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

Zachary Turcotte
By Zachary Turcotte May 6, 2015 04:44

Greetings to all the lovers of fantasy golf that struggled as much as we did to get through last weekend without our usual slew of big contests to get excited about. There were a handful of smaller contests last week, but match play, while enjoyable to watch, was not our favorite format for fantasy golf. It played out interestingly enough, with one half of the bracket going haywire and producing Gary Woodland, of all players, as a finalist. The other half played out more or less as expected with Rory McIlroy battling his way to the finals, which saved him from having to attend what turned out to be the most over-hyped fight of the century. In the end, Rory crushed Woodland in the finals to take home another title and further cement himself atop the world rankings.

Beyond a few exciting matches, we are not going to read to deeply into the results of last weekend. The tournament does not tend to be a predictor for how well players perform in followup starts so hopefully, you enjoyed the event, took notice of a few players who picked up their game and started to take some notes for this weekend’s big event, The Players Championship.

The TPC Sawgrass is a Par 72, measuring in at around 7200 yards. Length is not an issue for players, but stray too far from the fairway and you will have plenty of issues to deal with in terms of water hazards and bunkers. Accuracy is important, but does not stand out alone as having a lot of correlation with success. Rather, we needed to take a much deeper look at a number of statistics in order to try to work our way through this very successful field. In all, 49 of the top 50 ranked players in the world are in the field so there are a lot of tough choices this week when going through the lineup construction process.

The first thing that stood out to us when looking over the data was that this is an event where players who putt well tend to be much more successful than those who struggle. There is not necessarily a correlation between putting well during the tournament and placing near the top, but in looking over tournament history, those players that have struggled with the flat stick during their careers or even during the season leading up to this event have tended to struggle. Some of the names on the list that are either mediocre or just flat out terrible include: Vijay Singh, Webb Simpson, Cameron Tringale, Keegan Bradley, Charles Howell III, Gary Woodland, Bill Haas, Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler and Bubba Watson. Now, these players have not always been bad. On occasion, a couple of them even approached the level of average, but that is about it. The results tell a startling story. When these players had a year or two where they putted well, they had a strong finish blended in with a lot of missed cuts. Now, we do not want to give away too much before getting into the premium section, but one of the best ways that players can differentiate their lineups from other owners is to look into this group of players that has struggled over the years and check to see which ones have made strides putting the ball this year. There are a couple of players in this category that are going to be overlooked this week to some degree.

Now, we do not want you to simply go to the strokes gained putting stat page at the PGA Tour website to load up your roster, but it should definitely influence your selections. If the player you are looking at rostering is putting poorly, then be sure that they absolutely stand out in other statistical categories or that they play this course particularly well regardless of their putting struggles.

The statistics that we looked at most closely were ball striking, a combination of total driving and greens in regulation, Par 4 and 5 scoring and of course strokes gained putting. For players on the border who do not putt particularly well, but still caught our eye, we took a closer look at strokes gained tee to green as well as scrambling to see if those player that find themselves in trouble off the tee had the requisite skill set to get up and down. It was a lot of close study this week as tournament history, while helpful, was not completely conclusive in generating our roster of selected players for the week. Buried in each player’s past is a missed cut. It is almost across the board. Even our favorite players this week, for the most part have a multiple missed cuts and have had to work through certain weaknesses in their game in order to get back to having success again.

The pricing for the week is deceptively soft. It will be very easy for players to roster a group of star players and think that there is little chance that any will miss the cut. However, with this field being as star studded as it is, there are going to be a lot of quality players that miss the cut. People are going to imagine a lot of value that is going to be a mirage.

In terms of bankroll management, these big contest weeks are great opportunities to increase your exposure to cash games and to play a slightly larger amount of your bankroll than normal. If you are following our advice and playing 15-20% of your bankroll each week with about 80% going towards cash games, bump it up to 85% cash games and play 20-25% of your bankroll. Now why would you want to do this? In weeks like this, where you can build rosters full of high quality players where you have a very good chance of getting 6 through the cut, it makes more sense to be in cash games as the variability will be lower. In weeks where we have a tournament like the Zurich Open where nearly as many players below the median salary make the cut as above it, it becomes almost impossible to put together cash game lineups that you can count on. In those weeks, it makes sense to limit your exposure to cash games (maybe even no exposure), up your exposure to GPPs, to take advantage of that higher variability, and cut back on how much of your bankroll you put at risk. We could do an entire write up on the statistics behind this, but we get so many questions about it from week to week, that we decided that a little guidance was in order. In summation, when pricing is tougher and fields are weaker, there is going to be more variability. When this happens, limit cash game play and cut your bankroll exposure. When pricing is soft, and fields are strong, there is going to be less variability. When this happens, play more cash games than normal and increase your bankroll exposure. Got it? Good, now let’s get to work.

There are a lot of players to get to this week. With so many quality players in the field, it was an effort to limit our scope to just 16 players, but we did our best. We never want to put together columns where we get to the point where we recommend such a large portion of the field that it actually detracts from you success in building lineups. We want to have enough conviction in our choices that we can use players multiple times in order to give us a chance to be successful many times with our top players. For a contest like the $100 GPP that DraftKings is running this weekend, we think somewhere between 10-15 teams is an optimal number of entries and that will be our aim. We have not built all of our teams yet so we do not have exact exposures available yet for our rosters, but should have things solidified by tomorrow night so that anyone with questions should hit us up on Twitter or shoot out an e-mail directly.

BLUE CHIPS

Henrik Stenson – Statistically, Stenson is the one player that stands above the rest this week. In terms of accuracy, GIR, recent form, tournament history and putting, he looks like a clear favorite. That said, he has struggled with a virus this spring that has slowed him down to some extent since before The Masters. However, he has been able to play through it and we anticipate a big weekend from Stenson. Stenson has four Top 10 finishes including a win in 2009. Health is the wildcard here so listen closely for any information tomorrow.

Jordan Spieth – Took 4th here last year and is playing better than anyone on tour. He putts well and ranks as one of the best tee to green as well. He is only going to get better with experience. His price is on the high side, which is to be expected, so our exposure will not be overweighted, but with pricing as soft as it is for so many other players, it really is not that difficult to fit him onto a cash or tournament roster this week.

Jason Day – We may never see Day at this low of a price for the rest of the season and that is the biggest reason that he makes our list this week. He has not been perfect here with a couple of missed cuts to go along with two Top 20 finishes, but his game is in top form now and we anticipate that he will be in the mix this week. He is a good putter (42nd) and excellent in GIR (8th) and ball striking (19th). He ranks 1st in Par 4 scoring, 30th in Par 5 scoring and scrambles well to get out of trouble. We’d rather have Day at $9900 than Rory at $13,200 as we think Day has a much better chance on average of making value for his owners.

We like Rory this week, but we do not love him. At his price, he will need to be in the Top 3 just to get close to living up to his price. While Spieth is not much different in price, we think his putting and scrambling give him an edge over Rory this weekend. Also, we want to mention Bubba Watson. In past years, Bubba has been a fairly poor putter on Tour. As we mentioned earlier, this has factored in to him not having a lot of success at this tournament. However, if you’ve watched Bubba this season, you have seen him turn around his putting dramatically. We think this could be the year he breaks through at The Players Championship. We do not trust him enough in cash games, but think that a little GPP exposure to Bubba at his price this week provides a very good risk versus reward play.

VALUE PLAYS

Jimmy Walker – Typically one of the top ranked players in the field, Walker is rarely this affordable. Although not terribly accurate off the tee, Walker is a solid GIR player (44th) and a tremendous putter (2nd). He scores well on Par 4 and Par 5’s and has improved his finishes here over the last few years going from 35th in 2012, to 15th in 2013, to 6th last year. The time is right for Walker to make a move this week.

Hideki Matsuyama – In our analysis, Hideki stood out as one of the top players this week. His putting is not strong, but he possesses so many other attributes that he performs well, he is a must start in all formats this week. He ranks 11th in GIR, 3rd in ball striking and 17th in scrambling. He scores well on Par 4 (17th) and Par 5 (3rd) holes. Matsuyama took 23rd in his first trip here last year and should improve on that this season.

Paul Casey – If tournament history is your guide, you would bypass Casey this week without a second thought. However, if you follow his game, you know that Casey has made a dramatic turnaround this season. Although he did not fare well here previously, much of those finishes coincided with a down period in Casey’s career. Now that he has improved all areas of his game and looks more focused than ever, we like him to make a move this week. He has been in the Top 10 in four of his last six starts has no real weaknesses to his game right now. He is worth a play in cash and GPP formats this week. He ranks 44th in SGP, 17th in GIR and 32nd in ball striking. He ranks 14th in Par 4 scoring and 7th in Par 5 scoring.

Brooks Koepka – One of our favorite young guns makes his first start here this week and we get the sense that this will not rattle him in any way. Since fighting through a rib injury that limited his play after The Masters, he seems to be back to full strength now. His game is well balanced and although he is not terribly accurate off the tee, he does very well in terms of his GIR and scores well on Par 4 and 5 holes. He also comes in ranked 21st in strokes gained putting. We like Koepka for GPP play this week.

Ryan Palmer – Here is yet another player who’s early tournament history here will shake the confidence of other owners. However, upon digging a little deeper, we have a player here who now looks well positioned to play well this weekend. His current stats show no real weaknesses. He ranks 56th is SGP, 45th in GIR and 36th in ball striking. He scrambles well (52nd) and scores well on both Par 4 and 5 holes (22nd and 25th respectively). He has played great this season missing just one cut out of nine starts with three Top 10 finishes. As a bonus, he did take 5th place here two years ago so he does have one strong finish recently to boost his stock.

Russell Knox – He seems to make our list a lot of weeks for his steady play and solid well rounded game. He’s merely an average putter (75th), but 10th in GIR and 22nd in ball striking so we anticipate that Knox will be in good position to score all weekend. He ranks 4th in Par 4 scoring and finished in 34th place in his first start here last year. Knox has played well this season with two Top 10 finishes and eight finishes in the Top 35. Knox works well in both cash game and GPP formats this week.

Daniel Berger – We have another rookie at The Players Championship in Daniel Berger, but he has been an outstanding GPP play for much of the season with four Top 10 finishes and nine Top 25’s. He is also coming off of a 6th place finish two weeks ago in New Orleans. Considering that he has missed the cut five times this season, he is a bit of a risk for cash games, but seems to be settling in as another top young prospect. While his putting does not lose any ground for him, it certainly has not helped him to move up the leaderboard. However, the rest of his game is really tough to match. He’s a great ball striker (10th) and well above average in GIR (26th). He scrambles well (40th) and plays the Par 4 and 5 holes well (36th and 12th). We like him a lot for GPP and would consider using him in cash games as well.

Brendon Todd – Outside of one bad round at Augusta a few weeks back, Todd has been playing really well this season with three Top 10 finishes and six Top 25’s in twelve starts. This marks his first appearance at The Players so we will probably keep our exposure limited to GPP play. Todd has really broken through in the strokes gained categories this year. He is 29th in strokes gained tee to green, 19th in strokes gained putting and 15th in strokes gained total. He is accurate off the tee (15th), although he ranks just 97th in GIR. We like that he can scramble well (8th) and he is reasonably good at both Par 4 and 5 holes (68th and 52nd). His price is attractive and our only reservation is his lack of experience which seemed to be an issue previously at The Masters which is the reason he will not be in our cash game lineups this week.

Ian Poulter – Did anyone else get a little annoyed listening to this guy bitch on Twitter about having to go out on Friday to play a round of golf? Yes, Mr Poulter, we understand that you had been eliminated from contention the previous day and that the final round had no bearing on your group. However, while you were out on a sunny afternoon golfing on a gorgeous course, the rest of us were off doing jobs that were infinitely less enjoyable. Okay, now that our rant is over, let’s talk about why we like Poulter this week. In Poulter, we are getting another player who’s game is really peaking this season. His success at The Players has been modest, he has just one Top 25 finish in his last five starts here, he is playing much better this year. He has improved his accuracy, his GIR play, his putting and his tee to green play. He has missed just one cut this season in nine starts and has three Top 10 finishes and seven Top 25’s. Poulter is a solid cash game and GPP play this week.

SLEEPERS

Ryan Moore – Let’s talk about Ryan Moore for a minute. The price is certainly right this week. Based on the odds versus pricing table, Moore is wildly underpriced. That said, we anticipate that he will be one of the most owned players this week in both cash and GPP formats. We like him in cash games as a cut maker and for a couple of GPP teams, but be careful as these types of players have caused a lot of damage to those that have been overexposed this year. Moore does a lot of things well, but not great in looking at this event. He is a good putter (62nd), okay in GIR (91st), 51st in Par 4 scoring and 70th in Par 5 scoring. He scrambles well (48th) and has played well this season, missing just two cuts, three Top 10 finishes and 8 Top 30’s.

Daniel Summerhays – We really cannot see where the low price came from for Summerhays this week. In two appearances, he finished 26th in 2013 and 23rd in 2014. Typically, DraftKings prices players based on their most recent history and their history at a particular event. Summerhays has two Top 10 finishes this season and seven Top 30’s. He will also be very highly owned this week as his name will be one of the first people see when perusing the tournament history page. His biggest strength is that he ranks 11th in putting. He is relatively average in other areas although he is 22nd in Par 4 Scoring. Summerhays is another great cut maker with upside potential.

Brendon de Jonge – Outside of the wreckage that was the Valero Texas Open, de Jonge has been playing fantastic golf. Outside of that missed cut, de Jonge has finished no lower than 33rd in his last 7 events. He has played well at this event in the past with back to back 15th place finishes in 2012 and 2013. As long as de Jonge continues to putt just average (81st), he should be okay this week. He is 35th in GIR, 27th in ball striking, and 14th in Par 4 scoring. With three Top 10 finishes this season, de Jonge is a great play at his price. We think he plays well in all formats this week.

Shawn Stefani – At least with Stefani, DraftKings can fall back on the fact that he missed the cut in his lone appearance here last year. We think there will be a different story this year as Stefani is playing really well this season. He is our fourth sleeper this week that we would consider a cut maker with a great deal of upside potential. He has two Top 10 finishes this year and nine Top 30’s. He is hugely underpriced in comparison with the odds. He is 57th in putting, 28th in GIR and 17th in ball striking. He is also 36th in Par 4 scoring and 17th in Par 5 scoring.

All four of these sleepers are great plays this week. Yes, more than likely a few of our players this week will disappoint us, but on paper, we feel tremendous about our research this week. Soft pricing creates the deception that it will be very easy to pick players, but typically people struggle much more than they anticipate. Look at the numbers closely this week instead of just the names and prices. With so many great players in the field, you are going to have your work cut out to identify those core players to build around.

As always, best of luck this week and let us know how your teams perform!

Myzteriouzly

Zachary Turcotte
By Zachary Turcotte May 6, 2015 04:44

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