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NFL Bye Weeks 2021: Fantasy football cheat sheet

Finding matchups a week in advance can put a manager at a significant advantage. Here is the 2021 NFL bye week schedule for fantasy football.

NFL Bye Weeks 2021: Fantasy football cheat sheet
Nov 15, 2020; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

As the season progresses, NFL fans and fantasy football players need to be mindful of not only who teams are matching up against but also which NFL teams are on a bye week. Starting in Week 4, we will begin to see teams with scheduled weeks off, forcing managers to work the waiver wire for a fill-in while your stars rest. To aid in the decision-making, here is the 2021 NFL bye week schedule for fantasy football, along with some notable names and some quick strategy tips to help you along the way.

NFL Bye Weeks for the 2021 NFL Season

When are the bye weeks for all 32 NFL teams?

Week 4:

There are no key players out during Week 4.

Week 5:

There are no key players out during Week 5.

Week 6:  Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints, San Francisco 49ers, New York Jets

Key players out during the NFL Week 6 bye week include Calvin Ridley, Julio Jones, Kyle Pitts, Alvin Kamara, Michael Thomas, Jameis Winston, Trey Lance, George Kittle, Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel, Zach Wilson, Denzel Mims, Elijah Moore.

Week 7: Dallas Cowboys, Minnesota Vikings, Buffalo Bills, Pittsburgh Steelers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Los Angeles Chargers

Key players out during the NFL Week 7 bye week include Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, Dalvin Cook, Justin Jefferson, Kirk Cousins, Irv Smith Jr., Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs, Zack Moss, Ben Roethlisberger, Najee Harris, JuJu-Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, Trevor Lawrence, Travis Etienne, D.J. Chark, Laviska Shenault, Justin Herbert, Keenan Allen, Mike Wallace, Austin Ekeler.

Week 8: Las Vegas Raiders, Baltimore Ravens

Key players out during the NFL Week 8 bye week include Derek Carr, Josh Jacobs, Henry Ruggs III, Darren Waller, Lamar Jackson, J.K. Dobbins, Marquise Brown, Rashod Bateman, Mark Andrews.

Week 9: Detroit Lions, Washington Football Team, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Seattle Seahawks

Key players out during the NFL Week 9 bye week include Jared Goff, D’Andre Swift, Amon-Ra St. Brown, T.J. Hockenson, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Antonio Gibson, Terry McLaurin, Logan Thomas, Tom Brady, Leonard Fournette, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown, Russell Wilson, Chris Carson, D.K. Metcalf, Tyler Lockett.

Week 10: Chicago Bears, Houston Texans, New York Giants, Cincinnati Bengals

Key players out during the NFL Week 10 bye week include Justin Fields, David Montgomery, Allen Robinson, Cole Kmet, Darnell Mooney, Daniel Jones, Saquon Barkley, Kenny Golladay, Evan Engram, Brandin Cooks, Nico Collins, Joe Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, Joe Mixon.

Week 11: Denver Broncos, Los Angeles Rams

Key players out during the NFL Week 11 bye week include Drew Lock, Melvin Gordon, Javonte Williams, Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, Noah Fant, Matthew Stafford, Cam Akers, Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, Tyler Higbee.

Week 12: Kansas City Chiefs, Arizona Cardinals

Key players out during the NFL Week 12 bye week include Patrick Mahomes, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, Kyler Murray, Chase Edmonds, DeAndre Hopkins, A.J. Green, Rondale Moore, Christian Kirk.

Week 13: Cleveland Browns, Green Bay Packers,  Tennessee Titans, Carolina Panthers

Key players out during the NFL Week 13 bye week include Baker Mayfield, Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt, Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry, Austin Hooper, Aaron Rodgers, Davante Adams, Aaron Jones, Robert Tonyan, Ryan Tannehill, Derrick Henry, A.J. Brown, Anthony Firkser, Sam Darnold, Christian McCaffrey, D.J. Moore, Robby Anderson.

Week 14: Indianapolis Colts, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, Philadelphia Eagles

Key players out during the NFL Week 14 bye week include Carson Wentz, Jonathan Taylor, T.Y. Hilton, Michael Pittman Jr., Tua Tagovailoa, Myles Gaskin, DeVante Parker, Jaylen Waddle, Mike Gesicki, Cam Newton, Mac Jones, Damien Harris, N’Keal Harry, Hunter Henry, Jonnu Smith, Jalen Hurts, Miles Sanders, Jalen Reagor, DeVonta Smith, Dallas Goedert, Zach Ertz.

2021 Fantasy football bye week strategies

2021 is an unprecedented season for both the NFL as well as those who delve into the fantasy football world. With the NFL adding a 17th game to the schedule, we can only guess how teams will attempt to manage players’ workloads through this longer season. There is a high probability we see more players getting extra rest throughout the week. They could even potentially receive a game off in addition to their scheduled bye week. 

This will make navigating the season even trickier and force fantasy managers to think several steps ahead when making roster decisions. Setting your team up with a solid bye week strategy out the gate could help alleviate some tricky mid-season or even mid-week challenges that will assuredly arise in 2021.

Redraft Bye Week Strategy and Tips

I know for me, and for several people, when we first started playing fantasy and would show up to our drafts without cheat sheets printed out, we would hyperfocus on bye weeks. In doing so, we were sure not to take that RB2 with the same bye week as our other starter. Those were simpler days.

The more years I have played, the less I have cared about bye weeks, honestly. Eventually, the thought process changed. For me, why am I willing to throw away the opportunity for 15 or 16 games of production just because of one game? It’s still the same to this day.

I tend not to focus on bye weeks during fantasy football drafts. More than likely, we all end up with a week where we are scraping the bottom of the barrel for players anyway. Instead, I select the best players who fit my team. 

What I do see being a more pressing need will be to draft the backup for your critical fantasy football players in 2021. For example, having Mike Davis last year in place of Christian McCaffrey or Alexander Mattison for the Minnesota Vikings, especially if you have Dalvin Cook. With the likelihood of players seeing more rest than usual along with the extra potential touches, they could be massively essential pieces to your team.

The biggest thing for fantasy football in 2021 will be to pay attention a week or two in advance of when a potential bye week need will need to be addressed. Waiting around until when waivers clear of the week you need someone could cause you to lose out on a much-needed player or crucial FAAB. 

Best Ball Bye Week Strategy and Tips

How I manage my team in best ball fantasy football leagues in 2021 differs from redraft when it comes to bye weeks. Remember, there are no waivers or trades to bail you out mid-season. The team you draft is the team you have for the duration of the season.

I feel this effect is felt most at the QB position in best-ball formats. Let’s use Week 5, for example.

Let’s say you selected both Calvin Ridley and Michael Thomas. That’s going to be a zero in the stat column. And there is nothing that can be done to fix it compared to working the waiver wire in other formats.

It’s even more critical should you select QBs with Week 14 byes. If you are in the hunt for a first-round bye or just trying to make the playoffs, you cannot afford to have both of your QBs on a bye week and miss out on the fantasy football playoffs. 

Tight end and defense (if you have them) are the other two positions I would use a similar mindset. These are the lowest rostered players on your best ball team and run the highest risk of bye weeks overlapping. When it comes to running back and receivers, on the other hand, you’re selecting six to eight players at each position. Odds are very good that you will be covered for your bye weeks. 

Want more NFL news and analysis?

Be sure to follow us on Twitter (@PFN365) to stay up to date with all things around the NFL. Also, continue to visit Pro Football Network for NFL news and in-depth analysis concerning the 2021 season and beyond.

Tommy Garrett is a writer for Pro Football Network covering the NFL and fantasy football. You can read more of his work here and follow him at @TommygarrettPFN on Twitter.

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