I have heard a bunch of names for this week like the "BYEcalypse," the "Mega Bye Week," and even just simple "Hell Week." They are all dumb names, but that doesn't change the fact that this is the one week with six teams on bye including three of the top-10 scoring offenses. And that can make things very tough for the Start 'Em, Sit 'Em fantasy advice for quarterbacks, tight ends, and defense/special teams (DSTs) for Week 7.
With byes now a factor, I had considered changing the criteria, but I will stick to what I've been doing. This column focuses on the options in the "QB2/TE2/DST2" range, i.e. those ranked that week from around 13 to 24. That's the tier I will be evaluating. And more often than not, I'll try to give you a lower-ranked option for whom to start and a higher-ranked option for whom to sit when possible.
With bye weeks hitting, your decisions might actually be a little easier for our three weekly featured positions. However, if you are still struggling, let's see if we can help make things a little easier.
Teams on bye: Atlanta, New Orleans, New York Jets, San Francisco
START This QB
Jameis Winston, New Orleans Saints at Seattle Seahawks (MNF)
Starting a quarterback on Monday night given another close option elicits reactions on two different ends of the spectrum. Some love to "holster" their big gun until the end, while others want to "deliver the knockout" early. I understand both points of view, but I will tell you from a statistical perspective, it really doesn't make one difference.
However, I will point out that since 2006, the year that Sean Payton started coaching the Saints, New Orleans is 12-6 the week after a bye, which is tied for the third-best mark in the league in that time frame. The point is I think we see a strong New Orleans game plan on Monday night in Seattle with Winston one of the beneficiaries.
Winston has been both hot and cold. In Weeks 2-4, he threw for a combined three touchdowns. that's not good. But he bookended those performances with a five-TD game in Week 1 and four his most recent time out against Washington. (Both of those games were away from the Superdome too.) We know the potential is there. Given that the Seattle defense has been on the field for 437 plays, most in the league, but is also giving up the fifth-most passing yards, I like Winston's chances for a big game this week.
SIT This QB
Sam Darnold, Carolina Panthers at New York Giants
I've seen Darnold ranked ahead of Jameis Winston this week and I completely disagree. I've already gone into detail earlier this week about why I don't like Darnold right now. You can go back and read that for reference. But shortly after I submitted those thoughts, I saw this tweet:
Does that sound like a quarterback you want to invest in this week? I know I'm not. If you have any other top-20 options, I'd choose any of them over Darnold this week.
START This TE
Anthony Firkser, Tennessee Titans vs. Kansas City Chiefs
The odds of you having two viable TEs from which to choose this week are pretty slim. Most either have a top option or are essentially looking to "punt" the position. So here's a deep option for you typically ranked outside the top 20.
Firkser is still leading all Titan TEs with 14 targets. That's important because the Chiefs are giving up 17.85 PPR points to TEs a game, making them the fourth-most generous defense to the position. I also think we see a newly confident Ryan Tannehill after the big win over Buffalo on Monday night. While it has been the King Henry coronation so far this season, don't forget that the Titans targeted their TEs 8.6 times a game last year, good for fifth in the league. My guess is we see Firsker start to be more involved and this week is as good as any.
SIT This TE
Ross Dwelley, San Francisco 49ers vs. Indianapolis Colts
I understand Dwelley being in the top 20 TEs this week as much as I understand the fascination with candy corn. As Jerry Seinfield says, candy corn looks like Halloween but tastes like Groundhog Day. Yet Dwelley too looks attractive as a bye-week replacement in George Kittle's spot and many experts have him in the top 20.
I think most of us know that Kittle has been one of the bigger "busts" at TE this year, partially due to injury. But you know how many targets Dwelley has? Three. So he's caught them all. Are we really going to get excited about that? Starting Dwelley this week will leave with you the same horrible taste in your mouth as candy corn. If you like that taste of a candle mixed with a doorstop, have at it. But Dwelley is not just a sit this week, he's not even a top-30 option.
START This Defense/Special Teams (DST)
New York Jets at New England Patriots
Do you know who the best matchup is for a fantasy defense? Well, the answer is the Jets' offense, but the Jets DST will never have the luxury of their playing their own offense. Plus, the Patriots DST has been a top-10 option all year and is already being started by whoever owns them. So do you want to guess who the next-best offense to start a DST against is?
Did you guess New England? Well, you'd be wrong. The second would actually be the Atlanta Falcons. But they're coming off a bye and Miami's run defense scares me. That game could become a high-scoring one very quickly. But the Patriots are third-best option, which makes the Jets a sneaky-deep play. They are tied for fifth in sacks, which is even more impressive when you realize they've already had their bye. New York also is a surprising ninth in terms of fewest yards per play allowed. On a week with so few options, why not fly with the J-E-T-S?
SIT This Defense/Special Teams (DST)
Philadelphia Eagles at Las Vegas Raiders
First off, if I'm looking to stream a DST, I try to choose one playing at home. But with this bye week, the pickings could be very slim. Yet with the Raiders around the middle of the league standings in terms of scoring (24.5 ppg), starting the Eagles DST might be tempting. Don't do it.
I'll be honest, I knew the Eagles DST was nothing special but I had no idea just how mediocre this unit was. And mediocre might be a compliment. Philadelphia is tied for 22nd in sacks (11) and tied for 11th in interceptions (five). So the Eagles aren't already offering much in two of the big counting categories, if you will. But it gets worse. The only team with fewer fumble recoveries thus far than Philadephia is Jacksonville. The Eagles have created a grand total of six turnovers in six games. And it's not like this unit hasn't had its opportunities. They are seeing the sixth-most plays of any defense. Not surprisingly, Philadelphia is 23rd in scoring defense (25.3 ppg). Even with six DSTs already off the table, I'd count on there being a better option this week.
— Written by Mark Strausberg, a member of the Athlon Network Contributor, who despite his youthful exuberance and good looks has been playing fantasy sports before Wildcats or Hoosiers even made it to VHS. Got a fantasy sports question or thought? Hit him up on Twitter @MarkStrausberg.