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 heads to Riviera CC for its annual stop. It’s a fantastic and traditional golf course, and always attracts the world’s best players. Because of this, there’s plenty of course history to draw upon, and that’s a big indicator for me this week. The field is absolutely stacked, so I suggest spreading out your exposure this week. Riviera is a par-71 that plays around 7,300 yards, which should show you the benefit bombers will have here. Players will contend with the same poa annua greens we saw last week, so keep riding guys who putted well last week. Driving accuracy is not so important here, because the fairways are tough to hit and the rough isn’t too penal. We’ve seen this in the past, with inaccurate bombers like Dustin Johnson and Bubba Watson playing extremely well here. It’s more of a tactician’s golf course on the approach shots, so find some elite ball-strikers as well. SG:Approach will be one of my key statistics this week. One last thing to note is that on a par-71, there’s an extra par-4. Many of those par-4s are longer than 450 yards, which gives us a key metric to look at. Par-4 scoring overall, and efficiency on long par-4s could be great indicators this week.
In terms of stats I feel are important, SG:Approach, driving distance, and long par-4 scoring. Correlating courses that I’ll take a small look at this week are Firestone Country Club and Augusta National.
This week’s field is headlined by Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Paul Casey, and Phil Mickelson. I had to pick one of these guys to win this week, it would be Dustin Johnson.
Recent Tournament History
Here are the leaderboards from the past three installments of the Genesis Open:
Current Form Review
Each week, we’ll look backward at the last three tournaments on the PGA and European Tours. Here are the leaderboards from the past three events: the Farmers Insurance Open, the Waste Management Phoenix Open, and last week’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
Strokes Gained Approach (SG:APP): Ball-striking, especially with irons, is going to be a major key for players this week. Riviera is a ball-striker’s paradise, where iron play will be key. The players are going to need to back a bundle of birdies this week. In terms of recent play, the players to target in strokes gained approach are Paul Casey, Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Alex Noren, Ollie Schniederjans, Kevin Chappell, Justin Thomas, and Chez Reavie.
Strokes Gained Off-the-Tee (SG:OTT): Every week, off-the-tee play is a main target. Guys who can hit it long and straight have a huge advantage over the rest of the field. It makes courses shorter, and allows them to hit approach shots from shorter distances, setting up birdies. Riviera has always been a course where elite bombers and OTT specialists have excelled (Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson, Phil Mickelson, Keegan Bradley). The best off-the-tee players are Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson, Kevin Chappell, .Tony Finau, Xander Schauffele, Paul Casey, and JB Holmes.
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 event should lend itself to low scores, with some short par-4s and reachable par-5s. The best players in this field in recent birdie or better percentage are Sam Saunders, Dustin Johnson, Ollie Schniederjans, Paul Casey, James Hahn, Kevin Chappell, Brendan Steele, and Justin Thomas.
Par-4 Scoring (P4): Riviera is a par-71, meaning we have one additional par-4 on the course. That means par-4 scoring will have an added emphasis, especially longer par-4 scoring average. Some of the best par-4 scorers in this field are Justin Thomas, Daniel Berger, Chez Reavie, Kevin Chappell, .Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Ollie Schniederjans, and James Hahn.
*In order of my rankings
Dustin Johnson ($11,900) – We talked about some incredible course history for DJ last week at Pebble Beach, but his history here at Riviera is even more impressive. Since 2009, DJ has seven top-10 finishes, including a 5-stroke victory last year. He’s coming off a bad Sunday at Pebble Beach, which always seems to motivate him. DJ is far and away the best player in the field, and the Vegas odds reflect that. He’s elite off-the-tee, makes birdies, and doesn’t make many mistakes.
Jordan Spieth ($11,300) – Even though he’s struggled lately, I saw promising signs from Spieth last week at Pebble Beach. His putter heated up a bit, and he wasn’t making as many mistakes as we’ve seen so far this year. Riviera is a beast of a course, but his elite short game (when it’s on) should make up for his lack of distance off-the-tee. Over the past four seasons, he’s finished 22nd, MC, 4th, and 12th at this event.
Justin Thomas ($10,700) – Thomas is the ultimate boom-or-bust play this week. His game fits Riviera perfectly, but his results haven’t been good. In three appearances, Thomas has finished 41st, 54th, and 39th, which doesn’t inspire much confidence. He imploded on the weekend at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, but he was playing really well overall. We know Thomas can get as hot as anyone on Tour, so I’ll take his birdie and eagle upside over anyone not named DJ.
Tommy Fleetwood ($9,500) – People are finally hopping on the Tommy Fleetwood bandwagon, and for good reason. He’s been a force for the last year and a half in Europe, and is a lock for this year’s Ryder Cup team. Fleetwood is one of the best ball-strikers in the world, rivaling countrymen Justin Rose and Paul Casey. He leads the Tour in greens in regulation, which will be key this week, and has had success putting on poa annua greens (WGC-Mexico in 2017). Fleetwood is an absolute gamer, who won’t be intimidated by this field. My only hesitation is that this is his first trip to California, and he’s never seen Riviera.
Rory McIlroy ($11,100) – We saw a horrible week by Rory at Pebble Beach, which honestly wasn’t so surprising. The courses didn’t fit his game well, it was his first event in the states this year, and he MC at the US Open held at Pebble Beach in 2010. He was horrible, especially on the greens. I’m willing to lean back that way a bit this week, since Riviera is a course where he can unleash his driver off-the-tee. He’s been here once before, and posted a top-20. I think we see a top-25 from Rory this week.
Chez Reavie ($8,000) – Chez will be a very, very popular play this week, and for good reason. He’s a west coast specialist who comes to Riviera on the heels of back-to-back runner-up finishes at Phoenix and Pebble Beach. He’s been so close, but one hole every Sunday seems to derail his chances. Chez is deadly accurate, and has been really solid on his proximity to the hole with iron shots. That’s what creates birdies. His course history here at Riviera is spotty, but he did finish 7th in 2016.
Kevin Chappell ($7,700) – In this middle tier, Chappell is another of my darkhorse picks. I think he has a legitimate shot to win this week. The UCLA grad plays some of best golf on the west coast, and is clearly comfortable on poa annua greens. He’s posted two top-10 finishes in his past three starts, including an 8th place result at Pebble Beach last weekend. Riviera fits his game well, as he’s an elite iron player who has really improved his off-the-tee statistics. Chappell has three top-25s at Riviera.
Charles Howell ($7,300) – Riviera is one of the courses where Howell has actually won an event, so that bodes well for his mindset. He is long off-the-tee, and very consistent with his irons. I’d be locking him into any cash games you play this week. In his past three starts on Tour, Howell has finished 32nd, 20th, and 6th, so he’s trending up.
Pat Perez ($8,600) – Perez has gone on record saying Riviera is one of his favorite tracks on Tour. The west coast specialist excels on ball-striker’s courses like this, so it’s no surprise to hear. His record doesn’t show anything flashy, but he’s made the cut most years here and is playing the best golf of his career right now. Perez played solidly last week at Pebble Beach, before faltering to 35th on the weekend.
Jason Kokrak ($7,500) – Riviera is one of the courses where I target Kokrak every year (Quail Hollow and Harbour Town are the other two), as he just seems to pop up consistently. Kokrak is one of the longest hitters on Tour, and follows the pattern of success at Riviera for top drivers (Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson, JB Holmes, Keegan Bradley, and Phil Mickelson). He finished 2nd here in 2016, and is playing some of the most consistent golf of his career. He’s made four straight cuts to start 2018, including a top-10 at the CareerBuilder Challenge.