Players on bye (Dallas, Buffalo, Minnesota, Los Angeles Chargers especially) or players that are clearly fantasy relevant, but out due to injury - The byepocalypse may force a team that is 2-4 or 3-3 to sell off top talent that they can’t use this week to avoid taking or starting a zero in a week that they see as must win. Look at the teams that are on the bubble right now and try to craft a trade that looks like a win-win, with the focus on them winning this week and you winning down the line.
Michael Pittman Jr (WR-IND) - Pittman was a Week 6 disappointment, but T.Y. Hilton and Parris Campbell both got hurt, with Campbell likely gone for an extended time, and Hilton stuck in the sometimes injury prone pattern he has been in on and off for a few years. After the 49ers poor cornerback group this week, Pittman will get the Titans, Jets, and Jaguars.
Josh Jacobs (RB-LV), Kenyan Drake (RB-LV), Darren Waller (TE-LV), Henry Ruggs III (WR-LV) - You get the feeling that the Raiders were relieved and even energized to play without Jon Gruden on the sidelines? Jacobs is getting healthier and this team is heading into a stretch of winnable and potentially high-scoring games against the whole NFC East, Kansas City (twice), Cleveland, Cincinnati, Denver, and Indianapolis. This offense could be very tough to handle with a solid running game, a deep threat, a middle of the field target monster, and a bolder Derek Carr giving his guys chances to make plays.
Jameis Winston (QB-NO), Michael Thomas (WR-NO) - Sean Payton said he was happy that he didn’t have to bring home the team’s downfield passing report card to Mom yet, which tells us that working with Winston to improve in that area was part of the focus of the bye week. The Saints are getting back Tre’Quan Smith soon and Michael Thomas soon after that. They’ll face a dream schedule for a pass offense after this week’s tilt in Seattle: Tampa, Atlanta, Tennessee, Philadelphia, Buffalo, Dallas, New York Jets, Tampa. Winston has been highly efficient on low volume. Perhaps his volume will go up without much loss in efficiency as he gets more comfortable in the Payton/Carmichael offense. Thomas is one of those players a middling team has been holding to hopefully recoup value later on, but they now need to sell to avoid taking a zero this week. He should be back in the next month and produced well last year while Taysom Hill was the quarterback even though he clearly was not 100%. We forget that a year and half ago he was considered the clear #1 receiver in fantasy football.
Tyler Boyd (WR-CIN) - Boyd may not produce much for redraft teams if everyone stays healthy in Cincinnati, but he’s still a very good football player and his value will come back eventually some way, some how. Try to buy in dynasty while he seems like a replacement level player.
Daniel Jones (QB-NYG) - Jones has been suffering through a rash of injuries around him, but his offensive line and skill players were starting to pop and come together before the offense collapsed. Who knows whether this coaching staff and organization will get it together, but Jones may produce numbers even if they don’t because of the sheer amount of talent around him - when everyone is healthy. He’s worth trying to get in 2QB/superflex leagues right now.
Miles Sanders (RB-PHI) - Sanders has taken back the Eagles backfield even if it’s not worth much while Jalen Hurts is the quarterback. He might not produce much for redraft leagues this year, but the 24-year-old may still have his best football ahead of him. His value has never been cheap in dynasty leagues.
Players that help teams cover byes - The byepocalypse this week is going to leave holes in everyone’s lineup. Don’t worry about taking the L this week, even if you are 2-4 or 3-3. Try to win in a trade where you get an injured player or player on bye for a lesser player that helps a team avoid a zero even if it makes you take a zero.
Khalil Herbert (RB-CHI) - There’s more there than we usually expect from a third day back and Herbert has opportunity again this week with Damien Williams still not removed from the covid list as of this writing. That opportunity has limited value in fantasy leagues with the Bucs up next, and the 49ers and Steelers are on the slate before the team’s Week 10 bye, which will likely usher in the return of David Montgomery and end of Herbert’s 2021 value window.
Joe Mixon (RB-CIN) - Mixon looked to be in top form last week, showing no ill effects from his Week 4 ankle injury and ready to put the offense on his back. The Bengals defense is playing better and the team is settling into a balanced attack that doesn’t expose Joe Burrow to too many hits and keeps the offense on schedule. Mixon has dates with the Jets, Browns, and Raiders coming up, which should all be games that set him up for a big workload.
Darrell Henderson (RB-LAR) - Henderson could be about to go on a tear, with the Lions up this week and the Titans and Texans after that. He may well have four straight strong/elite RB1 games going into a Week 10 showdown with the 49ers. Henderson is a strong RB1 in a good offense, but because he was dinged up twice already and not the starter going into the offseason, he might cost less than that. Just make sure you get Sony Michel too.
D’Ernest Johnson (RB-CLE) - Johnson is well-versed in this running game and should be able to fit into the system productively while Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt are out. As Christian McCaffrey reminded us, injured running backs don’t always return on schedule, and this backfield can support two fantasy relevant backs, so Johnson’s window is bigger than just this week. He posted 95 yards in the win over Dallas when Chubb went down last year, so Johnson has already proven that he can post numbers in this system when given the chance. Don’t worry about the quarterback change, a healthy Case Keenum is also well-versed in this system (he had his best season in it with Kevin Stefanski back in Minnesota in 2017), and better than a banged up Baker Mayfield.
Brandin Cooks (WR-HOU) - Cooks current situation doesn’t look too bad as Davis Mills is outperforming expectations and Tyrod Taylor could be back next week. With the exception of bad weather vs. Buffalo and a Bill Belichick game, Cooks has been a steady WR2/WR3 in PPR leagues. He could be traded at the deadline to a better situation with a better quarterback, even if it is one with lower volume and more competition for targets. His value is higher and more durable than the perception of it around fantasy football circles.