The NFL is known for its commitment to parity, but it has a few bad teams as well. The fans know it, the coaches know it, and the team knows it, too. They don't have the talent, the schemes, or the management support to be competitive.

Right now, four teams have three wins or fewer, though they're in different mindsets. The Broncos thought they were in win-now mode, but are reminded weekly how mistaken they were. The Bears expected to struggle, but they have a young quarterback who needs more weapons. And the Rams were a championship team that fell apart rather quickly. All of these scenarios are disappointing, but understandable.

Then there's Houston. Whatever you do, whatever your record, don't finish out the fantasy season like the Texans.

I'm not faulting the Texans for being bad. I'm from Tampa, home of the team that lost 26 (!) straight games to start its existence. But two seasons later, they were in the conference championship game. They were trying, even while they were losing. The Texans aren't really trying to get better. At this point, they aren't even trying to pretend they're trying. At least the Broncos have the decency to lose in close games or overtime. Houston have become just a generic "opponent" for anyone playing them. They're kind of like the Harlem Globetrotters' punching bag, the Generals, except maybe less competitive.

To be fair, a couple of players are putting in effort, but the team is clearly playing out the string. But I'm not really worried about the Texans. I'm worried about your fantasy team. Because while you might lose, you have to at least try to win. And that includes the games after you've been eliminated from postseason contention.

When you signed up for the league, you didn't sign up "for as long as you have a shot at the playoffs." You signed up for the entire season, and that includes the last game or two. You have a responsibility to field a competitive lineup, because while your game might not impact your dashed playoff hopes, it might very well make or break the hopes of others. Your opponent might need a win to claim a spot, and/or another team might need them to lose to claim their spot. A league where out-of-contention teams stop trying is dysfunctional and won't last long. If you need to win and get a little help to make the playoffs, but the team that needs to lose plays an abandoned team, how likely are you to stay in that league?

Granted, you shouldn't rely on others to help your fantasy fortunes, but that's not the point. The drama of watching a different game, hoping for the outcome you want to sneak in, is part of the fun. Whether you make it or not, having your fate come down to someone else’s fantasy contest is a great experience. I remember watching games from several years ago, knowing that everything hinged on what happened on that particular field. I watched with other league members who had their own rooting interests, and it was a great time. I don't even remember whether the outcome went my way or not, but I remember enjoying those moments with friends.

And none of that would have been possible if managers had abandoned their teams and doled out easy wins at the end of the year. It hurts the other managers, it hurts the league, and it hurts the overall experience. I’ve covered this topic pretty frequently over the years, because it’s that important to preserving the integrity of your league. Teams that are out of it need to at least make some effort to keep the games competitive. If they don’t, managers will either bail on the league or not take it seriously. Both of those outcomes are bad ones.

Normally I focus on the positives, like the fun of defeating a buddy and keeping them out of the playoffs. That’s a worthy accomplishment that will provide trash talk until next year’s training camp. It’s also the right thing to do, and you can take pride in your commitment to earning some wins at the end of the year.

But if that isn’t enough motivation, just don’t embarrass yourself. Keep your commitments, manage your team and do your job as a member of the league. Right now, there are managers who need a win to stay in the hunt, and they’re hoping teams like yours will just hand it to them. And in some leagues, they will. Just don’t be one of those teams. Good luck this week.

How does your league keep teams interested when they’re out of the playoff race? How active are you once you’ve been eliminated? Have you ever knocked a friend or a rival out of contention? Ever been knocked out yourself that way? Share your thoughts below.