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Report: Potential 17-game NFL schedule gaining momentum

New CBA would include 17-game season, change to bye weeks while pushing back the date of the Super Bowl. We break down the fantasy and betting implications.

Commissioner of the National Football League Roger Goodell greets fans prior to the game between the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

There has been extensive talk about the NFL looking to add one or more games to the regular season schedule. It’s a pure money grab, but it could also result in a reduction in meaningless preseason games.

On Week 11 Sunday, CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora dropped report stating that the NFL is considering a multitude of impactful changes for the new collective bargaining agreement — including a 17-game schedule, change to bye weeks and later date for the Super Bowl. La Canfora also says that the deal has been in the works for a while now, with talks expected to heat up once most of the teams officials are available around the time of Super Bowl LIV in early February. Per La Canfora, the two sides are making progress, but things can get contentious when the sides are in the negotiating room together. A deal could be struck before the current CBA expires, but there is a lot to be sorted out in the meantime.

Here are some of the main points that would impact fantasy football and sports betting:

  • Week 1 would still begin after Labor Day but the Super Bowl would be pushed back until the end of February rather than the first Sunday. Teams would additionally get two bye weeks in the new format.
  • The additional game for each club would be played out-of-market, per La Canfora. This would emphasize international locations including the U.K., Germany, Mexico and Brazil. This would open up a regular-season schedule of sorts in London, allowing fans over seas to purchase season tickets.
  • On top of that, the NFL has discussed playing games in cities without NFL teams, including Notre Dame or Alabama, both big football markets, plus Hawaii and Canada.
  • The preseason would be shortened to two games rather than four. There could be one scrimmage between teams that would be held in a stadium and be free admission in an attempt to reach new fans.
  • Rosters will be expanded for the two additional weeks of the regular season. Obviously all of this would impact revenue greatly, as well.

So that pretty much outlines all the big talking points, but what does all of it mean for your fantasy football league and betting prospects moving forward? Well let’s dive into that a bit.

For one, let’s just celebrate that it’ll give us two additional weeks of fantasy football! As users we’ll be able to play two more weeks on DraftKings and in season-long formats, though it depends on what your league decides. With the expanded schedule at 19 weeks rather than 17, we could see playoffs for season-long leagues happen from weeks 16-18 or even weeks 15-17 if commissioners are concerned about the final two weeks being meaningless football to most teams/players.

I think the biggest impact is having two bye weeks and how those will be spread out for each team. Will they opt to give teams a bye week in specific windows, so that each team has a bye week early in the season and one later on in the season? That seems to make the most sense, but would teams request to have two weeks off in a row? Would teams rather have two bye weeks later in the season? Would they prefer to have two early on? All these questions will need to be answered and it’ll be interesting to see how much say the teams, coaches and players have in this decision-making process.

If anything, it may make drafting players based on bye weeks more important. Normally I’m of the school of thought that you should ignore bye weeks and deal with them when they come up, but a lot of fantasy managers I imagine stack bye weeks or spread them out so only one player is on bye per week at a time. That strategy may have to go out the window, however, with players getting two weeks off per season.

I don’t think anyone will miss the preseason games, right? Sure, we don’t get a deeper look at some rookies and players in new spots on new teams, but we also get to see those same players play more meaningful games earlier on. Because of this, might managers decide to hold drafts after Weeks 1-2? You’d be able to assess players more correctly during the regular season while still maintaining the same sort of schedule you’re used to in fantasy football. Honestly, now that I think about it, that may be the most interesting wrinkle from all of this.

We’ll also have to take into consideration the prospect of more teams playing overseas and in different countries throughout the season. Personally, I’m fine with spreading the game worldwide (sort of), but I don’t know how crazy the players will be about having to play home games in another country twice a season, god forbid more than that. It’s tough to get a gauge on how the London games have impacted fantasy performances, but it will have to be taken into consideration a bit more in draft prep.

La Canfora doesn’t mention how much rosters will expand, but any more slots will mean teams could hold more skill position players, which would impact depth charts a bit. For certain teams — 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan comes to mind — this could mean more skill guys rotating in and out, resulting in fewer touches/targets for certain players, which is worth noting.

Overall, this is the most NFL thing ever, because it’s essentially out of greed, but hey, who am I to complain about two more weeks of football? On the flip side of the greed argument, is the other fact that it should create more jobs and extend employment for certain workers within the teams and stadiums, which is a good thing. For fantasy football and sports betting, we’ll have to see how everything shakes out of course, but on the surface, this will make leagues more customizable and likely more fun. These changes should alter strategies a bit and make prepping before your draft more crucial. We’re ultimately trading two weeks of meaningless preseason football for two weeks of meaningful, fantasy-filled football. Embrace change, people!