How to Manage Bye Weeks When Drafting

Greg Alan's picture

By Greg Alan (4for4 Founder) on January 4, 2013

Greg Alan is the original founder of 4for4.com Fantasy Football and comes from a deeply statistical and analytical business background.

Long before I became an NFL Analyst I obtained a Computer Science and Stats Degree from a small school of 60,000 or so in Pennsylvania -- Penn State University.

I always knew my Computer Science and Statistics degree would come in handy one day, I just never knew it would be for fantasy football bye week management.
 
Let's dig in.
 
The truth is, drafting a fantasy team and trying to manage bye weeks can get you in trouble. Big trouble!
 
In short, favoring and drafting certain starters or backup players to cover bye weeks can really hurt your odds of winning.
 
Contrary to common opinion, in many situations, having four, five, six or even eight key NFL players all on bye in the same week actually INCREASES your odds of winning over the season! 
 
In other words, it's a GOOD THING to have almost all your starters out on bye in one week!
 
I'm sure some of you are saying, 'Greg you have no idea, what the heck are you talking about! Everyone knows you should draft to make sure you manage the bye weeks properly. Leaving a big gap in Week 5 is the sign of a rookie.'
 
Before we go any further, I need you to take a minute and form your own opinion on this.
 
Is it better to:
 
1) 'Properly' manage your bye weeks, never have more than one starter out on bye each week
 
2) Have a major gap in your starting lineup one week due to bye
 
3) None of the above, in the long run, it makes no difference
 
 
So, what's you answer? One, two or three?
 
Okay, here's the deal:
 
I used my old computer science degree and wrote a small but effective program to simulate 50,000 8-week NFL seasons. In turn the computer gave me results from 50,000 virtual seasons. I will share those results here.
 
I used Monte Carlo (random number) Simulation to make this happen. In other words, I let the computer simulate the results of three different drafting techniques (Team A, Team B and Team C).
 

Assumptions

 
NOTE: The results are rigorous and should hold up across a wide range of league rules and situations.
 
- A starting lineup consists of eight players.
 
- Each team drafts 16-players (eight Starters and eight Benchwarmers).
 
- All Starters average 20 points/game, with scores varying from 15 to 25 each week.
 
- All Benchwarmers average 12 points/game, with scores varying from 7 to 17 each week.
 
- Teams always play their Starters, unless the Starter is on bye. When the Starter is on bye, a Benchwarmer is inserted into the starting lineup.
 
TEAM A
This team made sure they only had one player on bye each week of the virtual season. In other words each of the eight starters went on bye in different weeks. So, this team never had more than one player on bye each week. Some might say this team managed bye's 'properly.'  In total, this team missed eight starters due to bye during each virtual season.
 
TEAM B
This team had two starters on bye for four weeks and no Starters on bye the other four weeks. So, for four weeks this team was at full strength and for four weeks this team had two starters on the bench. Like Team A, Team B missed using eight starters due to bye each virtual season.
 
TEAM C
This team paid no attention to bye weeks during their draft! As it turns out, all eight of their Starters go on bye the same week. In that week, the team is in trouble. That's the bad news. However, during the other seven weeks, this team was at full strength. Like Team A and Team B, this team also missed using eight starters due to bye each season.
 
So, all the teams have identical talent, the only difference is how each team managed to spread out bye weeks among Starters.
 
To best measure which method works best, the highest scoring team that week went 2-0, the team in the middle went 1-1 and the lowest scoring team went 0-2.
 
So, after 50,000 seasons, which team did best?
 
As it turns out, Team C is the clear winner and it's not even close! The results are statistically significant.
 
The table below shows how many wins each team had over the 50,000 eight-week seasons.
 
Team Wins
Team C 501,247
Team B 361,972
Team A 336,781
Total 1,200,000
 
The take is clear, drafting players to spread out your bye weeks is not the way to go! It's much better to get your bye weeks out of the way all in one week and then run on all cylinders the rest of the season.
 
For those interested in my code, see program below.
 
 
DEFINE SIM PROGRAM
 
teamwins=0
 
 
_i = 0       
while _i lt 50000
do
 
 _wk=1
 while _wk le 8
 do      
 
 teamscore(team 'a')  =   random(15 25) + random(15 25) + random(15 25) + random(15 25) -
         + random(15 25) + random(15 25) + random(15 25) + random(7 17)
 
 
 if _wk eq 1 or _wk eq 2 or _wk eq 3 or _wk eq 4
 then teamscore(team 'b')  =  random(15 25) + random(15 25) + random(15 25) + random(15 25) -
             + random(15 25) + random(15 25) + random(7 17) + random(7 17)
 else teamscore(team 'b')  =  random(15 25) + random(15 25) + random(15 25) + random(15 25) -
             + random(15 25) + random(15 25) + random(15 25) + random(15 25)
 
   
 if _wk eq 1
 then teamscore(team 'c')  =  random(7  17) + random(7  17) + random(7  17) + random(7  17) -
             + random(7  17) + random(7  17) + random(7 17) + random(7 17)
 else teamscore(team 'c')  =  random(15 25) + random(15 25) + random(15 25) + random(15 25) -
              + random(15 25) + random(15 25) + random(15 25) + random(15 25)
      
              
  sort team a teamscore
  "tbl teamscore
  teamwins=teamwins + statrank(team) -1
  "tbl teamwins
 
   _wk = _wk +1
doend
 
   
_i=_i+1
doend
 
   
sort team d teamwins
tbl teamwins
END
 
Filed Under: Preseason, 2010