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
We’re back after a week off from DFS golf! The Zurich Classic was…interesting, but we’re back to a traditional stroke-play event this week. The Tour moves to a new venue, Eagle Point, which is in Wilmington, NC.
Eagle Point is a new venue for the PGA Tour, so we have zero course history to draw upon. But here’s what we know: Eagle Point is a par-72 measuring nearly 7,400 yards, and it is a Tom Fazio design. Players who have been on-site early in the week have been raving at the fabulous course design and immaculate conditions. Some have even said it’s the best golf course they’ve ever seen. Webb Simpson grew up on this course. Many other Tour pros live in North Carolina, and have played here previously. Carl Pettersson holds the course record with a 62. The course is bermuda grass throughout, but the greens feature bentgrass, which means they’ll be absolutely pure. Water and wind will be major issues this week, so I’m going to favor accurate, ball-strikers more than the pure distance players.
In terms of what kind of player to target this week, I’m going to focus on guys who are in great recent form. Anytime we see a new venue, I always favor the hot hands and ball-strikers. New courses tend to punish players who get out of position, and I expect we’ll see plenty of big numbers at Eagle Point this week. I’m also going to play the North Carolina narrative this week. Many NC natives have great track records in their home state, most notably Webb Simpson, Bill Haas, and Davis Love III. Some of the other North Carolina residents that I’ll be targeting this week are Harold Varner III, William McGirt, Jason Kokrak, Kyle Reifers, Cameron Percy, and Carl Pettersson. These aren’t the world’s best players, but they should be very comfortable playing close to home. The field this week is pretty weak overall, with only a few studs in the field (Dustin Johnson, John Rahm, Adam Scott, and Phil Mickelson). And since it’s a new venue, I expect some variance and a pretty confusing leaderboard throughout the weekend.
Recent Tournament History
This week, I’m skipping recent tournament history because the event has moved to a new venue: Eagle Point. Looking back at results from a much longer Quail Hollow won’t give us many pointers when forecasting this year’s event.
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 Arnold Palmer Invitational, the Shell Houston Open, and the 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 Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Luke List, Jon Rahm, Daniel Berger, and Camilo Villegas 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 week, because we’re dealing with an entirely new course. The winds will be up all weekend, so keeping yourself out of trouble will be paramount to success at Eagle Point. There are difficult, tiered greens, so 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 Francesco Molinari, Dustin Johnson, Kevin Kisner, Webb Simpson, and Jon Rahm.
Strokes Gained Off-the-Tee (SG:OTT):
Behind strokes gained approach, I think targeting players who excel off-the-tee is key this week. It’s a new course, so I’m putting a premium on ball-striking and accuracy. Controlling your ball around Eagle Point will be beneficial, and should keep big numbers off the score card. Names that stood out to me in this field were Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm, Luke List, Jason Kokrak, and Lucas Glover.
*In order of my rankings
Dustin Johnson ($11,500) – With DJ’s tumble down the steps in Augusta finally behind us, he returns to the Wells Fargo in good health. He’s won three straight starts, and is one pace for one of the most dominant seasons in recent PGA Tour memory. It’s tough to predict how he’ll play, given his rust and back issues, but he’s easily the cream of the crop here at Eagle Point. If DJ is healthy, there isn’t a guy in the field who can stop him. He checks every statistical box I’m targeting this week.
Jon Rahm ($10,500) – Speaking of stats, Rahm is the only player near DJ on paper. He ranks 2nd in every model I’ve made, and for good reason. Rahm has made the leap this season into the world’s elite, winning Torrey Pines, and contending in WGCs. He can win any week he tees it up, and this is no exception. I’m a bit wary of paying this price for Rahm at an unknown course, but he did win at Torrey Pines in his first appearance. Everything is trending up for Rahm, who continues to be one of the best and most reliable DFS targets.
Adam Scott ($9,900) – Lots of comps to Augusta National have been lofted upon Eagle Point, so Scott fits the mold. The former Masters champ is still a great ball-striker, although his numbers this season aren’t as solid as we’ve seen in year’s past. He finished 9th in his last start at the Masters, so hopefully Scott can find some game in North Carolina. I always target consistency when facing a new venue, and Scott will surely go overlooked with Jon Rahm and Dustin Johnson in the field.
Kevin Kisner ($9,000) – Heartbreak a week ago at the Zurich Classic, Kisner continues his strong play in 2017. The Georgia Bulldog loves playing in this part of the country, and I expect more good things from him this week. He’s an excellent ball-striker and wedge player, who just needs to find a little more consistency with the putter. He can win any week he tees it up, and seems to be peaking towards another run at The Players Championship.
Webb Simpson ($7,300) – Webb’s already gaining popularity because he’s a member at Eagle Point. We do this with him every year (since he’s also a member at Quail Hollow). Eagle Point is more meaningful to Webb, since it’s the course where he grew up playing. He’s got the most course knowledge of anyone in the field, and is playing good golf right now. He contended at the RBC Heritage and had a runner-up earlier this spring in Phoenix. Simpson is a great ball-striker and performs well above average on difficult par-4s. This is a great price for him this week.
Phil Mickelson ($9,800) – Things have been up-and-down for Mickelson this year, but overall, he’s been solid and consistent. He’s flashed top-10 upside almost every week he’s played, and I expect more good things this week at Eagle Point. Phil is a Tom Fazio specialist, and has gained the most strokes on Fazio tracks since 2014. He’s rejuvenated, and wants to get a win under his belt before the U.S. Open, his ultimate goal.
William McGirt ($7,400) – McGirt has been in solid form all season, highlighted by his 22nd place finish at Augusta and 3rd place finish at the RBC Heritage. McGirt burst onto the scene with a win at Memorial last year, and I think this course translates decently well. McGirt makes birdies, hits fairways, and is fantastic on par-4s. McGirt is a North Carolina native, so he’ll be comfortable playing in his home state.
Bud Cauley ($6,400) – One of my picks to win this week, Cauley has an awfully high price on DraftKings. I’m going to bet him outright, but I might take a look at DK because Cauley will be under 10% owned. He’s coming off back-to-back top-10 finishes at Valero and Harbour Town, followed by a solid week at the Zurich with partner Justin Thomas. Cauley’s iron play has been great, and he’s been rolling the rock too. If he can sustain that play for one more week, I could definitely see Cauley winning his 1st PGA Tour event on Sunday.
Harold Varner III ($6,000) – Varner fits the North Carolina narrative, as the Panthers fan still lives near Charlotte. He probably hasn’t played much golf at Eagle Point, but he’s a passionate player who will like to be close to home with friends and family in attendance. Varner has gotten much more consistent this season, making his five cuts and posting several top-25 finishes. He has the distance to contend here, as long as he keeps himself out of trouble. One of my favorite targets.
Kevin Na ($7,500) – Na has been tough to predict this year, but I’ve got a great feeling about him this week at Eagle Point. He fits the ball-striking mold that I’m targeting on this new venue, and I’m not overly worried about his WD from the Valero Texas Open. Na has a newborn baby at home, and needed a little family time after a busy schedule on Tour. He made the cut at the RBC Heritage after a MC at Augusta, so I’m confident that his form is trending in the right direction. If he can keep himself out of trouble, I expect a top-10 finish this week.
Emiliano Grillo ($7,400) – This is a very intriguing price for Grillo, who seems to have been going under the radar all season. If we’re using Augusta as a comp, Grillo has shown a liking for that course the past two season. If we’re playing the Memorial angle with McGirt, we can look at Grillo’s top-5 finish there a year ago. He putts solidly on bentgrass greens, and shouldn’t have any issue with the windy conditions that he’ll face in Wilmington.
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 Wells Fargo Championship
Stars and Scrubs