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 Memphis and TPC Southwind, the longtime host of this event. The course is a par-70 where accuracy is going to be key. Fairways and greens are tough to hit, and elite iron players (and putters) have had success here over the years. Players are going to be able to hit driver off most tees, but hitting the fairways is going to be critical to success. If the wind picks up, so will the bogeys. Because we have a par-70, we need to focus on par-4 scoring. Specifically, we have a handful of long par-4 holes (over 450 yards), which is like what we saw last week. Players near the top of the ball-striking statistic on Tour are my main targets this week.
The last thing that I’ll point out this week is that it is the week prior to a major, so results are going to be even more unpredictable than usual. There will be a plethora of WDs pre-tournament, and even some midway through the event. Many Tour pros like playing the week before a major, and many others take the week off. There’s also a large contingent of players in the field who can only reach the U.S. Open with a win in Memphis, so maybe give an extra look to those players. This week’s field is headlined by Rickie Fowler, Brooks Koepka, Adam Scott, and Phil Mickelson.
Recent Tournament History
TPC Southwind 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 Byron Nelson, the Dean & DeLuca Invitational, and last week’s Memorial.
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. Rickie Fowler, Brooks Koepka, Scott Piercy, Phil Mickelson, Luke List, and Francesco Molinari 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):
TPC Southwind 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 Rickie Fowler, Francesco Molinari, Kyle Stanley, Ian Poulter, Stewart Cink, and Phil Mickelson.
Strokes Gained Around-the-Green (SG:ARG):
TPC Southwind is a traditional ball-strikers course, but the greens (and fairways) and small and difficult to hit. That’s going to create many scrambling opportunities for these players, so short game will be a major key to success. Gaining strokes around-the-green is critical this week, and I think our winner will come from this list of SG:ARG specialists: Ian Poulter, Matt Jones, Cameron Tringale, Rickie Fowler, and Phil Mickelson.
*In order of my rankings
Rickie Fowler ($12,000) – Fowler is the man to beat this week, and Vegas agrees. He nearly won the Memorial last week, but fell apart a bit down the stretch. He’s gaining strokes on the field in all categories, and is one of the players on Tour who seems to hold form for several weeks. He’s only played here once, but did post a 13th place finish. He’s looking ahead to Erin Hills, but Fowler needs every win he can get on Tour. If he’s motivated, Rickie will win this week.
Phil Mickelson ($10,200) – This is a very fair price for Mickelson, who loves this course. He’s finished 2nd, 3rd, 11th, and 2nd the past four seasons, and fits the mold of who I’m targeting this week. Phil hits deadly irons, and can scramble as well as anyone on Tour. The one concern for Mickelson this week is the distraction before next week’s U.S. Open. He made headlines by saying he’s likely to skip the event for a family function, so you know the media will be all over him this week. In any event, I can’t think of a better place for Phil to get back into the winner’s circle.
Francesco Molinari ($10,500) – If there’s ever a week for Molinari to break through for his first PGA Tour win, this could be it. For the past few months, he’s been one of the hottest players in the world. He finished 6th at the Players Championship and then 2nd at the BMW PGA Championship. He played decently here a year ago in his debut, posting a top-35 finish. Molinari is an elite ball-striker who has been making birdies in bunches this season. He’s one of my picks to win this week, if the top-end guys don’t have their best.
Brooks Koepka ($11,500) – Brooks is trending in the right direction, and next week’s U.S. Open at Erin Hills suits his game perfectly. Erin Hills, in my opinion, will play similar to Whistling Straights, where Koepka posted a top-5 finish at the 2015 PGA Championship. Koepka struggled a bit last weekend at The Memorial, but showed me enough to get on board this week. He loves this course, posting 2nd, 3rd, and 19th place finishes in his career. The concern for Brooks is that he’s a bit wild, and can get himself in trouble at TPC Southwind.
Adam Scott ($11,000) – Scott has been consistent this season, but seems to have been lacking some of the winning firepower. He’s never played this course, so I don’t expect a win here either. Scott is at the point of his career where he’s focusing on majors, so he’s using this week as a tune-up for Erin Hills. Especially on the greens, where Scott has some demons to overcome. I expect him to hang around the top-15 this week, but he’s not someone I’m targeting as the anchor of my lineups.
Charl Schwartzel ($7,900) – Schwartzel was a late addition to the field this week, as he wanted more reps before Erin Hills. Although his finish last week was mediocre, he tweeted that he found something on the weekend, and wants to carry the momentum through this week. He sounds full of confidence, and I’m buying it. Schwartzel is an elite ball-striker who should be able to contend with the tough, windy conditions this week. The heat won’t be a factor either, as he’s used to it back home in South Africa. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Schwartzel in contention on Sunday.
Peter Uihlein ($7,200) – We’ve been waiting for Uihlein to play in the States more often, and he’s finally doing so. After posting strong finishes in Puerto Rico and Houston earlier this year, he made the cut at The Memorial last week and earned more FedEx Cup points. I’m not sure this course suits his game, but he’s using it as at tune-up for Erin Hills. Uihlein won a playoff at his Sectional qualifying site this morning to punch his ticket to the U.S. Open. He’s a name to watch there, as he played well at the 2011 U.S. Amateur.
J.B. Holmes ($6,800) – Poor recent form and poor course history, but I cannot pass up on J.B. Holmes at this price. This is reminiscent of Bubba Watson last week, who nearly won the Memorial at a price tag of $6,600. Holmes is a bomber who can make birdies in bunches, but he’s also a great wedge player and scrambler. He’s from Kentucky, so this is nearly a home game for him, and he shouldn’t have any trouble handling the warm and windy conditions. If he can find some form, Holmes is another interesting name for next week’s U.S. Open.
Kevin Chappell ($8,800) – Chappell continues to play consistent golf this season, coming off his first career win at the Valero Texas Open. He’s an elite ball-striker who should suit this course well, if his putter cooperates. He finished 22nd here in his only appearance, but I expect him to better that position this week. He’s another player who is ready to make the career leap, and I expect him to make the President’s Cup team this summer.
Kyle Stanley ($8,400) – Stanley couldn’t qualify for the U.S. Open this week, but I think his sights are on a PGA Tour win. He’s been playing unbelievably well this year, statistically and in his tournament finishes. He posted another 6th place finish last week at The Memorial, his third top-10 finish in the past five events. He’s an elite ball-striker who has struggled on the greens, but finally turned that around last week in Columbus. He’ll be a popular pick this week in Memphis.
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: