Does it matter when your fantasy player has his bye week?
I want to be clear up front that I think what I’m about to talk about is just noise. I don’t think it’s actually meaningful. Largely because I can’t think of an explanation for it. But it’s an interesting trend, and I’m willing to put it out there just so people can decide for themselves.
(Also, I did a lot of research, and I’ll be danged if I don’t write about it just because I don’t understand it.)
Last year, there was a wide range of bye weeks, ranging from Week 4 (Green Bay and Philadelphia) to Week 13 (Cleveland and Tennessee). Other than 2008, when Hurricane Ike moved a Baltimore-Houston game to Week 10 and caused both teams to have a Week 2 bye, last year was the first time any byes have come outside Weeks 4–12 since 2006. The majority of byes, though, get lumped in roughly the Weeks 7–10 range.
The bye week is a small data point, but every data point is a data point, so I decided to investigate how players performed before and after a bye based on when the bye week fell. Does an early bye mean a player tails off late in the season? Does a late bye provide much-needed rest, meaning players come out of their bye that much stronger? You could invent a narrative for anything (and I’m sure people have), but absent the data, they’re just narratives.
Going back 10 years, I tracked average fantasy points per game in four categories:
- The whole season before the bye
- The last three games before the bye
- The first three games after the bye
- The whole season after the bye
I did this for six different “positions”:
- Teams’ No. 1 running backs
- Teams’ full running back groups
- Teams’ No. 1 wide receivers
- Teams’ full wide receiver groups
- Teams’ No. 1 tight ends
I took out any situations where a team’s No. 1 option wasn’t clear — whether due to injury or performance — and separated everything by bye week. It … took a while.