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 moves to the TPC San Antonio (Oaks Course) for the Valero Texas Open. Although it’s one of the oldest tournaments on the Tour, this venue has only been the host since 2010… be careful looking at course history before then. Although TPC San Antonio stretches out to over 7,400 yards, it has some similarities to last week’s course, Harbour Town, which was much shorter. The fairways are lined with trees and bunkers, and we will have a weekly tilt with ShotTracker telling us that our players have driven into the “native areas” or “unknown” areas. Another major factor here is going to be the weather, and specifically the wind. In 2015, players in one wave of tee times had a huge advantage over others, just by the luck of the draw. But if the weather turns, I’ll be focusing on wind specialists and players who have played well in Texas previously. Another angle to play up this week is to use the Aussies in the field. Not only are they accustomed to playing in similar windy conditions, but many Aussies - Steven Bowditch, John Senden, Rod Pampling, Jason Day (formerly) - have taken up residences in Texas. Furthermore, the course was designed by Greg Norman, and although it’s impossible to quantify, there are bound to be some idiosyncrasies of the course design that Aussies are familiar.
Without getting too in depth with stats this week, I’m going to focus on bombers and players who excel with long irons. There’s a lot of distance on the par 3s and par 5s, so that should neutralize a lot of the field. Scoring on the par 4s is going to be imperative, and I think bombers who can approach those holes with wedges and shorter irons will have a big advantage. The previous four winners at this course (Charley Hoffman, Jimmy Walker, Steven Bowditch, and Martin Laird) are all bombers who have experience in windy conditions.
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: Charley Hoffman, Daniel Summerhays.
Finished in the top-20 in two of the last three years: Matt Kuchar, Jimmy Walker, Brendan Steele, Billy Horschel, Kevin Na, Zach Johnson, Ryan Palmer, Chris Kirk.
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 Shell Houston Open, the Masters Tournament, and last week’s RBC Heritage.
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. There’s going to be plenty of bogeys this week, so we need birdies to offset the damages. Guys like Anirban Lahiri, Luke List, Scott Piercy, Brooks Koepka, Chris Kirk, and Adam Hadwin lead this week’s field in birdie or better percentage. 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): There’s no doubt that ball-striking and GIR% are huge at this venue, and that’s clear in past leaderboards. Because of the windy conditions, the iron play is going to be a major key this week. Keeping your ball on the right portions of greens will eliminate three putts. If 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 Ryan Palmer, Adam Hadwin, Brendan Steele, Ryan Moore, Bud Cauley, and Jimmy Walker.
Strokes Gained Off-the-Tee (SG:OTT): Strokes gained off-the-tee and specifically distance, is going to be another major key this week at TPC San Antonio. Looking back at the past four winners, we see bombers who can play in the wind: Charley Hoffman, Jimmy Walker, Steven Bowditch, and Martin Laird. Names that stood out to me in this field were Tony Finau, Luke List, Jason Kokrak, Keegan Bradley, and Charley Hoffman.
*In order of my rankings
Matt Kuchar ($11,500) – I’m surprised Kuchar is playing this week, given how much golf he’s played the past month. He’s playing well and wants to secure his spot on the U.S. President’s Cup team this fall. He comes to TPC San Antonio where he’s posted a very Kuchar-esque record: 5/5 cuts, with an average finish of 19th. His peak was a 4th place finish a few years ago, and I expect Kuchar to lurk in the top-10 most of the weekend.
Charley Hoffman ($10,700) – Seven top-15 finishes here, including a win last season, a runner-up, and a third place finish. Texas Charley loves this track and loves playing in windy conditions. After a fantastic run at the Masters, Hoffman had a huge letdown last week at Harbour Town. That’s not surprisingly, and it’s not a worry in the least. Expect him to come out guns blazing and set the pace early on this week. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him contending late on Sunday evening.
Brooks Koepka ($10,900) – Is Brooks back? I’d like to think so. He’s flashed some signs of a return to form, mostly notably with an 11th place finish at Augusta. Koepka has had serious issues since switching from Nike irons, so hopefully, he carries the momentum with him to San Antonio. On paper, this course should fit him perfectly. There’s not a lot of short game work required, there are easy par-5s, and there are short par-4s. These factors all point to a great week for Brooks Koepka.
Brendan Steele ($9,900) – It’s been a fantastic season for Steele, winning the Safeway Classic and contending multiple times since. He played decently at Augusta and should feel great coming back to TPC San Antonio. Steele picked up his 1st career win here six years ago and has posted several other top-10 finishes. He’s a great ball-striker, solid putter, and birdie making machine. If he keeps hitting it long and straight, he’ll have plenty of chances to go low this weekend.
Ryan Moore ($10,200) – Last we saw of Ryan Moore, he was contending at The Masters. He finished 9th and should be full of confidence returning to competition. Moore finished 8th at the Valero Texas Open in his last appearance and should fit the course perfectly on paper. He’s an excellent iron player and putter: 21st in strokes gained approach and 47th in strokes gained putting. Moore can win here, and he’ll be under-owned considering this price tag.
Adam Hadwin ($9,100) – Statistically, Hadwin is the best player in the field over the past month and a half. I have my concerns, however. Hadwin has been on a heater since his win at the Valspar Championship: he placed 6th at Bay Hill, got married, and played in his 1st Masters. He then made a great charge on the weekend at Harbour Town before finishing 22nd. At some point, a letdown is coming, and I think this is the week. Hadwin MC in his only appearance here, and doesn’t have the length that I believe will be necessary to contend this week.
Jimmy Walker ($10,500) – We know all about Hawaii Jimmy, but now it’s time to revisit Texas Jimmy. Walker lives in Bermie, TX and loves playing these events in the Lone Star State. He’s a bomber off-the-tee, putts fantastically, and loves playing in the windy conditions. He won here in 2015 and finished 7th in 2010. Walker’s weakness is driving accuracy, but he won’t be penalized for spraying his tee shots this week.
Keegan Bradley ($7,600) – This one is painful, but here it is: Keegan Bradley is my darkhorse pick to win the Valero Texas Open. I’m not the biggest Keegan Bradley fan, especially given his abysmal putting, but I can’t overlook his form. He’s an elite driver of the golf ball, and his iron play has been solid this year as well. It’s all about putting. He ranks 9th in true ball-striking, which measures efficiency off-the-tee and on approach shots. While he was inconsistent last week at Harbour Town, the more open layout of TPC San Antonio should suit his eye. He’s posted a top-10 here in the past.
Luke List ($7,600) – Looking at stats this week, List will continue to pop as he has in recent weeks. He ranks 5th in the field in true ball-striking percentage, which is key on this difficult track. I’m hoping his MC last week at Harbour Town keeps the ownership down, because I’m not worried. Harbour Town is a short, narrow course that doesn’t suit his game, while TPC San Antonio should. And, List shot a 2nd round 67 at Harbour Town and missed the cut by a single shot. He’s made both cuts here and should dominate the par-5s and long par-4s this week.
Chad Campbell ($6,900) – Campbell hasn’t played too well here since the redesign in 2010, but he’s in solid form and loves playing in Texas. He’s made three of his past four cuts on Tour, posting 11th, 32nd, and 34th place finishes. Campbell ranks 31st on Tour in strokes gained approach, so he’s just waiting for the rest of his game to catch up. At this price tag, a top-20 finish is more than enough to hit value, and I expect Campbell to keep himself in that range this weekend. He’s an excellent ball-striker who just has to get hot with the putter to contend.
Kevin Chappell ($9,400) – Chappell, along with most of the top-end player this week, is more expensive than we’re used to seeing. But that price tag is warranted. He’s been knocking on the door of that 1st Tour win for the past season, and in 2016 he had three runner-up finishes in stacked fields (The Players Championship, the Arnold Palmer Invitational, and The Tour Championship). And then, he finished 7th at The Masters a couple of weeks ago. Clearly he’s playing well. Chappell loves ball-striking courses, and that’s exactly what we have here. He finished 4th here last season and was 2nd in 2011.
Billy Horschel ($8,900) – Horschel burned a lot of folks with his MC last week at Harbour Town, but it was expected. Horschel’s wife had a baby on Wednesday, and he had been zipping back and forth from the hospital to the golf course. In fact, I’m surprised he even played. Now that things have settled, he returns to TPC San Antonio where he’s finished inside the top-4 three times in the past four years. Horschel loves it here and has bounced back extremely well off MCs this season.
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 Valero Texas Open
Stars and Scrubs