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Turf Guide

Football is a sport rich in history, and part of that dynamic history is the implementation of newer technology for the betterment of the game. Just as face masks and helmets have evolved, so to have the playing surfaces. While traditionalists will hold on to natural grass, the next era of the NFL will have synthetic roots.

When it comes to artificial turf, the ingredients are pretty similar. While every “system” is unique, most are made of synthetic materials to simulate grass with “infill” underneath. The infill is usually comprised of sand and rubber that gives the surface more softness, or cushion. There is minimal maintenance involved compared to a natural playing surface and water drainage is excellent.

Natural grass fields are usually Bermuda, Kentucky Bluegrass, or a hybrid of one or the other. With natural grass you have sod that is placed upon a graded field with complex drainage systems built into the soil underneath. Just as with your own backyard lawn, natural grass fields need to be maintained. The higher maintenance and way they can wear down after hosting numerous sporting events and music concerts are some of the reasons artificial surfaces are becoming more popular.

Which is the best? Well that probably depends on the person. Many athletes enjoy the synthetic fields due to the perceived reduced risk of major injuries, overall softer feel and the ability to play at a higher speed. However, as a fan you might enjoy watching the games played in mud or seeing a quarterback get up with a chunk grass lodged in his facemask after getting pulverized by your team’s star defensive end.

The good news is that the technology has developed so much within the past twenty years that the synthetic field systems being installed in today’s modern facilities do a wonderful job of simulating the look and feel of natural grass, while improving the field conditions and safety of everyone on the field. There is always resistance to change, but this change isn’t so bad. The new fields may be a product of science, but their heritage will always come from the game that is played on them.

Turf Type
AFC Stadium Field Type
Baltimore Ravens M&T Bank Stadium Artificial Sportexe Momentum Turf
Buffalo Bills Ralph Wilson Stadium Artificial AstroPlay
Cincinnati Bengals Paul Brown Stadium Artificial FieldTurf
Cleveland Browns Cleveland Browns Stadium Natural
Denver Broncos INVESCO Field at Mile High Stadium Natural
Houston Texans Reliant Stadium Natural
Indianapolis Colts RCA Dome Artificial FieldTurf
Jacksonville Jaguars Jacksonville Municipal Stadium Natural
Kansas City Chiefs Arrowhead Stadium Natural
Miami Dolphins Dolphin Stadium Natural
New England Patriots Gillette Stadium Artificial FieldTurf
New York Jets Giants Stadium Artificial FieldTurf
Oakland Raiders McAfee Coliseum Natural
Pittsburgh Steelers Heinz Field Natural
San Diego Chargers QUALCOMM Stadium Natural
Tennessee Titans LP Field Natural
NFC Stadium Type GS
Arizona Cardinals University of Phoenix Stadium Natural
Atlanta Falcons Georgia Dome Artificial FieldTurf
Carolina Panthers Bank of America Stadium Natural
Chicago Bears Soldier Field Natural
Dallas Cowboys Texas Stadium Artificial Sportfield
Detroit Lions Ford Field Artificial FieldTurf
Green Bay Packers Lambeau Field Natural
Minnesota Vikings Metrodome Artificial FieldTurf
New Orleans Saints Louisiana Superdome Artificial Sportexe Momentum Turf
New York Giants Giants Stadium Artificial FieldTurf
Philadelphia Eagles Lincoln Financial Field Natural
San Francisco 49ers Monster Park Artificial Sportexe Momentum Turf
Seattle Seahawks Qwest Field Artificial FieldTurf
St. Louis Rams Edward Jones Dome Artificial Magic Carpet AstroTurf
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Raymond James Stadium Natural
Washington Redskins FedEx Field Natural

AFC Tally – 10 Natural, 6 Artificial
NFC Tally – 9 Artificial, 7 Natural
NFL Tally – 17 Natural, 15 Artificial

The AFC features more natural fields; conversely the NFC features more artificial surfaces. What is interesting is that the entire AFC West plays its games on natural grass while three of the four teams in the NFC West play on synthetic fields. During the 2007 NFL season, 123 games will be played on an artificial turf system which is just over 48% of the season’s games.

Games Played
By Surface - NFL
Wk Art. Nat.
1 10 6
2 5 11
3 6 10
4 9 5
5 7 7
6 5 8
7 7 7
8 6 7
9 7 7
10 4 10
11 11 5
12 7 9
13 6 10
14 9 7
15 7 9
16 10 6
17 5 11
Games Played
By Surface - Teams
Team Art. Nat. Team Art. Nat.
BAL 12 4 ARI 6 10
BUF 10 6 ATL 11 5
CIN 12 4 CAR 3 13
CLE 5 11 CHI 3 13
DEN 3 13 DAL 11 5
HOU 2 14 DET 9 7
IND 10 6 GB 5 11
JAX 2 14 MIN 12 4
KC 3 13 NO 12 4
MIA 3 13 NYG 12 4
NE 15 1 PHI 6 10
NYJ 14 2 SF 12 4
OAK 1 15 SEA 11 5
PIT 11 5 STL 14 2
SD 2 14 TB 6 10
TEN 3 13 WAS 5 11

When you break down the 2007 NFL schedule by type of playing surface a few interesting observations can be made as well. In Weeks 2, 10 and 17 there will be six more games played on natural grass than artificial. On three weekends, an equal number of games will be played on each type of surface.

Breaking down each team’s schedule you will learn that New England will play all but one of its regular season contests on artificial surfaces. The Raiders however will play all but one game on natural grass. Five more significant splits can be found in the Chargers, Jaguars, Jets, Rams and Texans schedules as they will play fourteen of their sixteen games on the same type of playing surface.

So can we derive any useful fantasy football information based on playing surfaces?

Teams that play most of the season on one playing surface or the other should have a slightly positive impact on that team’s players. Weather remains variable but it affects playing surfaces differently. Every year you will be watching a game only to see players slipping and changing the length of their spikes during the game. Additionally, an offense may struggle to move the ball because they are out of rhythm and their timing is off. Although the type of surface the game is being played on does not account for all these problems, it is certainly one variable in the equation. Consequently, teams that have to play on different surfaces more often will likely have to make more adjustments throughout course of the season. The more chances for something to go wrong because of poor footing, the more likely your running back will slip while attempting to cut it up field for a 45-yard TD scamper and instead net you a 2-yard gain. If you have ever lost by a couple of points or less on a given week, it is oftentimes a result of a play like this going against you.

I wouldn’t let field turf influence your pre-season rankings too much, but if you are trying to decide between two fairly equal options at WR, you might choose Randy Moss over Joey Galloway because the Patriots will line up on artificial turf fifteen times this season.

Using what is uncovered in this quick analysis will help you make a few slight adjustments to your pre-season rankings and projections. One of the hardest aspects of fantasy football is being able to correctly evaluate players that are ranked closely together. The best way to make those choices is by digging up as much useful information as possible and hoping it reveals a logical reason to value one player more than another. Even if the information doesn’t prove useful, you still have some interesting trivia questions for your league-mates during your draft or auction!

Notable Players That Will Play
Majority of Games on Different Surface in 2007
Pos Player 2006 2007
QB Joey Harrington, ATL Natural Artificial
Matt Schaub, HOU Artificial Natural
RB Thomas Jones, NYJ Natural Artificial
T.J. Duckett, DET Natural Artificial
Ahman Green, HOU Natural Artificial
Jamal Lewis, CLE Artificial Natural
Dominic Rhodes, OAK Artificial Natural
TE Randy McMichael, STL Natural Artificial
Daniel Graham, Den Artificial Natural
Jeremy Stevens, TB Artificial Natural
Jermaine Wiggins, JAX Artificial Natural
WR Randy Moss, NE Natural Artificial
Kevin Curtis, PHI Artificial Natural
Drew Bennett, STL Natural Artificial
Donte Stallworth, NE Natural Artificial
Wes Welker, NE Natural Artificial
K Jay Feeley, MIA Artificial Natural