Would NFL Really Suspend Odell Beckham for Primetime Fantasy Football Finals?

Ryan Glasspiegel

You’ve presumably formed an opinion by now about whether Odell Beckham Jr. should be suspended for his litany of incidents on Sunday. The most significant of these was a transparently dirty helmet-to-helmet spear on Josh Norman. Beckham should have been ejected for this, and if you watch tape of the game incidents for which he could have received personal fouls approached double digits.

Mike Florio reported on Sunday that the league office agreed that Beckham should not have remained in the game, and Adam Schefter tweets this morning that a 1-game suspension is “likely.”

It would nevertheless be shocking to me if Beckham misses Sunday’s night’s game against the Vikings. It’s in primetime, there’s real playoff implications in the contest, and it’s the fantasy football finals.

In a podcast with Matthew Berry before the season, I asked if more fans consume NFL product through gambling and fantasy implications than because they cared about which teams actually win and lose games. I’ve been paying anecdotal attention to that dynamic ever since, and am pretty sure that’s the case. If you go and watch football at a bar or at a house with casual fans, everybody has fantasy apps pulled up, and reactions throughout the day about it supersede how much many (most?) of them care about their favorite teams.

Last season, Beckham was on more rosters in the fantasy football finals than any other player.

As PFT noted, a suspension announcement would not be the final nail in the coffin for Beckham, who could have an appeal heard by Derrick Brooks or James Thrash. The maximum drama would occur in the event of a successful appeal. My on-record prediction is that Beckham will express sincere-sounding contrition, receive a hefty fine, and will be on the field in primetime next Sunday.

If you fervently believe Beckham should be suspended next week, everybody knows you’re not going to punish the league for your opinion by withholding your viewership.