The Daily Spin – DraftKings Daily Fantasy Golf Preview – The Farmers Insurance Open

Zachary Turcotte
By Zachary Turcotte January 27, 2016 08:07

I am just the worst at starting my columns at a reasonable hour. Each and every week, Jeff and I gather in my incredible basement to film out webcast for the week and I punch out my Valuation column and Expert Pick for ESPN, go over my ownership projection numbers and spend an hour or two helping our stat guy, Erik, finalize the numbers and percentages in our model before we upload it to the site. At that point, I begin the painstaking process of narrowing down the list of players that I intend to write up for the week. If I am lucky, I can get it trimmed to 20 players before I get to bed around 2 or 3am.

Jeff knows by now not to ask on Monday night if I have even started to write my column for the week yet. For as close as we are and the brotherly relationship that we have, we definitely each have our own way of doing things each week. Jeff prepares an outline for his column as soon as the field is announced on Friday and gradually begins to fill in the blanks all weekend until the prices are finally released on Monday and he can finish it off and add a few pieces if there are some surprises in the salaries for the week. By Monday afternoon, he is ready to post his article and enjoy the sleep of a normal human being on Monday and Tuesday night.

As for me, I enjoy waiting until Tuesday night after having studied course history, studying the odds versus pricing and listening to every podcast that I can find the time to check out each week. I do this to try to see where the industry stands each week and to try to find some pivots each week off of the golfers that are earning the most attention, like last week when everyone was in on Molinari, which led me to recommend a pivot to Lingmerth or Matt Jones for GPP action. Though Jeff has learned to tolerate my procrastination, I actually want to address a strategy point to make all of this rambling a little bit more relevant in terms of fantasy golf.

One of the best things that you can do as a fantasy owner in golf and in any other fantasy sport is to procrastinate! I am not saying to delay your research or to wait to begin your process by any means. Rather, when it comes to building your lineups, I want you to enter your lineups on Wednesday night before you go to sleep or even better, Thursday morning if you can get yourself up early before lineup lock.

I think sometimes I take for granted the part of my process where I separate contest selection and individual lineup selection. If this has been a one shot process for you up until this point, I want you to break it up into two parts moving forward. Now, it will require you to have enough discipline to actually do this on a schedule, but the results will be better for you in the long run if you make this small adjustment.

When the contest come out on Monday afternoon they tend to trickle out with the regular GPPs populating the lobby initially, followed by all the 50/50 and double ups later in the day. Before the prices come out, I want you to come up with a plan for much money you will put in play for the week. Once you have made that decision, you should then come up with the split for how much money will be put into cash games and how much will be entered into GPPs. For example, if you decide to use $1000 of your bankroll this week, you might decide that $800 will go into cash games and $200 will be dedicated to GPP events.

At this point, you can start selecting your contests for the week and locking in your spot for certain events. DraftKings has not done the best job this season in accommodating the demand for cash games. When I went back to have a look at the lobby on Wednesday afternoon two weeks ago, nearly all of the cash games of a reasonable size and field were gone and had been filled. I know that this is happening fairly often right now and something that I hope gets addressed once the NFL season comes to an end. This is why I encourage you to get ahead of the crowd and lock in your contests as soon as possible. It will help you in getting the contest that you want, but more importantly, it will also help you to stick to your game plan on bankroll management. Too often, the temptation will be to toss extra money into GPPs when those cash games fill up ahead of time, which as we all know, will create a lot of additional volatility to your bankroll.

As you lock in your contest entries for the week, the best rule of thumb is to enter a bunch of dummy lineups for your cash game entries and just reserve your spots without filling in your lineups for GPPs. Take a good initial look at the pricing structure for the week and build three reasonable looking cash game lineups to enter for all the contests you want to play for the week. Some folks will blindly build a few quick lineups just for the sake of getting them into position, but on those rare weeks where you get behind or forget to edit your teams, you want to make sure that whatever you put in place can at a minimum be somewhat competitive for the week.

I leave the GPP entries blank since I am not totally sure how I want to weight my players and if I build competitive lineups early on, which is very time consuming, I know that I will have trouble tracking the changes I want to make once I determine the final weightings for the week. Once you get all of your contests locked in, then you will not have to worry about battling the herds as the contests fill up late Wednesday night and you can take your time studying players rather than worrying about getting enough entries into the contests. It will also put the thought into your head that you have not truly built any lineups yet, thus forcing you to go back to make the changes required once you finish your research.

How many times have some of you sat down like eager beavers on a Monday night and put together 20 lineups and felt great to be set for the week? I am guessing the number is not low since there is already a good deal of action for this upcoming week. By Wednesday night, you get the feeling that there are really two or three guys that you want to get exposure to, but you see your lineups looking so pretty that you either are unable to get yourself to make changes to them or you decide to throw in a bunch of additional entries at the last minute to try to get exposure to those players. Most of the time, if your process works like this, things end up as a disorganized mess.

By embracing the method I have outlined above, when the time comes to enter your cash teams, you will change just three rosters a single time and save them all at once, a very easy process. When you approach your GPP teams, you will have the players in mind that you want, core groups selected and approximate weightings decided upon. Since most of you are not using any type of scripting (and good on DK for restricting it to only what they offer) I recommend doing all of your GPP teams in a single sitting unless you are doing 100 or more, in which case, break it up into what you can handle.

By taking the extra day or two to gather as much information as you can, you will have a small edge over the folks who simply blast out their teams on Monday night and hope for the best beginning on Thursday morning. On Monday, ownership percentages are just a guess, but if you pay close enough attention, you will realize who the industry is locked into by Wednesday. It also gives you a good check against personal biases that develop during the season. Fantasy players develop certain attachments to players throughout the season based upon past performance. You may initially see a favorite player at a certain price and roster him immediately thinking he is a steal at a certain price only to reevaluate in the next day or two and decide differently. It’s subtle, but once you put those types of players in early, it becomes more difficult to go back to take them out later on.

For many of you, this type of practice is second nature, something that you do not even think about anymore. However, for others, this is something new that can add just enough of an edge when used properly, to put you over the hump towards becoming a profitable player. The lesson to be taken away is that procrastination is not always a bad thing if it allows you to utilize information that some of your opponents are not incorporating into their decision making process.

In recapping our results for last week, a lot of folks did really well on the GPP side of things, which was great to hear. It looked like cash games were a bit of a struggle. The picks were strong as I nailed 16/20 players that made the cut including all of our deep sleeper plays below 7000. The trouble that we ran into were with the types of players that missed the cut as those players all fell in the range between 7000-7800, the range where we end up using at least two or three players for cash games. The four culprits were Tony Finau, Nick Watney, Brendon de Jonge and Ollie Schniederjans. Ollie was really the only player of the bunch that I felt had much risk as he was new to the course and has not played in a few months. Naturally, he got destroyed. The other three were a surprise as both Watney and de Jonge have excelled at this event before (yes, I know the courses were different, but scoring largely mirrored previous years) and Finau managed to bogey the final hole Saturday to miss the cut by a single stroke.

On the positive side, a lot of things went well with the selections. The suggestion to pivot to Lingmerth off of Molinari worked really well. Jamie Lovemark and Bill Haas had Top 10 finishes. CHIII again played well in finishing T11 and Smylie Kaufman, Webb Simpson, Cameron Tringale, Lucas Glover and Ryan Palmer all finished T17. Our lowest priced pick of the week, Mark Hubbard, made it seven for seven on the season in making the cut with a T28 finish. Others were a bit more nondescript, but made the cut and contributed to another good week for the FGI team.

This week, the tour heads south to hit my favorite city in the world, San Diego for the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines. I will have to check to confirm, but Papa Myz may be roaming the grounds down there for a day this weekend. If he is, I hope he remembers to sport all that FGI swag that he has in his collection! His DK screen name is MacNCheeseSwag so feel free to hit him up for a head to head challenge anytime.

The first two days will see the action split between two courses, the creatively named North and South courses. The North course is the easier of the two playing as a Par 72 and coming in just under 6900 yards. The South course, on the other hand, is the longest course that the pros will play this season coming in above 7600 yards and is also a Par 72. Action will rotate between the two courses on the first two days and then shift to the South Course only for Saturday and Sunday. The goal for players is to stay level at the South Course before the cut and pick up strokes on the North Course. The longer hitters will have an advantage over the shorter, more accurate players, but there are plenty of exceptions to this rule. The margin of error is just smaller for these types of players attacking the South Course before the cut as it is difficult to gain back strokes after particularly bad holes.

The key stats to look at for the week:

Strokes Gained Tee to Green
Par 5 Scoring
Strokes Gained Putting
Birdie or Better Percentage
Total Driving (Driving Distance + Driving Accuracy)

Also, course history is a very strong indicator for success at Torrey Pines and should be weighed a little heavier than normal when analyzing the field this week. A lot of the names from the top and even into the lower salary tiers have long track records for success here. Roger Casey and I had a lengthy discussion today about this topic and I do agree with him to a large extent. If the choice comes down to two players and one golfer has played here a few times while the other is a rookie, in most cases, lean towards the experienced player, particularly in cash game play.

Good luck this week. I will be available for the next 24 hours to take all types of lineup and strategy questions. I will answer each and every one as I find time throughout the day and evening. I plan to do my Periscope session at 9pm on Wednesday night which has been a lot of fun the lat few months. Please be sure to tweet your score updates throughout the weekend. Team FGI is targeting the $3 GPP 1st place prize of $100k this week so let’s make it a mission to take that thing down! We have FGI folks in the mix every week and had a few $100k winners last season. Also be sure to tweet suggestions for the Shot of the Week with a picture of you taking a shot. That along with our new Wacky Wager features have become fan favorites on our show so keep the ideas rolling in. I will be doing my best to defeat Geoff Fienberg from the FNTSY Sports Network this week, but we are ready to accept new challengers all season long.

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A couple of quick notes on strategy for the week: 1) since the players are split up over two courses, the tee times are compressed so that all players will tee off withing a two hour span. This means that there is little reason to deliberate over tee times this week. 2) Players will alternate courses during the first two days of play. My suggestion is to build some lineups made up of players that start on the North Course the first day, particularly when using first time players in the event. Similarly to the AM/PM argument that we have put forward, the psychological advantages of getting off to a good start tend to carry players to a good finish whereas players starting on a tougher track who struggle seem to be more likely to struggle to be up for the challenge on the second day knowing that they need to go really low just to make the cut. 3) The weather looks like it will be great for the first three days with a chance of showers on Sunday so there is no need to play tee time roulette with your lineups this week.

BLUE CHIPS

Jason Day ($12,000)
Rickie Fowler ($11,600)
Brandt Snedeker ($10,700)
Hideki Matsuyama ($10,300)
Jimmy Walker ($10,100)

Jason Day is the clear cut pick among the top players this week. He is the defending champion here and has three straight Top 10 finishes on the season. His wife had a baby and got run over by Coach/GM/Player LeBron James during the fall so Day has played very little since the FedEx Cup Playoffs. He seemed to knock off the rust by the end of the weekend at the Tournament of Champions, but finished a slightly disappointing T10. He should be ready to go this week at Torrey Pines on a course that really favors his game. He’s excellent from tee to green, excellent in putting and excellent in scoring birdies and eagles. He is a threat to win any tournament and without McIlroy or Spieth in the field, a very clear cut favorite.

With Day, you are going to be able to use him in all formats this week. His price is a bit lower than the most expensive player in previous weeks and there is a lot of talent in the middle 7k price range. One of my three cash game lineups will contain Day. For GPP play, we have a bit of a problem in that a very common strategy is going to be rostering Day at the top and then doing exactly as I described for the remaining five slots. In the $3 GPP there will be a lot of overlapping lineups that use this strategy, trimming our EV if we do happen to hit the right combination. I see Day ownership being at least as high as Patrick Reed last week at 30%. A full Day fade seems inadvisable, but give yourself room to build a reasonable number of GPP teams without him this week. With his ownership numbers that high, a finish outside of the Top 10 will be almost as bad as a missed cut for Day rosters.

Rickie Fowler enters the week coming off of an emotional victory in Abu Dhabi where he bested a very strong field which included both Spieth and McIlroy among others. The big concern for fans of Rickie is if he can get his body readjusted in such a short period of time to play well this week. Yes, he rode back on a private plane and I am sure once the party subsided he took a lengthy nap and is well rested, but the body does take time to adjust and he will be tested, particularly in the first couple of days. I am going to play with fire and own only a few shares of Rickie this week. I suspect that coming off of last week, there will be plenty of eager owners this week. Potential exhaustion, combined with just an average course history here (two Top 10s in seven starts) are reason enough not to go overboard on Rickie this week.

Remember above where I mentioned a few exceptions to the ‘Bombers Rule’ at Torrey Pines? Brandt Snedeker is one of those exceptions. He has a win here, two runner up finishes and five Top 10 finishes in nine career starts at Torrey Pines. After some intensive training working on his swing after struggling the last few months of 2015, Sneds seems to have found his form again with a win at the Franklin Templeton Shootout, a 3rd place finish at the TOC and a 2nd plave finish at the Sony Open. His tee to green game and his putting have both improved dramatically during this stretch, but that will be tested at a tougher track this week. Fortunately, this is a course that he is really comfortable with. Snedeker makes for an expensive, but not ridiculous cash game option that I will also be mixing into a good amount of GPP rosters as well.

Hideki Matsuyama may actually come into this event a little under the radar this week. With all the talent surrounding him in the upper salary tier, lackluster play in his last couple of starts and a missed cut here last season, people are going to forget that Hideki is one of the top ball strikers on tour. He failed to deliver a big win last season and though he is only 23 years old, if he does not have a signature win this season, the pressure will continue to mount. I like Hideki as a GPP play this week as a guy with the potential to win that probably will not see high levels of owernship.

Jimmy Walker did not live up to his high billing in Hawaii this year, which disappointed his owners. In looking back, he did not play that badly, but the expectation was Top 3 or bust so a 10th place finish at the TOC and a 13th at the Sony will leave a few folks bitter. Walker is another nice GPP option this week having placed in the Top 10 in three of his last four starts at Torrey Pines. He gets plenty of distance off the tee and his putter is still steay so he should hang around the top of the leaderboard. I heard a couple of touts discussing Walker this week, which will keep his ownership at least around 10%, but it is still a nice spot in a week where most folks will look a little higher or lower to start their lineups.

TOP TIER VALUE

Bill Haas ($9,900)
Charles Howell III ($9,400)
Jamie Lovemark ($8,300)
Scott Piercy ($8,100)
Tony Finau ($7,500)

Bill Haas is trending in the right direction this week. He played well at the Hero World Challenge, just okay at the TOC, but then looked very solid in posting a T9 last weekend. Haas has finished in the Top 10 at Torrey Pines in three of his last five starts and has been in the Top 20 in four of his last five. He has made ten of eleven cuts here and has not missed a cut since 2006. Haas is a strong starting point for cash game lineups and leaves plenty of available options for owners looking to fill out the rest of their lineup with players in the 7-9k range.

Charles Howell III has now made all seven cuts to start his season with six of those ending in Top 20 finishes. Usually, this would be the time to sell high on a player like CHIII, but in this case, we are getting him at his best course where he has only missed one cut in 13 starts and has an astounding six Top 10 finishes in his career. Amazing form plus amazing history here equals a player worthy of both cash and GPP play this week. Ownership levels will creep up a bit, but there are enough solid options around him to keep it from spiking excessively and diminishing his value in GPP play.

For the last five years, observers have been wondering if Jamie Lovemark would ever live up to his potential. As is often the case in golf, it took a little longer than normal, but it appears that Lovemark is beginning to hit his peak right around the time when golfers have historically begun to play their best golf. After spending last season on the Web.com Tour sharpening up his game, Lovemark has emerged as a new and improved version of his former self and after last weekend, now has three straight Top 10 finishes to his credit. A nice bonus with Lovemark is that he has made the cut in four of his five starts at Torrey Pines. By comparison, he had never made the cut in four starts at the Humana (what is now the CareerBuilder) and then posted a Top 10 finish last week. His familiarity with the course and recent form make him a play for both cash games and GPPs.

Scott Piercy can be brilliant and frustrating out on the golf course…often times in the same tournament. He was leading the PGA Championship last summer on Saturday in the third round and then crumbled to finish a distant 48th. He has moments where it all comes together, like his win at The Barbasol and a 2nd place showing at the BMW during the FedEx Cup Playoffs, but then he’ll miss a cut or two and throw the fantasy community off his trail again. It seems like he is becoming more consistent with his recent play with four Top 25 finishes in five starts and no missed cuts since the start of the season. He may be the forgotten man in this salary range this week and if we can catch him on a week where he is on, he could provide extra value for GPP play. He has made three of five cuts at Torrey Pines spread out over the last seven years with a couple of Top 20 finishes. Although his play has been more consistent, I am not quite ready to throw Piercy into my cash games yet and will stick to using him in GPPs this week.

Tony Finau might be the best value on the board this week. His price dropped another $300 after he missed the cut by one stroke last week. He finished 64th at The Sony the week prior so his stock among fantasy owners is falling a bit, but there is definitely good reason to think that it will turn around this week. Last season, in his first start at Torrey, Finau finished an impressive 24th on a course where his skills match up very well. He is long off the tee, plays very well from tee to green, is above average in Par 4 and 5 scoring and one of the top players in birdie or better percentage. Also, and this is huge, Finau is MUCH better putting the ball on Poa/Bentgrass versus Bermuda. He finishes an astonishing 30.9 places higher in events held on Poa/Bentgrass versus Bermuda. I will own many shares of Finau in cash games and GPPs and hope that others are disenchanted after the last two weeks.

VALUE PLAYS

Daniel Berger ($8,200)
Patrick Rodgers ($7,600)
Si Woo Kim ($7,600)
Anirban Lahiri ($7,500)
Smylie Kaufman ($7,300)

Daniel Berger leads the group of value plays this week that I am high on, but not 100% comfortable with. Each of these guys has a little bit of blowup potential this week that has relegated them to a slightly lower value category. I think the upside for most of these golfers is just as high as those players in the higher value category, but the floor is lower as well. Daniel Berger was a tale of three seasons last year. Initially, he flashed promise with several top finishes. Then in the middle of the year, he inexplicably lost his game (well, not inexplicable if you believe the girlfriend theory), only to see it return as the FedEx Cup Playoffs heated up. At his current price and given the fact that he also took 24th in his first start here, he is a compelling play this week. I am wavering on him for cash give the potential for a meltdown that still lingers, but I am almost there and I know that Jeff was onboard with using him in cash games. Berger, like many other young players, pounds the ball off the tee and is pretty well buttoned up from tee to green. The putting game is always the big question mark. Berger will make some of my GPP tickets this week.

Patrick Rodgers will make his first start at Torrey Pines this week and the oddsmakers seem to think he will do just fine since they have him in the same range as Tony Finau. Much like Finau, Justin Thomas and Daniel Berger, Rodgers hits it long off the tee, is a top player in strokes gained tee to green and can score on the Par 5’s with the best of the players on tour. Again, the putter is his weakness. He is off to a nice start since the fall season kicked off going five for five in making the cut with four Top 25 finishes. I will use him in cash given the way similar players performed in their first starts here a year ago. He will make GPP tickets for his upside potential as he could easily finish in the Top 10 if he gets off to a strong start.

When I wrote about Si Woo Kim before the fall season started, there was zero buzz about him. After he blew the cut at The Frys, I was no longer buzzing either. Fast forward a few months and we have the newest young sensation on tour. He has made five of the last six cuts and finished in the Top 25 every time he has made the cut. He is suddenly on everyone’s radar and I am even hearing about him as a ‘can’t miss’ cash play this week. As Lee Corso would say ‘Not so fast, my friend’. I do like Kim this week. He’s a strong ball striker with a great tee to green game and an average putter. What will be interesting to see is how he handles the step up in terms of how much more challenging this course is compared to most of the softballs he has played on to start the season. I am slightly leaning against using him in cash games, but will have him in GPP lineups this week.

When Anirban Lahiri showed up on the PGA Tour after a nice run overseas last year, he was pretty underwhelming out of the gates. It really wasn’t until his 5th place finish at the PGA Championship when people began to take notice. After stringing together a few solid finishes in the fall, mostly in overseas events, he returned to the PGA Tour last week and after a blistering start, fell back a bit and finished T28. He has the distance required off the tee to compete on the South Course, but a lack of data makes him tough to read at this stage. My read on Lahiri at this stage is that he is a cut maker with some upside. This course will be a good gauge for what to expect out of Lahiri this season. He might make one cash game team and will be on a few GPP rosters.

The player that I am most excited about in this range is Smylie Kaufman. I was really surprised to see his price come down this week after yet another strong finish and his seventh consecutive cut made to start the season. What makes Smylie such a compelling play when compared to the other young players on tour is that he can hit the ball 300 yards off the tee, his tee to green game is sharp…AND HE CAN PUTT! As this does represent a big step up in terms of the challenge posed by the course, there are still some question marks, but Smylie will be on at least one cash game team this week and many of my GPP tickets.

SLEEPERS

Lucas Glover ($7,400)
Patton Kizzire ($7,100)
Seung-yul Noh ($6,900)
Chez Reavie ($6,700)
Mark Hubbard ($6,500)

Lucas Glover, as I noted last week, really took some time to work on his game after having to finish the 2015 season on the Web.com Tour. That is a long fall for someone who won the US Open back in 2009. It has never been a questions of being a gifted golfer, but always a problem with his putter. In spite of not putting well at all last week, Glover still managed a T17 finish and has made the cut in five of his first six starts this season. He is very experienced at Torry Pines having played here eleven times. He started slowly in missing the cut in four of his first five starts, but has been better since then in making the cut in five of his last six starts. He also has three Top 10 finishes here as well. Glover is in form and his experience here makes him a nice pivot from all of the other similarly priced players in his range who will all be owned at a much higher level than him. I will use Glover on a few GPP teams this week.

Patton Kizzire flashed so much promise after an amazing season on the Web.com Tour. He started the PGA season with two top 10 finishes, but has since struggled just to make the cut making it twice and missing twice. All the pieces are there for Kizzire to do well this week and this year as a whole. He hits it deep, plays well from tee to green and he is a reliable putter who is always a threat to maker a birdie or better. He just needs time to grow into being a full-time tour player who knows how to deal with the additional pressure. After his recent struggles, his ownership levels will be low so he makes for a nice GPP play as a guy who could surprise with a high finish.

Last year, Seung-yul Noh was one of the more popular picks down the list of players coming into this event. With three straight finishes inside the Top 27, he seemed like he had figured out Torrey Pines. Then he missed the cut last year and was up and down the rest of the year. There is some reason to be optimistic entering this week as Noh has had consecutive Top 30 finishes to start 2016. I will use him very lightly for GPP play this week.

Nothing about Chez Reavie screams out that he is a fit for Torrey Pines, but his tee to green game this season has been better than any other time in his career. What Reavie is doing well right now is playing consistent golf. He has made the cut in all six events he has played in this season and he has played here before. In fact, Reavie has made the cut here in four of his last five starts. It will not be pretty, but I think Reavie can make a cut for us and help us to save a few dollars on a couple of GPP rosters.

The legend of Mark Hubbard continues. He kept his cut streak alive for the season by making his seventh straight cut and finishing T28 in the process. He has actually been pretty good from tee to green and in strokes gained putting this season. He will need to play his game perfectly to make the cut this week. He finished in 61st place here one year ago so it is certainly not unrealistic to think his streak can continue, but it will be difficult with his lack of distance off the tee. I will find a couple of roster spots for him on my GPP teams this week.

Good Luck!

-myz

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Zachary Turcotte
By Zachary Turcotte January 27, 2016 08:07

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