Marcus Mariota and the Titans head to Miami. Andy Lyons/Getty Images
It’s finally Week 1 of the NFL season and everyone is eager to get their wagering on and to see their freshly drafted fantasy rosters in action. But before you lock in you should take note of weather conditions on Sunday that will be putting a damper (see what I did there) on a few games. Read on to see which games this week most likely to be impacted and how I believe the conditions will affect each fantasy position group:
Steelers @ Browns (noon central): The zombie corpse of Tropical Storm Gordon will be trolling the #lolBrowns hard on Sunday. All indications right now point to a very soggy and breezy afternoon in Cleveland. Heavy rain will be possible throughout the game, likely making the natural grass surface a muddy mess. Those with Antonio Brown on their team hoping for him to feast on the Browns may be disappointed in this game. Brown is a must start, regardless of conditions, but given the rain and the wind I wouldn’t bank on a huge day for him. These conditions present the perfect opportunity for the teams to lean heavily on the running game, so if you have Le’Veon Bell on your roster you have my sympathies. Winds look to be rather breezy out of the southeast at around 20 MPH with some higher gusts possible. The southeasterly direction means the wind will be blowing across the width of the field making kicking and deep passes challenging. Below are my rankings for how the conditions will impact each fantasy position groups (a total of 3 arrows are possible):
Bills @ Ravens (noon central) – This will also be a wet game, though probably not quite as soggy as Cleveland. Light to moderate rain showers will be present throughout the game – enough to soak the field but not totally swamp it. Wind will also pose a challenge, coming out of the east at about 15 MPH but gusting to 20 or 25 MPH at times. The orientation of the stadium makes it such that the wind will be blowing across the length of the field, giving each team an equal opportunity to be helped or harmed by the wind. With less a less than stellar quarterback for the Bills (and that is putting it kindly) and below average receivers for the Ravens look for the running game to be heavily favored here. These aren’t the best conditions for kickers but it’s not the worst either. Despite the conditions I would still play Justin Tucker as he is one of the best, if not the best, kicker in the game right now. If you have Steven Hauschka though, it might not be a bad idea to take a look at what other kickers are available for this week.
QB: ↓↓ (If Peterman or Flacco is your starting QB you need more help than I can offer)
Titans @ Dolphins (noon Central) – This game won’t necessarily feature out of the ordinary conditions, but playing in Miami in early September is no walk in the park. Typical of south Florida the heat and humidity will be downright stifling. The heat index will be hovering around 100 degrees with little to no breeze to provide relief. As always in Miami there is the possibility of a passing rain shower, but any impacts from rain will be minimal. Rather it will be the heat that has the greatest effect, especially given that this is the first game of the year and conditioning may not be 100%. I would give the defenses a bump down here as they are likely to get gassed more quickly than would otherwise be normal. Alternatively, I would give the kickers a slight bump up as hot and humid air is less dense which can give a little more distance on kicks.
QB: ↔ (Neutral)
For more information on these games and to get any questions answered (including College Games) you can find me on Twitter @stephenuzick
Jamal Shead hit a short follow shot with 0.4 seconds left and No. 1 Houston beat Oklahoma 87-85 on Saturday night, giving coach Kelvin Sampson a victory over one of his former schools.
Shead missed a driving layup attempt, but corralled the rebound and put the Cougars back ahead after they blew a 15-point lead. Emanuel Sharp tipped away a desperation pass by Oklahoma’s Milos Uzan as time expired.
“The main thing (on the last shot) was to get it to the rim,” Sampson said. “We weren’t going to shoot anything outside of 5 feet. There were three ways to win that game — a whistle, make the shot or (grab) an offensive rebound and put it in — and we got the third one.”
Sampson credited the result to Houston’s “winning DNA. We had a lot of things go against us tonight. … We were just plugging the holes in the boat up.”
L.J. Cryer led Houston (26-3, 13-3 Big 12) with 23 points, making 5 of 9 3-pointers. J’Wan Roberts added 20 points on 10-of-12 shooting, and Shead scored 14 points. Houston shot 56.7% from the field and Oklahoma was at 52.7%.
Rivaldo Soares had 16 points for Oklahoma (19-10, 7-9). Le’Tre Darthard had 15 points, finishing 5 of 7 from 3-point range.
Sampson coached Oklahoma from 1994 to 2006 and ranks second in program history with 279 wins and first in winning percentage (.719). Before Saturday, he’d never coached against the Sooners, but Houston’s entry into the Big 12 for this basketball season provided that opportunity.
Sampson received a warm welcome as he entered the Lloyd Noble Arena court, with many fans applauding, cheering and standing. Just before player introductions, Sampson and his three assistants with Oklahoma ties — former players Hollis Price, Quannas White and Kellen Sampson, his son — were individually recognized with announcements and pictured on the video board.
“The memories that I will take from here are just amazing,” Kelvin Sampson said. “Oklahoma will always be home in a lot of ways.”
Houston made its first week this season at No. 1 a successful one, with two wins. The Cougars are a game ahead of No. 8 Iowa State in the conference standings with two games left in the regular season and remain in the conversation for the overall No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Houston has won eight of the last nine games it has played as the No. 1-ranked team and is 35-5 overall while atop the AP poll.
Oklahoma dropped its second game of the week against a top-10 opponent, having lost 58-45 at Iowa State on Wednesday night.
The Sooners pushed Houston to the limit. Houston led 67-52 with 12:01 left, but the Sooners methodically closed that gap and Javian McCollum’s layup with 11.8 seconds left tied it at 85. It came after a hustle play by Uzan, who tracked down a rebound off a missed free throw and threw it off the leg of Sharp, allowing it to carom out of bounds.
Oklahoma coach Porter Moser said the vibe in the Sooners’ locker room was “tough. It wasn’t like they were happy to be close. They’re hurting. That’s a good sign. … That’s the elite of the elite and we’ve got to find a way to win that. That’s my job.
“I thought they were resilient battling back. Houston made tough shots, open shots, good shots. They do a lot of good things … but I thought we did too. We played the best team in the country, but we fell short. The margin of error when you play a team that good is small.”
Godwin went 6 of 6 from the field and led Oklahoma with 17 points, missing only the one free throw in six attempts as well. He also had seven rebounds.
Houston: Sampson surely appreciated the warm welcome from fans on his return to Oklahoma, but he’s undoubtedly glad to have the emotional game against the Sooners over with. Now he can push the Cougars to focus on finishing the regular season strong and prepare them for the postseason.
Oklahoma: A win over the nation’s No. 1 team might have pushed the Sooners up a line or two in NCAA tournament seeding, but the loss shouldn’t damage their postseason hopes too much. Oklahoma probably needs at least one win next week — at home against Cincinnati or at Texas — to stay comfortably off the NCAA bubble heading into the Big 12 Tournament.
Houston: At Central Florida on Wednesday night.
Oklahoma: Host Cincinnati on Tuesday night.