We had a solid week in our rankings at the OHL Classic, with strong performances by Emiliano Grillo, Russell Knox, Chris Kirk, Charles Howell III, Cameron Smith, Jason Bohn, Luke List, Marc Leishman, and Keegan Bradley. They were all inside my top-15 rankings last week and put in great finishes. Also, we can’t forget about last week’s sleeper, Pat Perez, who locked up his second career win. Hopefully, you guys stayed on the train, as Perez is a streaky player who can only be rostered the first part of the season.
This week, we head to Sea Island, Georgia for the RSM Classic, where we are going to have more hometown ties. Some obvious names come to mind (Matt Kuchar, Zach Johnson, Chris Kirk), but there are other not-so-obvious names that live or train here (Patton Kizzire, Brian Harman, Blayne Barber). I think there are advantages to players who see these tracks often and who are Bermuda greens specialists.
Daily and weekly fantasy sports have become all the rage. Battling it out over an entire season is fun, but sites like DraftKings offer a quicker payoff and big payouts for winners! Not only do they offer daily action in the four major professional sports (MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL) as well as college basketball and football but also the PGA Tour.
Your DraftKings lineup is made up of six golfers you select from within the $50,000 salary cap.
Each week DraftKings offers a wide selection of games to enter at a variety of price points. You can even get a feel for the game in a freeroll contest. Before you put your cash on the line, I'll offer my Top Values and Steals in this space every week, specifically geared to help build a winning DraftKings squad. I'll also give you my Overpriced golfers to avoid and a couple of “Vegas Says…” tips to help you find those players for GPPs.
One tough part of this event is that there are two courses the players will see: the Seaside Course and the Plantation Course. However, the players will only see the Plantation once, so it’s much better to focus on history and statistics for the Seaside track. The Seaside Course is a very short par-70, measuring 7,005 yards. There’s a lot of ways this course can be described, but it’s just a links-style course that was planted in the South. It’s flat, has very few trees, can feature rain and strong winds, but it also plays like a soft, Southern course with its Bermuda greens. Like Harbor Town, this is a less-than-driver course for the most part. Players, especially the longer ones will need to hit irons and fairway woods off the tees to keep the ball in play. I’ll be targeting driving accuracy and Pete Dye specialists this week.
Recent Tournament History
Here is the data we can draw upon for this week’s Tournament History:
Finished in the top-20 each of the last three years: Chris Kirk, Kevin Kisner.
Finished in the top-20 in two of the last three years: Kevin Chappell, Russell Henley, Scott Brown, Brendon de Jonge.
Current Form Review
Each week, we’ll take a look backward at the last three tournaments on the PGA and European Tours. I’ve included the top-20 from each of the past three events, and highlighted the players in this field:
Birdie or Better % (BoB%)
There are not many weeks where we aren’t going to target birdie or better percentage because that’s what fantasy golf scoring is all about. We can target our usual birdie-makers, and web.com Tour graduates Wesley Bryan, Ryan Blaum, and JT were elite scorers last season. It’s possible to have a player finish top-10 in fantasy points while not finishing anywhere close to the top-10 in the actual event.
Good Drive Percentage (GD%)
You can target driving accuracy alone, but I also wanted to target some distance metrics, as distance (when drives are straight) is a huge advantage anywhere. As mentioned, the rough/hazards off the tee can be very penal, so keeping the ball in play off the tee is essential. Certain bombers can perform on these shorter tracks because they hit irons and fairways woods off the tee. And shorter hitters will still pop in this stat because they hit a ton of fairways. Some names in the field that pop from 2015’s GD% rankings are Kevin Streelman, Webb Simpson, and Jason Bohn.
Par 4 Scoring (P4)
Anytime we have a shorter, par-70 layout, performances on par-4s are always important. We usually see this on older, narrow courses and Pete Dye designs. Players like Webb Simpson and Jason Bohn come to mind as excellent par-4 scorers, and both fit the mold I’m targeting this week. Another thing that’s great about par-4 scoring is that we have data on the new web.com Tour players. C.T. Pan, J.T. Poston, and Martin Flores are all elite par-4 scorers from the web.com Tour who are in the field this week.
Proximity to the Hole (Prox)
With these small green complexes, I’m not focusing on GIR% but rather on proximity. This is a bit of a misleading stat, but it does show players who are excellent ball strikers. Of the higher priced players in the field, Chris Kirk and Webb Simpson check out on both lists. Of the potential lower-owned plays of the week, we see names like Kyle Stanley, Jon Curran, and Michael Johnson.
*In order of my rankings
Chris Kirk ($11,300) – I don’t think we’ve ever seen Kirk as the betting favorite, but here we are. We can’t overlook his recent form (three top-10s in his last four starts), and the fact that he’s a recent winner here in Sea Island. Kirk, similar to Bill Haas, is a guy to target in the Southeast and weaker fields. He’s a Georgia Bulldog, so he’s familiar with this part of the country and its Bermuda greens. Stat-wise, Kirk checks a ton of boxes: 7th in par-4 scoring, 23rd in birdie or better %, and 19th in proximity.
Russell Henley ($9,900) – Henley is one of the many Georgia Bulldogs we target in this part of the country. He’s made a name for himself on shorter, windy courses that require excellent putting and ball-striking. He’s won at the Sony Open and the Honda Classic, two decently similar tracks. He’s coming off 24th, and 14th place finishes to open his fall swing and has posted back-to-back top-10s at this event. He’s more expensive than usual, which should keep the ownership down.
Matt Kuchar ($11,200) – Well, we probably know he’s not going to win, although he did surprise at Harbor Town a couple of years ago. Kuchar is a resident of Sea Island and is obviously very comfortable here. He’s finished inside the top-25 every time he’s teed up here, so we can expect more of the same this week. Kuchar is an obvious fit for cash games, but probably won’t be a tournament play for me.
Kevin Chappell ($10,200) – Chappell isn’t someone I like to roster in fantasy golf, but this might be the week. He’s so due for a win, and he knocked on the door several times last season. He’s excellent at par 3s, par 4s, and is deadly with his irons. He’s not a great putter, but I think he could get dialed in with the irons giving himself short looks for birdie all week. In four trips here, he’s trending up: 43rd, 32nd, 8th, and 2nd last season. He’s been very open about how comfortable he feels on this track, and I think we could finally see his first victory.
Zach Johnson ($9,700) – Surprisingly, ZJ has missed three of six cuts in his home event. It’s even more surprising when you think about how well the course should suit a wedge specialist like him. Although he’s had a couple of months off since the FedEx Cup playoffs, ZJ is exactly the type of player that can win out of nowhere. Tight wedges and a hot putter are all it takes, and we’ve seen it many times before.
Bill Haas ($9,800) – I think Haas is going very overlooked, even after his fourth place finishes at the WGC-HSBC Champions in China. He’s made all three cuts here at Sea Island, including a runner-up finish in 2010. He’s another player who performs well on short courses and weak fields. The Wake Forest product should be very comfortable playing seaside golf on Bermuda greens. I love Haas this week.
Webb Simpson ($9,600) – Webb checks all of the boxes this week, including proximity, par-4 scoring, and birdie or better percentage. He looked to be in great for in Mexico last week before fading later in the week, but I saw enough encouraging signs to keep riding him this fall. He has strong course history and course ties here, finishing inside the top-15 in three of four appearances. If he makes some putts, Webb will be in the mix on Sunday.
Robert Streb ($7,600) – Strebber won this event in 2014, and backed it up with another top-25 a year ago. He’s battled some injuries and inconsistency over the past year, but these are the types of courses to target him. Although he had a down season, he did finish seventh at the PGA Championship, showing his pedigree. Streb had a solid OHL Classic, posting a 36th place finish with middle rounds of 67-66.
Seamus Power ($6,600) – Power is a GIR% specialist who plays par-4s very well, two things I’m focusing on this week. He’s made three of four cuts this season, with his only MC by a single stroke. He opened the OHL Classic with rounds of 68-66-64 before imploding on Sunday, but that’s a great sign. He’s another player who trains here at Sea Island, so he should be extremely comfortable with the courses and the greens. Also, being from Ireland, Power should have no issue handling the conditions should the wind pick up.
Anirban Lahiri ($8,700) – Lahiri is going to go extremely overlooked at this price. We are used to seeing him in the mid-$7,000 range, which is why I love him as a contrarian play this week. With people flocking to Billy Horschel and Harris English, Lahiri has just as much upside. He played fantastically in Asia to open the fall and then posted a 28th last week in Mexico. We’ve seen him contend and go low at shorter courses like Colonial, and I could see him contending here on Sunday. He’s going to win this year, and I think this could be the spot.
Jason Kokrak ($8,500) – Kokrak is probably my favorite sleeper of the week. He’s known as a bomber, but if you look carefully, you’ll see a pretty awesome record at “less-than-driver” courses. He finished top-15 last week in Mexico (and has two other strong finishes there), and has a surprisingly good record at Harbor Town, where he nearly won last season. He also has made three of four cuts here in Sea Island, with one top-10.
Ben Crane ($7,000) – Crane is one of those guys whose name I have a hard time clicking, especially at this price. But he’s extremely streaky, great with his wedges, and an excellent strategist. Crane won this event in 2011, which should bring back some positive memories, and has finished 15th and 23rd in his last two completed events. A risky play, but at low ownership Crane could deliver great value on a tricky course.
This section focuses on “odds” players – those players whose odds vary the greatest on their DraftKings salaries. Keep in mind; this doesn’t make these players “good plays” or “bad plays,” but it simply measures the value based on their price. I’ve done this not just with the actual rankings, but as a percentage. So if two players have a difference of 10 spots in pricing versus odds rankings, the player ranked higher overall will have a higher percentage. It’s a quick way to find value. I use an aggregate of odds from various oddsmakers to come up with my valuation.
The value differential column shows the number of spots lower in salary than their odds to win imply. The differential % column shows that as a percentage of the players DraftKings salary ranking. Here is a list of the top-15 “values” based on my aggregations:
DraftKings lineups for the RSM Classic
Stars and Scrubs