Shockingly, we got another Hideki Matsuyama victory in Phoenix. He loves that course, and not using him was a gross oversight for may DFS players. Course history and recent form lined up, and he should have been way higher owned than he was. My rankings were solid last week, with Hideki leading the way. We also had strong finishes from Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm, J.B. Holmes, Daniel Berger and Louis Oosthuizen.
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.
This week, the Tour heads back to Pebble Beach, although we’re on a three-course rotation chalk full of hackers and celebrities. That’s right; it’s pro-am week, one of the worst for DFS and for TV viewing purposes. I suggest scaling back your normal volume this week and saving your bankroll for more predictable weeks. Players will face Pebble Beach, Spyglass Hill, and Monterey Peninsula one time each, before a 54-hole cut. The final round will be at Pebble Beach, where we have the most relevant course history. I recently took a trip to Monterey and played Pebble Beach and Spyglass Hill. I have some good insight into those tracks but don’t know much about Monterey besides what you read. Monterey is a bit quirky and seems to be the players’ least favorite of the rotation. All the courses are very short and feature the demanding poa annua greens. Short hitters are well in play this week, and we should focus on the California angle/narrative again. Monterey and Pebble Beach are Oceanside courses, where scenic views, water, and windy conditions can wreak havoc. Spyglass Hill is a bit more difficult and tree-lined, featuring difficult undulations and greens. Overall, scoring should be low this week, but Spyglass is the hardest of the three courses. Regarding stats I feel are important, SG: Approach and SG: Around-the-Green are keys this week. Pebble Beach features the smallest greens on Tour, and scrambling will be key.
This week’s field is headlined by Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed, Justin Rose, Jon Rahm, and Phil Mickelson. I had to pick one of these guys to win this week; it would be Jordan Spieth.
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: None.
Finished in the top-20 in two of the last three years: Roberto Castro, Jason Day, J.B. Holmes, Dustin Johnson, Matt Jones, Phil Mickelson, Pat Perez, Jordan Spieth, Vaughn Taylor, Jimmy Walker.
Current Form Review
Each week, we’ll look backward at the last three tournaments on the PGA and European Tours. I have included the top-20 from the past three events: the CareerBuilder Challenge, the Farmer’s Insurance Open, and last week’s Waste Management Phoenix Open.
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. Guys like Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed, Phil Mickelson, and J.B. Holmes come to mind in this week’s field when targeting birdie-makers. Bombers, you see. 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.
Strokes Gained Approach (SG: APP)
Pebble Beach, specifically, features some of the smallest greens in the world. Because of that, players will deal with some gnarly lies and short-sided chips when missing greens. I’m going to target SG: App because players who find the most greens and give themselves the most birdie opportunities will capitalize most. The poa greens this week are wet and extremely bumpy, so putting skills are mitigated. If you have a player who sticks approach shots inside 10’ consistently, he’s going to shoot up the leaderboard and contend on Sunday. Some names that stand out in the field are Roberto Castro, Kevin Chappell, Stewart Cink, Matt Kuchar, Phil Mickelson, Jimmy Walker, and Webb Simpson.
SG: Around-the-Green (SG: ATG)
Because these greens are so small and difficult, players will inevitably need to scramble. Putting is a little hit-or-miss this week, so I’m going to focus on SG: ATG. Players are all going to make birdies this week, so scrambling for pars is key. I played Pebble Beach and Spyglass Hill a few months ago, and I can attest that I lost tons of strokes around the difficult green complexes. Focus on good scramblers, and you’ll be in good shape. The names that popped out to me were Chad Collins, Luke Donald, J.B. Holmes, Chris Kirk, Phil Mickelson, Justin Rose, and Gary Woodland.
Par 5 Scoring (P5)
I expect the winning score this week to be much lower than the carnage we saw at Torrey Pines, and similar to what we saw last week in Phoenix. Although there are some short par-4s, most of the scoring this week will be done on the par-5s. Pebble Beach has a very reachable par-5 (2nd hole) where we should see some eagles. Spyglass Hill’s 11th hole is also reachable in two shots. When you look at par-5 scoring, you’ll see bombers like Dustin Johnson and Jimmy Walker, but also elite wedge players like Matt Kuchar, Jordan Spieth, and Roberto Castro.
On top of these stats, we’re going to focus on getting as many elite golfers into our lineups as possible. Because of the 54-hole cut, it’s more likely that the better players will rise to the top. Because of that, I’m going to recommend a more balanced strategy when constructing your DraftKings lineups this week.
*In order of my rankings
Phil Mickelson ($9,300) – It’s been awhile since Mickelson was my top-ranked golfer, but I love him this week. He comes to Pebble Beach where he’s a three-time champion, and obviously loves the social pro-am aspect. He’s been red hot recently, with three consecutive top-20 finishes on Tour. Phil’s making a ton of birdies, and I expect more of the same. The only concern is that this is his fourth week in a row of competitive golf.
Jordan Spieth ($12,000) – Spieth doesn’t have the best putting record on slow, bumpy, poa annua greens, but he’s always a threat to win. Spieth has a couple of top-10s on his record at this event and has the ball-striking ability to contend. My main concern is that he’s been errant off-the-tee, and has been relying on his putter too much. He’s racked up the top-10s this week, but he’ll need to find the fairways to contend on these short tracks.
Justin Rose ($9,200) – Pricing is still a little weird this week, but as usual, Rose is significantly underpriced. He should be right up there with Brandt Snedeker, in my opinion. Rose finished second at the Sony Open and fourth at Torrey Pines. Rose also finished sixth at this event last season, so he’s comfortable on these tracks and in the pro-am format. He also checks our stat boxes this week in SG: Approach and SG: Around-the-Green.
Dustin Johnson ($11,800) – The MC at Torrey Pines was a bit fluky, and we can blame DJ’s travel from Abu Dhabi. He comes to an event he’s dominated in the past, and a course – Pebble Beach – that he loves. He has seven top-10s here, including two wins, and nearly won the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. DJ crushes par-5s and has improved his iron/wedge play over the past year. If he’s on and motivated, DJ could dust this field.
Brandt Snedeker ($10,000) – Snedeker is a player I target when he’s a course horse, and that’s what we have here. He burned me with a MC at the Sony Open but bounced back with a top-10 at Torrey Pines. He comes back to an event he’s won twice in the past four seasons, on greens that he loves. Snedeker’s pop-stroke with his putter is perfect for these slow, bumpy, poa annua greens. If he keeps his drives in play, Sneds is one of the favorites this week.
Jason Day ($11,600) – My concern with Day is how his back will hold up in the cold, rainy weather. He MC at Torrey Pines in similar conditions, but I’m willing to overlook that. Day has finished inside the top-15 in three of the past four seasons here, and could easily win if he’s healthy. He’s my least favorite of the Big Three, though, so my exposure will be lower than the field average.
Jon Rahm ($9,600) – The Rahm train should come crashing to a halt at some point, but I don’t think this is the week. Rahm loves playing out West and seems like the type of personality who will strive in pro-am formats. His lack of course history concerns me a bit, but his recent form (34th, 1st, 16th) is enough to keep me on board. Rahm should make plenty of birdies over the first three days that he’s worth firing up in all formats.
Matt Kuchar ($8,600) – Kuchar recently added a little distance off-the-tee, which mitigates one of his biggest weaknesses. He was popular and wildly underpriced last week, but I think he’s still underpriced this week. Although he hasn’t played this event in a while, he’s posted two top-10s. He also finished ninth last week in Phoenix and should carry that form over to Pebble Beach. Kuchar crushes par-5s, scrambles well, and is deadly with his irons. Sign me up.
J.B Holmes ($8,400) – Holmes is very boom-or-bust, but I loved what I saw from him last week in Phoenix. He had great course history there and has solid course history here as well. Holmes has a runner-up, and a tenth place finish on record at this event and has only missed one cut in a decade. Holmes has been scrambling well, which I’m targeting this week. He’s a bomber who will make birdies, either way.
Patrick Reed ($8,300) – Reed should be the chalk of the week, but I still think he’s going overlooked because he burned so many people this past weekend. Reed has two top-7 finishes at this event, including last year where he fired a couple of 65s. He’s way too good of a player to be priced at the average salary, so Reed should be a cash game staple this week.
Jim Furyk ($7,500) – We haven’t seen Furyk play in a while, but I like what I saw from him in the fall swing. He’s super consistent and is significantly underpriced considering the field this week. My concern with Furyk is he doesn’t have great course history and isn’t a typical birdie maker. I like him much better in cash games this week than in GPPs since his upside is limited.
Gary Woodland ($8,000) – Woodland keeps dropping in price, so I’m interested. He’s missed all three cuts at this event, missed the cut last week in Phoenix, but he’s been hot the past month. Woodland is a bomber and birdie-maker by nature but can scale back and keep the ball in play. He’s also a great scrambler, and I think he’s a strong pivot play at a below average salary.
Chris Kirk ($7,500) – With everyone discussing Furyk at this price point, I think Chris Kirk is going very overlooked. Kirk is super streaky and posted a very solid 34th place finish last week. His course history is poor, except for a runner-up finish in 2013. Kirk is also an elite scrambler, which should pay dividends this week. He’s simply a GPP flier, but he’s one of the few players in this price range that has winning upside.
Sean O’Hair ($7,300) – O’Hair may pick up a little steam in cash games this week, but I like him as a GPP dart as well. He’s been playing great and has very consistent course history at this event. He’s made nine straight cuts here, including a top-10. He faded a bit last weekend but posted 11th and 9th place finishes previously. O’Hair is a supreme talent, as long as his putter cooperates.
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-20 “values” based on my aggregations:
On the flipside, we have the list of players Vegas believes are overpriced based on their odds to win. Using the same model and calculations as above, here are the top-20 worst “values” based on my aggregations:
DraftKings Lineups for AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am
Stars and Scrubs