that it seems impossible to recommend picking him up ... but he just might win you a game this week.


To see which player could be an unlikely fantasy savior this week, plus other guys with great matchups to help cover for guys with byes and which players have matchups to avoid, sign up for ESPN Insider today.

Bill Barnwell (@billbarnwell) is a staff writer for Grantland.