In case you missed it, the NFL has expanded the regular season by one game, meaning there are now 18 weeks and 17 games.
This doesn’t affect 2021 fantasy football rankings on sites like FantasyData, all it does is add to the projected points for each player.
But the new bye week in Week 14 and the extra game do affect fantasy football players in more ways than one.
Bye in Week 14
The most notable development from the extended season is that four teams will not play in Week 14 – the latest a bye week has ever occurred in the NFL.
ProFootballTalk reported that the NFL did not consider the impact this would have on fantasy football playoffs.
When planning your teams for the upcoming season, do keep in mind that players on the Patriots, Colts, Dolphins and Eagles will not be playing in Week 14.
While playoff structure varies based on how many teams are in your league, I’ve typically seen the top-four teams advance to the playoffs and play two-week matchups.
I know most leagues also try avoiding playing on the last week of the regular season. Playing on the last week for a championship opens up too much risk that your best players won’t be playing. A team that has secured a playoff spot will likely rest their studs before the playoffs.
This bye in Week 14 opens up some potentially logistical nightmares for fantasy leagues.
If the above is industry standard across the board, a typical playoff-schedule would be: Round 1 Weeks 14-15, Finals Weeks 16-17.
Having your players on a bye to start the playoffs is not ideal.
A few ideas on how to avoid this being an issue: one-week matchups starting in Week 15, or playing in Week 18.
More Games = More Risk
Beyond the late bye, we will also have more NFL football during the regular season. While this is nice as a viewer, it does increase the risk of a player getting hurt.
The logic is simply around volume. The more often a player is on the field, the more likely something may go awry.
We never root for injury, but it is inevitable in fantasy football.
It will be interesting how NFL teams work through the extra game on the schedule. Perhaps running backs will split carries a bit more than normal to conserve their bodies for a long season.
There were murmurings that players were upset to not get a second bye week with the extra game. It seems likely the NFL season will eventually become 18-games long, in which case a second bye week should occur.
For 2021, don’t factor the extra game too much into your draft strategy. All teams are on even-ground. To prepare for your fantasy football season, make sure you check out the fantasy football rankings compiled by FantasyData. They have you covered for whatever league you’re in, and their rankings stay updated as we get closer and closer to football season.
For more fantasy football content, I’ve got you covered for the entire 2021 offseason. Follow me on Twitter, @griffybets.