Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports

PGA DFS: Arnold Palmer Invitational (Preview)

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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.

For DFS purposes, this week is special because FanDuel has officially launched their golf product. Here’s a quick synopsis:

DFS players will pick four golfers for Rounds 1 and 2, and four golfers for Rounds 3 and 4 (these eight golfers will make up one FanDuel “team”). At first glance it seems simple: take some shots on Thursday and Friday, and roster your studs – who you think could win the event – on your weekend roster. But when you think about it deeper, you’re trying to predict how a certain golfer plays round to round! That’s nearly impossible. For example, you could have the tournament winner on your weekend roster and not win, if most of his production came on Thursday and Friday. That seems frustrating. That risk is mitigated a bit because all players – whether you’ve chosen them for Rounds 1 and 2 or Rounds 3 and 4 – will accrue finishing position points. So, having the winner on your Thursday – Friday lineup is still a good thing.

FanDuel Golf Scoring System

  • Eagle = 7 points
  • Birdie = 3.1 points
  • Par = 0.5 point
  • Bogey = -1 point
  • Double bogey (or worse) = -3 points
  • Streak bonus = 0.6 points per hole under par
  • Bounce back (birdie or better after making bogey or worse) = 0.3 points
  • 5+ Birdies in a round = 4 points
  • Bogey-free round = 5 points.
  • 1st place = 20 points
  • 2nd-5th place = 12 points
  • 6th-10th place = 8 points
  • 11th-25th place = 5 points

Tournament Stop

Let’s move on to this week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational which is held at the Bay Hill Club and Lodge course in Orlando. This is the first time the event will be run since the passing of Arnie, so there will be many tributes to him this week. Sign me up. A lot of studs are in the field again, preparing for the WGC Match Play next week and the Masters thereafter. Our headliners this week are Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day, Justin Rose, and Hideki Matsuyama. Bay Hill offers a more traditional par-72 course layout, with four par 3s, four par 5s, and ten par 4s.  The course is decently long, but a lot of the yardage comes in the Par 3s, which takes away the need for distance. There are many holes where players will be clubbing down off the tee and trying to position themselves for second shots. When you look at ShotTracker this week, you’ll see plenty of funky angles and big numbers on your players’ scorecards. It’s a fun one. One last point I’ll make is that many Tour players (even Europeans) make their homes in Orlando (at Isleworth or Lake Nona), so they are very familiar with Bay Hill and courses with similar conditions.  Players that jump to my mind are Henrik Stenson, Ian Poulter, Justin Rose, Graeme McDowell, and Charles Howell III.

The key stats that I’ll be focusing on this week will be SG:Tee-to-Green, approaches from outside 200 yards (including the par-3 tee shots), and scrambling. For those of you who haven’t checked out Fantasy Golf Metrics (@FGMetrics), you can see detailed stat breakdowns based on current form and course history.  Correlating courses that I’ll take a small look at this week are Doral and Augusta National, since many of the same names pop at these venues every year.

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: Henrik Stenson, Francesco Molinari, Jason Kokrak.

Finished in the top-20 in two of the last three years: Jason Day, Brandt Snedeker, Kevin Na, Zach Johnson, Ben Martin, Matt Every, Matt Jones, Adam Scott, Kiradech Aphibarnrat.

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 full-field events: the Genesis Open, the Honda Classic, and the Valspar Championship.

Statistical Report

Birdie or Better % (BoB%):

There are really 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 Hideki Matsuyama, Anirban Lahiri, Justin Rose, Thomas Pieters, and Pat Perez come to mind in this week’s field when targeting birdie makers. 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):

Bay Hill is all-striker’s course, so I’m targeting elite long 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 is always a challenge, 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 Thomas Pieters, Francesco Molinari, Kevin Kisner, Ricky Fowler, and Charl Schwartzel.

SG:Around-the-Green (SG:ATG):

Scrambling is always a major stat to focus on at Bay Hill, since players are approaching greens from long yardages throughout the week. The greens are firm and hard to hold, so chipping and pitching from the bermuda grass will separate the field this week. Some players who popped out to me were Paul Casey, Hideki Matsuyama, Kevin Na, Pat Perez, and Wesley Bryan.

Proximity from 200+ yards:

I’m not huge on targeting proximity yardages, but this is an exception. Bay Hill features the 5th most shots from outside of 200 yards, so targeting elite iron players is a major key for me this week. Players will be using long irons on par-3s and on 2nd shots on par-5s. Names that stood out to me in this field were Kevin Kisner, Rickie Fowler, Hideki Matsuyama, and Kevin Chappell.

Studs

*In order of my rankings

Rory McIlroy ($12,000) – There aren’t going to be many sleepers this week, but I do think Rory will go under-owned at this price. Henrik Stenson will be the chalk of the week, and game theorists will drop down to Jason Day and Hideki Matsuyama. Rory played well in his return to golf, finishing 7th at the WGC-Mexico. He’s had mediocre 27th and 11th place finishes here, but seems motivated to play well and honor The King this year. On a course that lends itself to birdies and eagles, Rory is one of my favorite targets this week.

Henrik Stenson ($11,500) – Stenson is one of the favorites this week, and should be the highest owned on DraftKings in both cash and GPP. He’s lives locally, so he’ll be sleeping in his own bed and spending time with his family. In terms of course fit, Bay Hill is perfect for his accurate driving and elite long iron play. This is reflected in his course history. The last four years, Stenson has finished no worse than 8th here.

Hideki Matsuyama ($10,300) – It seems like people are forgetting about Matsuyama, who should be a perfect fit for Bay Hill on paper. He’s finished 6th and 21st in two appearances here, and I could see him contending here. He has a great record at Memorial and at the Masters, who comparable courses I’m using this week. Matsuyama is an elite ball-striker who should keep the big numbers off his scorecard this week. He tends to excel on fast greens, too.

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