Oh the weather outside is frightful


Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - As we head into the first round of the fantasy playoffs, there are a number of storm clouds facing owners. That's not a euphemism, we're talking real storm clouds.

The weather for this weekend is not looking good. In fact just the opposite, it's looking rather ugly. A check of the early forecasts is predicting a chance for a wintry mix of rain, snow or sleet in Cincinnati, Washington, Baltimore, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Green Bay and Denver.

That's eight games and 16 teams that may have to deal with less than ideal conditions. Over half of the NFL will have to adjust to unsettling weather.

The prevailing theory is that teams will run the ball more in bad weather. Which would not be good for those fantasy teams who have been carried by their strong-armed quarterbacks. I'm looking directly at the guys who have used Peyton Manning, Matthew Stafford and Drew Brees to carry their team to win after win.

But is that theory true?

In this pass-happy era we live in, it's not hard to increase the running game. Through the first 13 weeks, only three teams (Seattle, San Francisco and Carolina) run the ball more than they pass it. Not coincidently, all three teams have very good running quarterbacks (Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick and Cam Newton).

Meanwhile, 10 teams throw the ball more than 60 percent of the time and the league average in 2013 is over 58 percent.

But will teams change their offensive strategies because of weather conditions?

There is some interesting research on the subject. I'll be referencing a piece by Brian Burke from an advancednflstats.com piece titled "Weather Effects on Passing."

One of the more interesting graphs shows that the yards-per-pass drops significantly when the wind speed reaches 15 mph or more. The number of plays run also dips as the wind speed rises.

Extreme temperatures play a role too. According to another graph this is particularly noticeable when the temperature is below 30 degrees or above 90 degrees. For this weekend, you probably won't have to worry about too much heat.

So what does all this mean to you as you fill out your playoff lineup?

Extreme wind conditions will have an effect on your fantasy players. If you have a choice between two relatively equal quarterbacks, pick the one in lesser wind conditions.

For instance, in one of my leagues I have both Robert Griffin III and Wilson. I'll be starting Wilson in San Francisco despite his playing against a tough 49ers' defense (Sunny, with a high near 50. North wind 3 to 5 mph.) rather than RGIII against a vulnerable Kansas City defense in the bad weather predicted for Washington, DC area. (Snow likely before noon, then snow and sleet between noon and 4pm, then freezing rain and sleet after 4pm. High near 35).

And while there isn't a fantasy owner crazy enough to sit Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, he's a career 10-12 when the temperature is under 40 degrees and 3-7 when the kickoff temps are 32 degrees or lower. According to ESPN, he's got an 11-12 TD-INT ratio in those games with a 59.4 completion percentage for 214.1 ypg - all well below his career averages.

The game day temperatures in Denver and Green Bay will be below 20 degrees and the Chicago Monday night game will be just under 30 degrees. Seven other games will have a temperature between 30-36 degrees.

The only good news I can give fantasy owners of the 16 teams who will likely face less than ideal conditions is that while they will be dealing with rain, sleet and snow, the wind forecasts won't be crazy. None of the seven cities have predicted winds of over 20 mph.

For this weekend, however, it should be a nice advantage to be playing in a dome (St. Louis, Arizona, Carolina, New Orleans) or in sunny California (New York Giants, San Diego, Seattle, San Francisco).




Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.