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 returns to Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio. It’s a Jack Nicklaus design, and you’ll hear (and see) plenty of the Golden Bear this week. This par-72 is a traditional layout, measuring nearly 7,400 yards. We’re going to see bombers utilize the driver off-the-tee this week, as the fairways are wide (however, the rough can be very thick and penal, as this is usually a U.S. Open tune-up). The Tour will see some of the fastest and purest bentgrass greens all season long, so putting will be critical all week.
This is one of the most stacked fields of the year, mainly due to players honoring Nicklaus and preparing for the U.S. Open. Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Jon Rahm, Rickie Fowler, and Hideki Matsuyama are all here. Rory would have been, but he’s out with an injury. We’ve seen some of the world’s elite win here (Tiger dominated this track), but we’ve also seen first time winners such as Hideki Mastuyama, David Lingmerth, and William McGirt.
Some of the keys that I’m targeting this week are strokes gained off-the-tee, strokes gained approach, par-4 scoring, and bogey avoidance. One interesting list I saw was par-4 efficiency from over 450 yards. This week, we’ll see six par-4s playing in that range, and here are some of the names that popped: Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Phil Mickelson, Ollie Schneiderjans, and Rafa Cabrera-Bello.
Recent Tournament History
Muirfield Village 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 Players Championship, the Byron Nelson, and last week’s Dean & DeLuca.
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 Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson, Hideki Matsuyama, Phil Mickelson, Pat Perez, 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.
Strokes Gained Approach (SG:APP):
Memorial has always been a stern test, emphasizing ball-striking and an all-around game. Strokes gained approach has been one of the biggest indicators of success her over the years. Scrambling is difficult, so players who can hit the most greens with a good proximity will have a massive edge over the field. Some names that stand out in the field are Jordan Spieth, Jon Rahm, Kyle Stanley, Webb Simpson, Rickie Fowler, and Dustin Johnson.
Strokes Gained Off-the-Tee (SG:OTT):
Muirfield Village offers wide fairways, so bombers can take advantage off-the-tee. However, shorter hitters like David Lingmerth and William McGirt have won here recently, so pure distance isn’t a necessity. Gaining strokes off-the-tee (whether with raw distance or with accuracy) is critical this week, and I think our winner will come from this list of SG:OTT specialists: Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm, Tony Finau, Bubba Watson, Kyle Stanley, Hideki Matsuyama, and Ben An.
*In order of my rankings
Dustin Johnson ($12,000) – DJ struggled on the weekend at Byron Nelson, but still finished in 13th place. That’s basically the floor for him at this point, as he’s in contention every week. When his game is on, he’s near-impossible to beat. DJ is the best driver of the golf ball, near the top of the game in iron play, and has dramatically improved his wedge game and putting. Basically, he’s the perfect player. He’s made eight of nine cuts at The Memorial, including two top-5 finishes.
Jon Rahm ($11,100) – Rahm is quickly becoming DJ-lite, and that’s just because he’s only won once. He’s basically doing the same things as DJ: smashing drives, hitting deadly irons, and scrambling well. He’s full of confidence, and has shown that he can play these difficult courses well even in his debut. Colonial didn’t seem to fit his game, but there he was finishing in 2nd again last week. Rahm checks all the statistical boxes I’m targeting.
Hideki Matsuyama ($10,000) – It’s tough to gauge ownership on these studs this week, since most of the public seems to be playing Dustin Johnson and Jon Rahm. Hideki has struggled (relatively speaking) in recent weeks, but he did finish 11th and 22nd at the Masters the Player Championship, respectively. He’s a dynamic ball-striker who scores well on difficult par-4s, so Muirfield Village is the perfect fit for his game. This is also where Hideki got his first career victory, so plenty of positive memories at Jack’s place.
Matt Kuchar ($9,400) – I’m not a huge fan of Kuchar at this price tag, but it’s impossible to overlook his course history. In his nine appearances at Muirfield Village, Kuchar has posted six top-10 finishes, including a win. That’s incredible. It goes to show that distance isn’t a premium this week if you’re an elite iron and wedge player. Kuchar struggled a bit recently, but has surged back with 12th and 9th place finishes his past two starts.
Adam Scott ($9,800) – Scott may be one of the sneakiest (and best) plays in this price range. He finished 9th at The Masters and 6th at The Players, yet nobody seems to be talking about him. Scott has posted three top-10 finishes at Muirfield Village, and has a tremendous record on two of our comp courses: Firestone CC and Augusta National. Anytime we head to a ball-striking venue, Scott should be near the top of your list.
Jordan Spieth ($11,000) – Spieth nearly silenced the doubters at Colonial last week, and probably would have won if not for a few nasty lip-outs on Sunday. Spieth has struggled with his off-the-tee and iron play all season, but can always rely on his short game to bail him out. Here, ball-striking is at a premium, and scrambling is much more difficult, so I’m staying away from Spieth this week. He did finish 3rd here in 2015, but has posted three mediocre performances otherwise. He’s looking ahead to the U.S. Open.
Bud Cauley ($8,000) – Cauley has been knocking on the door of his first career win all season, and I could see it coming here at The Memorial. His ball-striking and off-the-tee game have been fantastic recently, but he’s been let down on the greens. One concerning issue is that over his three appearances at this venue, he’s put up some abysmal putting stats. Hopefully that can turn around, because Cauley is ready to win. We’ve seen Matsuyama, Lingmerth, and McGirt all notch their breakthroughs here, and Cauley could be next. He’s never missed a cut at Muirfield Village, and has posted three recent top-10s on Tour.
Shane Lowry ($6,600) – Lowry is probably my favorite sleeper play of the week, although he may get popular as the week draws on. He recently took time off to be with his wife during the birth of their baby girl, and Lowry stormed back to competitive golf with a top-5 finish at Wentworth last week. That’s one of his favorite courses in the world, so there was no surprise to see him play well. On the PGA Tour, Lowry played excellent golf early this season on the West Coast, and I think he can pick up the momentum again this week. He’s a great driver and ball-striker, who just needs to find his confidence in the putter.
Charley Hoffman ($6,500) – Hoffman is entirely too cheap this week, as are many guys. He’s one of my favorites because of his recent form. He’s made seven of his past eight cuts on Tour, with his best finishes at similarly difficult venues: Bay Hill and Augusta National. He hasn’t posted high finishes at Muirfield Village over the years, but he has made seven of eight cuts. A likely made cut with birdie-making and top-15 upside makes him a lock for me this week.
Patrick Reed ($9,200) – It’s always difficult to go back to Patrick Reed, but I think this is his week. His form has finally turned around since sorting out an equipment issue, and his mental game has come around, too. Reed has finished 8th and 26th in two appearances here, so Muirfield Village fits his eye. If he gets hot with the flat stick, Reed is one of the favorites this week. The major issue he’s struggled with all season has been iron play, but that’s turned around in recent weeks. He’s finished 12th, 22nd, and 20th in his past three starts.
Patrick Cantlay ($7,800) – I’m going to continue to ride the Cantlay train until this run stops. He’s been one of the best and most consistent players in his handful of starts on Tour this season, consistently posting top-10 finishes. He has the demeanor of an assassin on the course, and I expect his first win to come soon. He hits the ball well, doesn’t make mistakes, and scores well on long par-4s. Cantlay has putted well this season as well, which will be a major key at Muirfield Village. Cantlay is trying to qualify for the U.S. Open at Erin Hills, where he finished 2nd in the U.S. Amateur.
This section focuses on “odds” players – those players whose odds vary the greatest with respect to 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 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 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 Memorial:
Stars and Scrubs: