The Mundies: Rewarding Strategy & Fantasy Football
One of my favorite aspects of playing fantasy football, and what drew me to it when I first started playing in the mid-2000s, is the strategy. Strategy is what keeps me invested in fantasy football 365 days a year. With strategy, there is always hope. The goal or aim for me in fantasy football is to score points, win games and ultimately, win championships. Maybe I’m in the minority here, but I don’t play any differently whether it’s a money league or not.
Not only is it a constant strategy during a fantasy football season, but it is strategy in varying forms and with varying potential impacts. The offseason, research and NFL Draft, the pre-season and fantasy drafts, the roster construction, the waiver wire, the start/sit decisions and the trade market are all chock-full of opportunities to implement our own individual strategies and processes with the ultimate goal of winning a trophy.
What I mean by strategy breeding hope is there is always an opportunity to improve and adjust our strategy for any of these pieces of a fantasy football season, including completely discarding and pivoting to something entirely different.
This is why I love it so much. I have always loved strategy games, from role-playing style games and things like “Settlers of Catan,” to fantasy football. I believe developing and implementing strategies, whether in fantasy football, board games, in your place of work or anywhere in life is a very good mental exercise, weights and cardio for the brain.
I am not very good at chess. I’ll go with the reason being that I haven’t given it much of a chance, but either way I stink. However, fantasy football can start to resemble the aspect of chess where you have to be looking multiple moves ahead of what is right in front of you. An example of this is if you get off to a hot start, you can start looking at fantasy playoff matchups for players and potentially make some moves for players who may not be ideal in the short term but could be huge during the all-important “win-or-go-home” playoffs.
Another in-season strategy I like is in leagues with a Defense/Special Teams (D/ST) slot. If I have bench flexibility, I may grab a D/ST a week early who has a good matchup the following week.
I could go on and on about all the “nook and cranny” strategies that are available to us throughout a fantasy season. Seriously, I could go on forever, I love talking about it.
But we’ll save that for another time, as a much-maligned but unavoidable time is upon us, one that requires much effort and strategy to navigate. And with that, the Mundie Award:
THE N’SYNC AWARD
“Bye Bye Bye” byes are officially upon us starting in Week 6. Unlike Mundie Awards in previous columns, the N’Sync Award does not go to an individual player. Rather it goes to the concept of “bye-week fill-ins,” a strategy as much an ingrained part of a fantasy football season as the draft and working the waiver wire.
The number of teams on bye from week to week fluctuates between two, four and six teams. Two teams on bye is not difficult to weather, but four and six out of 32 teams on bye equal a lot of fantasy players being unavailable, and we always have to plan accordingly with our roster construction to fill in the gaps.
In my earlier days of fantasy football, I paid much more attention to bye weeks during the fantasy draft, allowing it to influence my decisions based on the bye weeks of already-selected players. More recently, however, I barely look at bye weeks during the draft, for better or worse. I trust that I’ll be able to make the right decisions and moves to address my bye week issues.
For the 2021 season the bye weeks are as follows:
- Week 6: Four teams (ATL, NO, NYJ, SF)
- Week 7: Six teams (BUF, DAL, JAX, LAC, MIN, PIT)
- Week 8: Two teams (BAL, LV)
- Week 9: Four teams (DET, SEA, TB, WFT)
- Week 10: Four teams (CHI, CIN, HOU, NYG)
- Week 11: Two teams (DEN, LAR)
- Week 12: Two teams (ARI, KC)
- Week 13: Four teams (CAR, CLE, GB, TEN)
- Week 14: Four teams (IND, MIA, NE, PHI)
It always looks brutal when I see it all in one place. But there are some much-needed breaks with only two bye teams in Weeks 8, 11 and 12. As I said this is simply part of the fantasy football deal, the price of doing business. Anyone looking for bye week assistance feel free to reach out to me and I will do my best to help.
What I want to focus on to conclude this column is the rapidly approaching Week 7, luckily the only week this season with six teams on bye (there were two 6-team bye weeks in 2018). With six teams on bye, most of whom having multiple upper echelon fantasy starters, combined with the number of injuries we have already seen through five weeks, Week 7 will be a tough week to navigate.
You need to start preparing now if you have not already. Since the running back position has been hit particularly hard by injuries and is more difficult to replace than the wide receiver position via waivers, the following are some decent players to look at for the Week 7 “Bye-Nado.” None of these players will win you your week, but they could keep the ship afloat and allow your mainstays to do the damage needed for a victory.
These are names to consider either picking up off of waivers or potentially making low-risk trade offers for. The other side of this complicated equation is who to drop from your team. The options will likely be limited there as well with so many byes and solely depends on who you have rostered. For that piece of the puzzle feel free to hit up my Twitter Direct Messages (DMs).
Jeremy McNichols (RB, Tennessee Titans)
Jeremy McNichols is not a household name in fantasy circles by any means. Titans RB Darrynton Evans was drafted in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft to play the third-down/pass-catching role, but Evans has battled hamstring injuries and McNichols is currently playing that role. Evans was designated to return to practice this week, starting the 3-week clock for the Titans to add him to the active roster so keep an eye on that.
But in Points Per Reception (PPR) leagues, McNichols could be a decent option as a bye week fill-in, especially with the perceived desolate Week 7 RB landscape. The Tennessee Titans host the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 7, an opponent currently ranked 28th in fantasy points allowed to RBs and 25th against pass-catching RBs.
This likely points toward a stellar game from Derrick Henry, who has seen his passing-game work increase this season. However, the Titans do not have the defense to hold back the Chiefs’ offense, so this game will likely be a shoot-out with the Titans playing from behind. McNichols is coming off a 12-target, 8-catch outing in Week 4 against the Jets. It must be noted that both AJ Brown and Julio Jones were out in Week 4 which played a role in McNichols’ 12 targets, but he proved he can handle that role.
Myles Gaskin (RB, Miami Dolphins)
Prior to Week 5, Myles Gaskin had underwhelmed thus far in 2021. It’s possible he may have already been hastily dropped in your league after a dismal Week 4 in which he only had two carries and no targets. More likely you would need to acquire Gaskin via trade. But he is another good RB option during the Week 7 byes.
I still have faith that Gaskin is the preferred RB over Malcolm Brown, and the Dolphins have a tasty home matchup against the Falcons in Week 7. The Falcons are currently 25th in points allowed to RBs and 27th in points allowed to pass-catching RBs. The Falcons offense can put up some points meaning this could be another relatively high-scoring game. This bodes well for Gaskin’s chances to be a solid RB fill-in.
Kenneth Gainwell (RB, Philadelphia Eagles)
Kenneth Gainwell is someone you should already have stashed on your bench. If not it might not take too much to acquire him via trade. Through four weeks Gainwell’s snap share and opportunity share have climbed to 35 and 42.0 percent, respectively.
Again, this is not week-winning usage, but higher than I thought it would be this early in his rookie season (and I’m a Gainwell guy). The Eagles have shown they are not afraid to use him on the high-value touch side of the field. The Eagles travel to Las Vegas in Week 7 to take on the Raiders and their 26th ranked defense in fantasy points allowed to RBs.
Writing new and different editions of “The Mundies” will be a lot of fun, but I’d love some help. If you have ideas, hit me up, and I’ll include a shout-out for any suggestions used.
And as always, find me on Twitter, talking fantasy football, joking around, posting GIFs and lending my support where it’s needed @MunderDifflinFF.