Most of the country will be high-and-dry on Sunday for our slate of games this week as high pressure dominates most of the country. We do have a few areas we are monitoring this week due to wind risks, with the Arizona Cardinals @ Cleveland Brown the one that we feel most concerned about. We are also monitoring a rain band that looks to be moving through the Seattle area for the Pittsburg Steelers @ Seattle Seahawks game on Sunday night. Read below for our forecast and player analysis.
Wind across the central and eastern US
A strong area of high pressure over the central US and a trough to the north look to increase the pressure gradient over the Ohio River valley and Mid-Atlantic states. The fallout of this pressure gradient is wind - which looks to escalate game time wind values from 13-18 mph sustained, with gusts 25-30 mph possible. Our biggest concern for these conditions will be the Arizona Cardinals @ Cleveland Browns. We've seen this pattern before - winds off Lake Eerie effecting game conditions in Cleveland. These wind impacts also extend further east for the Kansas City Chiefs @ Washington Football Team and Los Angeles Charges @ Baltimore Ravens games. Again, it is the wind gusts that look to be the the most problematic factor in our forecast (see map below).
Rain possible over the Pacific Northwest
We are also monitoring an area of precipitation moving into the Pacific Northwest on Sunday night that could provide periods of rain for the Pittsburgh Steelers @ Seattle Seahawks game. Right now, the rain band looks to only bring light rainfall and over an abbreviated period of time, so we are not overly concerned about this player impacts at this time.
There are some big players in big match-ups that we are monitoring due to wind. With this, it is important to keep in mind that statistically speaking, weather has a percentage impact - meaning this is not a black and white, all or nothing situation in terms of start-sit decisions. With this being said, we do have some positional players that we would steer away from if possible (specifically in DFS formats). This is especially the case in Cleveland where vegas dropped the O/U in this game by almost 5 points, which is telling as to their feelings for offensive productivity.
Point-blank: We are most concerned about Baker Mayfield. With Baker having shoulder issues and being more inconsistent of late with a depleted receiving core, we are not excited about starting Mayfield in this one. We have also seen Mayfield struggle in wind games previously, with 30 less yards on average during windy games and a 19-15 TD to INT ratio.
In general, we see QB's fantasy points, touchdowns, completions, and passing yards drop 10% for games with similar wind conditions. Other QBs in Sunday's match-ups discussed above give a very safe rushing floor (here's looking at you K. Murray, L. Jackson, and P. Mahomes). You are still playing these options, but we would suggest not hedging on several big plays for these Sunday match-ups.
In windy games, it is always the deep threat targets that seem to suffer the most. The longer the ball is in the air, the more chance the wind has to impact its trajectory. For this reason, QBs typically rely on short to mid-range passes to ensure accuracy. We see a decrease of 12+% for WR targets, receiving yards, receiving TD, and by proxy, fantasy points in these windy games. As a result, we are a bit concerned with big play potential for AJ Green, Tyreek Hill, Marques Brown, and Mike Williams who typically see a higher average depth of target. These #1 receivers will still get their fair share of targets (they are #1's for a reason), but QBs may be amore conservative stretching the ball down field and/or less accurate on these big play attempts.
Tight ends seem to play role as the safety value in weather-induced game. We typically observe TEs getting peppered with targets in an attempt to extend drives. This is especially the case for your high-end TEs like Kelce (who we recommend you picking up in DFS if possible). We also expect Mark Andrews, Jared Cook, and even Ricky Seals-Jones to have plentiful opportunities on Sunday. I'm personally playing Seals-Jones for a low price-high ceiling play in DFS.
Focusing again on the Cardinals @ Cleveland game, we think Chase Edmonds and Kareem Hunt could be smash starts. Statistically speaking, wind has very little impact on RB production (although we do see a downtick in pass catching production), but we think these RBs will get the workload especially if launching the ball downfield seems to be problematic. We believe this will be a run first game, which means plenty of opportunities for K. Hunt, C. Edmonds, and even J. Connor if there are enough drives ending up near the goalline. The other reason we are higher on C. Edmonds is the Browns are stout against the rush (2nd in the league) and we think Murray will need to rely on spreading the ball out to Edmonds to capitalize on match-ups on the outside. On the other side of the ball, the Cardinals are bottom tier against the run, so Hunt is a smash play all day.