Should Fantasy Football Leagues Make Changes For A 17-Game NFL Season?

Last Updated: Jul 14, 2023

How Will a 17-Game Season Impact Fantasy Football? Nate Hamilton examines if fantasy football league players and commissioners should change any league settings ahead of the extra football game added to the season.

Should Fantasy Football Leagues Make Changes For A 17-Game NFL Season?

17-Game Schedule Facts

Like it or not, the NFL has decided to extend the regular season to 17 games. As a result, teams will not get a second bye week, instead, there will be one fewer preseason game played. We will see interconference divisons play each other (example: AFC East teams vs NFC East teams), some teams will have more home games than others, everyone involved gets more money, and many other implications. It will certainly take some time to get used to as we watch it all unfold.

Initially, you’re probably thinking, “What’s not to like about more football?" Although it’s only one additional game, the answer to that question is more complicated than you’d think. For those who watch the NFL solely to root for your team with zero fantasy football implications, I’m sure the extra game is welcomed.

There is another side to this, however. For the fantasy football players of the world, this extra game has the potential to have some negative aspects.

There are some questions that need to be asked and unfortunately, some won’t be answered until the 2021 season begins. What does this mean for the players? Will lead running backs have their workload spread out more? Will key players be given a random day off in favorable matchups to avoid the heightened risk of injury? Perhaps the biggest question that should be answered is “How do we handle this extra game in our fantasy football leagues?"

How NFL Players Are Impacted

I assume adding depth, particularly at the running back position, will be a priority for most teams. Running backs touch the ball the most outside of quarterbacks. The extra game could result in offenses protecting their running backs by reducing their average touches per game.

Collisions in a single game of American football have a similar force to that of 62 car crashes, according to new research." So, before any of us say, “it’s just one game", we may want to consider the inherent risk associated with a single NFL game.

This would further diminish the importance of the position in fantasy football, leaving all the “running backs don’t matter" crowd saying, “I told you so." This change could have a greater impact on all NFL players, not just running backs.

Players like Alvin Kamara have already expressed frustration with the additional game. Although this decision is primarily (if not solely) based on money, there are players who see this increasing injury risk. I can’t say I blame Alvin Kamara or any other player who feels this way.

Football is a dangerous game. Players risk their health and sacrifice their bodies to play the game that we all love to watch.

According to an article by Sinead Farrell from The 42 in 2017, “Collisions in a single game of American football have a similar force to that of 62 car crashes, according to new research." So, before any of us say, “it’s just one game", we may want to consider the inherent risk associated with a single NFL game.

How Should We Respond in Fantasy Football Leagues?

There isn’t a single best way to handle the extra game in fantasy football leagues. There are plenty of ideas that could work and make everyone in your league happy:

Shift The Fantasy Football Playoffs Schedule

Moving the fantasy football playoffs from Weeks 14-16 to Weeks 15-17 may be the knee-jerk reaction in fantasy football leagues. This could work as long as the NFL teams handle things in the same fashion.

However, we won’t know until the 2021 season plays out. Teams that have locked up playoff spots could decide to rest their starters even earlier. People tend to fear the unknown and the response may vary from team to team. This could make the closing weeks more volatile than usual for the fantasy football playoffs.

Institute A Two-Week Championship?

The extra game could give us the opportunity to extend the fantasy football championship to two games and eliminate the chance to get “Alvin Kamara’ed" — to be almost immediately eliminated to the tune of performances like his 155 rushing yards and 6 touchdowns in championship week like many of us did last year.

It may not be a bad idea to extend both championship and 3rd-place games to two games. Whoever scores the most combined points from the two weeks will be deemed the winner. How often do we complain about dominating all season just to lose it by “luck" in a one-game championship? I know of others who have already implemented this idea and I haven’t heard any complaints.

Don’t Change Anything

This could honestly be the best approach.

Keeping the (typical) playoff schedule to Weeks 14-16 just might be the safest option. We are not obligated to mirror what the NFL does. This is fantasy football, after all.

By keeping the fantasy schedule the same, we remove the risks involved at the end of any season. We would likely not have to worry about players sitting in Week 16, even for the teams with their playoff fate already determined.

For those of you who don’t want to complicate things and just want the easiest transition, this is the option for you.

I’m sure there are plenty more ideas of how to handle the extra regular-season game in fantasy football. I’d love to hear them! Shoot me a tweet with your ideas for the 2021 season. It could very well end up being the idea most will set in motion this season and beyond.


Nate Hamilton

Nate Hamilton is a regular contributor to the fantasy football industry. He has produced content for some of the top fantasy football sites including FantasyPros, The Fantasy Footballers, Fantasy Data, FantraxHQ, and currently The Game Day! He is a co-author of Amazon's #1 Best Selling "The Fantasy Football Black Book" with Joe Pisapia. Nate is a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA).

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