Well, we called for DJ week and nailed it! It was predictable, given his elite course history, solid form, and positive weather draw. When DJ is locked in, he’s tough to catch. And now, he’s #1 in the world rankings for the first time in his career. I’m excited for this week’s Honda Classic since I’ll be at the tournament most of the week.
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.
The Honda Classic is held at the Championship course at PGA National, in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. It’s notoriously one of the hardest courses on Tour, where par is a good score. The course is a par-72, but the tournament officials set it up as a par-70, making scoring much more difficult. The course is full of bunkers, water hazards, and tricky Bermuda greens. The wind blows nonstop, making elite ball-strikers our main target. PGA National features the Bear Trap, a 3-hole stretch (15-16-17) full of water hazards that completely changes the tournament every year. Players can make birdies, pars, bogeys, doubles, triples, and even the occasional quadruple bogey during this stretch. We can categorize this course as a less-than-driver course, so players who contend will be gaining strokes on approach shots, around the green, and putting. I don’t often look at stat splits, but I will be targeting players who excel on Bermuda greens, in Florida, and in the wind.
This week’s field is headlined by Adam Scott, Sergio Garcia, Rickie Fowler, Branden Grace, Justin Thomas, and a ton of the top European Tour players. If I had to pick one of these guys to win this week, it would be Adam Scott.
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: Adam Scott, Sergio Garcia, Paul Casey, Russell Knox, Brendan Steele, Luke Donald, Martin Flores, Daniel Summerhays, Camilo Villegas, John Huh.
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 Waste Management Phoenix Open, the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, and last week’s Genesis 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 Justin Thomas, Daniel Berger, Anirban Lahiri, Brooks Koepka, and Luke List 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): PGA National is a ball striker's course, so I’m targeting elite iron players this week. 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 thick, Bermuda rough has been grown out this week, making scrambling very difficult. 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 Kevin Kisner, Justin Thomas, Kyle Stanley, Brendan Steele, and Francesco Molinari.
Par 4 Scoring (P4): Since we have a par-70, players will contend with two extras par-4 this week. Because of that, P4 scoring will be key. Guys like Justin Thomas, Jason Dufner, William McGirt, Francesco Molinari, and Rickie Fowler pop out as names to target this week. We can also put some added emphasis on long par 4s – those over 450 yards. You’ll see a lot of similar names, but also one of my favorite GPP plays: Ollie Schneiderjans.
Proximity 175 – 200 yards: I don’t often look at proximity stats because they’re often skewed by small sample size, but this one popped for me when going through course research. PGA National is a short course, but this yardage pops up on many par-4s and par-3s. I’m going to look at 2016 stats due to sample size, but some of the names that pop are Adam Scott, Daniel Berger, Brooks Koepka, David Lingmerth, and Ryan Palmer (all of whom have average to above average course history).
*In order of my rankings
Adam Scott ($12,200) – After a bit of a PGA Tour layoff, Scott came back into form with a solid 11th place finish at Riviera. He comes back to PGA National where he’s the defending champion and should be full of confidence. On paper, Scott is a lock. He’s an elite ball-striker, scores well on par-4s, scrambles well, loves Bermuda greens, and checks the box on the proximity yardage I’m targeting this week. He should be used in all fantasy formats.
Rickie Fowler ($11,900) – Fowler hasn’t been in great form recently, but he’s coming off a 4th place finish in his last start. I’m high on Fowler this year overall, and no better place to start than here. Fowler is part of the South Florida contingent, so this is a home game for him. He’s made five cuts in a row at the Honda Classic, including two top-7 finishes. He’s obviously comfortable on Bermuda greens and tends to handle the windy conditions better than most.
Sergio Garcia ($10,900) – Sergio is a great play this week, and any week where we are targeting ball-striking and accuracy. Garcia finished runner-up here to Scott last season and 8th in 2014. He struggled a bit with consistency at the Genesis Open, but that was mostly due to his struggles on the poa greens. Garcia is much more comfortable on Bermuda grass, which he’s shown here and at Doral over the years. Garcia is coming off a recent win in Dubai and should be full of confidence.
Daniel Berger ($8,900) – It’s no secret that this is a home game from Berger, who lives just minutes from the course. He almost completed the narrative in 2015, where he lost in a playoff to Padraig Harrington. Berger recently switched clubs but showed a level of comfort while recording a 7th place finish in Phoenix. He should fit this course to a tee, considering his skills in the wind and on Bermuda greens. Berger is a great par-4 scorer and ball-striker, who makes plenty of birdies.
Louis Oosthuizen ($9,400) – I’m a bit surprised Louis is playing this week after a long weekend of golf in Perth. It seems he – and many other European Tour regulars – is using this event as a tune-up for next week’s WGC-Mexico. Louis is an elite ball-striker who has Florida ties, but his record here is…bad. Two MCs and a WD don’t fill me with confidence. In any event, he’s a major champion and elite talent who can win here.
Russell Knox ($9,000) – Knox is a lock here in all formats, considering his course fit, course history, and recent form. Although the MC in Phoenix, Knox had previously posted nine straight top-25 finishes worldwide. He finished 26th here last season, after posting 2nd and 3rd place finishes in 2014-15. Stat-wise, he’s an elite wind player, par-4 scorer, and ball-striker. A bad weather draw or bulky putter are the only things that can stop Knox this week.
Paul Casey ($8,700) – Casey has significantly cooled off since is run last Fall, but he’s still making cuts and making birdies. The Englishman comes to a course that should suit him perfectly on paper. He’s accurate off-the-tee and with his irons, and should be very comfortable in windy conditions. Casey has only missed one cut at PGA National and has posted two top-4 finishes. He’s due for a win soon, and this could be the perfect place.
Branden Grace ($7,900) – Before this week started, Grace was my pick to win. I still think he has a great shot, even though I’ve backtracked a bit due to his poor Florida record. Ultimately, he’s a world-class player at a low price, who is in great form. He won last season at Harbour Town, one of our comparison courses for PGA National. He’s great in the wind, and he’s a great scrambler, both of which should pay dividends this week.
Brooks Koepka ($7,500) – If people are going to continue fading Koepka, this is the week for us to pounce back on. Brooks returns home, to a state and a course he’s very familiar with. He plays well in the wind and on Bermuda grass, and we can count on a ton of birdies this week. Although he doesn’t have any top-25s here, he’s never missed a cut. Brooks is great on long par-4s, and from our key proximity yardage, so he’s worth some GPP exposure.
Wesley Bryan ($6,600) – Speaking of birdies in bunches, Wesley Bryan popped big time last week at Riviera. He was giving DJ a run for his money until DJ became unstoppable. Bryan is a great ball-striker, who hits a low, piercing shot that should handle the wind. He’s also been very vocal about his love for Bermuda greens. He won several events on the web.com Tour on Bermuda, including one in another tropical location (Mexico). I think Bryan will be in the top-10 this week.
Patton Kizzire ($6,600) – Kizzire is a Georgia boy who is happy to be back on Bermuda surfaces after a mediocre west coast swing. He recently said on a podcast how much he loves this track, mostly because this is where he earned his web.com Tour card in 2014. In his 1st Honda Classic last season, Kizzire finished 26th, which shows his ability to post a high finish here. When checking our DraftKings salary vs. Vegas odds, he ranks near the top values of the week.
Tyrrell Hatton ($8,500) – Hatton finished his 2016 season in great form: 10th, 25th, 2nd. He then started this year posting 13th, and 3rd place finishes in the European Tour’s desert swing. He comes to his first event in the U.S. (which worries me a bit) on Bermuda grass that he doesn’t often see (also worries me a bit). But he showed that he could bring his game to this side of the pond with a top-10 in last year’s PGA Championship. Hatton is an elite ball-striker who is a hot putter away from contending in major championships.
William McGirt ($7,400) – McGirt isn’t great in Florida or on Bermuda greens, but he’s been open about how much he loves this golf course. It took him a while to figure out PGA National, but he’s posted 22nd, and 8th place finishes the past two seasons. McGirt is great on par-4s and is very accurate. He burned me last week but has two recent top-25s on Tour.
Martin Flores ($7,100) –I’m one of the founding fathers of the Marty Flores fan club, and I’ve been waiting for this week for a while. He’s one of the top value plays on the board, but I think he has a legitimate chance of contending this week. Flores loves Bermuda surfaces and is used to playing in these strong winds in Texas. He’s made the cut here three of five times and finished 17th and 12th his last two tries. On the west coast, Flores posted 28th and 14th place finishes in his last two events. Sign me up.
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 the Honda Classic
Stars and Scrubs