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A new player enters the daily fantasy arena -- Weather Battle

WX Battle has joined the DFS arena. WXbattle.com

We have officially entered the summer sports doldrums, and if you are a daily fantasy player this period is likely especially frustrating, maybe you are even getting the DFS shakes.  However, if you are willing to live a little bit outside of the box I may have a solution for you. Now you can play daily fantasy all summer long, and in fact all year long with a new game that never goes out of season.  How is this possible you ask? All sports have a season right? Well yes, they do, but do you know what doesn’t ever have an off season? The weather. Yes, a game called Weather Battle (also written as WX Battle) has brought weather forecasting into the daily fantasy arena.

I have been following this game’s development over the past year and earlier this month it officially launched for all to play.  Even better, is that for about the next month games will be free to play, but will still have real money payouts for winners.

So who had this brilliant idea? That would be Mike Collier - the Chief Meteorologist at the NBC affiliate TV Station in Tulsa, Okla.  Weather Battle was born out of Mike’s love of daily fantasy. Mike told me that a couple of years ago he, like many avid DFS players, was left wanting more at the conclusion of football season.  He wished for a game that could be played everyday and had no off season. It was then that weather forecasting - the thing he does every day - struck him as the solution. Weather, like sports, does not have a pre-defined outcome, nor does it ever stop, making it a perfect vessel for the daily fantasy model.  And just as with sports a player can test their skill and knowledge by attempting to pick the best possible outcome to gain the most points – the only difference being that points come in degrees or inches of rain instead of touchdowns and yards.

Even better is that you don’t have to have an in-depth knowledge, or really any knowledge at all, of meteorology to play.  Weather Battle has made it very simple for both the weather-enthused as well as the average fantasy sports player to participate.

Gameplay

First you have to go to weatherbattle.com. Once you log-in and hit the “Play Now” button you are taken to a page to select which contest you would like to participate in.  

As of now there are four types of games: a heat battle, cold battle, rain battle, and wind battle.  The names are pretty self-explanatory. In each of these “battles” you pick cities that you think will have the most of whatever condition the battle is for.  Keep in mind that you will be forecasting for the 24 hour period ending on the date given on the battle. Just like in regular daily fantasy each contest has an entry fee as well as a prize payout for winners.  However, as I mentioned earlier, for about the next month all contests will be free to enter.

I went ahead and chose the heat battle, and after doing so was lead to this screen to make my selections:

You are given a list of 40 cities, of which you can choose ten, however you must stay within the given 40,000 point budget.  Each city is assigned a point value, with the sure thing picks (ie. in heat contests traditionally hot cities like Phoenix) being the most expensive.  Scoring is done by totaling up all the high temperatures (or inches of rain, max winds in those other contests) in each of your selected cities. You have to choose your cities wisely though to get the most points possible while staying under budget.  Sure, you could pick Aaron Rodgers, Antonio Brown, and Le’Veon Bell for your daily fantasy team, but you would be hard-pressed to fill out the rest of your roster. The same balancing act applies here.

Also, remember how I mentioned you don’t need to know a whole lot about meteorology to play? Well when you roll over the mouse over the city names a bubble pops up on the map to the right showing both the forecasted temperature as well as the average temperature for that day. Sure, you could consult some weather forecasts or simple weather models, however doing so is not necessary to have a good shot of winning.  Simply looking at the information Weather Battle provides you could see that on this particular day value picks can be found in cities like Portland or Cincinnati where the forecast temperature is 85 but the cost of picking those cities is relatively low. It’s like an average running back having a matchup against the leagues worst run defense. Finally, after you submit your picks you can return to the site the next day to see how you did and if you won any money. It is that easy.

Weather Battle plans to drastically expand the game over the coming months.  The plan is to add contests for forecasting severe weather, tornadoes, hurricanes, and other weather events.  They also plan to increase the prize pools to make these games even more attractive. However, even with contests presently limited to just four categories, over the past month participation has increased exponentially.  The first day it launched there were less than 10 people playing, but in less than a month hundreds are now playing with participation growing each day. My guess is that more than just those with a deep interest in weather will give this game a try. At the very least it is a change of pace during these dead summer months.  And finally, it will give those who love to claim that weather forecasts are a bunch of crap a chance to put their money where their mouth is.

If you decide to give it a try let me know, I would love to hear thoughts from other participants.   You can let me know via twitter @stephenuzick.


 

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A WEEKLY REVIEW OF CRENNEL'S COACHING

Now my job: Texans feast on Lions

Photo by Getty Images.

Thanksgiving is full of tradition. There's the typical family gathering, large meal, and of course, football. Sometimes, new traditions are added and old ones are retired. I think the Texans did both in their impressive 41-25 win over the Lions in Detroit. Old traditions were carried on (Lions losing on Thanksgiving), some were put to rest (Texans not being able to get turnovers), and new ones were started (multiple passing touchdowns by Deshaun Watson in six straight games).

The fact that this defense got three turnovers in the game was unbelievable! They got all three in the first quarter within the span of eight plays. JJ Watt's pick-six was insane. He went for a batted ball, ended up catching it, and ran it in. They forced Jonathan Williams to fumble on the Lions' very next play from scrimmage and recovered it. On the Lions' next possession, the Texans recovered yet another fumble after the challenge was reversed. Great call by the coaching staff to challenge and win. The defense looked good. Tyrell Adams stood out because he was in on those two fumbles, made 17 total tackles with 14 of them being solo tackles. They also brought pressure that seemed to make Matthew Stafford very inaccurate and resulted in four sacks. I give defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver credit for knowing he needs to blitz to get pressure, but the run defense has to improve.

The offense kept the tempo up in this game as well. The spread and hurry-up were used to keep the Lions already staggered defense off balance. Knowing the Lions were without a couple defensive backs, I thought it would be the perfect marriage of their defense and the Texans' offense. A buddy asked before the game about the line (Texans -3.5) and the over/under (52.5). I told him bet the Texans and the over because neither team can play defense and both have good quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly put together another good game plan and Watson executed it flawlessly. One route combo I saw later on in the game I particularly enjoyed. Two receivers were tight to the left side. Cooks ran a hook/curl and settled in the middle of the zone while Fuller ran a vertical route. Duke Johnson ran a swing route to that same side. It left Cooks wide open as the attention went to Johnson in the flat, Fuller deep, and the action to the other play side. Route combos are important because it gives the quarterback different reads as he goes through his progressions and lets him pick apart the defense based on what he sees. Combine that with Watson's play and the way Kelly has changed his play calling now that he's liberated from he who shall not be named, we're seeing a beautiful thing.

As good as things were, there's still room for improvement. The defense gives up way too many easy yards, both run and pass. They can't get pressure bringing only four and will often give up big plays if the blitz is picked up. Plus the run defense is still an issue as evidenced by the Lions' first possession of the second half. The Lions ran the ball 10 plays straight for a total of 58 yards on that drive. Utterly ridiculous! Watson was good (17/25 318 yards and four touchdowns), but he missed two more touchdowns with passes slightly off, and continues to hold onto the ball too long at times. The difference between these two issues I've presented here is the fact that Watson has so played well, his "issues" are minor and very correctable, while the defense is terrible and there's no easy fix in sight. But let Romeo Crennel and Anthony Weaver tell it, they're getting the most out of these guys and they're playing disciplined.

The thought that this team may actually creep into the playoff picture may take shape better after next week if they can beat the Colts. I doubt it, but it is getting interesting. Let's see what else happens around them because they need help getting there.

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