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
The Byron Nelson is usually a weaker field that produces some unique champions. But this season, we do have some headliners, including Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Sergio Garcia, Patrick Reed, and Brooks Koepka. The venue is TPC Four Seasons, which went through a course redesign in 2008 (don’t use any course history before that). A very wide range of player type / caliber has won this event, including studs like Jason Day and Adam Scott, and journeymen like Steven Bowditch, Sang-Moon Bae, and Brendan Todd. Weather can play a major factor, and rain is in the forecast this week, which could soften the course to favor the bombers. TPC Four Seasons is a 7,166-yard par-70 course, which features only two par 5s. Eagles are very rare here, and par 4 scoring is going to likely determine the winner. The fairways are tight and tree lined, and all players will struggle to keep the ball in the short grass. This is another reason I’m favoring bombers… It’s easier to hit wedges and short irons out of the rough than long to mid irons. This is a strange course layout, with the PGA Tour pros often ranking TPC Four Seasons as their least favorite course on Tour. Take that however you’d like, but for me, that means more variance than usual. The last note about the golf course is that we have bentgrass greens, not bermuda which we’ve seen in most recent weeks. There’s some useful data out there about putting splits on certain grass types, so I suggest looking at Josh Culp’s data at futureoffantasy.com. With that being said, let’s get on to the sleeper picks of the week.
Recent Tournament History
TPC Four Seasons has been the longtime host of this event, so we have plenty of tournament history to draw upon. Here are the results from the previous three seasons.
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 Valero Texas Open, the Wells Fargo Championship, and last week’s Players Championship.
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 Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Brooks Koepka, Scott Piercy, and Anirban Lahiri top this field in birdie or better percentage on Tour. 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.
Par-4 Scoring (P4): Each week, the winner is decided by par-3s, par-4s, or par-5s. Because we have a par-70 with only two par-5s this week, par-4 scoring will be at a premium. Players who can make the most birdies and avoid big numbers on these holes will have an edge come Sunday afternoon. Some names that stand out in the field are Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Jason Dufner, Tony Finau, and Zac Blair.
Strokes Gained Off-the-Tee (SG:OTT): I’m going to target elite drivers of the golf ball as well this week. You could look at good drive percentage, but I’m going to remain focused on strokes gained metrics. Driving the ball well will be key to scoring this week, and past leaderboards suggest that bombers have the edge. We’re going to target our usual bombers – Dustin Johnson, Tony Finau, JB Holmes, and Gary Woodland – but can also look at Sergio Garcia, Graham DeLaet, and Ryan Palmer.
*In order of my rankings
Dustin Johnson ($11,800) – For about the 100th week in a row, DJ top my rankings. He’s the hottest golfer in the world right now and posted his best career finish at TPC Sawgrass last week. Before that, he’d finished 2nd, 1st, 1st, 1st, and 3rd in his previous five events. At TPC Four Seasons, he’s finished 12th or better five of his past six appearances, so something about this course fits his eye. He bombs it off the tee, makes birdies, dominates par-4s, and is firing on all cylinders.
Brooks Koepka ($9,500) – I have a feeling Koepka will gain some steam this week, but hopefully, this high price tag keeps his ownership reasonable. Koepka has found his form since a revelation at Bay Hill, finishing 16th, 11th, 2nd, and 16th in his last four starts. He’s also finished 2nd and 16th here the past two seasons (I love these coincidences). Koepka is a bomber and birdie-maker who clearly loves this track and is rounding back into the world-class form we expect from him each week.
Jason Day ($10,500) – Day hasn’t played here in a few years, but his record at TPC Four Season reads 1st, 5th, 9th, and 27th. The Aussie loves playing in Texas and looks to shake off some of the rust he’s shown over the past month. It’s been awhile since we’ve even seen Day inside the top-20, but I think this is the perfect bounce back week. He’s been dealing with family issues off-the-course, but things are trending up for the Day family.
Jordan Spieth ($10,500) – There’s clearly something going on with Spieth, both in his golf swing and in his mind. He’s been known as a bit of a hot head over the years and seems to struggle when dealing with adversity. With that being said, his MC last week makes him a great contrarian play this week. Although the course doesn’t suit him very well, he’s never missed a cut here, and always shows up to honor the event that gave him his first sponsor’s exemption. If you can get the 6th ranked player in the world at under 10% owned, it’s a sound GPP strategy.
Sergio Garcia ($10,200) – Sergio managed to get himself into the mix at TPC Sawgrass after a slow start, mostly thanks to his ace on the Island Green. He had taken a month off after his Masters win, so there was bound to be some rust. Garcia returns to the Byron Nelson where he beat Brooks Koepka in a playoff a year ago. He’s a multiple time winner of this event and has shown a propensity to play some of his best golf in the Lone Star state.
Patrick Reed ($8,800) – Patrick Reed loves playing in his home state, and he’s finally starting to find that form again. He’s been struggling with his game this season, specifically his irons, but his recent strokes gained statistics are showing a better trend. He was the 54-hole leader at Wells Fargo before faltering on Sunday and posted a decent finish last week at TPC Sawgrass. If he can make some putts, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Reed near the lead this weekend. He’s missed the cut in both of his appearances at TPC Four Seasons.
Marc Leishman ($7,300) – Another Aussie that loves playing in Texas. Leishman has finished 12th twice, 8th, and 3rd twice at this venue. However, he’s sandwiched those strong finishes between three MCs. Leishman always struggles with consistency, but his form this year has been good. He recently won the Arnold Palmer Invitational and should have plenty of fond memories returning to TPC Four Seasons.
Bud Cauley ($6,400) – I was ready to fire Cauley in all lineups at the Wells Fargo, but he WD with an injury. He didn’t disclose the nature of the injury, but he seems to be primed and ready to roll this week. Cauley finished 9th and 10th in his last two stroke play events and put together a strong showing at the Zurich Classic with partner Justin Thomas. Cauley finished 4th here a year ago and should be anxious to get back to competition. A win is coming for Cauley this season, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him hoist the trophy this weekend.
Smylie Kaufman ($6,200) – Close your eyes and click his name. That’s the only way you’ll have confidence clicking Kaufman’s name. He’s been horrible this season but seems to have found something the past few events. Kaufman finished 37th at Valero, 5th at Wells Fargo, and then 12th last week at The Players. He bombs it off the tee but doesn’t usually know where it’s going. If he is trending back into form, this is a steal of a price for a proven Tour winner.
J.B. Holmes ($8,800) – Holmes, surprisingly, has never played at TPC Four Seasons. Considering his record on similar courses and in Texas, this track should fit his eye. Holmes will be able to crush his driver off-the-tee but must make sure to avoid the many hazards that lurk off these fairways. He was the 54-hole leader last weekend at The Players but imploded with a Sunday 84 to finish outside the top-30. Either way, his form is good, and he’s a strong play this week.
Sung Kang ($6,100) – It’s hard to imagine that Kang won’t be inspired by watching his good friend Si Woo Kim win the Players Championship. The two Koreans partnered together at the Zurich Classic a couple of weeks ago and played well. Kang has made his last five cuts on Tour, including 2nd, 6th, and 11th place finishes. He nearly won the Shell Houston Open, but a blistering weekend from Russell Henley stole the show. Kang is a Dallas local and has surely played this track many times. He finished 34th here a year ago.
This section focuses on “odds” players – those players whose odds vary the greatest on 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 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 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 Players Championship
Stars and Scrubs