Weather factors can be an afterthought for new daily fantasy football players. They may consider them early in the week, but often forgo checking weather reports as we get closer to Sunday’s slate of games. This is a massive leak, particularly late in the season when weather extreme weather becomes more prevalent.
In this article, we’ll go over how to evaluate weather factors when creating your DFS lineups. Which factors should be weighted more heavily than others and those that have little effect on the game flow.
The best barometer for figuring out how a particular NFL game might play out, in terms of which team may win and a number of points scored, is sportsbook odds. More specifically, sides and totals.
Even if you have never placed a sports betting wager in your life, it’s still vital to understand that the oddsmakers have to get it right, or they lose their jobs, or worse put their respective shops out of business.
However, it is important for bettors to understand that weather is rarely heavily factored into opening lines. Unless there is a report of something big on the horizon, such as a hurricane or a blizzard, weather conditions won’t be a substantial component of the opening line.
Remember, several sportsbooks have odds available late Sunday evening for next week’s games. This is more than a week before most of next week’s slate kickoffs, so it’s tough to consider weather factors that are still mostly unknown.
It’s not that the sportsbooks don’t factor in weather at all. They create a line based on the average conditions at that time of year or what the extended forecast looks like, but extreme weather conditions aren’t generally going to be an element of early lines.
This is simply because the data is not available yet. Predicting game day weather isn’t something that the oddsmakers or daily fantasy players can predict a week in advance.
Game day temperature is one component that is likely “priced in” more than other factors when the oddsmakers make their original line. For instance, late in the season, it’s simply going to be colder across the board in games that are played outdoors.
Colder temperatures are going to, for the most part, mean less scoring. Not because it’s harder to run the ball, but because passing is made much more difficult as the weather gets colder. The best data on temperatures can be found in DFS professional and author, Jonathan Bales’ book: Fantasy Football for Smart People.
As you can see, passing production drops off quite heavily as we get closer to frigid temperatures and the sweet spot for production is right between 60-80 degrees. Above 80 degrees, efficiency starts to decline as the extreme heat becomes a negative.
Overall, the data is clear, the warmer the weather the better quarterbacks perform. Throwing in poor weather drastically affects the yards per attempt. Coaches may not opt to throw as much in cold weather, which gives running backs more touches and pushes down game totals.
One of the biggest weather components that DFS players fail to account accurately for is wind speed. When it’s all said and done, wind speed may have more an effect on the game that any other factor.
Once again borrowing from Jonathan Bales and the DraftKings Playbook, here’s a chart that shows the effect of wind speed in terms of passing yard per attempt:
Wind speeds have a drastic effect on yardage gained. It’s about the 15 mph mark where we see a drastic downturn in production. Anytime a game is projected to have wind speeds over 15 mph, we should take notice.
Not only does wind speed have an effect on passing yards per attempt, but it also forces coaches to go to the ground more often. As I mentioned with lower temperatures, more running plays are going to be called because of the effect of wind speed on passing offenses.
Like low temperatures, we can give a boost to running back opportunity in these games, but depending on how severe the conditions, the overall point total of the game will likely be affected as well.
It is worth noting that players who run shorter routes may not be as affected as heavily by high winds. In fact, their usage may increase as the offense may try and dink and dunk and avoid throwing downfield.
If you’re playing at a DFS site that you’re picking kickers, wind speeds will also have a significant effect here as well. Avoid kickers in games with high winds.
Rain and snow set off alarm bells for many DFS players but compared to the wind, it’s not nearly as significant. One of the reasons for this is that teams will be able to see the forecast leading up to the game and prepare for inclement weather.
Teams often practice with slick footballs if there’s a heavy chance of rain or snow. Rain and snow affect the field negatively, but that doesn’t mean the offense necessarily suffers. In fact, the offense may benefit from a slick field.
Keep in mind, wide receivers know where they are running their routes, but the defenders do not. It’s much easier to get to spots on the field versus chasing around opposing players. It’s usually much tougher for the defense to adjust when there are poor weather or field conditions.
Field conditions will affect kickers negatively, however. It should be obvious that if it’s snowing or raining heavily, that is not going to help the kicking game.
Watch for Line Movement
As I mentioned above, the oddsmakers lines, and more specifically, sides and totals are going to be the most accurate prediction available for daily fantasy sports. If a line drops and weather reports surrounding the game change, that’s probably the reason for the move.
A game total might open around 48 points earlier in the week, but as the weather forecast becomes clearer later in the week, it may drop several points. If the weather starts to look worse a few hours before game time, this same situation may occur.
If you see a game with a 48 point total drop several points due to high winds being forecasted (or coinciding with other extreme weather reports) – it should be a serious red flag. Players can also use what they’ve read in this article to evaluate weather conditions, but any significant line movement that is related to weather should be taken into vital consideration when setting your lineups.
The best site for continuous weather updates throughout the week is NFLWeather.com. Wind speed along with local forecasts is listed right on their main page. They also have a section that lists all weather data over the past five seasons, along with historical weather analytics.