NFL Weather Report: Week 8
Patrick Mahomes scored only 12.0 fantasy points in Week 7. While the snowfall before and during the game provided an excuse for fantasy managers to shrug off Mahomes' QB23 finish, the weather wasn’t a major factor. The Kansas City Chiefs’ defense stole the show. A pick-six and kick-off return for a touchdown gave KC a two-score lead before the end of the first half, and the Chiefs' offense didn't need to step on the gas much after that.
Prior to that, Kansas City operated normally. Mahomes passed at a 60.0% rate while the game was still within one score (season-long clip was 61.8%). Plus, KC's red zone passing rate (50.0%) was comparable to their tendencies leading up to Week 7 (57.7%). The Denver Broncos’ mistakes on offense (and special teams) had a greater impact on Mahomes' fantasy output than snow or cold as the game total still reached 59 points.
Let's turn to Week 8. The forecast looks dire in multiple locations, but will the forecast end up being worse than the actual on-field affects, like we saw with Mahomes last week? Let's take a look.
Below are the games with weather concerns headed into Week 8:
|Game||Temperature (Feels Like)||Chance of Precipitation||Wind|
|Steelers at Ravens||59||26%||14 mph SSW|
|Rams at Dolphins||91||40%||12 mph NE|
|Saints at Bears||27||0%||23 mph NW|
|Titans at Bengals||37||0%||19 mph WNW|
|Raiders at Browns||31||39%||28 mph W|
|Vikings at Packers||26||0%||24 mph NW|
|Patriots at Bills||34||56%||21 mph W|
Games Impacted by Wind
Within a single we, we have gone from maybe a single game with minor concern to multiple games with major concern. With at least four games projected to see wind speeds over 20 MPH, let’s start with some generalities to establish a baseline. I went back over the last three seasons and calculated the difference between a quarterback’s seasonal performance and their results when playing in games featuring winds of 20-plus MPH.
To be clear -- CPOE stands for completion percentage over expectation while aDOT is average depth of target.
We can pull two actionable trends from the results. First, though, we need to note the sample size. We have just six games of data from three seasons. It casts some doubt in our findings, but a couple of narratives regarding high winds are supported here.
Both aDOT and red zone passing rate are down across the sample in each season. That's not surprising, but the lack of change in volume and fantasy points should give us hope.
Pass attempts were relatively stable across all games. Game script played a heavier role as teams continued to pass at or above their seasonal average in the majority of their games with high winds speeds. Their stable CPOE combined with a lower aDOT suggests teams adjusting to the elements to maintain efficiency. However, with the drop in red zone passing, it’s less likely quarterbacks will be able to access their ceiling projections unless they can add value on the ground.
The Bills’ game carries the most concern from a stadium perspective. New Era field offers the least amount of protection being just 110’ tall. However, we’ve seen Josh Allen in similar conditions. Allen posted 17.3 fantasy points against the Philadelphia Eagles in high winds, so there’s at least a precedent for a floor. However, he’s facing the stout defense of the Pats, which will make things even tougher.
There should be mild concerns for the games in Cincy and Chicago. Wind speeds headed northwest are expected to decrease to 17 MPH throughout the game in Chicago, which should ease our worries. The stadium’s 175.8-degree azimuth (slightly pointing northwest) should prevent a crosswind, lessening any impact from the wind. Cincinnati is in a similar situation. Their stadium sits at a 141.2-degree azimuth (pointing northwest), and winds are expected to flow in that direction. With the Bengals passing at one of the highest rates in neutral situations (64.0%), Joe Burrow should at least be able to do fairly well in a fantasy-friendly game environment.
In Cleveland, we have some history to support the passing volume being minimally affected. FirstEnergy Stadium provided enough cover to support 74 pass attempts in a high-wind game back in 2017. The inclusion of rain (0.01 inches per hour) has likely been a part of the reason for why that game total has dropped a bit, but at 50.5 points, it’s still one of the highest totals on the slate. Since Baker Mayfield has flipped back and forth between short and intermediate throws throughout the year -- 8.9 aDOT in Week 5 and 5.1 aDOT in Week 6 -- we can expect a similar adjustment should the weather prove to be a factor.
Wind speeds may have an impact in the Vikings-Packers matchup, but pace of play needs to be considered first. Lambeau Field should be able to provide enough cover, and its 0-degree azimuth (pointing north) should keep the northwest winds from creating a crosswind. The Packers have been extremely efficient on offense all year -- top-eight in both overall offense and passing offense, per our schedule-adjusted metrics. Green Bay's ability to generate points should force Minnesota into a more passes than usual, negating some of the weather concerns.