Fantasy Football Weather Report: Week 7

Oct 22, 2021
Fantasy Football Weather Report: Week 7

Injuries and multiple teams on bye have already made Week 7 a nightmare for fantasy managers. Luckily, the weather isn’t going to be a significant nuisance this weekend, and I’m tracking just one game while a few others are to keep an eye on ahead of Sunday. But, before we get to those, I wanted to go over a key takeaway I had from Week 6.

Week 6 Recap

I’ll see folks posting stats about weather effects around this time of year, and I generally nod along. There’s nothing wrong with them, and I can’t refute the numbers. Also, the takeaways tend to align with mine, so it’s all good. But this past week, I got tagged on a tweet, and it got me thinking.

I QT’d Barfield’s analysis with some of my own back-of-the-napkin calculations to reframe the takeaways. In short, the approach to analyzing weather effects (sometimes) answers the wrong questions.

Points scored or yards accrued are the result of an attempt. Whether rushing or passing, the blend of the two types of attempts helps us measure intent. Other metrics like air yards and passing rates (neutral, deep, red-zone) also tell us how each team prefers to operate. So, any deviations from those metrics can point us to if the weather has any bearing on an offense.

Wind speeds hovered around 20 mph ahead of kickoff in Cleveland. My original thoughts centered on a typical day for Cleveland, and Arizona would also operate as usual. Other than the injuries, team intent didn’t change.

Team Plays Run & Passing Rates From ARI/CLE
Total Pass 31 30
Total Run 19 37
Plays Run 50 67
Neutral Pass Rate 80.0% 57.9%
Red-Zone Pass Rate 60.0% 60.0%
Deep-ball Rate 17.9% 23.3%

I’m willing to bet Cleveland’s play volume was affected after seeing so many players taken to the sidelines. Regardless, here’s where our focus should be. And where mine will be for future studies. Production (receiving/rushing yards, touchdowns, etc.) already has several other variables tied to it. But a team’s intent is how we can reshape expectations and projections for a game. I’ll have on this in the coming weeks. Let’s dig into Week 7.

Games to Monitor

Week 7 Games to Monitor
Game Temperature (Feels Like) Chance of Precipitation Max Precip Rate (in/hr) Wind
Falcons at Dolphins 90 58% 0.04 10 mph E
Saints at Seahawks 48 77% 0.03 12 mph S
Bears at Buccaneers 90 45% 0.02 9 mph E
Colts at 49ers 60 100% 0.16 11 mph S

BLUF: The 49ers’ game is a legitimate problem. Qualitatively, it will be a visible downpour throughout the entire game. Even worse, the rain won’t just show up right before kickoff. It’ll be storming all day. As a result, field conditions will deteriorate the moment the players hit the turf. We should reduce our expectations for both passing games unless the conditions improve between now and Sunday night.

The other games are “fine”. Nothing that would affect either team’s game plan, but expect a slip, fumble, or dropped pass at the worst possible time. But these aren’t events we can predict a priori.

Games Impacted by Rain

Indianapolis Colts (20-point implied total) @ San Francisco 49ers (24)

I’ve mentioned this game before, but the "Mud Bowl” of 2019 is one of the extreme rain games in recent history. If you watch the highlight recap, you can see players splashing through puddles five minutes into the game. The weather obs from that game looks just like what Santa Clara is expecting to see on Sunday.

Precip Rate From Week 7 2019 & Week 7 2021 Forecast
Week 7 2019 Week 7 2020
Time Rain Rate Time Rain Rate
1:00 PM 0.20 8:00 PM 0.15
2:00 PM 0.15 9:00 PM 0.16
3:00 PM 0.10 10:00 PM 0.13
4:00 PM 0.05 11:00 PM 0.10

Even the pre-game conditions are similar. Heavy rain was falling in Landover early in the morning before the SF/WAS matchup. Santa Clara is expecting rain earlier in the morning, which will turn into heavy rain by the afternoon. Field conditions will deteriorate by kickoff and will continue to degrade throughout. The playing surface at Levi’s Stadium is grass (similar to FedEx Field) and has been criticized for poor upkeep. With so many similarities, it’s worth revisiting the 2019 matchup for how each offense approached the conditions.

Pass rates were all below their baselines, indicating the weather truly played a role in the game plan. It's possible lightning may delay the game. It's also possible the storm leaves early. However, fantasy managers should consider other options outside of the primary fantasy assets in the game (e.g., Deebo Samuel, Jonathan Taylor, etc.). A ceiling outcome will be hard to envision should the forecast hold as of Thursday.

New Orleans Saints (24) @ Seattle Seahawks (19)

Worth monitoring to see if the precip rate gets worse, but there’s no concern here. Previous games with 0.03” (e.g., DET/CHI Week 4) were generally unaffected by the elements. Nor did they significantly differ from our pre-game expectations. Our only concern is if the Seahawks’ passing game has a plan against the Saints fresh off their bye. Otherwise, I’ll continue to monitor the forecast and report back if things get worse.

Atlanta Falcons (25) @ Miami Dolphins (22.5)

Chicago Bears (17) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (30)

I’m grouping these two games as they’re relatively close. Yes, I’m stretching the definition of “close”. Yes, I realize they’re hundreds of miles apart. Yes, I know they’re on opposite coasts of Florida. Yes, I’ve seen a map. However, it stands to reason that the storms projected to hit Miami will hit Tampa later in the day.

Winds will be coming from the east on Sunday and push the storm cells from the east coast of Florida (Miami) to the west coast (Tampa) over the day. Precipitation rates are similar, too. So, again, it’s easier to look at both since they’ll be linked weather-wise for Sunday.

Neither precip rate is of any concern. We may be able to see actual rain during the Dolphins’ game (0.04), but it won’t affect its outcome, and it won’t hit its maximum intensity until the game is nearly over. The forecast for both games calls for thunderstorms, so a delay is possible for either contest. Regardless, at best, unexpected events like a dropped pass or fumble may occur during the game.

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