Bye weeks are a key aspect of the fantasy football season. They can be a blessing and a curse any given week for any given roster. It’s important that I immediately make clear drafting with bye weeks in mind is a mistake. Again, to make it very clear: Drafting with bye weeks in mind is a mistake.
Bye weeks are just one of many variables that fantasy football managers have to navigate throughout the season. If you draft three key players that all have a Week 13 bye, it’s possible one, two, or none of them are even contributors on your fantasy team by Week 13 anyway due to injury, poor performance, or even a trade. So, factor in managing bye weeks during the season, not during your drafts!
Below, I take a look at when each team is scheduled to have their bye week during the 2022 season. I also highlight key players from each team to give you an idea of when certain studs will be resting and are guaranteed to be absent during the fantasy football season. Lastly, I’ll be sprinkling in some very loose and generic strategy, tips, and advice for you to keep in mind when these bye weeks do come in to play.
Navigating NFL Bye Weeks During the 2022 Fantasy Football Season
Week 6 Bye: Detroit Lions, Houston Texans, Las Vegas Raiders, Tennessee Titans
KEY PLAYERS: D’Andre Swift, Amon-Ra St. Brown, T.J. Hockenson, Brandin Cooks, Davante Adams, Darren Waller, Hunter Renfrow, Derrick Henry, Robert Woods
This is the first of eight bye weeks. Odds are you may only have one big-named player missing from your fantasy football starting roster this week. Based on the key players’ ADPs, and the perhaps lesser interest of rostering multiple players from these specific teams, this bye week should be fairly easy to navigate.
If you do target any of these players early in your drafts, you may want to consider their absence in Week 6 when deciding upon depth. A lot can happen in the first five weeks, but preparing to replace any of these players during their Week 6 bye ahead of time might not be a bad idea. Just don’t completely center your draft strategy around it.
I love this bye week for Derrick Henry. Yes, after a mid-season foot injury in 2021, he did return to the NFL playoffs for one game. And yes, he looks great in training camp so far. Regardless, a player with his expected workload getting a week off early in the season is sometimes better than going 10 or more weeks before a rest. Derrick Henry notoriously dominates December, when healthy, as well, so I’m glad he has his bye week sooner than later.
Week 7 Bye: Buffalo Bills, Los Angeles Rams, Minnesota Vikings, Philadelphia Eagles
KEY PLAYERS: Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs, Cooper Kupp, Allen Robinson, Cam Akers, Justin Jefferson, Dalvin Cook, Adam Thielen, Jalen Hurts, A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith
This bye week carries a ton of firepower. Five players in Kupp, Jefferson, Cook, Diggs, and Brown are all expected to go in the first two to three rounds of fantasy football drafts. Additionally, the overall ranked QB1, Josh Allen, gets his bye week here, as well. It may be overwhelming in the moment, but I actually think this is the best case scenario for fantasy football.
These star-studded players will hopefully earn you at least three wins by this point of the fantasy football regular season. You then, at worst, have a .500 record of 3-3 heading into this bye week. Hopefully, though, you are 4-2, or better, which gives you some breathing room and the affordability of a loss with some of your best players missing this week.
Managers often scramble to add and drop players for bye week fill-ins. If you do have a winning record, you might consider the probability of eating a loss during this bye week. Knowing that your studs will be back the following week, and available for the rest of the season, it may be better to keep your team in tact rather than drop players for one week fill-ins to try and win. It all depends on your record, rest of the season outlook, and bench situation, of course.
Week 8 Bye: Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers
KEY PLAYERS: Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, Juju Smith-Schuster, Justin Herbert, Austin Ekeler, Keenan Allen, Mike Williams
This is the friendliest of bye weeks with just two teams unavailable to fantasy football managers. It’s also the halfway point of the fantasy football season. Hopefully, if you have a few Chiefs and Chargers on your roster, your opponent also has a few other Chiefs and Chargers on theirs. Otherwise, your opponent, with every other NFL team in play, doesn’t have any bye week conflicts to manage.
Similar to the train of thought from my Week 7 analysis above, investing heavily in Chiefs and Chargers might mean eating a loss in Week 8, especially if you have a winning record at this point in the season. The good news is, if you do decide to find bye-week replacements, there shouldn’t be much competition on the waiver wire with fewer managers looking for replacements of their own.
Week 9: Cleveland Browns, Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos, New York Giants, Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco 49ers
KEY PLAYERS: Nick Chubb, Amari Cooper, Ceedee Lamb, Ezekiel Elliott, Dak Prescott, Russell Wilson, Courtland Sutton, Javonte Williams, Najee Harris, Diontae Johnson, Deebo Samuel, George Kittle, Elijah Mitchell
Week 9 is the first of two bye weeks with six NFL teams unavailable for fantasy football. There is a large handful of key fantasy football players amongst these six teams, as well. If you find yourself with a few of these players starting week to week on your roster, it’s best to have some foresight on the waiver wire a few weeks prior.
Looking ahead at the Week 9 schedule for players available on the waiver wire can be advantageous. For instance, if you know that Najee Harris has his bye week this week, I would try to add a running back with a favorable matchup for Week 9 a week or two prior in preparation of Najee’s absence. If you have some fringe bench players that you may never start, it would be worthwhile to trim the fat sooner and add such a player you know you can use during this hefty Week 9 bye week.
Week 10: Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, New England Patriots, New York Jets
KEY PLAYERS: Lamar Jackson, Mark Andrews, J.K. Dobbins, Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, Joe Mixon, Joe Burrow, Damien Harris, Breece Hall, Elijah Moore
The Week 10 bye week will be a blessing for the Baltimore Ravens as they face the Cleveland Browns, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and New Orleans Saints all in the matter of 15 days in the three weeks of the schedule prior. While those should be three competitive games, they could produce messy fantasy football performances in such a short span. Therefore, managers may see a brutal four-week stretch from Ravens players factoring in those games and then the bye. Analyzing the strength of schedule for positions and teams has its pros and cons. I won’t invest too heavily into it during drafts but will consider it when choosing my starting lineup on a week-to-week basis.
Week 11: Jacksonville Jaguars, Miami Dolphins, Seattle Seahawks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
KEY PLAYERS: Trevor Lawrence, Travis Etienne, Christian Kirk, Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle, Chase Edmonds, D.K. Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, Rashaad Penny, Tom Brady, Mike Evans, Leonard Fournette, Chris Godwin
Do yourself a favor and check your fantasy football league’s trade deadline in league settings. Most will default to some date in and around the area of November 23, 2022. That’s midweek right before Week 12 kicks off. So, in most cases, Week 11 is the last week of games before your league’s trade deadline. With that in mind, any players on the teams with a bye this week that you try to move in a trade will have to have a solid body of work in the first 10 weeks because managers won’t get to see any big, tempting performances out of them in Week 11.
Furthermore, players on the eight teams with bye weeks in Week 13 and 14 could be tough to move in trades since managers know they won’t have them for at least one game post-deadline. This is more something to keep in mind for mid-season, but I’m just floating it out there now.
Week 13: Arizona Cardinals, Carolina Panthers
KEY PLAYERS: Kyler Murray, James Conner, DeAndre Hopkins, Marquise Brown, Zach Ertz, Christian McCaffrey, D.J. Moore
For the third season in a row, the Carolina Panthers draw a Week 13 bye. For the last two seasons, the late bye has been an additional week without Christian McCaffrey in the wake of multiple multi-week injuries prior to the bye week. Let’s hope we get more than seven games out of McCaffrey before this year’s Week 13 bye. He’s averaging five games played over the last two seasons.
A late bye week for the Cardinals brings the minimum total of games to be missed by DeAndre Hopkins to seven. His six-game suspension will go into effect at the start of the season. Then, this Week 13 bye will be another week without the top-rated wide receiver. That’s exactly half of the fantasy football regular season Hopkins will miss. He’s coming off of an injury-riddled 2021 season, just turned 30, and currently has an ADP of WR32. I’ll pass at that price point.
Week 14: Atlanta Falcons, Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, Indianapolis Colts, New Orleans Saints, Washington Commanders
KEY PLAYERS: Drake London, Kyle Pitts, Justin Fields, Darnell Mooney, David Montgomery, Aaron Rodgers, Aaron Jones, A.J. Dillon, Jonathan Taylor, Michael Pittman, Alvin Kamara, Michael Thomas, Antonio Gibson, Terry McLaurin
Week 14 is the final regular season week in the majority of fantasy football leagues. The most important piece of advice I can give you is to avoid factoring in this bye week during your drafts. Fading top players from these teams because they won’t be available for you in the final week of the fantasy regular season is a mistake. There are 13 weeks of football before this one. Those 13 weeks are far more important than this one week.
This bye week might not even matter! In a best-case scenario, the top players from these teams will already earn you a playoff spot in your fantasy league. If that’s the case, this bye week will actually help you as players from these teams get a nice late-season rest.
There’s no doubt for some fantasy football managers, this bye week could be a death sentence. If you’re fighting for a playoff spot, and have multiple players on one or more of these six bye week teams, then it’s going to be an uphill battle to earn a crucial victory. Again, though, the goal is to win early and often so that this week doesn’t even matter to your team.