As the season progresses, NFL fans and fantasy football players need to be mindful of who teams are matching up against and which NFL teams are on a bye week. Starting in Week 6, 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 are the 2021 NFL bye weeks for fantasy football, along with some notable names and some quick strategy tips to help you along the way.
20201 NFL bye weeks
When are the bye weeks for all 32 NFL teams throughout the 2021 NFL schedule?
Week 6: Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints, New York Jets, San Francisco 49ers
Key players out during the NFL Week 6 bye week include Matt Ryan, Mike Davis, Calvin Ridley, Russell Gage, Kyle Pitts, Alvin Kamara, Michael Thomas, Jameis Winston, Taysom Hill, Adam Trautman, Marquez Callaway, Trey Lance, Jimmy Garoppolo, George Kittle, Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel, Zach Wilson, Michael Carter, Corey Davis, and Elijah Moore.
Week 7: Buffalo Bills, Dallas Cowboys, Jacksonville Jaguars, Los Angeles Chargers, Minnesota Vikings, Pittsburgh Steelers
Key players out during the NFL Week 7 bye week include Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, Dalvin Cook, Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, Kirk Cousins, Irv Smith Jr., Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs, Zack Moss, Devin Singletary, Gabriel Davis, Ben Roethlisberger, Najee Harris, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, Trevor Lawrence, Travis Etienne, D.J. Chark Jr., Laviska Shenault Jr., Justin Herbert, Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and Austin Ekeler.
Week 8: Baltimore Ravens, Las Vegas Raiders
Key players out during the NFL Week 8 bye week include Derek Carr, Josh Jacobs, Henry Ruggs III, Bryan Edwards, Darren Waller, Lamar Jackson, J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards, Marquise Brown, Rashod Bateman, and 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, J.D. McKissic, Terry McLaurin, Curtis Samuel, Dyami Brown, Logan Thomas, Tom Brady, Leonard Fournette, Ronald Jones II, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown, Russell Wilson, Chris Carson, DK Metcalf, and Tyler Lockett.
Week 10: Chicago Bears, Cincinnati Bengals, Houston Texans, New York Giants
Key players out during the NFL Week 10 bye week include Justin Fields, David Montgomery, Allen Robinson II, Cole Kmet, Darnell Mooney, Daniel Jones, Saquon Barkley, Kenny Golladay, Sterling Shepard, Evan Engram, Tyrod Taylor, Brandin Cooks, Nico Collins, Joe Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd, and Joe Mixon.
Week 11: Denver Broncos, Los Angeles Rams
Key players out during the NFL Week 11 bye week include Drew Lock, Teddy Bridgewater, Melvin Gordon III, Javonte Williams, Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, Noah Fant, Matthew Stafford, Darrell Henderson, Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, and Tyler Higbee.
Week 12: Arizona Cardinals, Kansas City Chiefs
Key players out during the NFL Week 12 bye week include Patrick Mahomes, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Tyreek Hill, Mecole Hardman, Travis Kelce, Kyler Murray, Chase Edmonds, James Conner, DeAndre Hopkins, A.J. Green, Rondale Moore, and Christian Kirk.
Week 13: Carolina Panthers, Cleveland Browns, Green Bay Packers, Tennessee Titans
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, Julio Jones, Anthony Firkser, Sam Darnold, Christian McCaffrey, D.J. Moore, Robby Anderson, and Terrace Marshall Jr.
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, Nyheim Hines, T.Y. Hilton, Michael Pittman Jr., Parris Campbell, Michael Strachan, Tua Tagovailoa, Myles Gaskin, DeVante Parker, Jaylen Waddle, Will Fuller V, Mike Gesicki, Cam Newton, Mac Jones, Damien Harris, Rhamondre Stevenson, N’Keal Harry, Hunter Henry, Jonnu Smith, Jalen Hurts, Miles Sanders, Kenneth Gainwell, Jalen Reagor, DeVonta Smith, Dallas Goedert, and Zach Ertz.
League-dependent strategies for dealing with the byes
2021 is an unprecedented season for both the NFL and 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 manage players’ workloads through this 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 as coaches attempt to keep workloads and snap counts under control.
The only known factor is the schedule of bye weeks. Everything else is out of our hands. There is also the looming presence of COVID-19 still hanging over the world, and we have already seen it impact the NFL.
Unfortunately, this is not going away anytime soon and will be another obstacle fantasy managers will need to navigate. Because of this, along with players being kept out or on snap counts, fantasy managers need to maintain as much bench depth as possible in 2021.
Redraft strategy and tips for bye weeks
I know for me, and several people, when we first got into fantasy and showed 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.
The more years I have played, the less I have allowed bye weeks to alter my game plan. Why would I throw away the opportunity for 15 or 16 games of production just because of one game?
The biggest advice for fantasy football in 2021 will be to pay attention a week or two in advance of when a potential bye week will need to be addressed. Waiting around until the week you need someone could cause you to lose out on a much-needed player or crucial FAAB. It is the same strategy as you would employ for defenses. Look a week ahead and get them before their matchup is on the calendar and in the minds of other managers in your league.
Best ball strategy and tips for bye weeks
How I manage my team in best ball fantasy football leagues in 2021 differs from redraft for bye weeks. Remember, there are no waivers or trades to bail you out. The team you draft is the team you have for the duration of the year.
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. In Week 14, QBs on a bye include Hurts, Wentz, Tagovailoa, Newton, and Jones. Potential options could be Russell Wilson or Trey Lance, who have favorable matchups that week with Cincinnati and Houston, respectively.
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.
On the other hand, with running backs and receivers, you’re selecting six to eight players at each position. The odds are you will be covered for your bye weeks.
Tommy Garrett is a writer for Pro Football Network covering the NFL and fantasy football. He is a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA). You can read more of his work here and follow him on Twitter @TommygarrettPFN.