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.
The Honda Classic is held at the Championship course at PGA National, in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. It’s notoriously one of the hardest courses on Tour, where par is a good score. The course is a par-72, but the tournament officials set it up as a par-70, making scoring much more difficult. The course is full of bunkers, water hazards, and tricky bermuda greens. The wind blows nonstop, making elite ball-strikers our main target. PGA National features the Bear Trap, a 3-hole stretch (15-16-17) full of water hazards that completely changes the tournament every year. Players can make birdies, pars, bogeys, doubles, triples, and even the occasional quadruple bogey during this stretch. We can categorize this course as a less-than-driver course, so players who contend will be gaining strokes on approach shots, around the green, and putting. I don’t often look at stat splits, but I will be targeting players who excel on bermuda greens, in Florida, and in the wind. I’ll be out there this week, so let me know if you have any specific questions you’d like answered!
In terms of stats I feel are important, SG:Approach, SG:Around-the-Green, and par-4 scoring. Correlating courses that I’ll take a small look at this week are Colonial, TPC Sawgrass, and Waialea.
This week’s field is headlined by Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler, Tommy Fleetwood, Sergio Garcia, Rory McIlroy, and a ton of the other top European Tour players. If I had to pick one of these guys to win this week, it would be Justin Thomas.
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 Waste Management Phoenix Open, the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, and last week’s Genesis Open.
Strokes Gained Approach (SG:APP): Ball-striking, especially with irons, is going to be a major key for players this week. PGA National is a ball-striker’s paradise, where iron play will be key. The greens are small targets, and scrambling will be a challenge. The players are going to need to back a bundle of birdies this week to offset the bogeys and double bogeys that are lurking. In terms of recent play, the players to target in strokes gained approach are Chesson Hadley, Scott Piercy, Justin Thomas, Gary Woodland, Ollie Schniederjans, and Alexander Noren.
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. PGA National is more of an accuracy course, but that’s still reflected in some of the names near the top of SG:OTT. The best off-the-tee players are Ryan Palmer, Gary Woodland, Harold Varner III, Lucas Glover, Jason Dufner, and Charles Howell III.
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 higher scores, so players who can steal the most points for birdies will be ahead of the pack. The best players in this field in recent birdie or better percentage are Jason Dufner, Justin Thomas, Gary Woodland, Patton Kizzire, Kevin Kisner, Russell Henley, and Ollie Schniederjans.
Par-4 Scoring (P4): PGA National plays as a par-70, meaning we have two additional par-4s on the course. That means par-4 scoring will have an added emphasis, especially longer par-4 scoring average. Both par-5s play easy for everyone in the field, so par-4 scoring will be the major differentiator. Some of the best par-4 scorers in this field are Jason Dufner, Ryan Palmer, Rickie Fowler, Hudson Swafford, Justin Thomas, Kevin Kisner, Gary Woodland, Scott Piercy, and Ollie Schniederjans.
*In order of my rankings
Justin Thomas ($11,300) – Ranking JT first might be a contrarian angle, but I like the way his game is trending. He lives in Palm Beach Gardens, so this is a home game. Thomas posted a top-10 at Riviera last week, snapping a bit of a slump to begin 2018. He comes to PGA National where he’s missed two cuts, but he did finish 3rd in 2016. Thomas is an elite scorer, and tends to play well on long par-4s. I’m in on JT as the top stud this week.
Rickie Fowler ($11,700) – Fowler will definitely be popular this week, given his name recognition and the fact that he’s the defending champion. Like Justin Thomas, he lives locally, and plays here often. Fowler started off very strong this season, finishing 2nd at the OHL Classic, winning the Hero World Challenge, and finishing 11th at the Waste Management Phoenix Open (where he led after 54-holes). My only concern is that Fowler has been riding a really hot putter, and that’s not very sustainable.
Tommy Fleetwood ($9,400) – Fleetwood should be a great fit for PGA National, but I’m a little wary because this is his first trip. He’s a dynamic ball-striker who plays well in the wind, so this tough track shouldn’t be too tough. Fleetwood leads the world in greens in regulation percentage, which is one of my key stats this week. The only concern is scrambling this week, since the long, bermuda rough isn’t something he’s used to from the European Tour.
Rory McIlroy ($11,500) – I’m still not sold on Rory, even though he managed a top-20 last week at Riviera. His ball-striking improved a bit, but he’s still lacking confidence on the greens. If putts don’t fall, he can’t win… it’s that simple. Rory is another player who lives nearby, so he’s very familiar with this course and the conditions. He’s also a past champion here, so there should be plenty of positive vibes for Rory this week.
Chesson Hadley ($7,700) – Chesson Hadley will undoubtedly be the most popular player in the mid-tier this week. His ball-striking in 2018 has been out-of-this-world, and PGA National suits his game well. Hadley isn’t a long hitter, but he’s great in the wind and great on bermuda greens (he’s won the Puerto Rico Open). He comes to PGA National where he’s posted two top-25s in three attempts.
Russell Henley ($7,700) – Not only is Henley a course horse at PGA National, but he’s played well at almost all of our comp courses this week (mainly Waialae Country Club). Here, Henley won in 2014, and has only missed one cut in five appearances. He’s been solid of late, most recently finishing 15th at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. The Georgia graduate plays well on bermuda surfaces and is one of the best wind players on Tour.
Patton Kizzire ($7,300) – Could we really be talking about a 3rd win already this season for Patton Kizzire? I think so. The Auburn alum plays his best golf on bermuda greens, and should be full of confidence after winning twice this season. He’s backed those wins up with two more solid outings, and comes to a course that should fit his eye well. Kizzire has made all three cuts at PGA National, including 21st and 26th place finishes. He’s making birdies, scoring well on par-4s, and has been great with his irons.
Jason Dufner ($8,600) – Dufner is my darkhorse pick to win this week, and I’ll have a ton of exposure to him in all formats. His game fits this course very well, as he’s an accurate ball-striker who can handle windy conditions. He’s played well at comparable courses (Harbour Town and Colonial), and comes into this event in solid form. Dufner has dramatically improved his putting this year, and that should pay dividends. He’s never missed a cut in his career, and actually grew up in South Florida (not many people know that).
Ollie Schniederjans ($8,400) – There might not be a better leverage play this week than Ollie Schniederjans. His MC last week will ensure ownership under 8%, which is exactly what I’m looking for with a player with his volatility. Ollie has made two of three cuts here, including a top-10 in 2015. He’s one of the best wind players, and excels on long par-4s. The Georgia Tech product also plays his best golf on bermuda. Although it’s been an up-and-down start to 2018, he’s posted two top-10 finishes in his past four starts.
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 CORE plays for the Honda Classic:
Stars and Scrubs: McIlroy, Thomas, Gay, Bryan, Barber, Fathauer
Balanced: Harman, Dufner, Kisner, Simpson, Kaymer, Henley