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Ignore This! Part I

Forget the data that doesn't matter.

It's still July, right? I've been saying this for weeks, but it's still too early to do any significant research. Whatever work you do now could be upended by a holdout, injury, or free agent signing. Hope you didn't spend much time on the Titans' fantasy prospects, since everything changes now that DeAndre Hopkins is on board. Saquon Barkley and Josh Jacobs couldn't sign long-term deals by the deadline, so both have to play on their one-year tender. Jacobs signed his; Barkley hasn't. So what can you do while plenty of variables are waiting to be resolved?

Well, you can do one thing. You can pinpoint the areas you should ignore completely. You'll save time and effort and avoid pitfalls that can (and hopefully will) hurt your opponents.

So what should you ignore? I have two items, and I'll share the first one now: Bye weeks. You want to know how to manage bye weeks? Pretend they don't exist. I'm not exaggerating. Give them exactly no weight when evaluating players. Take the best guy every time, no matter what week their team is off.

There are many reasons to factor them in, and they sound kind of logical. You don't want your backups to have the same byes as your starters, because they won't be available for you that week you really need them, right? Sure, if you could guarantee that your "starters" and "backups" in week 8 will be the same ones you had in week 1. Not only will I not guarantee that will be the case, but I'm confident it won't be. Your team might look radically different after just a couple of games. Planning ahead is smart. Planning for a month after draft day is folly, and planning for three months is just absurd.

But suppose if you have a bunch of players on the same bye week, and you won't be able to sub enough out due to roster limitations? If everyone stays healthy and your lineup doesn't change, what do you do then?

Okay, so in the rare cataclysmic event that you somehow have the exact same roster when bye weeks start...I guess you lose that week. So what? If bye weeks actually mattered, I'd rather have everyone off the same week, take the L, and be at full strength all the other weeks when opponents have weaknesses for a month or so.

But that's not going to happen. Your team won't be the same. It's a data point that looks like it means something in July, but when the bye weeks start, you'll see it didn't matter. Never, ever take an inferior player because they match up nicely with the rest of your team as far as bye weeks go. You're hurting your depth for no reason.

Sure, but how about this: You take two quarterbacks. You should at least make sure they don't have the same bye because you know you'll need to replace your starter that week, correct?

Nope. Take the best guy, every time. Worry about that stuff later. By the time the bye rolls around, one or both of them could be injured, benched, or just disappointing. You might find a better backup on the waiver wire, or trade for a player, or trade one away, and the bye won’t matter anymore. Is there risk involved? Sure, but there’s more risk in taking a worse backup and losing games because you could have had someone better.

Every year I look at my final roster and compare it to my draft day selections. There’s always a big difference, especially on the bench. Even if you don’t make a lot of moves, you won’t have the exact same team at the end of the season. So why map out weeks 5-14 as if you know what you’ll need?

Ignoring bye weeks improves your team, and focusing on them hurts your opponents. They’re matching up byes while you’re taking the best players. As the clock ticks down for each choice, they’re factoring in byes, and that lost time could nudge them into a bad decision. There’s a small advantage there, and in competitive leagues, any advantage can make a difference.

Okay, one caveat: If you play in a guillotine league where you draft players and can’t make any moves all season, having guys on the same bye could hurt you enough that you get chopped one week. Anyone using that as their main league?

If not, use this time to figure out what you can safely ignore on draft day. Bye weeks is definitely one of them. I never factor them in, and it almost never comes up. I don’t actually remember getting stuck due to players having the same bye, but I do remember league mates chuckling that my players had the same bye, and it not mattering one bit that season. It’s probably been an issue at some point over the decades, but I’ll take the time saved each and every year over purposely taking a different player because I liked their bye week better.

I think this is the kind of stuff you should be doing in July. While your opponents are following contract talks, camps, and biased reports from hometown news outlets, you’re eliminating time-wasters that could bog you down on draft day. I’d say that gives you an edge before you even look at a cheat sheet. And there’s more to come. Stay tuned.

Do you give weight to bye weeks when selecting players? Have they caused you issues in the past? How much turnover does your team experience over the course of the season? Share your thoughts below.

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