The Daily Spin – DraftKings Daily Fantasy Golf Preview – PGA Championship

Zachary Turcotte
By Zachary Turcotte August 9, 2017 11:49

The Daily Spin – DraftKings Daily Fantasy Golf Preview – PGA Championship

We’ve finally reached the beginning of the end of the season which starts with the final major at the PGA Championship and then culminates with the four week, FedEx Cup Playoffs that finish up near the end of September. With so much on the line, it appears that the best players in the world have awoken from a midsummer’s slumber and are ready to reassert the sort of dominance that they inflicted upon the rest of the tour for the first few months of 2017. Hideki Matsuyama found his game in mesmerizing fashion last weekend at the WGC Bridgestone, playing one of the best rounds you will ever see on Sunday to close out the tournament in a Tiger-like manner where the outcome was really never in doubt down the stretch and I cannot remember a single hole where bogey even seemed like a credible threat. If Hideki is back on his game the way he was to start the year, we need to pay our respects and not get too cut leaving him off of our rosters simply due to his win the previous week.

As for the rest of our horses last week, I felt really good about the process and the players that we put to work for us. Outside of Marc Leishman, the rest of the core was really solid with nice efforts out of Paul Casey, Daniel Berger, Thomas Pieters, Charl Schwartzel, Tommy Fleetwood and Charl Schwartzel. Missing out on the winner in a cut free week certainly hurt, but in an event where the pricing was so tight, it’s hard to fault using Rory McIroy, Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth. Rory played well, Rickie backdoored a Top-10 and Jordan started strong, but fizzled a bit and couldn’t make a move after a nice start. Beyond the stars, our other secondary players really showed up well for us with Zach Johnson, Charley Hoffman and Xander Schauffele all playing far better than initially expected and carrying many of my teams into the money for the week. The tough part was that Hideki, in addition to winning, totally blew away the field which is deadly in a no-cut event since it gives such a point cushion to every lineup he was on over the rest that are out there with six of six making it through for every team as no crazy out of the blue withdrawals took place last week for a change. Fortunately, if you missed out on Hideki in the first two rounds, we nailed him in the weekend picks which should have helped to revive your spirits if your initial rosters underperformed.

Going into this weekend, I wanted to throw out the opportunity on Twitter to ask me about a strategy question to write about tonight. I always try to tailor my columns towards what I am currently thinking about on the strategy side, but it is always fun to try to work some of your ideas into my column if possible. The overwhelming response to my question tonight came from folks who wanted to hear about strategies for the 20 entry max events. It is a reasonable place for us to start tonight so I am going to do my best to break it down in a way that makes sense, but also helps to show that there is not single method by which to win a GPP event. I feel like I covered it somewhat in a recent column, but given the fact that these contests seem to be dominating the landscape of DK for now and moving forward, it is probably worth talking about again today.

The first thing I have to say is that there is no one right method for playing in a 20 max entry contest or even a 150 max entry contest. There are some very successful players that have completely different strategies from one to the next and many have found their way into the winner’s circle. What this really comes down to is a question of volatility, as in, how much can you handle? If you look at a question like that and shrug versus those of you who just cannot handle a week where your winnings go to zero, you will learn a lot about yourself as a player. I can’t tell you that one way is superior to another, but I know what method I prefer.

When you have only twenty entries to work with in a field of tens of thousands, the challenge is going to be to find the right core of players, but with a limited number of entries at your disposal. Previously, when we could do anywhere between one and 150 entries in the big $3 GPP each week, we could set up a core and get really creative in trying to find those lower owned golfers who would have a big week to load in with them. With only 20 entries, you have to be a little more bold in your darkhorse picks. I never like to play a golfer in only one lineup so I tend to make sure I get my lowest exposed players into at least 2-3 teams which takes them up to 10-15%. That number is far higher than the 5% minimum that I would use for 150 teams, but I think it is important in that if I use a player, I don’t want to have to be perfect on that single lineup if my instincts were right and they have a big week.

With GPP’s, my goal is to always have my lineups as concentrated as possible. When I look at my phone during the event, I will know that I have succeeded if the concentration of teams is so close together that I have trouble distinguishing one from the next. When you have 150 lineups, you can aim towards having multiple clusters as you can work more widely around grouping your rosters a little differently. With 20 teams, you should really try to center around one core group and take your chances. It’s very difficult to get your teams into contention in these types of events and getting a top finish at just one can be the difference between a great year and an okay season. When you get close, you want to have many lineups fighting for the top spot. You can’t do this if you are spread too thin among the field of available players. You have to be working with the best performing players over the weekend in order to be near the top. It is not like NFL where the potential is there for multiple paths to the top as there are no position points for outperforming your counterparts at the same position. In golf, spreading your exposure too thin necessarily means that you are cutting your chances down of having many teams that can contend. We want to avoid the shotgun approach in roster construction. You may get lucky in that one stray bullet out of 20 gets close to the center of the target, but with how much you can move up or down in the standings with just a single player or two making a move or a mistake on the last day, you could end up seeing vast fluctuations as to where you finish.

My goal with a 20 max entry event is to win big or go home. I’m not looking to make a few dollars a week of profits. If that’s the goal, play cash games. With tournament play, you need to win a big payout every once in a while to be profitable, otherwise these events are going to drain your bankroll. Only about 10% of the field or less will more than double their money. If you turn these events into challenging double ups, you will get discouraged very quickly. So in order to make sure that does not happen, you need to get your mind into the right place when it comes to constructing your rosters.

Each week, as I do my column, I will usually write up around 20 golfers and try to give you some estimated ownership targets to work with as you go to make your teams. I include as many names as I really do like each week, but you should realize that this is just a jumping off point for you. Realistically, if you can whittle your player pool down to 15-18 players, I think that is much more ideal and will help you towards keeping a tightly constructed core group. With the size of the player pool established, you now need to fill in each category the way that I do each week between your core, secondary and tertiary players.

Your core group should be around 5-6 players, not much different than if you were to build 150 lineups. For 20 lineups, you want exposure of at least 40-50% for every one of those players. If you have a couple of favorites, you can go as high as 100% exposure, but I usually max out around 70-75% just to give myself a few outs if something awful happens so I am not totally dead right away. Obviously, you are hoping to have the winner in your core each week, but we all know how tough it is to pick winners. Your core is going to be composed of the players you think have the best value for their price. You are not building your player pool around just the players you love at the top of salary pool each week, it is just not possible. That is why you often will only see one or maybe two studs in my core on normal weeks. It isn’t that I wouldn’t like to use more, but the salary constraints are such that it just is not an option. This was really the case last week where the pricing was so tight that I had to build my core around the middle and upper middle levels just to be able to reasonably afford to get three studs into the rest of my player pool. In those cases, you’re really not certain of who is going to win, but you have a strong feeling about those who you think will finish near the top who are not the elite players in the field. Here, your looking for a bunch of Top-10 finishes from your core group to pave the way and then hoping that one of a few star players can step up and finish the job at the top. Much of this is going to be based upon your feel for how the prices shake out and how much certainty your have about certain star players’s abilities to close the deal.

Once you have your core in place, you want to establish a strong secondary group of around 6-7 players. These are golfers who are going to be in 20-35% of your lineups. Remember, 20% is only four roster spots for 20 lineups so it may sound like a lot, but that still does not give you a lot of chances when that player really outperforms his price. This range can have players from all salary levels as I typically will try to have at least 1-2 stars in my core, but will often times need salary relief and have to drop the others into lower categories. With secondary players, I want stars who I think can contend and value players that I can reasonably believe have a shot at a Top-10 or 15 finish. I don’t want a bunch of cut makers in this category. Each week I will get a bunch of questions on Periscope about guys who will absolutely not contend in any meaningful way that week. I usually try to ask them this question in return: If player A makes the cut, what is their upside? That usually gets the point across. If you are selecting a player for GPP rosters where his upside is making the cut and then finishing 40th, then why is that player on your roster? Being contrarian is not too useful for a T65 finish. Now, that’s not to say your should not take chances, you should just pick players who do tend to have a higher ceiling. If you really want to take some shots with a player who is off the radar of others and does not fit the research at all, use them in your tertiary group instead.

The tertiary group is where you should typically have your players that you want to take some chances with. If you have build your top two tiers well, then you want to use this group to fill in what is left and to be able to try a few combinations around your core groups so that hopefully a few will connect and find their way into contention. This is where having some exposure to underowned players is crucial. If you like certain players that you know will be owned at only 5%, then using them on 2-3 teams already gives your at least double or more exposure to the field. That’s all you really need to aim for in this case. You do not need to do yourself in by owning 60% of a player that is realistically a roll of the dice for the week.

I hope some of this discussion was helpful. I do need to point out again that with the Millionaire Maker this week, you need to take the above approach one step further if you are going to participate. Like I mentioned in my column for The Open Championship, you are going to need to find one player who sneaks up on the field and finishes much higher than anticipated and does it at a very low ownership number. Haotong Li did it a few weeks ago and was the difference between 1st and 2nd place, which as you know, is a significant difference. I want you to really focus on building unique, but still competitive lineups for this contest. This is done is two ways:

1) Use at some dart throw players. These do not need to be garbage players, just golfers with a lower level of anticipated ownership. Force yourself to use them if you are doing enough lineups to mix in a few. All it usually takes is ONE very low owned player (~5% or less) to make your lineup unique. Getting a team into the field that is not duplicated is the first part of the battle.

2) Use less than the full amount of salary available. For major tournaments, the pricing is so soft that this is both easy and effective. You really do not even need to leave that much on the table for this to work. If you leave more than $300 on the table, you have eliminated the chances of having a duplicate lineup about 99% of the time. People just can’t get themselves to leave any extra salary out there so when you do, you can rest assured that you will rarely have a duplicate team.

The course for the week is quite familiar to use in that Quail Hollow has been the host for the Wells Fargo Championship for many years. There was a major renovation to the course after last year to prepare for the PGA Championship, but most players will still be familiar with the overall layout. The course is a Par 71, 7,600 yard mammoth that will challenge players to be both long and accurate off the tee. The course has two drivable Par 4 holes that should create some excitement, but the rest are on the long side which means that we are going to need players that can really hammer their approach shots from 200 yards and out. The course is challenging and unlike many recent courses, you are going to need to get your driver out in order to be successful. Adam Daly did a marvelous job chronicling the changes to the course as well as how he expects it to play in his column linked here. Players like Henrik Stenson who typically like to club down to their 3 wood just have not been able to cover enough ground to keep up with the bombers. With rain in the forecast all weekend, the bomber narrative grows that much stronger. Rain and storms appear to be in play all weekend. I have been searching for an advantage for one wave over the other, but thus far, have seen no evidence that one will be superior to the other. When you build your lineups, build about 10-15% as stacks for each tee time. If one wave does end up in a noticeably better position, you will at least have some exposure to take advantage of it.

The key stats for the week as provided by our friends at Fantasy Golf Metrics are as follows:

Strokes Gained Tee to Green: 30%
Strokes Gained Putting; 20%
Birdie or Better Percentage: 20%
Scrambling: 15%
Par 5 Scoring: 10%
Prox from over 200 yards: 5%

Good luck this week. Be sure to e-mail us or hit us up on Twitter if you have a good sweat going. We would love to cheer you on. We love seeing the FGI logos floating around the tops of leaderboards so if you have not posted it yet, give us a shout and we will be happy to send it to your to use. We like to award swag to folks who finish well by representing the team so if you have the logo up and finish well, let us know on Sunday. Whoever finishes closest to the top for the Millionaire Maker that is sporting our logo will win some FGI gear this week!

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Zachary Turcotte
By Zachary Turcotte August 9, 2017 11:49

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