Okay, so the NFL is adding a regular season game. That’s cool; we get an extra week of regular-season football. But that’s about it. What’s the big deal?
I think it has to do with the Butterfly Effect—the notion that something like a tornado can be impacted by a butterfly flapping its wings halfway around the world. In more practical terms, something small happening here can have a huge effect on something else over there. In this case, you can change how your league operates because the NFL added one game to the regular season. So yes, it’s kind of a big deal (like, say, Ron Burgundy ).
So each team will play 17 regular-season games in 2021. How will that affect your league? You have a few options:
You can simply add one game to your regular season and handle the playoffs the same as always. You’ll keep more teams in the running for a playoff spot at the end, keeping those players more engaged. And nothing else is different for the playoffs, so it’s not a big shock to your league dinosaurs (like me, sometimes) who dislike any kind of change.
You can keep the regular season the same, but add extra teams to the playoffs. You’ll not only enjoy the benefits of the above option, but more teams will actually make the postseason and have a chance to win it all. This format is also a way to help a strong team that had bad luck with the schedule prove their worth in the playoffs. That team isn’t taking anyone’s spot, but they aren’t left out, either. Their addition makes your playoffs a better reflection of your league’s top competition. And there’s always the chance that an underdog will sneak in and win the whole thing, making for good league trash-talking for years to come.
You can keep the regular season the same, but make the league championship a two-week affair. Since any team can win on any weekend, why not make the league champ really earn it? A cumulative victory over two weeks gives teams a chance to make an epic comeback, or fret over choking away a lead. Either way, it adds drama to the most important contest of the year. Granted, it only impacts two teams, but it’s a fun way to add something special to winning a title. And since the extra game is built in to the season, no other changes need to be made.
Do nothing. This decision is the only disappointing one, and the main reason you’d do it is if your league is too lazy to consider making changes before your draft or auction. You don’t get any more fantasy football, you don’t get more teams in the playoff hunt or the playoffs themselves, and your championship is exactly the same. You basically just sit around for an extra week waiting for the NFL playoffs. Sounds, fun, right?
By the way, you can also make changes that don’t involve the schedule or playoff format. A longer season adds more risk of injuries or coaches managing rosters more conservatively, so why not add a roster spot or two? Or tweak your IR rules, like the NFL did?
Finally, if your league rarely considers changes, this might is a good time to propose other modifications that will improve the league. You know how Congress throws unrelated items into a bill, and it all just passes together? It can be frustrating to see, but it works. So maybe you can make changes that have nothing to do with the extra game, but will still make the league better. How about finally moving to decimal scoring, or adding a keeper, or fixing those weird tiebreakers? Studies show that when people make big changes in their lives, they’re more open to other changes. Perhaps considering the ramifications of an extra game will make your league more interested in fixing all the quirks that have driven you crazy for years.
Or maybe not. Maybe your league will decide to wait a year and “see what happens.” I think that choice would be a shame, but it’s better than doing nothing because nobody cared to discuss it (see above). Now is the time to get together and have a discussion about what changes your league should make, if any. Don’t wait until a week before your draft, when people are expecting things to be the same as last year. Bring it up now, and you might end up playing in a different (but better) format in 2021.
Is your league considering any changes based on the extra game? What impact do you think it will have on fantasy football? Share your thoughts below.