If you were fighting for a playoff spot in Week 14 last year, you definitely remember that NFL scheduled six teams on bye. Nearly 20% of the league was relaxing at home while you were left scrambling to fill a Fantasy lineup in a really important week. It was painful.

This year the NFL got the memo and only scheduled two teams for a Week 14 bye: The Cardinals and the Commanders. That's much more manageable in what is the final regular-season week for most Fantasy leagues.

But the byes are still going to be annoying.

There's a full-on Byenado in Week 13 -- the second-to-last week of the Fantasy regular season -- and it'll sweep up the Bears, Bills, Giants, Raiders, Ravens and Vikings. That's three of the top six quarterbacks, three of the top six receivers, two top 10 running backs and three top six tight ends. Oof.

And that's not the only Byenado on the schedule. We'll feel the hurt in Week 7 when the Bengals, Cowboys, Jets, Panthers, Texans and Titans take a rest. That group isn't quite as impactful as the Week 13 one.

Sadly, we're not done here. In Week 10, the NFL put the Chiefs, Dolphins, Eagles and Rams on bye. It almost guarantees that every Fantasy manager will be without at least one star player in Week 10.

The NFL will have every team playing 10 times all season: Weeks 1, 2, 3, 4, 8, 12, 15, 16, 17 and 18.

The takeaway: Be careful of having too many players on your team with the same bye, especially Weeks 10 and 13 when they're so close to the end of the regular Fantasy season. Also, if you are a commissioner and you start your league's playoffs in Weeks 13 or 14, you're mean.

Here are seven more things to know about the 2023 schedule: 

All Thursdays are not created equal

The majority of Fantasy managers have come to detest Thursday Night Football because teams tend to be too worn down and low on production/Fantasy points. Think of what it takes to get ready for a game: Players have to use Monday to recover, then practice to some degree on Tuesday and Wednesday. If they're going on the road, they have to travel on Wednesday, which takes time. Roughly 100 hours after they finished a game, they're playing again.

It's enough to make you say, "When in doubt, Thursday's out!" when it comes to setting lineups (h/t to Adam Aizer, our podcast host, for that quip).

If you follow that advice then there are seven teams you should be hesitant to pick non-obvious stars from because they each play on a short-week Thursday-night game twice this season.

Those teams are: The Bears (Weeks 5 and 10), the Commanders (Weeks 5 and 12), the 49ers (Weeks 3 and 12), the Steelers (Weeks 9 and 14, but both at home), the Saints (Weeks 7 and 16) and the Lions and the Packers (they play each other Weeks 4 and 12).

It's an interesting mix of teams, but really only one true Super Bowl contender in the group: The Niners. The rest are all quasi-contenders like the Lions and Steelers and other good-but-not-great teams.

The takeaway: Theoretically, 1/7th of the Fantasy regular season for players on these teams except the Saints will be in short-week games. I don't think this will hurt the running backs from these teams, nor the stellar studs at other positions. So for instance, Justin Fields, George Kittle and Amon-Ra St. Brown shouldn't be so adversely affected that they become bad Fantasy picks. But I might have reservations about D.J. Moore or Diontae Johnson.

And now that I know the Commanders have two Thursday night short-week games and a Week 14 bye aaand they're in the defensively stacked AFC East, I may pass on drafting any of them altogether.

Another strike against the 49ers

Not only will San Francisco have two short-week Thursday games, but they also have four matchups where their opponent is coming off the bye: vs. Cleveland in Week 6, vs. Cincy in Week 8, at Jacksonville in Week 10 and at Arizona in Week 15. 

Technically speaking, that means six of their 17 games puts them at some kind of disadvantage. Not exactly good news for a team that's known for dealing with wear-and-tear from their running backs.

Who's playing that position for the 49ers this year, by the way?!

The takeaway: While this should mean that four defenses will be better rested and prepared with two weeks to get ready for San Francisco, it's still not enough to make you freak out about drafting Christian McCaffery. But it might be enough to make you pause on the rest of the 49ers offense, particularly given their quarterbacks. I'm using this along with the short-week games as a tiebreaker for players I weigh against Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk.

The Rams also have trouble with byes

Los Angeles plays four games with their opponent coming off a bye: vs. Pittsburgh in Week 7, at Dallas in Week 8, at Baltimore in Week 14 and vs. Washington in Week 15.

This is on top of the Rams playing on the road in three of their first four games. That's rough. True, they get a three-game homestand in Weeks 5 through 7 but it comes against the Eagles, Cardinals and Steelers. Even the most-winnable game in that stretch is a divisional matchup.

The takeaway: Cooper Kupp's biggest liability is his quarterback, not this schedule or his age. Plus, if the Rams are forced to throw in tough matchups then Kupp should easily rack up tons of targets. It's Cam Akers who might draw the most concern from a tough layout, especially since he could be one fumble or one practice outburst away from being in Sean McVay's doghouse again.

The Jets have it easy

Aaron Rodgers might be smarter than we give him credit for: The Jets are the only team to have 10 home games this year. Per CBS Sports' John Breech, it's the second time in 93 years that an NFL team has 10 games at home.

All AFC teams have nine home games in 2023, and all NFC teams have eight. But one of the Jets "road" games is at the Giants in Week 8. They share a building -- Metlife Stadium -- so it's not like the team has to board a plane, ride buses, stay at a hotel, etc. That game is part of two three-game "homestands" the Jets will enjoy in 2023.

Of course, the Rams had 10 home games last year. A lot of good it did them.

One added plus: The Jets are one of 12 teams who won't play a team coming off a bye all season long. That'll help.

The takeaway: It's a sweetener for Jets players, but not enough of an advantage to prioritize any of them. At minimum it's a tiebreaker when I consider other players against Rodgers, Garrett Wilson, Allen Lazard and maybe Breece Hall (read on -- there's some concern ahead).

A quirk that helps Derrick Henry

The Titans are one of five AFC teams that play a "home" game in Europe and thus have eight actual home matchups in 2023. The others are the Bills, Chiefs, Patriots and of course the Jaguars, who always play one home game in London.

Of the Titans' eight games in Nashville, five are backloaded into Weeks 12 through 18. That means 7 of the Titans' first 10 games will be on the road.

While that might make things a little harder on the team overall, Derrick Henry probably won't mind. He's scored more touchdowns on the road than at home in each of his past four years, including an unreal 10 of 13 away from Tennessee last year. He also averaged more yards per carry on the road than at home in each of his past three seasons, though last year it was only marginally better (4.5 to 4.3).

The road warrior factor helps Henry a little, but ultimately when he fares well it's in a Titans win. Their schedule isn't loaded with tons of tough matchups -- only three run defenses Henry will see in 2023 were ranked top-10 in fewest Fantasy points allowed to running backs in 2022. 

The takeaway: Henry is 29 years old, dangerously close to the age when running backs start to slow down. We may have begun seeing that slowdown at points last year (eight games where he averaged below 4.0 yards per carry). He also had 382 touches last year, second-most in his career. But at the very least his schedule and penchant for disappointing fans not rooting for the Titans are positives. You simply can't rule out taking Henry with a top-15 or so pick. 

Early studs and duds at running back

One of the tiebreakers I like to use when drafting has to do with early-week schedules. Who could get off to a hot start? Who might struggle? Is there a player I should draft, use for a month, then sell high on? Or a player I should intentionally not draft and then make a deal for when his value is lower?

More research will be put into this but the non-obvious running backs who either have a favorable schedule or an unfavorable schedule to start the season are:

Najee Harris
PIT • RB • #22
Two years into his career and it's clear that Harris best benefits when he has a lot of work in a favorable matchup. The Steelers will have it tough against the 49ers in Week 1, but then it's the Browns at home and two road games at the Raiders and Texans. Weeks 2 through 4 could inflate Harris' production; maybe even enough to make you feel good about starting him through the rest of his not-too-bad 2023 schedule.
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Breece Hall
NYJ • RB • #20
The Jets start 2023 with the Bills at home, at the Cowboys, the Patriots and the Chiefs at home. Those last three teams all ranked top-10 in fewest Fantasy points allowed. Hall is working his way back from a torn ACL and will be in a far more pass-leaning offense with Aaron Rodgers at the help. Add it up and it might make a tough first month for Hall (if he's even back).
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J.K. Dobbins
LAC • RB • #27
Baltimore does face each of its three division rivals on the road within the first five weeks of the season, which isn't awesome. But the Ravens open 2023 versus Houston, then they'll see the Colts two weeks later. Playing at Cleveland in Week 4 figures to be helpful, too.
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James Conner
ARI • RB • #6
Conner faces Washington, Dallas, San Francisco and Cincinnati all in the first five weeks of the season. Not so great, especially since the Cardinals will be led by a first-time play-caller and may likely be without quarterback Kyler Murray.
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Samaje Perine
DEN • RB • #25
Let's just say for the moment that Javonte Williams won't be ready for his normal snap share to start the season. If so, Perine will see the Raiders, Commanders, Dolphins and Bears through the first four weeks. Only the Commanders stand out as a tough run defense at this point.
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Rashaad Penny
CAR • RB • #28
The Eagles' free-agent signee is always a low-risk, early-season sleeper candidate because of his ADP. But you should know his matchups to start the season (at the Patriots, versus the Vikings, at the Buccaneers and versus the Commanders) are mostly challenging. Only the Minnesota game is favorable. Maybe the better investment is in D'Andre Swift and/or Kenneth Gainwell.
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The takeaway: Dobbins and Harris are high-end RB2 worthy. Perine is a great name to keep in mind after Round 7 as long as he's the healthiest primary runner in Denver. Hall will be hard to resist, especially if he ends up participating regularly in training camp, but it could be a messy first month. Conner and Penny are on my Don't Wanna Draft list.

Draft-worthy tight end streamers

Not everyone can get Travis Kelce or Mark Andrews. So here's my list of tight ends I'll be happy to start this season based solely on two things: the early matchups and whether or not these tight ends can get at least 10 PPR points twice in four weeks.

Dalton Schultz
HOU • TE • #86
REC YDs577
Houston has one game against a 2022 top-10 defense against tight ends (at Baltimore, Week 1) and three against middling-or-worse (Colts, at Jaguars, Steelers). Given the lack of reliable targets in Houston (especially in the red zone), it wouldn't be a surprise to see C.J. Stroud lean on his burly tight end early.
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Juwan Johnson
NO • TE • #83
REC YDs508
Love his matchup Week 1 versus the Titans, who were sixth-worst in Fantasy points allowed to tight ends. Love his matchup in Week 4 versus the Bucs, who were fourth-worst in Fantasy points allowed to tight ends. Kinda like the road matchups in-between against the Panthers and Packers, both of which were pretty good against tight ends last year. Maybe Johnson's best for Week 1 and then you weave him back into your roster by Week 4.
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Dalton Kincaid
BUF • TE • #86
The Bills start against the Jets, then Raiders, Commanders, Dolphins and Jaguars. Only one of these defenses (Washington) ranked in the top 12 against tight ends last season. Most of the rest were middle-of-the-pack.
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Cole Kmet
CHI • TE • #85
REC YDs544
The Packers ranked 10th in fewest Fantasy points allowed to tight ends last year. The other three teams the Bears will play through October 1 (Buccaneers, Chiefs, Broncos) were league-average or worse. Kmet will lose targets with D.J. Moore in town but did get featured in the red zone and when defensive plays broke down last year.
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Gerald Everett
CHI • TE • #14
REC YDs555
No streaming tight end was more frustrating to trust on a week-to-week basis than this guy, but he does have a really nice schedule to begin the year. The Dolphins, Titans and Vikings all ranked in the bottom-half against tight ends; the Raiders were slightly better than average and Everett bopped them for at least 13 PPR points in each of two matchups.
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Cade Otton
TB • TE • #88
REC YDs391
Among the best two-week starts to the season with games against the Vikings and Bears. Baker Mayfield has always tended to lean on his tight ends, too. Otton is a good last-ditch late-round tight end.
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DSTs who could thrive in September

If you play your cards right, you could earn more Fantasy points streaming different DSTs from week to week instead of committing to one. But the best move is to find a DST that earns your trust early and then comes through nearly every single week.

Here are some DSTs with favorable early schedules and thus the potential to morph into must-start units.

  • Saints: This defense is getting a little tougher to trust but they'll host the Titans in Week 1 and are at the Panthers in Week 2. If those games go well then you might trust them at the Packers in Week 3, versus the Bucs in Week 4, at the Patriots in Week 5, then at the Texans in Week 6. In fact, they don't face a legit scary offense until at Minnesota in Week 10, and they're one of the three NFC South squads that won't ever see any of Mahomes, Allen, Hurts, Burrow or Jackson.
  • Falcons: No defense was upgraded with veterans as much as the Falcons' this offseason. They'll host Bryce Young's first game as a starter and Jordan Love's second game as the Packers main QB. In Week 3 they're at Detroit, so by then you'll know whether or not you can trust them.
  • Broncos: Sean Payton's defense led by defensive coordinator Vance Joseph will take on Jimmy Garoppolo's Raiders in Week 1 and Sam Howell/Jacoby Brissett's Commanders in Week 2. You'll head for the hills after that, but at least these two matchups should help you get some early numbers.
  • Vikings: It's a Week 1-only special, but you can be sure that Brian Flores will choose aggressiveness against Baker Mayfield and the Buccaneers. The Vikings take on the Eagles and Chargers after that -- you'll drop them for those games.