The Daily Spin – DraftKings Daily Fantasy Golf Preview – AT&T Byron Nelson

Zachary Turcotte
By Zachary Turcotte May 18, 2016 12:23

Just as I suspected, The Players Championship threw everyone a curve last weekend. The course setup for the first two rounds proved to be far too easy, creating a situation where scoring not only got out of hand, but players that would not normally do well at TPC Sawgrass were playing better there than ever before and leaving behind some of the players that normally did reasonably well, but tended to do it at a slower pace throughout four rounds.

Once tournament officials began to receive a fair amount of ridicule from commentators and fans alike, they huddled up on Friday night and decided to raze the greens on Saturday creating greens that played close to something that we would see at the US Open and crushing players in the the third round in an attempt to bring scores back to historical levels. By Sunday, the conditions seemed to be where officials would have liked for the entire event and players were actually able to play their normal games again, but the entire affair was a fiasco and a real headache for those us building fantasy lineups who entered the week with the expectation that the course would play towards its historical norms.

The consequence of how the course was setup was that we owned players who typically thrived in other years, but were not quite the types of players that could take full advantage of the easier conditions in the first two days. Had I known hoe easy scoring would be initially, we would have shifted our ownership shares towards the bigger hitters who were not penalized as much as normal and rode a few of them through the cut. That is not to say there would have been huge changes overall in terms of lineup composition.

Henrik Stenson playing as poorly as he did came as a huge shock to owners throughout the community as after finally having a more than 30 event cut streak snapped at Quail Hollow the week prior, he was not even remotely competitive at TPC Sawgrass which was particularly alarming considering how easy the scoring conditions were the first two days. Chris Kirk made a couple of costly mistakes in the first round that derailed his momentum early and could not get back on track Friday. He ultimately stabbed owners in the heart by withdrawing with just a single hole left to complete before the cut on Saturday, thus wiping out all of the point accumulated in the 17 holes that he did complete in the round. Emiliano Grillo was the other big core play that disappointed us last week. He had played so well this year and had become a cut maker with some additional upside potential, but it is almost impossible to make the cut when you are -3.60 Strokes Gained Putting after just two rounds. Grillo has not been a great putter this season, but those numbers are bad enough to make even Webb Simpson blush so it was certainly out of character. With those three players all being more heavily weighted in my $3 GPP lineups, it is not surprising that my teams there imploded for the week.

Fortunately, with GPP events, I always enter with the expectation of it being a boom or bust affair. There are some week where things break even, but typically, with the aggressive strategy that I utilize, I am either going to hit everything or take a loss. It leads to a good discussion point today about how to either amp up or lower your volatility when playing in GPPs from week to week.

IF you have ever taken the time to track what many of the higher level professionals do when building teams, you will notice that their approaches tend to vary. Some players will use dozens of different golfers and distribute ownership through their core players in a more even manner while others use maybe only 20 players in total all week and are heavily concentrated among their core players. Both approaches can be successful and have their merits, but it is important to understand what using one approach over another brings to the table for you as far as tracking your results from week to week.

The owners that use a lot of different players and have a flatter distribution of ownership over their total number of players will typically have somewhat less volatility in regards to their results. If the highest owned golfer in their player pool is only at 25-30%, then having one or two of the players miss the cut will not immediately wipe out their teams for the week and there is still the off chance that a handful of their lineups avoided this carnage completely and survived to play through the weekend. However, the drawback to this approach is that by having more exposure to additional players, you will also end up losing more players to the cut each week, thus putting a little bit of a cap on performance unless you happen to hit the perfect lineup that wins every event as a few owners have done this season.

The way that I typically play is to be aggressive with how I construct my rosters each week. I like to load up a lot of my ownership shares within a small core of 3-5 players and hope that I can push them all through the cut with the goal of having many teams in contention over the weekend so that I do not have to root for just one solid team to take care of business. When it work, it works in a big way and I will win many multiples of my entry fee at a minimum. When we have a week like we had for The Players Championship where my core players get decimated, I get crushed and am able to salvage very little along the lines of a return.

I bring this up to help you with how you want to construct your rosters from week to week in GPP events. If you are looking for a smoother ride with less downside, use the strategy of adding additional golfers to your player pool and distributing your ownership shares in a more balanced manner. If you are the type who is comfortable going after big wins every week and willing to accept the risk of losing much of your investment the weeks where your core players miss the cut, then use less golfers in your player pool and concentrate your ownership shares among a smaller core group of players. I bring this up to illustrate the point that there are different ways to be successful in GPP events and that each of you needs to choose the method that you are going to be most comfortable with as there is no perfect approach or one right way to achieve your goals.

People ask every week what the right number of players is to own and there really is not a perfect answer. I am sure that at some point someone will be able to calculate that number based on field strength and game theory, but the sport is not there quite yet at this point. Try each approach to see what is comfortable for you and what is working for you. Just be sure to use an actual process when building your lineups. Use a spreadsheet to set your targets and then make small adjustments to your targets based on salary restrictions. Typically I start with a player pool of around 30 golfers and narrow it down to 20-25. I typically have a player or two that I know that I want to have in my core group and then select the other two or three based upon what I am hearing within the industry so I am not selecting five extremely high owned players for the week.

How I weight those core players really depends on the field and the tournament each week. The stronger the field overall, the more I will spread my ownership shares among the group overall. In a field where there are only a handful of really strong players, I tend to target one or two players for a larger share of ownership. This week provides a perfect example for looking at the top of the field. In looking at this week’s event, we have a similar decision to make. Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson are the two elite golfers in the field this week. Both are worthy considerations for your core group.

In looking at DJ’s history and recent form, he is going to be the obvious player to be most owned in the field this week. There are four ways to play DJ this week: Fade, underweight, neutral (own in line with the field), and overweight. If you are in the camp that believes that DJ is the player you need to own this week, you will want to own him at a disproportionate rate to the field to get full value on the play. If you own him in line with other owners, your teams end up tracking with everyone else, offsetting the downside of missing out on not owning him, but not really elevating all of your teams on the whole.

The play to fade DJ means that you are hoping he finishes outside of the Top 5-10 and misses delivering full value based upon his price. If you underweight your shares, you are making a defensive play in believing he will underperform, but also giving yourself some outs if he finishes near the top. Your belief on a player’s performance should be reflected in how you much or how little you target that player. So when you ask how much to own a certain player, you need to start by projecting ownership percentage (use ours or project your own numbers), develop your opinion on how you think they will play and at that point, you should be able to come up with a range that makes some sense rather than pulling a number out of nowhere. Now, when you own a player who does well and yet, your lineups are struggling to keep up, take a look at your ownership shares relative to the rest of the field you will have a better understanding for what is taking place.

Roger did a great job covering the course this week, so I will make this portion brief. The same stats apply at the top that we always look at, but the key areas to focus on are limiting mistakes by avoiding bogeys, proximity to the hole on the large greens and Par 4 scoring as it is only a Par 70 course, thus there only two Par 5 holes this week. In looking at past results, a wide variety of players have been able to win here. It is interesting to note that Australian players have performed well here over the years so take a deeper look beyond the obvious names at players from Australia or New Zealand this week.

Key Stats:

Strokes Gained Tee to Green: 35%
Strokes Gained Putting: 25%
Birdie or Better Percentage: 20%
Par 4 Scoring: 15%
Proximity: 5%

Good luck this week and let us know how things are going. If you have any lineup or strategy questions, please tweet to us or email me and I will do my best to get to all of you. I am at an investment conference this week so I may be a little slower than usual, but I will get to each of them throughout the day. I get some pretty lengthy, multi part questions so some of those will have to wait until the weekend when I can sit down for a little while to write up a full response.

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Last week was a little frustrating with the optimal lineups as only one of three managed to cash. If you are struggling with your cash games, mix it up a bit and do five lineups instead of three. This should mitigate some of the volatility and while it limits your upside a little, it will certainly help during the rough weeks. As always, feel free to send me an e-mail with potential cash game lineups and I will look them over. Another way to mix things up if you are getting stuck is to build all of your GPP lineups first and then look through them for the ones that seem to fit your eye best for cash games rather than going through and thinking of building teams specifically for cash games. Backing into your cash game teams has been a good way for some people to get back on track and an approach that some end up favoring over time.

The optimal lineup for the week:

Ryan Palmer – $8,900
Marc Leishman – $9,500
Gary Woodland – $8,500
Graham DeLaet – $7,900
Charles Howell III – $8,200
Will Wilcox – $7,000

A good secondary team if you get a little nervous seeing Will Wilcox on your first team:

Jason Dufner – $9,100
Danny Lee – $8,600
Scott Piercy – $8,000
Ryan Palmer – $8,900
Gary Woodland – $8,500
Tim Wilkinson – $6,800 (or Jerry Kelly at $6,700)

Both lineups here are a balanced approach. I will probably also make one team with DJ since the benefit of owning a player who finishes high in the standings (Kuchar last week) can really offset the loss of a player due to a missed cut so it’s a nice risk vs reward play:

Dustin Johnson – $11,900
Danny Lee – $8,600
Scott Piercy – $8,000
Colt Knost – $7,800
Bryce Molder – $7,600
Mark Hubbard – $6,100

CORE

Dustin Johnson – 75% ($11,900)
Marc Leishman – 50% ($9,500)
Scott Piercy – 60% ($8,000)
Lucas Glover – 40% ($7,500)

The core group is a little smaller this week with a weaker field. As I mentioned above, we face the decision this week of whether or not to own DJ and I just could not shake the idea that he is probably the best lock to finish near the top this week with four Top 10 finishes here in six starts, no missed cuts in ten starts this season and five Top 10 finishes since the beginning of March. Spieth is an option here, but I just like the way DJ is playing right now so I will overweight him dramatically to get maximum value if he does well as I expect 30-40% ownership across all ranges of GPP contests this week.

A year ago, Marc Leishman’s wife was going through a major health score and as a result, his performance on the course suffered. He missed the cut here last year, but in the other six starts, he has finished in the Top 15 five times and missed just one cut. As I have commented here many times, his stats are really solid in all respects this year, he just has not put it all together yet. He was not amazing last week, but delivered value for the price. I think there is a good chance he has another strong performance this week.

Scott Piercy has quietly put together a nice season, missing only one cut in twelve starts so far. He is usually in the mix at the beginning of the weekend, but typically trails off when the pressure picks up. However, in an event with a weaker field, I anticipate that he will excel. He withdrew here a year ago, but before that had finished 26th or better for three straight starts. He is a strong ball striker that makes a lot of birdies and his price is in a range to where he should not be owned too heavily which is why he gets the extra shares this week.

Lucas Glover came through for us two weeks ago and has been playing good golf or the last couple of months. He leads the field in GIR percentage, is one of the best players in terms of Par 4 scoring and his mid level iron play is still pretty elite despite his age. His putter is bad, but not as terrible as it has been in other years and his tee to green game is still among the best on tour. He has made five straight cuts and comes in having just finished T8 at Quail Hollow two weeks ago. He has not played here much over the years, but given his current form and skill set, he should do well again this week.

SECONDARY

Ryan Palmer – 25% ($8,900)
Danny Lee – 25% ($8,600)
Gary Woodland – 25% ($8,500)
Charles Howell III – 25% ($8,200)
Graham DeLaet – 25% ($7,900)
Bryce Molder – 25% ($7,600)
Anirban Lahiri – 30% ($7,300)
Brian Harman – 30% ($7,200)
Tim Wilkinson – 30% ($6,800)
Jerry Kelly – 25% ($6,700)

Our secondary group of players this week kicks off with Ryan Palmer who has been a solid cut maker this year, missing just a single cut and also earning six Top 25 finishes along the way. He has made the cut here in five straight starts (three Top 10 finishes) and lives in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. I have not been overly impressed with Palmer’s upside this year as he has posted just one Top 10 finish, but in a field this weak, we need players that we can trust to make the cut, and Palmer fits the bill.

Danny Lee tends to frustrate me when he is on my rosters, but he is highly skilled and this is around the time last year when his game took off. He has been good here over the years, making three of four cuts with a couple of Top 20 finishes. He is a good tee to green player that is capable of hitting a lot of birdies. He has upside potential which makes him worth the risk this week.

Gary Woodland has missed just one cut this year and is beginning to post some Top 25 finishes this year. He is big off the tee and his tee to green game has been tremendous this year. If he can get his putter going, he will be a contender this week. He has made six straight cuts here and although only one finish was inside the Top 10, we need cut makers this week and he provides that for us at a good price.

Charles Howell III missed the cut last week although that did not surprise me in the least as it has never been a great event for him. Now that he has missed two cuts in a row, he could be overlooked this week even with the twelve Top 25 finishes he has posted this season. With a strong tee to green game and ability to score, I like the chances that Howell bounces back this week.

Some buzz started to build in recent weeks for Graham DeLaet and in his typical fashion, he crushed it immediately with a couple of lousy finishes. DeLaet is a bomber who should perform well here as this has been a great course for him in recent years. He has made four straight cuts here with two Top 10 finishes. He has been having a good season and although he can be streaky, when his game is on, he has Top 10 potential.

Bryce Molder started the season slowly, but has built a lot of momentum over the last three months making his last seven cuts. The finishes are improving as well with three Top 15 finishes in his last four starts. He is a shorter hitter off the tee, but has a good tee to green game and a strong putter. His ownership will tick upward as he continues to make cuts, but he is playing well and this has been a good event for him (made four of six cuts) so we need to own him this week.

Anirban Lahiri is going to have a big result in the US at some point this season. He flashed his talent at the PGA Championship last year posting an impressive 5th place finish, but has yet to follow that up in a a meaningful way on the PGA Tour since then (he has fared better in Europe and Asia). This is really a play on his price as he is better than most players in this range and we need some salary savings in the lower $7,000 range. As long as he can avoid the blowup round that has killed him the three times he has missed the cut this season, he should be able to earn his salary for us this week.

Brian Harman made the list this week which just goes to show you how weak the field is as I always have a tough time rostering him in any given week. Fortunately, this seems to be an event he plays well in consistently as he has finished in the Top 40 in all three of his starts here. Outside of his putter, his game is a little weak, but again, we need to save some salary here so he is a good option for us.

Tim Wilkinson is having a nice season and after his 11th place finish at Quail Hollow, owners are starting to notice. The New Zealand native has made nine of eleven cuts this season including his last four starts. His tee to green game is a little above average, but his putting has been elite this season. His mid range approach game is as good as anyone in the field this week, he leads the field in scrambling and he is 7th in Par 4 scoring so he looks like a solid play again this week.

We are using Jerry Kelly to save some money on salary this week. He is accurate off the tee, plays well from tee to green and is a good proximity player. Other than that he just plods along and makes cuts. He is seven for nine here and eleven of thirteen on the season. He is a few hundred dollars cheaper than I would have expected and allows us extra cap space at the top.

Tertiary

Jason Dufner – 15% ($9,100)
Bryson DeChambeau – 15% ($8,300)
Colt Knost – 15% ($7,800)
John Senden – 10% ($7,400)
Zac Blair – 10% ($6,900)
Andrew Loupe – 15% ($6,600)
Cameron Percy – 5% ($6,400)
Martin Flores – 5% ($6,400)
Mark Hubbard – 15% ($6,100)
Will Zalatoris – 5% ($5,400)

Jason Dufner is a cut maker, but has not shown much upside after winning back at the CareerBuilder. He has made five straight cuts here and won four years ago making him a dependable option.

Bryson DeChambeau was everyone’s favorite new star after The Masters and then his strong finish at Harbour Town. Since then he has missed two straight cuts and crushed owners. He is an SMU graduate so he has played in the area during his college career. He has a good tee to green game so I think he plays well this week, but I am still a little cautious.

Colt Knost grew up in Texas and played his college golf at SMU. Up until last fall, he lived in Dallas. Colt is enjoyed his best season on tour and had a great finish at TPC Sawgrass where he finished tied for third place. He has missed just one cut this season and although his record here is spotty, he did finish in 10th place a year ago so we will try to capitalize on his form this week.

John Senden is an aging veteran from Australia with a lot of experience at this event. He has finished in the Top 15 twice here and has some nice finishes this season. He is too inconsistent to make a big move on this week, but does do well when he makes the cut so an okay fit for GPP play this week.

Other than bending his club over his head two weeks ago, Zac Blair has played smart golf the last couple of months, making five of his last six cuts. He finished 16th here a year ago and though he is not big at all off the tee, he is an accuracy player that can scramble and putt.

Andrew Loupe will probably attract a lot of attention this week at his price. After a great performance at Quail Hollow, the bomber will try to stay in form this week. The course is expected to be a bit wet which should mitigate some of his extreme wildness off the tee. The best part of owning Loupe is that he is a bomber that can putt which means that as long as he does not shot himself in the foot repeatedly, he will be scoring a lot for us.

Cameron Percy is another aging Aussie who has been successful here, making three of four cuts with a 10th place finish last year. We needed to save some salary here and the field is really weak in this range so he was one of the only reasonable options available.

Martin Flores is a local player who is fighting to make his way back onto the tour again. He has been playing well on the Web.com Tour with four Top 10 finishes in eight starts. He has made the cut here for three straight years and might get overlooked this week.

Mark Hubbard has been a prolific cut maker this season, missing just three cuts in 20 starts with a couple of decent finishes. I am not going to try to paint his game as anything but what it is, he is a cut maker, and he is cheap. He is accurate, a good scrambler and slightly better than average putter. He also is a good Par 4 player so there should be enough there to get him through another cut.

Will Zalatoris is a name few will recognize this week. Zalatoris is a sophomore at Wake Forest, but he is from Plano, Texas and won the Texas State Amateur and the US Junior Amateur Championship. These types of players have been okay over the last couple of years and players like DeChambeau, Ollie Schneiderjans and Maverick McNealy have all served us well coming in as amateurs and making cuts. With his price this low, using Zalatoris on a few rosters helps us to stock up bigger names at the top so making the cut is the only goal here this week.

Good Luck,

-myz
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Zachary Turcotte
By Zachary Turcotte May 18, 2016 12:23

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