The Daily Spin – DraftKings Daily Fantasy Golf Preview – RBC Heritage

Zachary Turcotte
By Zachary Turcotte April 13, 2016 07:52

After spending much of the last year in anticipation of this year’s Masters, I was not letdown in checking off a huge item on my bucket list as Augusta lived up to and exceeded my expectations in all aspects of my experience. Being able to experience an event like that in person really helps to bring to life the story and the feel of how the tournament developed, the players who emerged, struggled, collapsed and ultimately prevailed. I wanted to write it all down here in my Daily Spin column, but a couple of extra paragraphs would not do it justice so it is evolving into a longer piece that I will work on once I get caught up on the Heritage and can take a few extra hours to pour out my thoughts on the experience. If you have ever contemplating attending the tournament, find a way to make it happen. It was a tremendous experience from start to finish and took my appreciation for the event to an even higher level. I am hopeful that someday I will be able to make it back again.

As for the fantasy aspect of the tournament, it was one of the stranger weeks we have experienced in a while. My sleeper picks were really successful as all, but Ryan Moore made the cut. In the value range, all but two players made the cut and really, that should have only been one, but after a late penalty was assessed to Zach Johnson for making contact with a water hazard, he missed the cut by the 2 stroke margin of the penalty. Where we experienced the most frustration was right at the top where Rickie Fowler and Phil Mickelson inexplicably missed the cut and Adam Scott was a non-factor.

My first look at Rickie on the first day was when he was making his approach to the 2nd hole. The manual scoreboard posted his name and a giant, green 2 next to it, signifying a double bogey on the first hole. He then rallied back to get to -1 after six holes, but then collapsed and shot an astounding nine shots over par on the last twelve holes to ruin his chances of contending immediately. It was an enormous letdown for Fowler who has played outstanding golf this year. Augusta is one of those courses where things can get away from a player in a hurry and before you know it, one round has wrecked your tournament. This happened to the majority of the field at some point, unfortunately, it took out one of our top picks.

The same thing happened to Phil Mickelson over the last nine holes in the second round. He was in decent shape the first day and the start of the second day before things came undone. When I was seated on the 18th hole at the end of Friday and Phil’s score of +7 popped up, I almost fell out of my chair. He had gone from being on the leaderboard early to missing the cut after failing to convert a final birdie attempt. It was stunning for a player who had played so well all year and who was playing on a course where he has enjoyed tremendous success over the last two decades.

A big reason that many players struggled was due to the winds being an huge factors during the first three days of play. I will never forget the sight of seeing Justin Thomas step up to a 4 foot birdie putt on the 7th hole Saturday and feeling a gust of wind kick up just as he hit the ball, blowing the ball off course and shooting it about 30 feet down a gentle slop on the green. I thought Thomas literally was going to break down on the spot. Needless to say, the weather played a huge role in the outcome of the event as it became a contest of survival over the first few days.

Fortunately, some of the decisions that I made worked out well for us. My fade of Bubba Watson worked to perfection as an early week sinus infection kept him out of practice and as many people know, Bubba does not exactly handle tough weather conditions well so although he was a popular play in the DFS world, he was one of my last cuts last week while writing up the column.

Cash games were also a huge success story for us last week as both lineups that we built from the model were winners in 50/50’s and double ups. It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of the major tournaments and to play only GPP events, but the real money to be made is in cash games on those weeks where you get novice players making foolish decisions with their lineups. If you were one of the folks who played our strategy of a 70-80% cash exposure and 20-30% GPP exposure, things should have worked out well for you. Remember, the way to build your bankroll is through cash games. GPPs are not going to make you money from week to week. The goal is to tread water in GPPs while accumulating profits over time in your cash games. You are going to lose money in GPPs or break even unless you hit a big pay day at some point. The payout structure virtually guarantees this.

I bring this up as a reminder of proper bankroll management and game selection. We had an individual tell us about what a brutal week we had with our picks and I reached out to him and asked what he had played for the week. Of course he had poured most of his funds into GPPs and struggled for the week. GPPs were hit and miss last week. we had a number of subscribers who did amazing, some who broke even, and some who lost. That is about what I would expect from week to week. Just remember that in a week like last week, it is really important to stick by the strategy that we have outlined again and again. Play your game, not the game that DraftKings wants you to play. When the majors come around, it is okay to play a larger amount of your bankroll than normal, but it should be going primarily towards cash games and not the Millionaire Maker events.

It was frustrating not to have owned Spieth last week which was the biggest reason why we did not take down any larger GPPs as only Roger Casey was in on Speith for a small buy in GPP events. Some folks were shocked at how Spieth melted down on Sunday and while it happened in a way that I never could have imagined, it was not without precedent. Sunday afternoon was a microcosm of Spieth’s season. Just one week earlier, Spieth charged through the first eight holes on Sunday at Houston at five under, moving into a tie for 2nd place and within a shot of the lead. He then imploded over the last ten holes, giving back three strokes and putting the ball into the water twice. Does that storyline sound familiar? His game held up for most of the weekend and even with his second place finish, he was still the highest scoring player for the week on DraftKings, but I did feel slightly vindicated by the fact that there is something a little off in his game right now. He is making bigger mistakes than last year and has not been able to bail himself out as often. The fade did not work out, but I am okay with my rationale for the decision. I think my biggest mistake was in not giving him enough credit for being a player that handles high winds better than most as this should have elevated his status more when comparing him to the many elite players like Bubba and Rory who do not handle high winds very well.

This also raises an interesting point about evaluating your results from week to week. Getting the right process in place is the most important thing that you can do to help in achieving positive long term results. A lot of times, you are going to do everything right and lose money and other times, you are going to shotgun your process and be profitable. Ultimately, you need to be making money to stay in the game, but simply looking back at the previous week and judging your performance by a single result is a mistake. Last week, both Phil and Rickie missed the cut. Did that make them bad choices for you to roster? I don’t think so.

If you wiped the slate clean and did your analysis all over again with the event to be played again this week, would they be players you would want to roster? Of course you would. Both lined up really well to be successful. All you can do is act on the information that you have and make high percentage decisions when it comes to who you play. If they miss the cut, that is beyond your control. The only thing you can control as an owner is the process you use in building your teams. If you can look back at the players you selected and feel good about the decision making process that guided you towards using them, then the end result, while important, should not be your guide as to whether or not it was a good pick or not. It is like poker, just because you get all your money in with the best hand, it does not mean you are always going to win. The important thing to be able to do when you lose is to look back and to understand why you made a certain decision and to see if you would do anything different if the same situation presented itself again. But if you find yourself looking back each week and wishing you had rostered certain players simply because their result was positive without any meaningful rationale, you are going to become a player that chases results from week to week, which is especially dangerous in the world of daily fantasy sports. Get your process locked in, refine it, evaluate it and the results will come.

With The Masters behind us, we move forward to the next event, the RBC Heritage. It seems so strange to have an event the week after the biggest event of the year. I imagine the NFL scheduling a slate of games the week after the Super Bowl as an apt comparison to what the Heritage feels like when it rolls around each year. However, the field for the event is solid and the course is challenging which should make it highly entertaining. Once again, it looks like there will be some rough weather to contend with before the cut takes place after the 2nd round. It amuses me how often the terrible weather hits before the cut and then, as if by magic, it clears up. Be sure to check out our weekly e-mail tomorrow night that we send out each Wednesday night before tournaments for a final update. It looks like Friday will see the worst of it things with rains and heavy, gusty winds expected. If that ends up being the case, you will want to see if there are favorable gaps where conditions subside and match tee times for both days accordingly. If Friday looks like an all around disaster, my advice would be to pull back your bankroll exposure for the week as wild and unpredictable weather can wipe away even the most carefully followed process.

The tournament takes place in Hilton Head, South Carolina on the Harbour Town course which is a Par 71 and plays at roughly 7,100 yards. It is a Pete Dye designed course which means that players like Matt Kuchar and other strong ball striker types tend to excel. While many of the same statistics apply this week to our analysis, there are a couple of differences worth pointing out. Harbor Town is a tough course in the fairways are narrow and lined with trees and the greens are smaller than normal. This puts an additional premium on accuracy to keep players out of trouble off the tee. While having players on your roster that hit greens is nice, in the case where greens are small, you will want players who are precise, adding emphasis to proximity this week. Of course, with the smaller greens, players will be hitting them less often with their approach shots making it all the more important to be able to get up and down from around the green so scrambling will be important as well.

As always, our good friends at Fantasy Golf Metrics ran a regression for key statistics this week and the following weightings are based upon their results:

Strokes Gained Tee to Green – 25%
Strokes Gained Putting – 20%
Birdie or Better Percentage – 25%
Scrambling – 10%
Proximity – 10%
Driving Accuracy – 10%

Good luck this week. DraftKings brought back the $100k 1st place prize for the $3 GPP which is really exciting. We had multiple six figure winners last year so we want to add another one soon. Let us know how your teams are doing throughout the weekend. We’ll all be cheering you on if you get into contention. Also, be thinking of creative Wacky Wager ideas for The Players Championship next month. I picked up some amazing Masters swag that you can only pick up during the tournament and I am putting together a bunch of different items that I will put up against one lucky person next month, so you better get creative if you want to be chosen for the contest.

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The optimal lineup got back on track last week as both lineups that we generated made it into the green and won us some money in cash games. It worked well with the extreme values that are present each year in major events, particularly The Masters where the field is small and DraftKings always leaves a few attractive value plays in the low $6k range. This week, we ran a couple different versions of the numbers and weightings and came up with a couple of lineups that fit into the optimal parameters for the week…sort of a 1a and 1b version. Both are fairly similar and focus on players with experience at the course who tend to play well in this sort of setup.

Matt Kuchar – $10,300
Brandt Snedeker – $10,600
Webb Simpson – $7,900
Sean O’Hair – $7,200
Ben Martin – $7,200
Jerry Kelly – $6,800

I am really comfortable with this lineup. We have strength at the top and players with good course experience who are playing well overall this season. I think that 5/6 will get us paid and if the cut gets out of hand, 4/6 could have a chance as well if you own the right four players. The secondary lineup looks like this:

Matt Kuchar – $10,300
Bill Haas – $9,100
Kevin Na – $8,700
Webb Simpson – $7,900
Sean O’Hair – $7,200
Jerry Kelly – $6,800

This lineup has a little more balance. Jeff is higher on Bill Haas than I am this week and I trust his judgement so I was not bothered by seeing him pop up in an optimal lineup. Kevin Na is also a pretty steady player who usually makes cuts and has shown upside here in a few starts so he is a reasonable play here as well.

BLUE CHIPS

Paul Casey ($10,800)
Brandt Snedeker ($10,600)
Matt Kuchar ($10,300)
Kevin Kisner ($9,700)
Matthew Fitzpatrick ($9,500)

While Jason Day will enter the event on a bit of a down note, Paul Casey shot an impressive 67 in the final round of The Masters to move up into a 4th place finish sending him to Hilton Head with a little bit of momentum. The tee to green game continues to be there for Casey and his putter has been above average as well. Casey ranks 10th in ball striking this season and is accurate enough to avoid trouble off the tee. He hits plenty of birdies and is slightly above average in both proximity and scrambling. He has three straight Top 10 finishes (stroke play) now and has finished in the Top 25 in all three starts here so he lines up well for all formats this week.

Brandt Snedeker finished up The Masters in 10th place, a respectable result considering the conditions for the weekend. He won the Heritage back in 2011, but has not posted many strong results outside of that. He enters the week playing great golf and already has a win and four total Top 10 finishes on the season. He excels in his tee to green game and backs it up with a steady putter. He has always been a good scrambler and is hitting plenty of birdies this season. While his record is a bit frustrating here, the potential is there for a big week. Also of note is that Snedeker has now handled really tough winds twice this season very successfully which should bode well for this week. Snedeker is a strong play in all formats this week.

Is there a better player when it comes to Pete Dye courses than Matt Kuchar? He won here two years ago and followed that up with a 5th place finish last year. Though the results this season are not quite as top heavy as previous years, Kuchar is still playing well overall and enters the week coming off of a 24th place finish at Augusta. He has missed just one cut this season and has six Top 25 finishes to his credit. His tee to green game is not quite what it was, but his putter is still hold up just fine. He gets up and down well and in this field he should have a chance to contend. He is playable in all formats this week.

A year ago at Harbor Town, Kevin Kisner began a resurgence that would last throughout the season. As a South Carolina native, Kisner has some familiarity with the course which should again prove to be helpful this week. Kisner has hit a bit of a rough patch since February as he missed the cut in Phoenix and was underwhelming in the Florida events. I suspect that turns around this week now that he is back on a course that suits his style better. Kisner is a short hitter off the tee, but ranks 7th in accuracy which will serve him well this week. His tee to green game and putter are working well overall for the season and he is a strong proximity player which helps since his scrambling this year has been a little below average. Considering his somewhat erratic play, I will use him more in GPP events this week.

Matthew Fitzpatrick is a name that most in the DFS world are now well familiar with. The 21-year-old British player had a nice run last fall on the European Tour with a win and ten total Top 10 finishes in 2015. He chalked up an impressive 7th place finish at Augusta last week in his first start there and looks to improve on his 23rd place finish at Harbor Town from 2014. Given how well he handled the wind last week, I like him even more than normal this week given what is expected on Friday. In Europe, he was never an overpowering player but was accurate off the tee and hit a lot of greens. Though he was a little slow in adjusting to events in the US, it appears he is comfortable at this point and he can be used in all formats this week.

UPPER TIER VALUE

Billy Horschel ($8,900)
Jason Dufner ($8,600)
Luke Donald ($8,300)
Charles Howell III ($8,100)
Bryson DeChambeau ($8,000)

Billy Horschel looks like he is playing with a lot more confidence than he had last season when he struggled at times after winning the FedEx Cup title in 2014. Horschel is a talented ball striker who has stepped up his tee to green game this season. While he is still a streaky putter, he is putting himself into position to score more often this season and the results are slowly starting to come in. He has missed just one cut this season and already has six Top 25 finishes. He has made the cut in all three of his starts here with a 9th place finish in 2013 as his best finish. I am comfortable with Billy in all formats this week, but his price is a little higher than I would like so I will have him mostly in GPPs.

I did not really want to write up Jason Dufner this week. Since his win earlier this season, he has not done much to keep the momentum going adding just one Top 20 finish in his last eight starts. However, in an event where players are bound to struggle, sometime you just need to find a guy that can make the cut, which is something that Dufner has excelled at here over the years in making the cut in his last six starts and finishing no lower than 41st in that span. Dufner is strong in most respects statistically, but his putter has been lousy this year and it tends to cap his results. Dufner is mostly a cash game play this week, as he is dependable to make the cut with a little upside.

Can Luke Donald continue to be a course horse this week or will this be another disappointing effort along the lines of what we experienced at The Honda and Valspar, two events he had previously dominated until this year. Donald has an amazing record at Harbour Town with five Top 3 finishes here and he has never missed a cut in seven starts. His upside this year has been capped as he has yet to record a Top 20 finish although he has only missed the cut twice in ten starts. I think he has disappointed owners enough so that his ownership numbers will not be overwhelming. I think Donald makes the cut giving him value in cash games and I think enough people will have given up on him to merit a small buy in GPPs as well.

When I started my research this week, I thought that this might finally be a week where I did not write up CHIII. And yet, here we are and once again, and he is going into my preview article. This has never been a course that CHIII has dominated the way he has many others, and yet, in looking at his game this year, it has improved so substantially that form easily trumps history and at his price, he looks like a nice bargain. His tee to green game is solid, but where he has really improved is around the greens where he ranks 12th in scrambling and his putting is now above average. Howell has missed just one cut in fourteen starts this season and has four Top 10 finishes which puts him into a much better category than just cut maker like he was a year ago. Given his spotty record here, I will use CHIII mostly in GPPs this week.

Bryson DeChambeau will be making his professional debut this week after winning the award for top amateur at Augusta last weekend. Bryson was actually in 2nd place headed to the last hole on Friday afternoon before an errant tee shot led to a triple bogey that he never recovered from. He is a very scientific player when it comes to his game and if you have not read about him yet, it is worth checking out. The things he is doing with his clubs and swing are going to revolutionize the game. In case you were unaware, Bryson joined a rare club last year when he won both the NCAA Championship as well as the US Amateur. The other players that have done that: Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Ryan Moore. The motivation of playing for his first paycheck should be enough to give him an extra boost this week. Given his lack of experience here, I will be using DeChambeau in only GPP events this week.

VALUE

Webb Simpson ($7,900)
Jamie Lovemark ($7,800)
Chez Reavie ($7,600)
Scott Brown ($7,500)

Webb Simpson is back this week and is normally the case, I just cannot resist him. He has had success here over the years and has made the cut in his last five starts, including a 2nd place finish in 2013. His stats still point towards success this year, but his putter will cap his upside. It is the same story we talk about with Webb each week. However, his price is right and he makes the cut the majority of the time. Webb is a cut making option for cash games this week.

Jamie Lovemark makes his debut in Hilton Head this week and he enters playing great golf this season with four Top 10 finishes to his credit. The knock against Lovemark this week is that he is not that accurate off the tee which will hurt him, but he is also 5th in scrambling which helps him to gain back some ground. This will be his first start at Harbour Town, but between his current form and overall statistical strengths, I am sticking with Lovemark for another week in my GPP lineups.

The Chez Reavie phenomenon continues to gather momentum after a 7th place finish in Houston two weeks ago. Reavie has missed only two cuts all season. He has five Top 25 finishes this season, two more than he had in the entire 2015 season. As I have mentioned previously, Reavie has improved dramatically in his tee to green game this year, picking up .7 strokes per round so far. Although Reavie has never had much success at Harbour Town where he has made just two cuts in six starts, the new and improved Chez Reavie looks to be a good fit for the course. Reavie ranks 19th in proximity, 3rd in scrambling and 15th in driving accuracy to go along with his 22nd ranked tee to green game. I will use Reavie in GPP action this week.

After a great start in Houston, Scott Brown spent the rest of the weekend slowly losing ground in finishing 71st for the week. However, his season overall has been very good, with four Top 10 finishes so far with three of those coming in his last five starts. He has had success at Harbour Town the last few years, making the cut in all three starts with a 5th place finish in 2014 as the highlight. He has been a little better than average from tee to green, but beyond that, his statistics do not stand out. Brown is simply in the midst of a nice stretch where he is playing well and hitting events where he typically enjoys success. Given his solid form, I will use him in a few GPP lineups this week.

SLEEPERS

Kyle Reifers ($7,300)
Ben Martin ($7,200)
Sean O’Hair ($7,200)
Colt Knost ($7,000)
Jerry Kelly ($6,800)
Camilo Villegas ($6,700)

Jeff and I have each been predicting big things for Kyle Reifers and it looks like those predictions are finally coming to fruition. He has made eleven of fifteen cuts this season and is coming off of a 7th place finish in Houston two weeks ago. He is not a long hitter, but he is accurate, hits a lot of greens close to the pin and has a high birdie or better percentage this season. He is making his first start at Harbour Town which makes him a nice GPP option as most owners are going to overlook him due to his lack of course history.

Ben Martin has picked up his game of late, making four straight cuts, including two Top 20 finishes. He scored 100 points at Bay Hill in his 12th place finish to be one of the highest scorers all week after hitting four eagles on the weekend. He has been a little better than average from tee to green and with the putter this season, helping him to make eight of eleven cuts so far. Though the rest of his numbers do not stand out, he has made the cut in all three starts here and finished in 3rd two years ago. He is well priced at $7,200 this week and I feel comfortable using him in GPPs and even some cash games.

Sean O’Hair looks to be fully recovered from a neck injury that forced him to withdraw from the Valspar Championship last month after his 10th place finish in Houston two weeks ago. Beyond that WD, O’Hair has missed just two cuts in eleven starts this season and has three Top 25 finishes. He has fared well at Harbour Town in his career with two Top 10 finishes, including a 6th place finish here a year ago, although he has missed the cut several times as well. O’Hair is a strong ball striker with a slightly above average tee to green game and strong putter that has him ranked 25th in strokes gained putting this season. He ranks 8th in scrambling and 59th in birdie or better percentage so he is a nice option for us this week in GPP events and he ranked well enough in the model to get some exposure to cash games as well.

Colt Knost is having a nice season on tour and has missed just one cut in thirteen starts. He has been successful in spite of a rather poor tee to green game that loses strokes for him each round. He offsets that by hitting putts and is ranked 31st in strokes gained putting. He should also benefit this week from his accuracy off the tee where he ranks second in driving accuracy this season. He is a strong proximity player and ranks 13th in scrambling, all of which should help him to make another cut this week. In previous starts here, he has made the cut in two of three appearances and finished 3rd in 2012. I will use Knost as a cut maker for GPP teams this week.

Jerry Kelly is one of my favorite values on the board this week. The veteran has played well this season, making eight of nine cuts. He has been solid at Harbour Town over the years making the cut in nine of his last eleven starts with three Top 10 finishes. He does this without posting a lot of flashy numbers. He is short off the tee, but ranks 4th in driving accuracy, 19th in proximity and 2nd in scrambling to help him from making too many mistakes. His tee to green game is average and his putter has been a little below average so while I do expect him to make the cut based upon his stats, if he is going to put up a quality finish, it will have to come from the fact that he knows the course really well and has a better idea than most of how to play certain shots. I will own Kelly in both cash and GPP formats this week

Camilo Villegas is a streaky player who we will try to catch while he is playing well and playing on a course where he has performed well. There is no statistic this season that I can point to that would indicate that Camilo is a good fit for the course this week. However, he does have a good track record here over the years. Outside of two injury withdrawals, he has only missed the cut one time in ten starts at Harbour Town where he also has three Top 10 finishes. He is playing better lately, having made the cut in four of his last five starts. He will make for a nice pivot play from Kelly for some GPP lineups as I do expect Kelly to be somewhat highly owned this week.

Good Luck,

-myz
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Zachary Turcotte
By Zachary Turcotte April 13, 2016 07:52

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