FanDuel recently joined the PGA DFS community and DFS players are trying to figure out the new format and optimize their lineups accordingly. Here’s a brief synopsis of the FanDuel format and scoring:
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
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 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 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 in 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 back 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 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. 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 sticks approach shots inside 10 feet 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 are Tony Finau, Luke List, Jason Kokrak, Keegan Bradley, and Charley Hoffman.
*In order of my rankings
Matt Kuchar ($10,200) – 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 ($8,300) – 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 surprising and it’s not worrisome. 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 ($9,200) – 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 ($8,500) – 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 ($8,100) – 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 ($8,900) – 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 think will be necessary to contend this week.
Jimmy Walker ($9,700) – 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.
Billy Horschel ($7,300) – 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.
Keegan Bradley ($7,200) – 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 ($6,600) – 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.
Kevin Chappell ($6,600) – Chappell, along with most of the top-end player this week, is cheaper than we’re used to seeing. He’s been knocking on the door of that first Tour win for the past season, and in 2016 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 2nd in 2011.
Kevin Na ($7,500) – It’s been a rough month and a half for Na, but he seemed to find some form at Harbour Town last week. After missing three of four cuts, Na posted a decent 39th place finish at Hilton Head, highlighted by a 69 on Sunday in tough conditions. He comes back to TPC San Antonio where he’s posted 20th and 11th place finishes… and a 16. No, not a 16th place finish, that’s right, this is where Na got literally stuck in the woods, and carded a 16 on a par-4. In any event, this is a course that favors ball-striking, so Na is near the top of my list.
Harold Varner III ($5,900) – HV3 has been knocking on the door for that first win and it could come this week. He’s not known as a strong wind player, but he won in Australia this winter, played well at the windy Puerto Rico Open, and finished 9th here last season. He’s a solid iron player, bombs it off the tee, and shouldn’t have any trouble taking care of the par-5s at TPC San Antonio. Varner will need to get off to a quick start on Thursday to contend this week.
This section focuses on “odds” players – those players whose odds vary the greatest with respect to their FanDuel 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 odds makers 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 FanDuel 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:
FanDuel lineups for the Valero Texas Open
Stars and Scrubs