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.
TPC Sawgrass is a tricky Pete Dye design, so we can look to comparable courses such as Harbour Town for an idea of what type of player might perform well. The course is a typical par-72 layout with four par 5s, but it doesn’t really favor the bombers. Several par 5s will be reachable for most of the field, but the difficulties of the par 3s and par 4s will mitigate the length advantage of the bombers. Like most Pete Dye designs, the players will be navigating tricky doglegs, mounding, bunkers and water hazards, and will be forced to hit less then driver off many tees. Once in position, the players will hit approaches to very small greens (again, similar to Harbour Town), so proximity and scrambling should play major roles in targeting certain players this week. Experience is key. With the exception of journeymen winners like Craig Perks and Stephen “9&8” Ames, past winners here have had at least 5 years of experience playing the event. Each of the last eleven winners at TPC Sawgrass has recorded at least one top-25 finish. You don’t need to strictly avoid first timers here, but like we talked about at The Masters, experience does play a pivotal role.
Recent Tournament History
Here are the leaderboards from the past three installments of the Players Championship:
Current Form Review
Each week, we’ll look backward at the last three tournaments on the PGA Tour. Here are the leaderboards from the past three stroke-play events: the RBC Heritage, the Valero Texas Open, and last week’s Wells Fargo Championship:
Strokes Gained Approach (SG:APP): TPC Sawgrass is a course that challenges every player, but I do believe that approach play is the most important element. There are water hazards, bunkers, and native areas that players have to avoid, and many tricky approach shots into small greens. Pete Dye courses always place an emphasis on elite ball-striking. In terms of recent play, the players to target in strokes gained approach are Henrik Stenson, Bryson DeChambeau, Adam Hadwin, Scott Piercy, Sergio Garcia, Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth, Stewart Cink, Keegan Bradley, and Ian Poulter.
Strokes Gained Around-the-Green (SG:ARG): Because the green complexes are so difficult at TPC Sawgrass, I’m adding extra emphasis on the short game. I want elite scramblers who can save pars when they miss approach shots. The best around-the-green players in recent weeks are Hideki Matsuyama, Jason Day, Patrick Reed, Jamie Lovemark, Adam Hadwin, Tiger Woods, Jonas Blixt, Tommy Fleetwood, Jimmy Walker, and Wesley Bryan.
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. This is a difficult course, but much of the fantasy scoring will come from birdies and occasional eagles. The best players in this field in recent birdie or better percentage are Jon Rahm, Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau, Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed, Justin Rose, Dustin Johnson, Kevin Chappell, Trey Mullinax, and Tommy Fleetwood.
Strokes Gained on Par-4s (SG:P4): Par-4 scoring is always important, but I’m adding even more emphasis this week with strokes gained on par-4s. TPC Sawgrass has difficult holes throughout, but the par-4s will set the winner aside from the rest of the field. Some of the leaders in terms of strokes gained on par-4s over the last ten events are Kyle Stanley, Tiger Woods, Justin Thomas, Patrick Cantlay, Bryson DeChambeau, Nick Watney, Luke List, Kevin Streelman, Trey Mullinax, Patrick Reed, Byeong Hun An, and Marc Leishman.
*In order of my rankings
Rory McIlroy ($11,600) – Rory seems to have figured this place out, after missing his first three cuts. Since 2013, he’s made all five cuts here with three top-10 finishes. Recent form is strong as well, with a win at Bay Hill, a 5th at the Masters, and another solid T-16 at Quail Hollow. His irons and short game have let him down this season, but I’ve been very encouraged by what I’ve seen over the past few events. He’s the co-favorite with Jason Day, in my mind.
Jason Day ($11,400) – What a stunning performance by Day at Quail Hollow, picking up his second win of the season. He dominated with scrambling, hiding some of the glaring issues we’ve seen with his iron play. In any event, Day is capable of turning that around any week, and he’s returning to TPC Sawgrass where he’s a past champion. Day is a streaky player who rides confidence, and we’ve seen him go on incredible runs of golf in his career.
Rickie Fowler ($9,600) – Rickie, the perennial bridesmaid, was up to his old tricks again at Quail Hollow. He got within one shot of the lead on Saturday, before four-putting for double bogey on the 17th hole. He then posted an ugly 73 on Sunday to fall outside the top-20. The thing about Fowler is he tends to play the same courses well year-in and year-out. He’s a past champion here at TPC Sawgrass, with another runner-up finish. However, he’s also missed the cut five times. Good luck figuring this one out!
Henrik Stenson ($8,800) – Stenson is in a great spot to win the Players Championship for the second time. He’s one of the best iron players in the world, and will be able to utilize his awesome 3-wood off most tees. Hitting fairways and greens is the name of the game around TPC Sawgrass, and few do it better than Stenson. He’s coming off three straight top-10 finishes worldwide and should be full of confidence. In my recent statistical model, Stenson leads the field in strokes gained approach, the key metric this week.
Francesco Molinari ($8,100) – Following the trend of ball-strikers who are in form, we have the ever-consistent Francesco Molinari. He’s made six straight cuts on tour with three top-25 finishes, including a 16th at Quail Hollow last week. Molinari is one of the best tee-to-green players in the field, and has used that to his advantage over the years at TPC Sawgrass. He’s posted four top-10 finishes here in seven tries, including each of his past three visits. Statistically speaking, he’s near the top of the field across the board.
Emiliano Grillo ($7,500) – Grillo is one of my darkhorse picks to win this week. Although he has a tendency to be volatile, Grillo has actually made every cut on Tour this year. He’s improved his putting and off-the-tee game dramatically, and therefore doesn’t have to rely on his ball-striking so much. However, the ball-striking is what I’m focusing on this week. Over the past ten events, Grillo ranks 9th in strokes gained tee-to-green, 16th in strokes gained off-the-tee, and 21st in strokes gained approach. He finished 11th here last season, so there’s no doubt he can handle the test.
Webb Simpson ($7,300) – Simpson is going to be a popular choice this week, due to his recent form and track record on Pete Dye courses. He’s posted three top-10s in his last seven events, and hasn’t missed a cut over that span. I was encouraged again by his performance last week at Quail Hollow, a course that is arguably too long for him to contend on. Sawgrass is a different animal, and Webb can rely on his elite ball-striking, par-4 scoring, and improved putting. He finished 16th here a year ago.
Dustin Johnson ($10,300) – Will the number one player in the world go overlooked this week? I definitely think he will. Although DJ hasn’t been in great form and has never finished better than 12th (last season) at the Players Championship, I think he makes for a fantastic leverage option this week. He needs a good week to retain his spot as world number one, and statistically, he’s still been good. In his last start, he finished 16th at Harbour Town, which is actually good considering how terrible of a course fit that is for him. He had previously missed both cuts there, so the 16th place finish (with a 72 on Saturday) was actually encouraging.
Adam Hadwin ($7,300) – One of my favorite sleepers of the week is Adam Hadwin, who has been in fantastic form all season. He’s made all twelve cuts, and has been trending towards a win all spring. His last eight results on Tour are 3rd, 35th, 43rd, 6th, 9th, 12th, 24th, and 16th, some of which came on courses that don’t suit his game at all. Sawgrass is a venue which allows his lack of distance to work in his favor, and emphasizes his elite short game. Hadwin has made his last two cuts here, and I definitely see him making a run towards the top-10 on Sunday.
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.
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 Players Championship:
Stars and Scrubs:
- Rory McIlroy
- Justin Thomas
- Kyle Stanley
- Bill Haas
- Jamie Lovemark
- Vaughn Taylor
- Justin Rose
- Paul Casey
- Tiger Woods
- Francesco Molinari
- Louis Oosthuizen
- Billy Horschel