The Daily Spin – DraftKings Daily Fantasy Golf Preview – AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am

Zachary Turcotte
By Zachary Turcotte February 10, 2016 06:47

Before I get too far into this week’s edition of The Daily Spin, I need to congratulate my business partner and fellow writer, Jeff Bergerson on winning the Fantasy Sports Writers Association award for golf writer of the year for 2015. When Jeff and I first started this adventure in 2014 and learned about the FSWA, we made it a goal to win this award. We knew that if we put the time into creating a site the way we envisioned it and poured out all that we had to offer in terms of the way that we view the sport and how we think about the strategy behind fantasy golf that our passion for the game would come through to our subscribers and followers. Jeff has really been the backbone for us in pushing things forward and his work ethic is really unmatched. It is a wonderful achievement and I am incredibly proud to be working with him on the site.

Last week provided an incredible display of golf and yet another playoff between top players. Rickie Fowler and Hideki Matsuyama dueled back and forth over four playoff holes before Rickie made a second fatal unforced error on 17 and Hideki was able to finish him off. Going into late Friday afternoon, it looked like my picks were going to pull off a fairly impressive finish going into the weekend. Several players fought back valiantly to get above the cut line and several were advancing up the leaderboard. It appeared that we would get over 80% of our players through to the weekend. However, over the last hour, the wheels fell off for Smylie Kaufman, Jason Dufner and the usually dependable Kevin Kisner and they all fell back below the cut line.

Overall, it ended up being a pretty good week as only the players above were big disappointments. Most of the other players that missed the cut were sub $7000 sleepers. In my $300 GPP event, I took the plunge and made the pivot to Rickie Fowler I had discussed last week as a potential way to own a star player that might get overlooked. It was a rare week to get him when only owned by 11% of the field and it worked out well. I was big on Bubba and he looked like he would be a major disappointment going into Sunday, but did rally nicely to finish T14 and salvaged some value. Webb Simpson added another strong finish to his season also finishing T14. Brendan Steele, Patrick Rodgers and James Hahn all finished T17. Ryan Palmer, Kevin Na, Charles Howell III and William McGirt all finished T24. Five to six other recommendations made the cut, but did so without a high finish. Although Rickie cost me a bit of money with his late round buffoonery, the Waste Management event is still one of my favorite tournaments of the year as the energy is unmatched throughout the season.

Now back to the work at hand. Football season is officially over and with that, there are now going to be thousands of fantasy football players wandering the streets on Sundays looking like zombies in search of a fix. Where will these folks turn now that the NFL has gone away for the next 7 months? A lot of them are going to be giving daily fantasy golf a shot for the first time over the next few months. It may not happen immediately, but it will build up so that by the time The Masters rolls around, I would anticipate a large influx of new players that will be falling in love with the game.

What this means for those that have been frustrating with some wild swings in the cut line over the last two weeks is that relief is on its way. If you keep honing your process and practicing the strategies that have helped you to achieve success in the past, there are going to be opportunities to pad your bankroll as the season hits primetime. The last couple of weeks have been a bit of an anomaly for fantasy owners with only a tiny fraction of the field in GPPs getting six players through the cut versus normal circumstances where around 15% of lineups make it through the cut intact.

Until the bigger events arrive, stay patient. This week is a prime example of an event where I would recommend taking a conservative approach. DraftKings took this week as an opportunity to tighten up its pricing. Players that we have been able to get in the $6000-7000 range are now priced in the $7000-8000 range. While the pricing at the top has not changed that dramatically, the influx of top talent into this event makes it tempting to want to stack two players above $10,000. Unfortunately, with most of the great sleeper plays of a week ago now priced in the value range, it is nearly impossible to stack two stars together without having to make some nasty compromises at the bottom of your lineup.

The result of how the players are priced this week should dictate your game selection for the week. As weaker players get a salary bump, it becomes more difficult to start top level, consistent players in your lineup, thus forcing you to take chances on less proven talent. With more uncertainly than normal around who will make or miss the cut, cash games become less attractive than normal. I will scale back my exposure to cash games by about half this week and will more than likely lighten up in the more expensive GPPs this week as well.

Throughout the season, we want to pick and choose our moments for when we want to wager more of our bankroll. Pebble Beach is an event where we will go lighter than normal in most years. One of the central issues that players face here every year is the strong possibility that the winds will pick up and start gusting. When this happens, it can radically alter the outlook for the tournament. One year the cut line might at -6 and another year when the weather gets tricky it might be +1. It can be a fun event to watch, but a little problematic to predict. What has been predictable here is that the winners are often repeat winners with three of the past five winners having won here previously. It also tends to be the best players in the world who most often excel here. Seeing as Pebble Beach hosted the US Open back in 2010, you will want to check out players that not only play well here, but who also play well on US Open style courses. It is a big reason that it is usually a top name that walks away from here as the winner.

The event itself is split up over three different courses, which makes it a pain to follow during the day as we will only have the best version of shot tracker available at Pebble Beach and not the other two courses. The players will play on each of the three courses before a cut is made after the third round. The Top 60 players including ties will move on to Sunday. The most well known of the three courses is Pebble Beach Golf Links. It will play at 6,816 yards and is a Par 72. Spyglass Hill Golf Course plays at 6,953 yards and is also a Par 72 course. Monterey Peninsula Country Club plays at 6,914 yards and is a Par 71 course. Given the fact that winds can be a strong factor for players at Pebble Beach, it could be important to select a few rosters with players hitting that course on the day or days when the weather looks best. As of now, the winds look like they will pick up on Saturday so you might want to give a little bit of extra preference to player that play Pebble Beach in the first two rounds although conditions do not look unreasonable.

The statistics that correlate most with success at this event are:

Strokes Gained Tee to Green
Scrambling
Strokes Gained Putting
Driving Distance
Birdie Or Better Percentage

Once again, stay patient with your approach to daily fantasy golf this year. There are going to be a lot of wild cut sweats throughout the year that will leave you both thrilled and exasperated. It is the most excitement in any fantasy game that I know of. Realize that early in the season is probably the trickiest time to be accurate with predictions as many player stagger their schedules to start the calendar year which means that some golfers may have only played once or twice so far and are just finding their form. As always, I am here for you as resource at just about any hour, night or day. Simply reach out through e-mail or on Twitter over the next two days and I will do everything I can to get you paid this weekend. We have been so close to taking down some huge prizes this year that it is only a matter of time before we have another big winner from Team FGI.

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BLUE CHIPS

Jordan Spieth ($12,300)
Jason Day ($11,800)
Dustin Johnson ($11,400)
Brandt Snedeker ($11,100)
Jimmy Walker ($10,700)

Jordan Spieth has had a busy season since winning the Tour Championship and has spent time in Hawaii, the Middle East and Asia since the start of 2016 and has yet to finish outside of the Top 5, including a win at the Tournament of Champions. In his three starts at Pebble Beach, Spieth has two Top 10 finishes. His tee to green game and putting both ranked in the Top 10 last season, he ranked 4th in scrambling and 2nd in birdie or better percentage. Spieth is a great starting point for GPP lineups this week. For some reason, he tends to get glossed over in the more expensive GPPs so the best opportunity to own him is usually in the $300 event.

Jason Day was a huge disappointment at The Farmers two weeks ago. After pulling out of the Pro-Am due to an illness, he found the strength to play on Thursday and started out well enough before fading on Friday and missing the cut. This should help to make Day a great bounce back play this week. He ranked in the Top 6 in all five important statistical categories this week. What really makes Day compelling is that I anticipate a lot of Spieth ownership in most GPPs (outside of the bigger ones) and given Dustin Johnson’s track record, I think he will be highly owned as well. Day could be a very solid pivot play at an event where he has three Top 10 finishes.

Dustin Johnson has played at Pebble Beach nine times, which includes the US Open in 2010. In that time, he has two wins and seven total Top 10 finishes. I wanted to fade him this week since I think he will be popular, but DJ really seems to be a course horse here so I will have him in play. He has been so consistent with top finishes that you could even argue to spend the extra money to get him into cash game lineups this week as a Top 5 finish can offset a missed cut or two in an event like this. DJ finished 18th at The Farmers two weeks ago and 10th at the TOC, which are nice, but not amazing finishes for a player priced this high, but this is the time of year when DJ usually settles in and does the most damage. He is a tee to green machine and his putting was improved last season so outside of his scrambling numbers, DJ is also a nice fit for the event.

It would be tough to forget about Brandt Snedeker. He has won this event two times in the last three years and comes in playing some great golf of late with 1st, 2nd and 3rd place finishes in 2016 events. However, even with all the success, Snedeker could still be overlooked this week again. He is probably the least flashy name among the top tier players this week, but that could lead to him being neglected by fantasy owners. We projected 17% ownership, but sentiment could shift like last week and I could see that number around 11-12% as well. Since receiving a little coaching in December, his tee to green game is much improved and he has always been a strong putter. My intention is mostly to use Snedeker for GPP play this week.

Jimmy Walker is nearing the end of the portion of the season where he usually plays his best golf. Outside of the events in Texas, this is a great event to use Walker. Before a 21st place finish last year, he had four straight Top 10 finishes including a win in 2014. Walker is long off the tee, putts well and scores a lot of birdies. Given the strength of the field and the bigger names around him, Walker should stay below 15% owned this week. He is playing well so far this year and probably would have won The Farmers were it not for horrendous weather conditions during the final round. I will have moderate exposure to Walker in GPP events this week.

TOP TIER VALUE

JB Holmes ($9,800)
Patrick Reed ($9,600)
Kevin Na ($9,200)
Shane Lowry ($8,900)
Ryan Moore ($8,600)
Russell Knox ($8,000)

JB Holmes arrives at Pebble Beach on the backs of two consecutive 6th place finishes. He has the length off the tee, tee to green game and hits enough birdies to contend. His putter is erratic, but can heat up for stretches. He has made the cut here in seven of nine attempts and has two Top 10 finishes. Holmes is about as high as I would go to start a cash game lineup, but I would rather use him in GPPs this week.

Does everyone think Patrick Reed’s ankle will be okay after withdrawing from The Farmers once the weather had deteriorated to the point where he fell out of contention? Here at The Daily Spin, we do not hold that against Reed who can at times be a little less than likable among fans and peers. Prior to that miss, Reed has been playing really well with a lengthy string of Top 10 finishes before a mediocre showing at the CareerBuilder. Reed has improved his ball striking this season and has always scrambled and putted well. He has made the cut in all three starts at Pebble Beach with two Top 15 finishes. Reed is a solid cash game option, with GPP upside.

Kevin Na will find his way into a lot of writeups this season. He is playing well this year and although he lacks distance off the tee, his tee to green game and putting have been on point since the start of the new season. He also currently ranks 7th in scrambling and 14th in birdie or better percentage so his stats fit the event. As for results, Na has two Top 10 finishes in his last four starts at Pebble Beach. Na has yet to miss a cut this season and has four Top 10 finishes. He is a great cash and GPP play this week.

Shane Lowry seemed a little out of his element towards the middle of Saturday during the Waste Management Open as the energy of the crowd combined with the added pressure of being out in front of the field knocked him back a bit before he rallied on Sunday to finish T6. Lowry looks like he will be hitting the PGA Tour quite a bit more than previous year although he did finish in 21st place in his first start at Pebble Beach a year ago. Lowry has played all over Europe so I am not nervous about how he will perform if the weather flares up and he has posted plenty of solid results against the best players in the world so he certainly has some upside this week. Lowry is a strong cash and GPP play this week.

There is nothing too exciting about Ryan Moore other than the fact that he tends to be competitive in most events he enters. He is a shorter hitter, but plays well from tee to green and hits enough birdies to stay close in many events. He has made three of four cuts at Pebble Beach and is four for four making the cut this season. I like Moore as a cut maker this week so I will probably be using him in a couple of cash game lineups this week.

While it was not encouraging to see Russell Knox revert to his old ways in missing the cut at The Sony Open, I am willing to overlook it after a win and a second place finish during the fall season. Knox is a tee to green specialist that tends to break the hearts of fantasy owners any time he picks up a putter. He has two straight Top 30 finishes at Pebble Beach and if he gets through the cut, he can certainly contend. I will mix Knox into a cash game lineup and have some exposure to him in GPP events.

VALUE PLAYS

Luke Donald ($7,900)
Matt Jones ($7,800)
Bryce Molder ($7,700)
James Hahn ($7,500)
Daniel Summerhays ($7,500)
Will Wilcox ($7,500)

In looking for underowned players this week, Luke Donald popped up on my radar and I am hoping that he stays off of most others. In six starts at Pebble Beach, Donald has four Top 20 finishes though he last played he in 2010. Donald was close to giving up golf at one point last season before a renewed passion drove him to a strong finish towards the end of the summer months. He is a shorter hitter, but has always had a nice putting stroke and scrambles out of trouble well. He has made the cut in three of four events to start the season. I am not certain of Donald’s upside, but in looking at his projected ownership level, there is a great opportunity to be in on a player who should make the cut and will not be highly owned. You could use him for cash games, but I will use him more in GPP events.

Matt Jones looks like a great cash game option this week. He has made the cut in five of his last six starts at Pebble Beach, including a Top 10 finish. His record this season is similar having made five of six cuts, but without a notable finish. Jones does everything well, particularly putting, though he is not a standout. He is not a major threat to contend this week although every once in a while he will pop up on the leaderboard for a few minutes before fading. Normally, he would only be a cash game option for me here at this price, but with the field as tricky as this one, trying to push six players through the cut could be challenging so Jones could see GPP action as well.

Bryce Molder is an interesting case this week. He has had a nice run at Pebble Beach where he has made six straight cuts with three Top 10 finishes. Up until last weekend, nobody was looking at Molder given his poor performance this season, but after his T6 finish in Scottsdale and given his strong tournament history at Pebble Beach, Molder will become popular this week. I will not own a lot of Molder due to his increased popularity. He may play well, but if he is owned by upwards of 20%, you are better off underweighting him and hoping that he reverts to the mean this week.

James Hahn played with our emotions last week after taking the lead into the 12th hole on Saturday afternoon and then collapsing. However, he still had a solid T17 finish and has made all six cuts in events he has entered this season. Hahn has also played well at Pebble Beach where he has made two of three cuts including a 3rd place finish in 2013. Hahn seems to be finding his game and had a win around this same time last year at Riviera so he could be heating up at just the right time. Hahn will make one cash game lineup and a few GPP teams.

The wildcard player of this week, and every week is Will Wilcox. After doing the fantasy community no favors last week in tweeting out that his game was not quite ready, he promptly went on to a 6th place finish. When Wilcox is on, he is a threat to win any event he is playing in, but when things are off, he can go through some ugly stretches of golf. He has made the cut in both starts at Pebble Beach and is definitely worth considering for GPP games though he simply cannot be trusted in cash games.

SLEEPERS

Andrew Loupe ($7,400)
Kevin Chappell ($7,300)
Sean O’Hair ($7,100)
Michael Thompson ($6,600)
Greg Owen ($6,500)

Andrew Loupe has three Top 10 finishes on the season and three missed cuts. He is a boom or bust play that fits into GPP lineups and he is still not widely known about which keeps his ownership levels low. John Peterson called him the most athlete on tour in an interview two weeks ago and it looks like that talent is coming together. Loupe has also made the cut in both starts at Pebble Beach. He hits the ball over 300 yards off the tee and his tee to green game and putting game look greatly improved this season. He is scoring a lot of birdies and though his scrambling is awful, he has the other elements required to do well this weel.

Kevin Chappell hurt a lot of fantasy owners last week on Friday with his meltdown on the 18th hole where he double bogeyed to blow the cut. It creates a nice opportunity for us this week to pick him up. He has made five of seven cuts at Pebble Beach and 16 of his last 19 cuts overall. The talented ball striker has a good tee to green game, but a volatile putter. He tends to go on long runs of great play only to crush owners when he hits his peak. I actually think Chappell is usable in both cash games and GPP action this week as most fantasy owners will abandon him coming into this event.

Sean O’Hair, much like Chappell, proved to be a disappointment last week. It may have been a week too soon to be in on O’Hair, but perhaps that poor showing will give us the opportunity we are looking for this week as O’Hair has always performed well at Pebble Beach where he has made eight straight cuts. On the season, he is four of six so far with a few decent finishes. He has the distance off the tee, solid putting and scrambling skills and scores plenty of birdies. His tee to green game is below average, but his history here makes him a strong GPP option and I am even confident enough to use him in some cash lineups.

Michael Thompson is the first of two deep sleeper options this week. The players below $7000 this week just are not worth the risk for the most part, but Thompson has been playing well this season. He has made seven of eight cuts this season and looked like a contender at The Farmers before the poor weather kicked up. Thompson has made the cut at Pebble Beach in two of his four starts, so we are playing him more on form this week and looking for a cut maker to use for GPPs to clear cap space at the top.

Greg Owen is surprisingly ranked 11th on tour this season in strokes gained tee to green. However, the bad news is that he ranks 206th in putting. We call this the Glover Simpson Disorder. He is a great ball striker, and will need to get his short game in order, but he has played well at Pebble Beach before where he has three Top 10 finishes in ten starts and made seven of ten cuts. He has made six of nine cuts to start the season with one Top 10 finish. It is not a pretty play, but again, if you are looking for salary cap relief, Owen is a nice GPP option in this price range.

Good Luck!

-Myz

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Zachary Turcotte
By Zachary Turcotte February 10, 2016 06:47

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