There are three things in this world that we as Americans can count on without fail: Death, taxes, and the uselessness of Week 17 of the NFL season.
While the first two are obviously more important in the grand scheme of things, Week 17 of the NFL season has to be one of the most frustrating Sundays of the year for NFL and fantasy football fans alike. What should be a day’s worth of action-packed games and delicious fantasy matchups is turned into a glorified scrimmage for backup players throughout the league.
It’s easy to see how this Week 17 trend is aggravating for season ticket holders and fans. They spend good money at the beginning of the season on seats, only to see the teams’s scrubs duke it out during the season’s last game. However exasperating Week 17 is for ticket holders is nothing compared to the frustration that fantasy owners whose leagues play the final week of the season face. They not only have the league’s winnings on the line, but also pride and bragging rights, which can be shattered with just one NFL coach deciding to bench his star player for their team’s final game.
It was seen plenty last year–the Saints benched Drew Brees and a slew of other starters during Week 17 in 2009. Peyton Manning infamously sat during the second half of the Colts’ final two games last year. This year, it’s expected to be the same for similar high-scoring fantasy players. The Eagles’ Michael Vick won’t touch the field on Sunday as the team tries to get him healthy for a playoff run. Tom Brady may play a series or two, but it’s unlikely he will play long enough to rack up the fantasy points needed from an elite quarterback. Brees might see his playing time diminished, also, since the Saints have already clinched a playoff spot. And for fantasy teams who have any of those high-scoring players, it’s too bad, tough luck and try again next year.
When agreeing on settings for a fantasy football league, making sure that Week 16 is the championship round is one of the most important league-wide decisions that can be made. After spending a high draft pick on an elite quarterback or running back, or striking gold with a great midseason trade or pickup, it can all be for naught if that player’s team has their playoff spot locked up going into the final week of the season. Throw away the terrific season your fantasy team put together, the second-place trophy is all you will get because of star players sitting during the NFL’s final week.
It’s too bad, because plenty of wily fantasy owners who scour the waiver wire all season long will suffer the same fate after the mass-benchings of Week 17. So to those owners crossing their fingers going into the final fantasy matchup of the season, I wish you the best of luck and for you to choose your fantasy settings a little bit better next season.