There are a few moments a year where real-life issues and the NFL combine. We see that in the lead-up to Week 4, as Hurricane Ian made landfall and continues to move up the east coast. With the NFL week set to begin and a full slate of action ahead, here is the latest on Hurricane Ian and how it might impact games and fantasy football this weekend.
NFL Weather Report for Week 4: Hurricane Ian makes landfall in western Florida
Before I even get into this, I just want to express my thoughts and hopes to everyone who is in the path of Hurricane Ian. Whether the worst is behind you, your family is involved, or the process of picking up the pieces is just beginning, I can only hope you and your loved ones are safe.
Making landfall on Wednesday afternoon near Naples and Punta Gorda around 3:05 p.m. ET, Hurricane Ian registered 150+ mph winds as an intense Category 4 hurricane. A double-digit storm surge on the leading edge has led to massive flooding, but making matters worse is that Ian has slowed down to a crawl, moving eastwardly across the peninsula at roughly 10 mph and bringing saturating rain.
Based on the most recent models, Hurricane Ian is expected to traverse the state and hit the Atlantic sometime late Thursday into Friday morning. It’s expected to then turn toward the Georgia and South Carolina coasts as a tropical storm or a low-level hurricane, making a third landfall and then drenching the eastern seaboard as it moves inland.
Hurricane Ian’s impact on the Week 4 NFL schedule and fantasy football
The NFL got lucky. Plain and simple. There are three NFL teams located in the direct path of Hurricane Ian. If this would have 24 hours later, we’d be looking at a widespread disturbance. Instead, only a few games are likely to be impacted at varying levels.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Philadelphia Eagles | Sunday 1:00 p.m. ET
While Jacksonville is right in the path, the Jaguars are on the road in Philadelphia. That said, Philly is not completely out of the way of Hurricane Ian.
The remnants of the storm will track north, and Philadephia has a 50% chance of rain on Sunday. As kickoff draws closer, we’ll have a better idea of the timing, but I’d expect fantasy managers will be able to start the usual suspects with minimal impact on their upside.
Arizona Cardinals at Carolina Panthers | Sunday 1:00 p.m. ET
I’d keep your eyes on Charlotte and how Hurricane Ian tracks once it makes the expected third landfall. The winds are set to hit the area around Friday morning, but depending on the track and timing, it could be anywhere from 18mph winds to 8mph, not including localized gusts.
The rain will make the most significant impact on the game and potential fantasy scoring. The area will be saturated by the time kickoff arrives, with multiple inches of rainfall expected (3-5″). The worst is forecasted to be out of the area by early afternoon, but there is no guarantee until we are closer.
Christian McCaffrey missed Wednesday’s practice due to a thigh injury, and depending on which beat reporter you listen to, it’s either a non-issue, and he’ll play, or McCaffrey is legitimately questionable. Chuba Hubbard led D’Onta Foreman in snaps last week (11% to 7%), but given the drop in talent and a potentially soggy field, I’d stay away from any Panthers RB not named McCaffrey. Given how the passing game has looked, I’d even leave DJ Moore on your bench until we see Baker Mayfield improve.
Kansas City Chiefs at Tampa Bay Buccaneers | Sunday 8:20 p.m. ET
As of this writing, this game is supposed to be in Tampa, but that is not set in stone. In fact, the NFL has already made contingency plans in case the game needs to be moved.
With the Minnesota Vikings playing the New Orleans Saints in London this week, the NFL named Minnesota and US Bank Stadium as the contingency site if the Buccaneers can’t host Kansas City in Tampa. NFL’s executive VP Jeff Miller said Wednesday that the game is still set to be played at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, but the league doesn’t want to do anything that would negatively impact public safety efforts.
Bucs linebacker Devin White noted on Wednesday that while this is a critically important matchup, it’s only a game at the end of the day.
“I mean whatever it is, I think the safety comes first… The game of football [doesn’t] really matter when you’re talking about people’s lives, people in the community being affected by something like this,” White said.
The Buccaneers evacuated Tampa earlier this week and conducted their practices in Miami at the Dolphins’ facilities. Miami left early for Cincinnatti and their Thursday Night Football matchup, which left their facilities available. If the game is held in Tampa, it’ll be a slog. While Raymond James Field, like other natural grass fields, has a sub-air system that can pull water away, there is only so much you can do when a weather system drops a foot, if not more, of rainfall in a short period of time.
We already have a ton of questions for this game as far as fantasy is concerned thanks to the Bucs’ lengthy injury report. Russell Gage and Chris Godwin were limited with hamstring injuries on Wednesday. Julio Jones was limited with a knee issue, and Breshad Perriman did not participate with knee and hamstring injuries.