FanDuel recently updated their PGA DFS offering, so players are trying to figure out the new format and optimize their lineups accordingly. Basically, they’ve taken away their split rosters, and made their PGA product very similar to DraftKings’ product.
FanDuel Golf Scoring System:
Eagle = 7 points
Birdie = 3.1 points
Par = 0.5 point
Bogey = -1 point
Double bogey (or worse) = -3 points
Streak bonus = 0.6 points per hole under par
Bounce back (birdie or better after making bogey or worse) = 0.3 points
5+ Birdies in a round = 4 points
Bogey-free round = 5 points.
1st place = 20 points
2nd-5th place = 12 points
6th-10th place = 8 points
11th-25th place = 5 points
The venue for this week’s WGC-Mexico is marked at 7,330 yards, but will play significantly less than that due to the high altitude at which the course is located. It’s hard to make this exact calculation, but the true yardage will be well under 7,000 yards. That tends to even the field in terms of distance, and the tree-lined fairways further skew this course towards short, accurate hitters. DJ overpowered this course last year, but he was the exception to the rule. The GC at Chapultepec features kikuyu fairways and rough – which we’ve seen recently at Torrey Pines and Riviera – and poa annua greens. We want to look at some putting splits, but pay extra attention to players who performed well at those tracks on the California swing. Digging further into the scorecard here, I noticed that the par-5s are very long, which again may mitigate the advantage of the bombers. Par-4 scoring is going to be critical this week, since we have 11 par-4s this week, some of which are extremely short. It should be a birdie fest, and I think the winner will be the player who wins par-4 scoring for the week.
In terms of stats I feel are important, birdie or better percentage, SG:Tee-to-Green, SG:Approach, and par-4 scoring seem to be good targets. Correlating courses that I’ll take a small look at this week are Riviera and Torrey Pines (due to similar grass types), TPC Kuala Lumpur (CIMB Classic), and three European Tour venues: Crans Sur Sierre (Omega European Masters – this is at a very high altitude, as well), Wentworth (BMW PGA Championship), and Woburn (British Masters rotation).
This week’s field is headlined Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler, and a ton of the top European Tour players. If I had to pick one of these guys to win this week, it would be Jon Rahm.
Recent Tournament History
Last year was the first time the WGC came to Mexico, so there’s not much history to draw upon. Here’s the leaderboard from the 2017 WGC-Mexico Championship:
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 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, the Genesis Open, and last week’s Honda Classic.
Strokes Gained Approach (SG:APP): Ball-striking, especially with irons, is going to be a major key for players this week. Chapultapec is way above sea level, so distance control becomes exceptionally difficult. Last year’s leaderboard was littered with elite ball-strikers, and I expect more of the same. In terms of recent play, the players to target in strokes gained approach are Justin Thomas, Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Alex Noren, Russell Henley, Phil Mickelson, and Paul Casey.
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. Even though this course is narrow, we saw DJ, Rahm, and Pieters atop last year’s leaderboard. The best off-the-tee players are Jon Rahm, .Dustin Johnson, Paul Casey, Gary Woodland, Tommy Fleetwood, Kevin Chappell, and Bubba Watson.
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 Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Paul Casey, Phil Mickelson, Brendan Steele, and Gary Woodland.
Par-4 Scoring (P4): Chapultapec plays as a par-70, meaning we don’t have the usual par-5 barrage these guys typically see. The ones we do have are very long, so the majority of scoring will be on par-4s. 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 Kevin Chappell, Jon Rahm, Tony Finau, Justin Thomas, Phil Mickelson, Chez Reavie, and Jordan Spieth.
*In order of my rankings
Dustin Johnson ($12,800) – People want to overblow the “DJ is struggling” narrative, but it’s completely untrue. After blowing a Sunday lead in Hong Kong, DJ won the Tournament of Champions, finished 2nd at Pebble Beach, and contended until Sunday afternoon at Riviera. He’s the defending champion here, so clearly he loves the course. He has the ability to overpower any golf course, and he’s dramatically improved his iron and wedge play the past year. He’s the man to beat.
Jon Rahm ($12,100) – I’m on a run of picking winners at the start of my Sleepers article, so let’s keep it rolling with Jon Rahm this week. I do think people will choose DJ and Fleetwood over Rahm, so his ownership should stay around 15%. He finished 3rd here last year, and had every opportunity to win. He scrambled really well, and we all know he’s a vastly improved player since last year. Rahm recently won the CareerBuilder Challenge, but since he’s had a couple weeks off, I think people will forget just how well he was playing. As I proclaimed in December, this is the #YearOfRahm.
Tommy Fleetwood ($11,300) – What an unbelievable year it’s been for Fleetwood, and he’s showing no signs of slowing down. He nearly won the Honda Classic last week, and comes to Mexico full of confidence. Fleetwood finished 2nd here last year, making nine birdies on Sunday. A win is coming soon, and it could happen here. Fleetwood is a dynamic ball-striker, who hits nearly every fairway and green. He’s clearly putted well on poa annua greens, so there’s nothing not to like this week.
Justin Thomas ($12,500) – After an epic win for JT at the Honda Classic, he comes to Mexico where he finished T-5th last season. That was a little skewed, because he made a hole-in-one and holed out another iron shot, but he should have plenty of positive vibes. JT is a streaky player, and we’ve seen him go on runs of back-to-back wins in his young career. I wouldn’t put it past him this week, especially because his game suits this course so well.
Paul Casey ($10,900) – This is quite frankly a misprice, as Casey has every right be in the $9,500 price range in this field. He’s one of the most consistent players on Tour, and posted a respectable 16th place finish here last season. Casey struggled a bit at Riviera, which worries me a touch, but he had back-to-back top-10s before that. Casey is overdue for a win, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see it happen in a relaxed, no-cut event.
Thomas Pieters ($9,500) – After blowing up on Sunday at Riviera, Pieters was mighty impressive with a 13th place finish at the Honda Classic last week. That course doesn’t suit his game very well, but this one does. If we’re using Riviera as our main comp course, this screams Thomas Pieters. He won the 2012 NCAA Championship at Riviera, and finished 2nd to DJ at the Genesis Open last season. Furthermore, he finished top-5 here last season, making him one of my favorite mid-tier options this week.
Xander Schauffele ($8,800) – Riviera is going to be a common comp course this week, so let’s take a look at Xander Schauffele who finished 9th. He’s an elite driver of the golf ball, and we’ve seen him get hot with his putter, especially on poa annua greens. He struggled to start the year after switching to Callaway clubs, but he’s honed in the past two starts. We’ve seen him win, and win in elite fields, so don’t think he can’t win here. A sneaky top-5 pick this week.
Dylan Frittelli ($8,800) – The young South African has ten top-20 finishes in his past twelve starts, including last week at Honda. He’s long, accurate, and his South African roots have prepared him for kikuyu fairways and poa greens he’ll face at Chapultapec. What I love about Frittelli is his consistency and his resilience. He never lets bogeys bother him, and he often bounces back right away with a birdie. He’s a world-class talent who we’ll see at the Masters in April.
Dean Burmester ($7,000) – Burmester had a whirlwind 2017, which saw him capture his first European Tour win. The South African native went on to finish 4th at the DP World Tour Championship, and has carried his consistent form into 2018. He finished 4th in his last start in South Africa, and comes to Mexico with no pressure. He absolutely bombs it off-the-tee (nearly as long as Pieters and Bubba), and makes as many birdies and eagles as anyone here. Burmester is here instead of defending his championship at the Tshwane Open, in his home country. He’ll be extremely motivated to prove that the trip was no waste.
This section focuses on “odds” players – those players whose odds vary the greatest with respect to their Fanduel 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 Fanduel 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:
Fanduel lineups for the WGC-Mexico Championship:
Stars and Scrubs: Johnson, Thomas, Casey, Watson, Paisley, Burmester
Balanced: Mickelson, Casey, Cantlay, Pieters, Schauffele, Frittelli