NFL Weather Report: Week 16
The fantasy playoffs are already an anxiety-filled rollercoaster with managers checking and reconsidering each matchup. No player was safe from scrutiny.
It’s crunch time. Meaningful games in Week 15 and Week 16 are why we drafted our teams back in August. But we can’t afford a poor performance. Any misjudgment in matchup or misinterpretation of projections could be the end of our fantasy season. The game itself already requires a nuanced approach and an ability to integrate information from multiple sources. Weather adds another layer forcing us to (over)react to.
Snow covered the Arrowhead stadium ahead of the Kansas City Chiefs’ matchup against the Denver Broncos last week. The conditions brought back flashbacks of the 2013 Snow Bowl and LeSean McCoy reprising his role as fantasy juggernaut with a 35.1-PPR performance. Weather narratives surrounding snow were out in full force with fantasy managers looking for other options at every position.
Patrick Mahomes quickly put the unease to rest. It’s not just the 340 passing yards and 2 touchdowns, but how the yards were accumulated. Mahomes 10.0 yards per attempt was his highest rate since Week 3 and a first for a quarterback in similar conditions. Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce still maintained or exceeded value with fewer than 75 yards rushing by Kansas City. Mahomes finished as a QB1.
The conditions forced us to reconsider, but talent overcame the situation.
Similar game environments are on the slate in Week 16 -- Championship Week. With the pressure mounting even more, we should consider all options as we head into the weekend. From injuries to weather, our sense of who is an optimal play may be skewed based on the information. While injuries and matchup data can be found elsewhere, let’s focus on the weather and dig into how each game may be affected.
Below are the games with weather concerns headed into Week 16.
|Game||Temperature (Feels Like)||Chance of Precipitation||Max Wind Speed|
|Raiders at Chargers||59||61%||10 mph SE|
|Saints at Titans||50||32%||8 mph NNE|
|Bengals at Dolphins||79||89%||15 mph S|
|Cardinals at Seahawks||42||35%||4 mph N|
Games Impacted by Wind
Both wind and rain are in the forecast for what is considered to be the Tank Bowl by most within the NFL community. Another loss for Cincinnati essentially locks up the first overall pick in the 2020 draft for the Bengals, but Miami has had their own problems putting up numbers in the win column. Rates and wind speeds throughout the game are detailed below:
|Time||Wind Speed (Miles Per Hour)||Precipitation Rate (inches per hour)|
|1 p.m. EST||15||0.07|
|2 p.m. EST||15||0.06|
|3 p.m. EST||14||0.04|
|4 p.m. EST||13||0.03|
The positive news is that both the wind speed and precipitation rate trend downward as the game continues, indicating the entire game won’t be played in suboptimal conditions. In addition, the wind speed may not be as much of a factor. We’ve mentioned stadium height playing a role before, specifically in the case of FirstEnergy Stadium.
The Cleveland Browns have had multiple games with high winds that were negated by the stadium height, forcing us to adjust our decline in expectations. Their stadium height is 171 feet. Hard Rock Stadium has a height of 188 feet with similar effects on display back in Week 4. We can lower our concerns on the game for that specific weather component, assuming the wind speed remains at its current state (or slightly above). The rain is slightly different.
For comparison, rainfall rates in the Week 7 Mud Bowl were at or exceeded 0.10 inches per hour. With thunderstorms expected throughout Saturday night and early morning, the field should be covered prior to kickoff. The grassy field will capture all of the rain, creating on-field conditions similar to said 49ers-Washington game. The Dolphins have yet to play in a game with these conditions, limiting historical comparisons to those during Ryan Fitzpatrick’s stints with other teams.
However, Andy Dalton has exceeded seasonal averages in pass attempts and gone for more than 300 passing yards in two similar games from the 2016 and 2017 season. With Miami sitting in the top 10 for passing rate, the only concern is field conditions and footing. The Bengals experienced something similar in Week 1. Fantasy managers are encouraged to check the forecast ahead of the game, but we should expect similar production should the rain be the only factor of concern for Week 16 in Miami.
Games Affected by Rain
Luckily, as of now, the Bengals-Dolphins game has the highest rainfall rates on the slate. The remaining games have projected precipitation amounts detailed below:
|(Inches per hour)||Nashville||Los Angeles||Seattle|
The Saints-Titans and Cardinals-Seahawks games both have minor concerns for rainfall -- from both and forecast and rate perspective. Both are nearly 30% in expectancy and 0.01 inches per hour have been shown to have minor impacts on the game. At worst, dropped passes or slips on the turf are the only concern, which may have a potential impact with Derrick Henry still nursing a hamstring injury. Field conditions are the main worry for each team that may play a role in the Drew Brees Away from the Superdome narrative or Chris Carson’s fumbles.
Regardless, the forecast shouldn’t take anyone away from either game as both games have sky-high totals.
The Raiders and Chargers have a slightly worse forecast, but the expectations and historical data point to negated effects. For reference, the Cardinals-Bengals Week 5 matchup was projected for similar conditions. Kyler Murray finished with 25.4 points (QB5) and Andy Dalton finished with 19.0 points (QB10), indicating the opposing defense had more to do with the outcome than the weather.
So while both Derek Carr and Philip Rivers have typically met or exceeded their seasonal averages in either attempts or yardage, their respective matchups should be the primary focus in this game. Both defensive secondaries sit in the bottom half of the league for Adjusted Defensive Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) Per Play. However, the Chargers have limited opposing quarterbacks to 11.7 and 13.6 fantasy points over the last two weeks once Derwin James returned from Injured Reserve. The defensive matchups should carry a greater concern for fantasy managers. Barring a change in the forecast, we can approach the game as usual.