The bye weeks are here! The bye weeks are here! The bye weeks are here! That statement isn’t usually riddled with that much excitement, but bye weeks are The Backup Plan’s niche market. We’re here to make dealing with team’s off-weeks as easy getting Mark Sanchez to turn the ball over. Well, maybe not THAT easy, but you catch the drift.

The Backup Plan won’t be your book of answers, so to speak, but it will give you some solid fill-in options. Seven of the 13 players listed in last week’s plan lived up to their predictions, which is a way better passing day than Sanchez, Joe Flacco or the insufferable Jay Cutler had last week. So if you’re in a bind this weekend, you better get out of, because it’s likely one of your players is on a bye and you’ll need to make a roster move.

So same deal as usual: these aren’t player you necessarily wanted to start this week, but due to injury, byes or general suckery, you have to. It’s your backup plan. Here’s a rundown of some of the top widely available fill-ins by position and which guys they’ll be better than this week.


Notable QBs on bye: Tony Romo, Joe Flacco, Rex Grossman, Colt McCoy, Sam Bradford, Not Chad Henne

Alex Smith vs. Tampa Bay

Yahoo: 12 percent owned, ESPN: 5 percent owned

The 49ers are 3-1 this season. And Alex Smith has actually been a part of their good play. And no, you’re not the only person confused by those two statements. Smith’s first three starts weren’t so hot, but he had 291 yards and two scores last weekend against the Cowboys, and he could post similar numbers against a 21st ranked Buccaneers pass defense that just allowed Curtis Painter to throw for nearly 300 yards. Smith has to be better than Painter… right?

Guys he’s better than this week: Ben Roethlisberger, Kevin Kolb

Matt Hasselbeck vs. Pittsburgh

Yahoo: 56 percent owned, ESPN: 43 percent owned

To be honest, this isn’t the greatest matchup for Hasselbeck. The Steelers still rank No. 1 in the league in pass defense, but at what point can you look less matchups and more at overall performance? Matty Hass is averaging nearly 290 yards and scoring two touchdowns a game so far, making him a top-10 fantasy option. It’s a tough matchup, but if your starter is on bye, it could be hard to look past Hasselbeck’s success so far this season.

Guys he’s better than this week: Jason Campbell, Kyle Orton

Donovan McNabb vs. Arizona

Yahoo: 24 percent owned, ESPN: 36 percent owned

It’s pretty difficult to find good things to say about McNabb as a fantasy quarterback this season, but if you need a spot start this week, Bounce-Pass might not be the worst play of all time. The Cardinals rank 26th against the pass, and McNabb has thrown for 200+ yards in each of his past three starts with three scores in that span. Let’s just say he’s a slight1y better play that the five QBs on a bye this week.

Guys he’s better than this week: Andy Dalton, Tarvaris Jackson

Running Backs

Notable RBs on bye: Ray Rice, Peyton Hillis, Steven Jackson, Felix Jones, Daniel Thomas, Reggie Bush, Hightower/Torain/Helu

Isaac Redman vs. Tennessee

Yahoo: 36 percent owned, ESPN: 13 percent owned

Rashard Mendenhall has been painfully ineffective for the Steelers so far this season. Mendenhall is also a little banged up nursing a hamstring injury he suffered last week. Even if he does play, he’ll definitely be slowed down from his already sloth-like pace this season. Redman already has 107 yards rushing and a touchdown in limited action, and had 40 yards rushing last week on just six carries. With Mendenhall hurting, Redman is definitely a guy to watch this week.

Guys he’s better than this week: Rashard Mendenhall, DeAngelo Williams

Stevan Ridley vs. New York Jets

Yahoo: 45 percent owned, ESPN: 17 percent owned

Bill Belichick hates your fantasy football team. Both BenJarvus-Green-Ellis and Ridley are getting carries, and there’s no indication on which will be more valuable each week. After rushing for just 51 yards in his first three games, Ridley exploded for 97 yards on 10 carries last week, raising his YPC average to 8.2. Meanwhile, the Law Firm is averaging just 3.9 yards per carry, so if you’re picking between the two, Ridley is the better play against a 27th ranked Jets rush defense.

Guys he’s better than this week: BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Mark Ingram

Dexter McCluster vs. Indianapolis

Yahoo: 58 percent owned, ESPN: 55 percent owned

Will this be the week that Todd Haley takes the training wheels off McCluster? Even though Thomas Jones has averaged a meager 2.8 yards per carry this season, Haley has only let McCluster get 12 touches per game in the Chiefs’ past two, something that will hopefully increase this week against a 28th ranked Colts rush defense. McCluster is an explosive talent, so if he gets more touches he could have a big week.

Guys he’s better than this week: Thomas Jones, Ryan Grant

Wide Receivers

Notable WRs on bye: Dez Bryant, Anquan Boldin, Santana Moss, Brandon Marshall

Victor Cruz vs. Seattle

Yahoo: 50 percent owned, ESPN: 26 percent owned

Cover your eyes, Mario Manningham owners; Cruz is the Giants’ new No. 2 receiver, posting 208 yards and two scores in the past two weeks compared to Manningham’s one catch for 10 yards. Yes, Manningham did miss Week 3 with a concussion, but is your brain crashing against your skull really an excuse? Yes it is. But either way, Cruz is the new hot guy that Mrs. Eli Manning can’t stop thinking about, so he’s a strong play against a bad Seattle defense.

Guys he’s better than this week: Mario Manningham, A.J. Green  

Titus Young vs. Chicago

Yahoo: 8 percent owned, ESPN: 4 percent owned

Nate Burleson entered this season as the clear Robin to Megatron’s Batman. But after four weeks, it seems as if Young is relegating Burleson to the role of Alfred the Butler. The rookie has out-received Burleson 92 to 28 yards in the past two games, and with a primetime matchup against the 29th ranked Bears pass defense, this could be the game that Young finally explodes.

Guys he’s better than this week: Mike Thomas, Nate Burleson

Jacoby Jones vs. Oakland

Yahoo: 37 percent owned, ESPN: 11 percent owned

Andre Johnson is out this week. Which means Jacoby Jones is in. Please, try to contain your excitement. Kevin Walter will continue to man the over-the-middle type routes for the Texans’ offense, but Jones will likely take over Johnson’s role as the No. 1 receiver. Will he perform anywhere to a Johnson-esqe level? Not unless he triples his talent level by Sunday. But can he get you 50+ yards and a touchdown? Yes.

Guys he’s better than this week: David Nelson, Michael Crabtree

Tight Ends

Notable TEs on bye: Jason Witten, Fred Davis, Chris Cooley

Jermaine Gresham vs. Jacksonville

Yahoo: 48 percent owned, ESPN: 21 percent owned

Gresham has at least 50 yards receiving in three of four games this season, and he’s also caught two touchdowns. The Jacksonville defense has allowed opposing tight ends to rack up 340 yards and three touchdowns in their first four games. This is what people in the business refer to as “good odds.” This is a great matchup for Gresham, so start him if you got him.

Guys he’s better than this week: Kellen Winslow, Marcedes Lewis

Randy McMichael vs. Denver

Yahoo: 7 percent owned, ESPN: 2 percent owned

McMichael hasn’t been a productive fantasy tight end since Joey Harrington and Daunte Culpepper were throwing to him in Miami, but he could be in for a renaissance against Denver this week. There’s a legitimate possibility that Philip Rivers throws for 600 yards and totals eight touchdowns against the travesty that is the Broncos’ secondary, and with Antonio Gates’ plantar fascia still hurting, McMichael will get a lot of looks.

Guys he’s better than this week: Dallas Clark, Scott Chandler

Defense/Special Teams

Notable DSTs on bye: Baltimore, Dallas

Cincinnati vs. Jacksonville

Yahoo: 16 percent owned, ESPN: 20 percent owned

There was a time this offseason where everyone—yes, you too—thought the Bengals would be the worst team in football. Through four weeks, they boast the league’s No. 1 overall defense. You can’t see it, but Marvin Lewis is actually laughing at you—yes, you—right now. The Cincinnati defense gets rookie Blaine Gabbert this week, which should be a bag of laughs. Look for the Bengals to keep their opponents to a low score with a turnover or two thrown in.

Defenses they’re better than this week: Philadelphia, New York Jets

Tennessee vs. Pittsburgh

Yahoo: 37 percent owned, ESPN: 26 percent owned

It’s weird to think that the Steelers are no longer a powerhouse, but at 2-2 with an offensive line so bad that even Dakota Fanning could rack up a few sacks against them, this is not a team to be feared. They can’t block, and, to make matters worse, Ben Roethlisberger is dealing with a foot injury that will surely slow him down. And if our girl Dakota can post those types of numbers, Tennessee probably gets close to 22 sacks this week.

Defenses they’re better than this week: Atlanta, New England

Follow me on Twitter: @JoshVitale.

  1. Nick says:

    Should I play the Buccaneers D over Pittsburgh this week? I’m worried that with their good pass D Chris Johnson will get the green light and torch the Steelers.

  2. James says:

    Turner,Holmes,and David Nelson for McFadden??
    Is that too much
    Concerned with turner and have aj green ,Wallace and decker at WR

  3. BA says:

    Pick 3: Washington, Ridley, Starks, Blount (2rb, 1 flex)

    I am 1-3 and lost the last two since Charles went out. Playing the 2nd best team in my league this week and highly considering benching Blount but don’t think I could stomach that.


  4. JD says:

    Pick 2 (.5 PPR)

    I’ve been going back and forth all week and can’t decide who to pick. Thanks in advance!

  5. Josh Vitale says:

    @Nick: You still have to go with Pittsburgh. Still one of the best units in the league, and Tampa isn’t that strong a defensive team.

    @James: As good as McFadden is, that feels like too much. Other than the one bad game against Tampa Bay, Turner has been really good this season. If you have the RB depth to stomach the loss of Turner, i could see you making that trade, but that’s a lot of people for one injury-prone RB.

    @BA: You have to go Bliunt, Ridley and Starks. Pitt has the No. 1 pass defense in the NFL, so Washington isn’t that strong of a play. and I know SF is strong against the run, but Blount has been too good recently to sit him.

    @JD: Best 100% has to be in your lineup, and I like McGahee slightly more than Ridley. Ridley is still competitng with the Law Firm, while McGahee is solidly the top guy in Denver because Knowshon Moreno is a hack.

  6. Nick says:

    Would you say Titus Young or Lance Moore is the better play this week? I’m worried that Moore is going to lose targets to a fully healthy Colston.

  7. genghis chone says:

    I am trying to trade for Matt Ryan. I’ve been offered two possibilities: Mark Ingram and Dez Bryant, or Felix Jones and Julio Jones. 2 QB, PPR league. We start 2 RBs, 2 WRs and a RB/WR. Current QBs are Vick, Fitzpatrick, Grossman; RBs are Forte, Jones, Ingram, Tate, Redman, Scott, Hightower; WRs are Nicks, Bryant, Jones, Denarius Moore. Does either option look like a good idea? Maybe Bryant and Jones for Ryan+?

  8. Josh Vitale says:

    @Nick: Moore is probably the safer play, but I like Titus this week. Bears have an awful pass D, so I can see him having a breakout game.

    @genghis chone: I wouldn’t do any of those trades, to be honest. Vick and Fitz are a solid enough QB duo, and Ryan hasn’t played nearly well enough this season to be worth trading any of the guys that you have on the table. Two of those guys listed is too steep a cost for a QB Ryan, even in a 2QB league.

  9. Micah says:

    Ridley or Ingram to start…you have Ridley here but Ingram is higher in the Week 5 rankings rankings. PPR league. Thanks!

  10. Anthony W says:

    my team is 1-3. Flaccos on a bye and ive been kinda disapointed with him. Marshall is also on a bye.

    I traded Blount, Marshall and A. Hernandez for

    Bowe, Mendenhall, and Winslow

    My starting roster is now

    AJ Green
    Week to Week WR(presten parker this week)
    Chris Johnson
    O Daniels

    12 team league


  11. matt says:

    Hey josh, looking for a trade opinion. I’d love to sell Bowe and bolster up my WR2 spot.
    12 team, nonppr, 2rb/2wr no flex league

    My team RB: McCoy, Run DMC
    bench: J Best, Tolbert
    WR: Stevie Johnson, Bowe
    bench: R Wayne, T Young

    He offered Bowe + J Best for R White and Jacoby Jones (junk) Thoughts? He is thin (Ingram, Addai, Torrain, Tate, D Angelo; Roddy, Fitz, Jones at WR

    Instead of him sending Jacoby Jones he could send an RB from the list. Any of those guys good enough to be my RB3/4 in a 2RB league. Not crucial as I would only use for bye week or injury

  12. Anthony says:

    YO need answers ASAP – Would u trade JAcobs for Ryan Matthews???

  13. Anthony says:

    Err *Blount for Matthews

  14. herschel says:

    @Josh: you really like smith better than rothlisberger this week? ive been debating between both of them and have big ben in right now (hoping the return of max starks helps the o-line and last week, redman actually looked much better than mendy). im just having issues actually moving smith to starter and hitting the “set lineup” button.

  15. Josh Vitale says:

    @Micah: I don’t really care for Ingram. If he was the team’s primary RB, I would love, but he’s fighting with so many people for touches it’s nuts. I like Ridley.

    @Anthony W: I like your team, but to be honest, I don’t like that trade. Blount is better than Mendy and Hernandez is way better that Winslow. Bowe and Marshall are 100% interchangeable for me though.

    @Anthony: I wouldn’t. I like Matthews, but he’s still dealing with Tolbert. Blount is alone on the Bucs and is playing really well.

    @herschel: It scares me too. But Big Ben has been so awful this year that it actually could work out. Smith played decent last week, and the Bucs defense isn’t all that good, while the Titans is. As stupid as it sounds, I do like Smith more.

    @matt: I would see if you can pull off Bowe and Best for R White and maybe Addai. Addai is exactly what you need. He’s not good enough to start, but he’s a great bye week replacement. Better than Jones because it replaces your backup RB. But yea, I like the idea of that trade.

  16. GoGators says:

    Please pick two to start in a PPR league: Joseph Addai, Nate Washington, Lance Moore, or Plaxidently Shot Myself


  17. paulzone says:

    who do you like more in a 0.5 ppr league:

    cook or mcmichael?


  18. Josh Vitale says:

    @paulzone: I say McMicheal. Cook hasn’t gotten that many looks recently, and the Steelers have the NFL’s best pass D. The Broncos, on the other hand, are atrocious against the pass, so McMike should get plenty of looks.

  19. Jeff says:

    S. Rice, Ingram, Mike Thomas, D. Moore, Antonio Brown

    Which two of these would you play in the flex?

    I’m leaning Rice & Ingram.

  20. AZCARDS says:

    Hi Josh,

    Need help with the following choices. Much appreciate it!

    Jordie Nelson vs Nate Washington or Hester (1 point per 25 yds return )?

    Also – a tough one

    Brees or Newton?

  21. BD says:

    Green, Ridley or Addai (pick 1) for a second RB?

  22. genghis chone says:

    What about just Felix Jones for Matt Ryan? Thanks! (2 QB, PPR league. We start 2 RBs, 2 WRs and a RB/WR. Current QBs are Vick, Fitzpatrick, Grossman; RBs are Forte, Jones, Ingram, Tate, Redman, Scott, Hightower; WRs are Nicks, Bryant, Jones, Denarius Moore.)

  23. atcdav says:

    i have: mccoy, cj1l, felix holmes, decker, julio, manningham, dmoore

    trade cj and holmes for ray rice and know?

    rice, felix on bye, if I trade I most likely lose this week and go to2-3 in my division. do trade anyway? I think holmes has a good game this week or he is done, cj is coming around but not will he get back to rice;s level?

    redraft league

  24. paulzone says:

    @Josh Vitale: True with denver, but they have actually done very well defending TE’s. Held finley and gresham to a combined 2 fantasy points.

    here’s all my streaming options:

    winslow, heap, casey, clark, shiancoe, cook, mcmichael

    maybe casey with AJ out?

  25. Josh Vitale says:

    @Jeff: I agree with Rice and Ingram. The two most consistent of that group.

    @AZCARDS: I like Jordy as the best option because he’ll get a lot of looks in a high-scoring game. As for Brees or Newton, there’s a chance that Newton out scores Brees, but I would be way to scared to ever bench Drew. I almost think you have to roll with him no matter what.

    @BD: I can’t stand him, but Shonn Greene. The Jets are committing to the run again I guess, and he’ll still be the starter. Could have a good week against a suspect Pats D.

    @genghis chone: That’s a fairer deal for you, but it still leaves you thin at RB. To be honest, I think Vick and Fitz is a fine QB duo, and I don’t think Ryan would be that much of an upgrade over Fitz. If you really want Ryan, maybe see if you can try to trade Jones and Fitzpatrick for Ryan and one of his bench RBs.

    @atcdav: Too much for that deal. Holmes is still a No. 2 WR, and Johnson won’t be that far below Rice for long. Plus, Knowshon is an entirely useless running back.

    @paulzone: Casey could be a sneaky play, but Daniels will still be the top TE there, obviously. I think out of those, I would go with Cook or Winslow.

  26. atcdav says:

    typo. johniie knox not no show moreno

  27. TheHighlander says:

    Should i do this trade: My ridley and graham for best and owen daniels?

  28. friar says:

    Could I get your thoughts on a couple trade proposals? I’m trying to upgrade my WR shituation and have come up with a couple of proposal ideas. Could you tell me, for each trade (1) do you think it’s fair (i.e. has a chance of being accepted) and (2) which side gets the better value?

    A) Give Jahvid Best for Maclin and Graham
    B) Give McFadden for Roddy White OR Fitzgerald (which one should I target?)
    C) Give Tolbert for Maclin

    Thanks so so much!

  29. Jeff says:

    I have 3 QBs on my roster… who should I start week 5…
    1- Matt Schuab
    2- Matt Hasselback
    3- Mark Sanchez

    Thanks in advance for the insight.

  30. DEF says:

    Do you like NYG def better or CIN def better this week?

  31. Josh Vitale says:

    @atcdav: Still don’t think I would do it. Knox also isn’t that helpful of a fantasy player.

    @TheHighlander: Yea I’d do that in a heartbeat. Daniels is a slight downgrade from Graham, but Best is much better than Ridley. Good deal for you.

    @friar: I don’t think A would get accepted (Best isn’t enough for those 2 players) and I don’t like B at all (McFadden is too good, receiver is too deep). If you can pull off C I like that move though.

    @Jeff: Gotta go with Schaub there.

    @DEF: I like the Giants, for sure. More likely to get some turnovers/sacks on the Seahawks.

  32. GoGators says:

    Which two would you recommend starting in a PPR league; Joseph Addai, Nate Washington, Lance Moore, or Plaxico Burress?

  33. Josh Vitale says:

    @GoGators: I like Washington and Addai. Washington is clearly the No. 1 WR option in Tennessee, and Moore is going to have to fight Colston this wee for catches. And I don’t like Plaxico, ever.

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