Evil. Annoying. Maddening.
Those are just a few words to describe bye weeks for fantasy football owners. There’s nothing worse than having a handful of stars inactive because of a bye, while owners scrounge the waiver wire for viable alternatives. For those who have been enjoying all 32 teams playing thus far, you might want to shield your eyes because Week 4 kicks off the first slate of byes. Two big time fantasy quarterbacks will be out of commission this week, as Aaron Rodgers and Cam Newton get the week off. And while you can’t necessarily replace the production they give you, there are options that can get you a victory without them.
Joe Flacco @ Buffalo Bills: You won’t see me recommend Flacco as a fantasy signal caller very often, so pay attention. It’s all about the matchup, which is what you are looking for when finding a fill-in quarterback. Flacco may have the best matchup of the bunch against a Buffalo secondary that could be missing Jairus Byrd, Stephon Gilmore and Leodis McKelvin on Sunday. This unit just allowed rookie Geno Smith to finish Week 3 as a top-10 fantasy quarterback against them, and has allowed six passing touchdowns through three games. I think Flacco will hook up with Torrey Smith for a few long bombs in this contest, and if Ray Rice returns to action, that will only boost his value. If you are looking for an alternative for this week, you could do a lot worse than Flacco.
Terrelle Pryor vs Washington Redskins: The Redskins defense has been historically bad through three weeks, allowing the most yards (1,464) during that span. Washington is allowing 333 passing yards per contest and eight touchdowns thus far, and they have surrendered the most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. The last time Pryor had a favorable matchup, the Raiders were controlling the game so he didn’t have the greatest opportunity to post strong fantasy numbers. However, Pryor has the upside to be a top-1o guy in this matchup, as the Redskins are surrendering almost 33 fantasy points per contest to opposing quarterbacks. This defense can’t stop anyone, and considering Pryor’s dual-threat ability, he is even more valuable this week.
Alex Smith vs New York Giants: I wrote about how Smith is the perfect bye week replacement for the rest of the season, and it all starts in Week 4. Smith faces a New York secondary that has allowed seven passing touchdowns already. The secondary is by far the weakest part of this defensive unit, and are allowing over 26 fantasy points per contest to opposing quarterbacks. While Smith hasn’t been the most dynamite downfield passer thus far, consistently checking the ball down to his running backs and tight ends. However, if Smith and Dwayne Bowe get it together, they could torch this unit. Smith has been running the ball a ton this season, running the ball a ridiculous 23 times, which is more than the likes of Cam Newton, for instance. He may not blow you away with outstanding numbers, but he’ll be viable.
Ryan Tannehill @ New Orleans Saints: I’m no longer saying that the Saints are the salivating matchup that they were from a year ago, as they are statistically the 5th-ranked defense in the league right now. Yes, you read that correctly. The Saints defense has pulled a complete 180 from last year and looks like a force to be reckoned with, especially at home where they have held opponent’s to just a combined 24 total points. However, I do think Tannehill is serviceable as a bye-week replacement because he looks pretty good as well, posting a 94.3 quarterback rating, 827 yards and four touchdowns. The weapons around him are emerging, such as Mike Wallace, Charles Clay, and Brian Hartline. I think Miami will have to throw a good amount to keep up with Drew Brees and company, and considering he is already averaging over 35 attempts per game, Tannehill has volume that fantasy owners should enjoy.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.