It seems to me you have three choices:
- Require all picks by Wednesday.
- Require all picks by Saturday, and forbid people from picking the Thursday games.
- Give the players a choice, in which they submit picks by Wednesday only if they’re picking a game on Thursday.
Any choice is equally “fair”, since it treats each player the same way. Your question seems to be, if you go with option (3), is there an inherent advantage to being a Wednesday picker or a Saturday picker?
Let us disregard certain rare cases, such as late injury news suggested by muttrox or a team clinching a playoff spot by virtue of a Thursday result. To see how rare these occurrences are, ask yourself how often the point spread for a Sunday game changes materially between Wednesday and Saturday. My understanding is that this is very rare.
Let us further suppose an “efficient market” in football betting, in which all public information is reflected in the point spread. The point spread translates to a probability of victory–a 10-point favorite is perhaps 60% likely to win, and so forth. (I don’t know the percentages, but they can be calculated.)
Under such a hypothesis, the rational way to bet is to assign 5 points to the favorite with the biggest point spread, 4 to the next biggest, and so on. As a Saturday picker, you have 13 games to choose from, versus 16 on Wednesday, so you should submit on Wednesday if heavy favorites are playing in any of the Thursday games.
Of course, in the real world, your players don’t bet in such a mechanical fashion. If they did, the game wouldn’t be much fun. Rather, they try to “beat the market” by applying their knowledge of the game, or even their hunches.
Under such a scenario, there are advantages to waiting until Saturday. You have more time to read about the games, listen to the TV commentators, absorb more information, and even allow your hunches to develop.
So the players will face a trade-off: more time to think about their picks, but fewer games to pick from. In the cold light of rationality, the second consideration is more important, and Wednesday pickers will have an advantage. But in the real world, many bettors will view the first as more important, and will submt on Saturday.
But again, it’s fair, because everybody will have the same options.