NFL Weather Report: Week 1
We’ve come a long way as both a society and a fantasy community over the offseason, and it’s time to take the plunge again.
Week 1 is upon us. We have live football back in our lives, and we even had a little rain during a game to kick off the season. Early forecasts out of Kansas City indicated late showers, and it mostly held off until the second half. Regardless, Mother Nature’s involvement on game day has been and will continue to be one of the data points that will pester fantasy managers on a weekly basis.
I’ve done plenty of research on how weather affects fantasy football: its impact on the overall game environment, its impact on target distributions, and its impact on quarterback throwing velocity based on wind speeds.
In general, we’re looking for the extremes. Wind speeds over 17 miles per hour (MPH), continuous snowfall, or a torrential downpour are where we can start to draw the line. Those conditions are typically where offensive schemes and pace of play start to shift. Otherwise, the narratives generally fall into the noise at the data level, and highlights from specific game serve as confirmation bias.
I’ll be pulling forecast data, highlighting the games with poor conditions, and discussing their impacts. While the extremes are our primary worry, we should adjust our expectations or consider other options on our roster should we have reason to downgrade a player.
Usually Week 1 typically spares us, but there are a handful of games that caught my eye to start the 2020 season.
Below are the games with weather concerns headed into Week 1:
|Game||Temperature (Feels Like)||Chance of Precipitation||Wind|
|Jets at Bills||73.3||44.3%||16 MPH WSW|
|Colts at Jaguars||95.5||38.5%||11 MPH ESE|
|Eagles at Washington||83.8||39.0%||4 MPH SSW|
Games Impacted by Wind
The light rain in the forecast is a concern, but it's a minor one compared to the 16 MPH winds should the wind speed increase prior to the start of the game. A mixture of rain and high winds has shades of the Bills’ 2019 Week 8 matchup against Philadelphia But it highlights an important point about Josh Allen’s ability as a fantasy asset -- his rushing ability mitigates most of the concern. His results while at home in adverse conditions backs up my point.
|2019 Game||Wind Speed||Defensive
|Week 3 (vs. CIN)||13 MPH||22nd||15th||6.1||9|
|Week 7 (vs. PHI)||23 MPH||18th||7th||6.2||8|
|Week 8 (vs. WAS)||18 MPH||26th||15th||9.0||8|
|Week 11 (vs. DEN)||17 MPH||7th||1st||7.2||9|
|Week 14 (vs. BAL)||18 MPH||9th||26th||4.3||2|
His passing efficiency isn’t lauded by the fantasy community, but it’s noteworthy that he was below his seasonal average in adjusted yards per attempt (6.7) in three games in this five-game sample. Understandably, the Baltimore Ravens were his toughest opponent, and he struggled that game. However, his rush attempts outside of that game are the key takeaway.
Allen averaged 6.8 rush attempts per game in 2019. In games with high winds, he went above his seasonal average in four out of five games. So while we may have concern over his target distribution to guys like John Brown or Stefon Diggs, Allen should still have enough volume (passing and rushing) to sustain his fantasy value.
Games Impacted by Rain
Before we get into the fantasy analysis, it’s important to recognize the different conditions that rain can present. With so many descriptors -- from mist to drizzle to downpour -- a narrative can get oversold without at the numbers behind it.
|Condition||Precipitation (Inches Per hour)|
For context, the Houston Texans-Kansas City Chiefs game on Thursday showed clear rainfall during the second half that was classified as only a drizzle, and 0.0 inches of rain per hour were recorded Thursday night. Conversely, the incredibly sloppy Washington-San Francisco 49ers' game in Week 6 of last year recorded 0.1 inches per hour, and there ended up being only nine total points scored. Context is key, and we have some bounds to apply some reasoning to adjust our expectations as we approach each game.
Luckily, neither game listed above raises any concern as the projected rainfall isn’t expected to exceed 0.02” per hour. Games with this profile haven’t had a predictable effect on how teams approach the game. Week 1 of 2019 featured similar conditions in a Cincinnati Bengals-Seattle Seahawks matchup, and the worst on-field events were Andy Dalton being intercepted as the ball slipped from his fingers and Tyler Boyd slipping on the turf, negating a touchdown. There will be situations to monitor as game time approaches, but our focus can remain on projected player usage and defensive matchups for now.