December could start off with a cold, wet, and windy bang for our slate of week 13 matchups. An intensifying area of low pressure will cut across the Great Lakes region this weekend bringing with it cold temperature, high winds, and even some rain/snow. The models are starting to agree on strength, location and track of this cyclone, and the following games will be closely monitored for impacts:
Arizona Cardinals @ Chicago Bears
New England Patriots @ Buffalo Bills
A system undergoing cyclogenesis over the Northern Plains will push east on Sunday bringing light to moderate rain to the Great Lakes region. As the front sets up, Chicago will be first to experience these stormy conditions. We are forecasting pockets of moderate rain with winds in the 15-20 mph range and gusts 30 mph+ for the duration of the game that could make conditions sloppy, especially in the second half. As the system continues to push east, Cincinnati may get some prefrontal showers, but we don’t expect any significant impacts for the Chargers at Bengals game at this time.
Above is a frequency distribution chart for total score in games with similar weather conditions as we are forecasting for the Cardinals at Bears game on Sunday.
The New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills game is lined up for prime time Monday Night Football. This game - a now low 42 DK O/U - is forecasted to be the most impactful game this week. As the above mentioned system moves out over the east coast, we are forecasting a surge of cold air and high winds off lake Erie to make for periods of lake effect snow in Buffalo. We expect these conditions to deteriorate throughout the game with winds 25+ mph/gusts 35 mph+, lake effect snow, and dropping temperatures in the upper 20’s. With these two strong defenses going at it in a wintery mess, don’t be surprised to see production limited for fantasy assets in this one
Above shows a density distribution chart for games played in similar conditions as the one we are forecasting in Buffalo. The average total score in these games is in the mid to high 30’s with a noticeable shift in the distribution.
Although there are only two games on the docket with weather impacts, there are quite a few fantasy players that could be impacted. We break down those impacts below for each game.
Cardinals @ Bears
Andy Dalton: Andy Dalton has turned into a game manager of late and was able to beat the Lions last week on Thanksgiving going 24/39 for 317 and 1TD. We expect Dalton to struggle more in this game going against the Cardinals defense ranking #4 in yards giving up through the air. And although precipitation games don’t historically impact Dalton significantly, rain could force Dalton to make a few more mistakes, limiting drive opportunities for scoring.
Kyler Murray: This is Kyler’s first game back since the ankle injury, and you can bet that the Bears will do their best to rattle and contain the 3rd year QB. Chicago is ranked #8 in yards given up passing, improving to #5 overall over the last 3 games. In a game where slick conditions may make it difficult for him to feel 100% confident with the ankle, don’t be surprised if Murray has some arrant throws and/or an increase in short dump-offs. It is worth noting that in the incredibly limited sample size we have for Murray in windy/rainy games, his stats are reduced significantly (105 YPG with 0 TDs). Overall, we are staying away from Murray in DFS, but you have to play him in your hometown leagues unless you have a great option 2.
David Montgomery: David Montgomery enters this matchup posting an average of 15 carries for 55 yards with 0 TDs in his last 3 matchups. With Arizona being a top half rushing defense (and playing even better of late) we are hesitant to play Montgomery in this one, especially given the fact that the Vegas implied point total is ~18 points for the Bears. The only thing the Montgomery has going for him is that RBs see an 15+% uptick in opportunity and fantasy production in similar weather conditions. In summary, we think Montgomery will get opportunity, we are just not sold that he can turn this into a productive fantasy day.
James Conner: James Conner has been a beast of late getting 20+ carries in 2 of the last 3 games and scoring a touchdown in every game since week 7. The Chicago front provides a middle tier rushing defense, but they have been playing better of late - allowing 100 yards per game on the ground over the past 3 weeks. Regardless, in sloppy weather conditions with Kyler coming back from injury, we expect the Cardinals to rely on Conner, especially near the goal line. Conner will be a strong start in all fantasy formats.
Darnell Mooney: The new Bears #1 receiver? It looks to be that way as Mooney has recorded 15+ fantasy points in the last 3 weeks. However we are pumping the brakes a bit on Mooney as the Cardinals have been locking down top wideouts and limiting breakout plays. Mooney will get the volume, but with the Cardinals shutdown secondary, and weather preventing downfield plays, we are limiting upside expectations in this one.
DeAndre Hopkins: Hopkins is a game time decision. Regardless, it has been awhile since Hopkins and Murray played in a game together, making Hopkins a potentially risky play. If both Hopkins and Murray play, we expect for Murray to go to his play maker, but we would prefer to take the wait-and-see approach with Hopkins first, especially given the weather.
Cole Kmet: Kmet has emerged of late as the #2 passing option on the Bears. If the Bears have to come back from a deficient, Kmet could turn into a trusted receiver for Dalton in the second half . Downside is that scoring opportunities will be limited against a tough Arizona secondary ranking #1 against fantasy tight ends this year. We think Kmet will get some volume, but upside is limited as we don't see scoring opportunities to be plentiful.
Zach Ertz: Ertz has received solid fantasy volume of late getting 5+ targets in every start except 1 since joining the Cardinals. Kyler may look to keep things short against an improved Bears defense, but Chicago is also ranked 8th against fantasy TE. Regardless, look for Ertz to get volume, but to return value, Ertz will need to get in the endzone.
Patriots @ Bills
Josh Allen: The Bills offense has been hot and cold this year, but they did turn it on against the Saints last week. With that being said, The Bills will be facing a top tier defense in the New England Patriots in wet, cold, and windy conditions. Although the offense usually has the leg up in weather, we know the Bill Belichick led Patriots shut down the #1 offense option which is Josh Allen. As such, expect Allen to provide a solid floor (especially given his rushing ability) but limited upside with a low 42 point O/U projected.
Mac Jones: Mac Jones has already played in quite a few weather games in his rookie debut season. We do see a downtick in fantasy production, especially during windy games, and given this is the most significant weather component in this game, we do expect Mac Jones to try and limit mistakes and keep the ball short. As a result, given the inclement weather conditions, and the Buffalo's defense ranking #1 against fantasy QBs, expect fantasy points to come a premium for Jones in this one.
Bills: It's tough to really get excited over the rushers on Buffalo not named Josh Allen. But if you're looking for a low-priced RB in DFS, Matt Breida seems to have taken over the 1B roll from Zach Moss and has served to be quite productive in his short stint with Buffalo in limited snaps.
Patriots: Ever since the breakout of Rhamondre Stevenson in Week 14, he's gained the trust of the Patriots organization and we've entered a three-way committee in New England between Stevenson, Damien Harris, and Brandon Bolden. While appearing dominant on paper, the Buffalo Bills have struggled against the run from top rushing teams this year. In Week 6, Derrick Henry went for 143 yards and three scores against the Bills. Jonathan Taylor rushed for 185 rushing yards and five total touchdowns against Buffalo in Week 11. While we're not expecting a performance as elite, we fully expect the New England Patriots will want to control the game on the ground while leaning on their DEF. Both Stevenson and Harris should serve as RB2s this week, with Stevenson having the yardage upside, while Harris has the TD upside.
Stefon Diggs: Diggs had a rough start to the year, but has come on strong recently with 16+ fantasy points in his last 3 games and receiving a healthy target volume. We expect Diggs to be the primarily look, but remember the Patriots do a great job of targeting your top offensive players and capping their output. In tough weather conditions that typically result in a 10% reduction in fantasy stats, this may be the case for Diggs which could limit his upside. Look for Emmanuel Sanders, Cole Beasly, and Dawson Knox to get more looks if Patriots slide more coverage to Diggs.
Patriots WRs: Kendrick Bourne and Jakobi Meyers have been the primary WR targets of late in New England. Since yards are a bit tougher to come by in the hostile weather conditions, we are banking on Meyers to get more guaranteed volume in this one. Bourne has been explosive on limited targets, but he is dependent on the deep ball and big-play scoring opportunities which will be limited in this one. If you need a high ceiling-low floor play, Bourne is a good option, but Meyers is better if you need the volume.
Both Dawson Knox and Hunter Henry are only valuable if they find the endzone. In a game where the O/U is set to 42 points and point totals for tight ends reduced on average by 15-20% in the given forecasted weather conditions, finding other options may be a good option. Both should get looks in the redzone - question is how many redzone opportunities will they get to capitalize on.....
NE K Nick Folk is the top scoring kicker so far in 2021 with 140pt and it hasn't been close with 32 points ahead of the next best kickers. Windy games have not really impacted Folk throughout his career as his career average field goal percentage is 82.3%, while in windy games he's seen a 82.7% success rate. In these low scoring games, we typically see kickers usage increase which bodes well for Folk. In strong wind games with a cross-field component, there is some risk for missed field goals at range but expect Folk to continue rolling. On the other side of the ball, Buffalo K Tyler Bass is also close to his career field goal percentage average (84.2%) in windy games (82.6%). We're not recommending dropping either Folk or Bass for a lesser option.