Week 15: Winter Shows Its Teeth For Fantasy Playoffs
Welcome to the fantasy football playoffs! Weather has the potential to keep things interesting across the NFL for Week 15 for the start of fantasy playoffs. Winter is starting to rear its ugly head across the US, including the Green Bay and Buffalo regions, for this week’s slate of games. As a result, we are monitoring a few areas for risk, including:
Miami Dolphins @ Buffalo Bills
Los Angeles Rams @ Green Bay Packers
Buffalo: This is a difficult forecast as lake-effect snow is a mesoscale weather feature. This means that small changes to the forecast can significantly impact the amount and duration of snow Buffalo may receive during the game. However, we are still confident in significant snow at this time. This lake-effect snow band looks to bring heavy snow to the Buffalo area and could dump anywhere between 6 to 18+ inches of snow between Friday night through Saturday night. We are forecasting periods of heavy snow with probable accumulation at this time. The wind forecasts have diminished over the last 24 hours, but winds of 10-15 mph with elevated gusts are still possible. Winds off the water will help moderate temperatures, with projected temps in the upper 20s to low 30s.
Green Bay: A shot of arctic cold air will filter into the northern US this weekend, bringing with it the threat of single digit low temperatures going into early next week. Models have the bulk of this cold air earlier on Monday, so although temperatures are projected to be very cold for the Monday night game between the Rams and Packers, we are projecting temperatures to be slightly higher than what is being reported by media outlets and on social media.
Below is a distribution chart of temperatures for Green Bay for all 50 ECMWF model ensemble members. There is good agreement among members that temperatures on Monday night (12/19) will be in the 15-20 degree range.
Game Impacts: Miami Dolphins @ Buffalo Bills (Saturday @ 8:15 pm ET)
DK Sports Book O/U: 43.5 pts with Buffalo favored by 7pts
We are currently forecasting periods of heavy snow for the Dolphins at Buffalo game on Saturday night, with 4 inches + possible during game time. The wind is not projected to be a factor. Using our algorithm, we see a significant impact on total scores in these conditions, with an average score of around 32, which is 13 points below our average for normal condition games (see graphic below). With this being said, this is the Dolphins at Bills, so it goes without saying that these two offenses are more than capable of scoring big points.
Let’s focus on the QB situation first. Josh Allen has proven he struggles in precipitation games (look at last week vs. the Jets). In 8 games in precipitation, he has a QBR of 79.7 and a completion rate of 53.9 with 8 TDs / 8 INTs. This is a snow game as opposed to a rain game, but with the recent performance of the Bills offense, we believe Allen has a more substantial chance of struggling than booming.
With Tua Tagovailoa being in Miami, he has had a very limited sample size in cold games with precipitation. As such, it is hard for us to project how the potential weather may impact him. However, when grouping all QBs in similar weather events, we see an average decrease of 38 passing yards (see graph below). However, we still think Tau will launch the ball to Hill and Waddle, but the upside for big plays may be limited.
As one might expect with a drop in passing yards for QBs, WRs also tend to score fewer fantasy points in these types of weather games (see graph below). We still think Diggs, Hill, and Waddle will be utilized and relied on, but it is also possible the opportunities for these players will drop, lowering their ceiling a bit.
Although both teams lack a rushing identity, RBs seem to benefit in these games with a 2.5-3 pt increase in fantasy points (see graph below). Teams may rely more heavily on the run if the snow starts to make things difficult. As a result, Singletary and Mostert might get a bit of a bump.
Game Impacts: Los Angeles Rams @ Green Bay Packers (Monday @ 8:15 pm ET)
DK Sports Book O/U: 39.5 pts with Green Bay favored by 7pts
The Los Angeles Rams are in town to take on the winter warriors in Green Bay. We are not as hyped as others about the weather in this game. We are projecting temps to hover in the mid-teens to 200F for game time. Overall, we don’t see a strong relationship to scoring in these weather conditions, with a delta of only around -2 points (see graph below), with slightly higher chances of a lower-scoring affair.
We have zero concerns for the Aaron Rodgers led Packer offense in these conditions. Rodgers is battle tested in this kind of weather, and although we do see a slight dip in his stats in very cold conditions (< 20 F), the Rams have a lower-tiered passing defense. Expect Aaron Jones and AJ Dillion to be involved, as the Rams are giving up 124 rushing yards to opposing running backs over their past three games.
Opposing QBs have struggled when playing at Lambeau in cold conditions. We don’t have any documented cases of Baker Mayfield playing in quite this level of cold, but against a stronger Green Bay secondary, we aren’t excited for Baker. We do typically see a slight downtick in performance for QBs, which is what we expect from Baker in this one. With an already low implied point total of around 17 points for the Rams, we don’t expect Baker to light the world on fire in this one.
Overall, the cold can make things a bit more difficult for the opposing team, but we don't expect significant impacts with cold temperatures not in the extreme territory and no wind.
Baltimore Ravens @ Cleveland Browns (Saturday @ 4:30 PM): Some light precipitation and winds in the 15-20 mph range are possible for the game between the Ravens at Browns on Saturday. We will continue to monitor the precip but do not anticipate any impacts at this time.
New York Giants @ Washington Commanders (Sunday @ 8:20 PM): Elevated winds are possible for the start of this game in the 15-20 mph range, with gusts of 20-25 mph possible. We expect these conditions to subside for the second half. No significant impacts at this time are expected.