With Week 4 of the 2014 NFL season upon us, we felt it was high time to bust out some of our best thoughts and strategies for dealing with the impending bye weeks. The following points should help you to emerge from the byes with a solid team and fantasy playoff aspirations on your mind. Check these out, and let us know if you think we missed anything in the comments below, and as always, we’re more than happy to chat in the forums for more specific questions.

Don’t cut your studs to try and win a week.

Even if you need a spot. Even if they’ve underperformed. You invested in them on draft day, and now you have to stick with them until it becomes completely clear that you shouldn’t. Generally, this is not the case early in the season. Talk to me if they’re still bad in Week 7.

You don’t have to win every week to win a championship.

Chances are, you won’t anyway. So don’t dismantle your team to field a full squad if it’s clear you aren’t going to win that week. You need depth, depth, and more depth to win consistently as it gets later and later in the season.

Don’t blow your high waiver claim on just anyone.

The byes take a toll on everyone, and beginning in Week 4, players less intelligent than yourself will begin cutting studs to make room for less talented guys to fill their roster for that week. Don’t be that guy – be the guy that claims the underperforming stud that is the linchpin to your fantasy championship.

Kickers are easily replaceable.

If you have to make early week moves, and have to clear a spot, cut your kicker first. General logic: There are 32 kickers, and while they aren’t all elite, you can certainly find another to help you get through the bye week.

Do a 2-for-1 trade to clear a roster spot.

If you’ve got too many good players on your roster and you can’t cut anyone, try to pursue a 2-for-1 upgrade trade early in the week. In this fashion you will obtain an upgrade for your team, and clear a roster spot. Generally targeting teams toward the bottom of the standings that have been ravaged by injuries is a good place to start.

Know your league settings.

There are some leagues (Yahoo!, for example) where you can cut a benched player on Monday night for someone playing in the Monday night game. You can keep more RB/ WR on your bench through Sunday (stashing) employing this strategy, and then if one of the extra guys doesn’t pan out, you can cut them to grab a K.

Be mindful of your team’s byes.

Look at how the byes affect your squad a couple of weeks ahead of time so you aren’t shocked when half your team is unplayable on Tuesday morning. You can’t always plan 3 week ahead, but you can make pre-emptive moves on Sunday morning to grab guys you might need for the next week.

Be mindful of your opponent’s byes.

You can pretty easily see who your current (and next) opponents have on bye, and therefore identify players they might want to pick up to use against you. Grabbing these key players gives you a massive advantage, even if you grab and hold them a few days, releasing them on Sunday morning so your opponent can’t make use of them that week.

Know upcoming defensive matchups.

If you’re streaming D/STs, know the upcoming matchups for teams to target like Jacksonville, St. Louis, Houston, Minnesota, and Cleveland. You will need to be active on Wednesday morning after waivers clear to ensure that you don’t get stuck with a terrible D/ST matchup. This is also helpful when your stud D/ST is on bye or your opponents is.

Pay attention to FST’s weekly columns, rankings, and videos.

Also, stay abreast of practice and injury updates throughout the week. Many of the key plug-and-play guys that are widely available for use during the bye weeks are identified early in the week and then become key pickups as players get hurt/don’t practice during the week. The forum is also a key place to interact with other players and FST experts for questions and scenarios.

Bonus: Have fun with the byes!

You’re not always going to call everything right, so don’t be afraid to take some risks when your options are limited. We’re always here in the forums to give you an opinion, so don’t be afraid to ask!