Though bye weeks are an inevitability that all fantasy football owners have to face, there is no adequate way to prepare on draft day without submarining your draft strategy.
Sure, you could have theoretically drafted Peyton Manning with Aaron Rodgers' Week 10 bye in mind, but if you did that, well, congrats on sitting in eighth place coming into Sunday's slate of action. Instead, what most smart owners do is simply hope the matchups bear out a strong waiver wire pickup to replace the Rodgerses of the world.
Luckily, both injuries and matchups opened up the waiver wire for a strong crop of players that should be available in most leagues.
With that in mind, here is a look at a few of the best waiver wire pickups that could replace stars on bye in Week 10.
Ryan Fitzpatrick (QB, Buffalo Bills)
I feel like this goes without saying, but anytime you pick up Fitzpatrick and put him into your starting lineup, please do not watch the game—especially when it's against the New England Patriots.
The Bills signal-caller has never fared well as an NFL quarterback against his AFC East counterparts but has always done well as a fantasy option. All anyone looking for evidence of that has to do is look at Fitzpatrick's performance in Week 4, where he threw for 350 yards and four touchdowns, but also tossed four debilitating interceptions.
Considering the Patriots still have massive deficiencies in the secondary, Fitzpatrick should be in line for another solid performance. New England will likely still win in a blowout, but that won't matter for fantasy owners desperately looking for a quarterback on the wire.
Fantasy Stats Projection: 325 passing yards, 2 TDs, 3 INT
Vick Ballard (RB, Indianapolis Colts)
Welcome back to fantasy relevance, Mr. Ballard. After spending weeks atop fantasy waiver wire rankings and being a mild disappointment, the rookie running back will likely get the bulk of the carries this Thursday against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Starter Donald Brown is once again injured, this time with a hip injury that will likely keep him out. That can only mean huge things for Ballard, who will get his crack at a Jaguars defense that ranks 27th in the NFL against the run.
He's obviously not fully trustworthy, but as someone who you can stick in at the flex spot or as a low-end RB2, Ballard is a great option. He's gained no fewer than nine fantasy points over the past three weeks, a figure that should only rise against Jacksonville.
You'll have to move quickly to get him into your starting lineup since Thursday night's contest is just hours away, but Ballard is easily the running back with the highest upside this week among guys available.
Fantasy Stats Projection: 100 total yards, 1 TD
Emmanuel Sanders (WR, Pittsburgh Steelers)
Obviously Sanders' fantasy relevance is wholly contingent on starter Antonio Brown sitting out on Monday. Still, according to Beaver County Times reporter Mike Bires, the prognosis is not looking good for the all-around stud:
Mike Tomlin says that as of today, WR Antonio Brown is doubtful for next game vs. KC. That all but means he won't play.— Mike Bires (@mikebires) November 6, 2012
That will only mean great things for Sanders, who will essentially step in and become a Brown Lite in the Steelers offense. With Pittsburgh facing off against perhaps the league's worst team on Sunday, the Kansas City Chiefs, fantasy points should be available for the taking.
Granted, I noted here that Sanders' fantasy potential is tough to gauge considering Pittsburgh's new offensive philosophy. However, he's far and away the best option that's actually available on the waiver wire in most leagues.
You likely won't feel comfortable starting him, but Sanders will be nice play in PPR leagues and ones where you're awarded points for return yardage.
Fantasy Stats Projection: 6 REC, 60 YDS, 1 TD