The NFL’s 2013 week 14 will be remembered as one of the worst weather days that league has seen. Snow fell in Washington, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Green Bay and was the worst in Philadelphia. Bad weather games are what truly separates the NFL from other sports that only play in optimal conditions. For fantasy owners going into the playoffs, the weather is an extra late-season challenge that can cause any owner to question their lineup. Week 15 should not be anywhere near as bad as week 14, but there are still some potentially wet or snowy games in the forecast.
There are two main weather issues to worry about with NFL games:
Snow – The downpour of snow in Philly took the kickers out of the game. It also made passing more challenging; however, the running backs and return men had a field day. NFL players are not as fast in ankle-deep snow, so a player with the ball has an edge when it comes to alluding tackles even if they are slowed. LeSean McCoy is proof of this as he put-up an all-time Eagles high rushing total with 217 yards in week 14. Please keep in mind that the Eagles/Lions game was not the typical snow game, in fact it might as well be classified as a rare “blizzard” game. If the snow is light, a game can be played without much effect as was seen in the Dolphins’ win over the Steelers.
Rain – Non-frozen snow, or “rain” can be even more troublesome. In a downpour you almost need to bench a QB and WRs. Running backs benefit, but the likelihood of fumbles increases. Again, we are talking downpour here. Light rain is not worth benching a player. Most heavy downpours will not last the entirety of a game, so you might get bits of a decent game from a player.
The following teams play indoors this week, so expect no issues with:
Washington @ Atlanta
Houston @ Indianapolis
Philadelphia @ Minnasota
Green Bay @ Dallas
New Orleans @ St. Louis
Baltimore @ Detroit (MNF)
As mentioned in Common Fantasy Football Mistakes:
Don’t over react to weather forecasts. Unless the sustained winds are over 20 MPH your kicker should be good to go. Rain is not a huge factor. It can be if your watching TV and they are showing live video of what seems to be a hurricane inside a stadium. In that case maybe bench a QB or WR. Snow does not seem to affect games as much as some may think. Unless the poor weather is making headlines on pre-game shows, don’t worry about it.
NFL pregame shows can be a good vehicle to deciding if you’ll need to bench a player. If the weather is bad, you can bet a pregame show will cut to a sideline reporter that’s braving the elements. When the weather is making news, that’s a sure sign that it could effect a game.
Potential week 15 issues:
Cincinnati @ Pittsburgh - Snow showers being in the forecast is only part of the issue here. This is the week 15 Sunday night game and that means you will not really know what the game conditions are until every player that’s not a Lion or Raven has played. You might just need to cross your fingers with this game. Remember, most of the time the game play is not effected.
Chicago @ Cleveland - Snow showers are possible. Winds could be in the 20-30 mph range and that’s enough to effect the passing game and kicking game. Check the pre-game reports on this game and plan accordingly. It’s a 1 p.m. game, so finding a plan B should not be that hard.
All three games in Florida - Rain is possible in Miami (vs. New England), Tampa Bay (vs. San Fransisco) and Jacksonville (vs. Buffalo). According to the Weather Channel, all three cities could experience isolated thunderstorms with a 30 percent chance of rain. This is not much to worry about.
Try not to panic over any weather report, unless the media is doing the panicking. If you have two players you are having trouble deciding on for a flex spot and the weather could be an issue for one of them, bench him for the player with good conditions to play in. In the fantasy playoffs, risks need to be avoided, but for the most part weather is not worth worrying about.
If you want to dive into the weather stats, this article by Advanced NFL Stats has statistical breakdowns of how weather effects passing.