The Daily Spin – DraftKings Daily Fantasy Golf Preview – CareerBuilder Challenge

Zachary Turcotte
By Zachary Turcotte January 20, 2016 05:46

Greeting from Dallas where Jeff and I are attending the Fantasy Sports Trade Association conference this week. We just got back from dinner at Bob’s Steak and Chop House where Jeff and I each crushed a Wagyu ribeye steak that looked like something that Fred Flinstone would bring home for dinner. It’s been a good trip for us so far for us. Jeff got searched at the airport and had his shaving cream discarded by the TSA so the day started with a good laugh and a thank you to those folks for helping to keep us safe. When we checked in for our seats, I noticed that they had put me in a middle seat…unacceptable. After CEO Bergerson refused my request for a first class upgrade, I elected to check to see if there were any open seats remaining and sure enough there was an aisle seat so I chose to roll the dice and take my chances. Fortunately, what awaited me was a sweet, young woman who kept me entertained with friendly chatter throughout the flight, so it was another win. Finally, after catching up with a few industry folks at a networking reception we met up with longtime subscriber, Ryan Sablotny for dinner at the aforementioned steakhouse and had a great time talking up golf and sports throughout the meal.

Of course, all along, in the back of my mind, I knew what awaited me at the end of the night, the blank screen that I would need to fill up with wisdom to help get us through the week. The picks last week performed fairly well for us with only a couple of surprising missed cuts by top level players marring the results. For cash games, I cruised to victory in three of my four cash games. The smaller GPP had me on the edge of my seat as several of my teams made a run at the Top 100, but unfortunately, you need perfection to win these large field contests so it did not quite work out, but things are moving in the right direction as we keep cleaning up the cash games and consistently putting ourselves in a position to have a chance to win GPPs each week. Remember, the goal is to keep building our bankrolls in a steady manner by winning in cash games while holding steady in GPPs until the stars align on the right week and we take down a bigger prize.

Before we dig too deep into the picks this week, I wanted to take a minute to discuss some strategy in terms of game selection each week. I get questions from readers all the time as to what types of games they should be selecting for a certain bankroll. There are different points of view when it comes to this matter. There are those players that swear by playing head to head matchups for all of their cash game plays, while others prefer to fire a handful of lineups into an enormous field and let the chips fall where they may.

If you are new to daily fantasy sports, I highly recommend staying away from head to head matchups. I recently read an article in The New York Times by a columnist who decided to kick around a bit during the fall and see how a new player would fare just playing off of a small amount of research and intuition. Misunderstanding the advice given to him by others, he began to play head to head matchups rather than 50/50s or double ups. He compounded his mistake by simply posting these contests for any player to accept. Not surprisingly, he ended up getting matched against some of the toughest professional players in the world who consistently play for all levels of entry amounts.

Say what you will about this lack of etiquette among the professional ranks, but make no mistake about it, the reporter, by not taking the time to do any sort of basic research on game selection was essentially gifting his money to the professionals. Whether the professionals went about seeking him out as an inexperienced player or whether DraftKings/Fanduel simply ended up matching him against a professional (a high likelihood considering the thousands of games that are posted by pros each week), the reporter’s claims of ignorance should fall on deaf ears as he failed to even attempt to try to learn a successful approach in game selection.

Let’s imagine for a moment that you are fairly intuitive and have a basic understanding of fantasy sports and how to conduct your research, but little experience in doing so. You may well enter the DFS world as a slightly below average player. It is where most people start so it is nothing to feel bad about. But your lack of experience will immediately make you a target for professionals who will use databases available online to see your lack of experience. While you might be able to hold your own against other similar new players, the professionals will have enough of an early exploitable edge to make it very difficult to win as a beginner. This leads to the first piece of advice: NEVER POST HEAD TO HEAD MATCHUPS

Unless you are such a DFS golf stud that you could not possibly get enough action without posting matchups each week, there is absolutely no advantage to posting matchups to be picked off by random opponents. Why let your adversary choose you? Maybe you will get lucky and a novice will find you….but probably not. There are players out there who make their money each week by what is termed ‘bum hunting’. This is where experienced players go looking for inexperienced or weak player who have unwittingly walked into a swarm of sharks. Do not let this happen to you when looking for action in any week. It is easy to avoid and yet so many new players wander aimlessly into the trap each week.

Pick small buy-in contests with hundreds of players for your cash games when starting out in any of the DFS sports. Professionals will still pop up here and there, but there are a bit less prevalent here and they will not be there for the express purpose of picking you off. You still may not win immediately, but you will be much less of an underdog than in the other scenario. The smaller the game, the better off you will be at avoiding trouble. Take your lumps in these contests and start working your way up to the point where you are comfortable with your process and are able to be profitable on a regular basis. Once you get to that point, game selection becomes a bit more interesting.

I personally do not chase down new and inexperienced players. It isn’t that I would not want to be matched up against them in my cash games each week, I just do not have a lot of extra time to go out to find those players and since I do not really like it when I see high level professionals doing it, it is not something that really appeals to me. If I am going to go bum hunting, I am going to take aim at professionals representing themselves as experts that I think I can take out routinely. There are a lot of professionals that dominate other sports, but when it comes to golf, their edge is gone. I spread my cash games between $5-$100 since that’s about it for action unless I want to tangle with other professionals for larger amounts, which usually ends up becoming a zero sum venture for both parties involved.

However, if you are out there as a player who has gathered up enough experience so that your skills have evolved to be a little bit better than average, then I have no problem with you being selective in choosing your opponents each week. For the most part, it is a slow process. There are not a lot of players that post a single game without it getting gobbled up quickly by interested onlookers. It takes patience to get all of your cash games lined up using this process, but it will give you an edge depending on how selective you are of your opponents. If this is the avenue you choose to utilize, I suggest keeping tabs on your opponents. Who are you winning against routinely? Who seems to always take you down despite your best efforts? What stands out among the way certain opponents construct their rosters? The more information that you can gather on your opponents, the better equipped you will be to not only select your opponents, but also how much to be risking in each matchup.

The last piece of this puzzle is to monitor your overall performance. It is all well and good to select weaker opponents or contests that should be favorable to you. However, some self-assessment is important after each week to note your progression if you find that you just are not winning the way you should be. There are a few things to consider if you find yourself in a slump. Are you playing at too high of a buy-in? Are your opponents better than you thought? Are the fields that you are playing in sufficiently large enough to paint an honest picture for the lineups you are selecting? It is never easy to analyze a losing streak, but putting the breaks on it is essential to preventing yourself from tilting and overreaching to try to get back what you lost.

Moving on to the action this week, we arrive in California at the newly named, CareerBuilder Challenge. There is a little more to the name, but it just does not roll off the tongue all that nicely so I am going to shorten it to the CBC. The tournament was previously known as The Humana in recent years and while it will play similarly to previous years, there are a couple of new courses for the event this year. This event is unique in that there are three courses and the cut does not come until after the third round. This allows for owners to get a little more aggressive than normal with their picks as losing a player to the cut will not be quite as painful as normal.

In recent years, The Humana produced some of the lowest scores of the season as players never had trouble with scoring. That should continue this week as pristine weather conditions should ease any trepidation over the change in courses. The stadium course is being touted as a more challenging course for players this week so scores may not reach -25 like normal, but I am still expecting the winner to be somewhere below -20 this week. Each course plays as a Par 72 with the standard four Par 5 holes and four Par 3 holes. The Stadium Course is 7113 yards, the Nicklaus course is 7206 yards and the La Quinta course is 7060 yards. The primary stats to take a look at this week will be:

Par 5 Scoring
Strokes Gained Tee to Green
Birdie or Better %
Par 4 Scoring
Strokes Gained Putting

It is a weaker field on average compared to what we will see as the season unfolds and with scoring being a bit easier than normal, expect the unexpected to happen. There are not a lot of locks at the top of the salary tiers this week, but quite a bit of value in the lower ranks. Much like last week, I am hesitant to predict a winner, but feel very comfortable about projecting players that will make the cut this weekend. Some analysts are recommending that players gear down and play less cash games this week. I do not necessarily agree with that strategy. I think there is enough value and predictability in the middle and lower tiers to offset some of the uncertainty at the top.

As always, send me and lineup or strategy question before lineup lock and I will do my best to get to all of them. I will do my best to work in a Periscope segment Wednesday night at 9pm CST, but I know that I will be networking at the Mavericks/Timberwolves game so it may be a little more hectic than normal. Good luck this week!

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Patrick Reed ($12,400) – While some experts are wondering about Reed’s ability to handle the Pete Dye designed Stadium Course, I think these fears are overstated. Reed has played on a wide variety of courses within the U.S. and overseas over his last seven events and the results speak for themselves with seven straight Top 10 finishes, including three 2nd place finishes. He also won The Humana two years ago so please do not overthink this one. His salary is on the high side this week and at a level I would normally fade. However, given the huge amount of talent available in the lower price ranges this week, I had no issues rostering Reed in cash games or GPPs this week. Reed is not a big hitter off the tee, but has great tee to green skills and a solid putter who can also scramble out of trouble when required. He always plays the Par 5 holes well and knocks in a lot of birdies so I do not see a lot of downside to using Reed this week even at this high of a price.

Matt Kuchar ($12,100) – If you are worried about Patrick Reed on a Pete Dye course, perhaps you should slide down to Matt Kuchar who tends to play them quite well. Kuchar had me tearing out my hair on Friday afternoon when it looked like he was going to pull a Wilcox and kick it in for the day. Fortunately, he found another gear and rallied back to a T13. Kuchar has four Top 10 finishes at this event and though the new courses will challenge him, he is a statistical fit with his tee to green game, consistent putter and ability to score on Par 5 holes. Kuchar has not won in a while and the CBC looks like a great place for him to turn that around.

Ryan Palmer ($11,000) – Palmer was an absolute bargain for us last week, but after a solid finish at The Sony Open, combined with a weaker field for this event, we see Palmer’s salary jump $2100. It should be merited as Palmer has enjoyed success at this event in the past with three straight Top 10 finishes. Palmer was erratic last year after a strong finish to 2014, but he looks to be rounding into form of late. His tee to green game is dependable, though his putter was mostly average last year. Palmer will need to improve upon his Par 5 play and take advantage of scoring opportunities this week if he hopes to contend.

Webb Simpson ($9,600) – Love him or hate him, Simpson is a tremendous talent on the golf course in all things outside of putting. His T13 finish last week helped him to exceed his price with ease and an easier field this week should give him another opportunity for a strong performance. Simpson has five Top 25 finishes at this event and will look to continue his strong start to 2016. If he can just make the short putts and not get complacent, Simpson should rebound this season.

Charles Howell III ($9,100) – I feel like this must be some kind of mistake. It just does not feel right mentioning CHIII in the Blue Chip section, regardless of his recent performances. CHIII started last season as a very dependable cutmaker without much upside. Soon after, he ditched the cutmaker title and held on to the limited upside piece. But, by the end of the season, CHIII found his game again and his strong play has carried over to the start of 2016. CHIII has five Top 20 finishes in his last six starts and though the last two years have not produced amazing results here (56th and 58th), Howell does have two Top 10 finishes in his last five starts here, including a 2nd place finish in 2013. The course history is not quite as strong as a week ago, but his form is so good that we need to take advantage of it while it is here.


Francesco Molinari ($8,700) – I loved Molinari last week and was excited to write him up again this week. That was until I started to listen to other industry experts and realized to my dismay, that everyone is on Molinari this week. I am not going to worry about that for cash play, but I will curtail my usage of him for GPP purposes. Instead, I would recommend a pivot play to Matt Jones (who nobody will own), or David Lingmerth, both of whom have similar upside to Molinari, but will not be owned by a huge percentage of the field. I am only using Molinari as a cutmaker this week as I worry about his upside potential. He is a player that is very accurate off the tee and who hits plenty of greens, but he is not always much of a birdie maker, which concerns me this event.

Kevin Chappell ($8,100) – So far, the buzz around Chappell is pretty quiet. He has yet to go on a prolonged cut making streak catching everyone’s attention so for us, that means he is still in play this week. Since missing the cut in his first event of the fall season, Chappell has been improving by making three straight cuts, capped off by a 2nd place finish at the RSM Classic. He has made the cut in all four starts at this event and finished in the Top 10 here in 2013. His tee to green game and putting are barely above average, but he should knock it enough birdies on the Par 5 holes to stick around all the way to Sunday. I like Chappell for both cash and GPP play this week.

Daniel Summerhays ($7,900) – I plan to ride the hot hand with Summerhays until his cuts made streak comes to a close. He really revived himself from the dead at the end of last season and continues to play well this year. He upped his cuts made streak to 9 last weekend and at this price, there is still some value to salvage, though the time is closing. It will have to be his putter that keeps his streak going this week, but his recent success shows that he seems to have found a new level to his game. He missed the cut by a stroke here a year ago, but made it the three previous starts.

Tony Finau ($7,800) – I was worried about Finau’s ownership levels last week and decided to pass on him, which worked out as he had a very mediocre finish Sunday. However, with his price retreating another $500, he looks like a great value this week. He finished 59th here a year ago and has made five straight cuts overall since disappointing us at the Deutsche Bank in the fall. Finau is a big hitter who can score often. He is great on Par 4 and 5 holes and plays well from tee to green. I do not envision him remaining in this price range for long. I like him in cash games and GPP this week.

Cameron Tringale ($7,800) – This is the range where every player looks like a great deal. Tringale did not have the breakout year in 2015 that many anticipated, but the potential is there for a strong season this year. He has made the cut at this event in all five of his starts here and is also on a streak of six straight cuts made with a couple of Top 10 finishes to go with it. He is on the positive side of both strokes gained stats, but not by a lot and he has never been a gifted Par 5 player, but he has been really consistent in this event, which I like at this price.

Smylie Kaufman ($7700) – One of the young guns who recorded a win in the fall, Kaufman looks to keep picking up paychecks this week. He has made the cut in all six of his starts this season and has been great from tee to green, very good on Par 5 holes and excellent in converting birdie opportunities. At some point, I expect Smylie to slip a bit as young players are bound to do, but he is playing up to his potential with no signs of a letdown this week. He should see a fair amount of ownership this week, but I like him in all formats.

Nick Watney ($7,600) – We finally finish off this range of players with Nick Watney. I like Watney here as he tends to be underowned, thus providing a nice compliment to some of the other more popular players above. He has made every cut in four starts here with a 14th place finish last season as a recent highlight. He tends to show up in stretches each season and it appears that time is now for Watney who has made the cut in five straight events. Like many of the players I like this week, Watney is a very good tee to green player with deficiencies in his putting game. Fortunately, the greens here are not terribly challenging which should allow Watney to cover up this glaring hole in his game. I am comfortable using Watney in all formats this week.


Jamie Lovemark ($7,200) – The 27 year old Lovemark appears to finally be playing up to his potential this season. He is still a bit inconsistent, which will limit his use to GPP events for us at this point, but when he plays well, the finishes make up for some of the missed cuts as he has three Top 15 finishes since the start of the season in the fall. His performances here in the past have been less than memorable, but I am willing to wipe the slate clean based on what I have seen from him so far this year. He will need to improve upon his Par 5 play if he wants to be a threat this week.

Patton Kizzire ($7,200) – The fanfare sure did subside quickly for Patton Kizzire. After back to back Top 10 finishes to kick off the fall, he went on to finish 58th, and then missed the cut in his last two starts. Last week was forgivable as he missed by just on stroke, but this is a nice chance to roster him for GPPs while others are off of him. He’s strong off the tee and a very good putter. So long as he does not get frustrated, he should bounce back this week and give owners who stick with him a nice reward.

Brendon de Jonge ($7,100) – The chubby Zimbabwean is never terribly popular these days after breaking the hearts of fantasy owners one too many times last year, but his record is just too good to ignore at this event in making seven of seven cuts. He also comes in having made five straight cuts going back to the fall so his game is in a good place currently. I like de Jonge for both cash games and GPP events this week.

Hudson Swafford ($7,000) – It is about time for Swafford to miss another cut so I figured I would help him along in his quest by writing him up this week as he had missed the cut the last three times he has made my writeup. The former Georgia Bulldog is a statistical monster with solid ball striking and putting, he plays the Par 5’s well and he puts up a lot of birdies. He falters in his tee to green game and that is where the wheels come off when things go bust for him. He finished 25th here two years ago and missed the cut by a stroke last year. Since the fall season started, he has made four of six cuts with three Top 25 finishes. Swafford is a GPP play only this week.

Ollie Schniederjans ($7,000) – The hatless wonder will look to secure his Tour Card this year and should gain enough exemptions this year to have a fair shot. Ollie showed flashes of stardom last season with several strong performances, most notably at The Open where he finished T12 and the US Open where he finished T42. Ollie went three for three in making the cut in the fall season and has been a pretty reliable player in making the cut in his short career. I will use him in both cash games and GPPs this week.


Lucas Glover ($6,700) – Could it be possible that Lucas Glover figured out how to putt last year? After an up and mostly down year on the PGA Tour, Glover finished up well on the Tour and seems to have found a bit of a putting stroke. Now, it has only been measured over 17 rounds, but for the season, Glover boasts a .398 Strokes Gained Putting per round. That is by no means an amazing number, but compare it to the -1.325 he suffered through during the 2015 season and you can see that there is some reason for optimism. Glover has also made six of seven cuts at this event, including a win back in 2007 and a 15th place finish last year. He has made the cut in four of five starts this season including two Top 20 finishes so I think Glover is a sneaky GPP play this week.

Roberto Castro ($6,500) – Castro missed his first cut of the season last week so it is the perfect time to buy here as he had made the previous five cuts before that. Castro has made the cut in all three of his starts at this event and looks to build on a strong start to his season. His tee to green game is sharp, but he will need to putt better and convert more opportunities on the Par 5 holes this week to compete. Castro is a GPP play this week.

Mark Hubbard ($6,200) – Another name that has not grazed these pages often (ever), Hubbard has seen little movement in his salary even after making the cut in all six of his starts this season, something you just do not see at this low of a salary. As a bonus, Hubbard finished 20th here last year in his lone start at this event, so there is even a bit of upside to the play. His success on the season can be attributed to his surprisingly good tee to green play and steady putting. He will need to score more if he wants to contend, but I do not even care if he contends. At this price, I just need him to get through the cut to make value. Don’t get cute here and start throwing Hubbard into all of your cash games. Though it is tempting, I am still only using Hubbard in GPPs this week.

Good Luck



Zachary Turcotte
By Zachary Turcotte January 20, 2016 05:46

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