The Daily Spin – DraftKings Daily Fantasy Golf Preview – Valero Texas Open
While most people look at the RBC Heritage as the hangover event of the year, it has been one that I have really enjoyed over the last few years as we have always been able to find a lot of quality player value from top to bottom in that field. There are plenty of players there each year with strong regional ties, many with good track records and since the field is a little softer at the top than normal, it is usually the perfect time for some of the younger players on tour to make a big push for a title which is exactly what we saw last weekend with Wesley Bryan.
If you tuned in to my weekly podcast with Geoff Fienberg, you know that we were both big on Bryan from the moment the odds were posted. The South Carolina native had a huge gallery following him throughout most of the weekend and seemed to thrive on the pressure moment as things intensified and the tournament became very competitive with around 8-10 players in contention all the way into the back nine holes on Sunday. Wes simply played the most mistake free golf of the group that was in the mix on Sunday and almost out of nowhere found himself at the top where he was able to hold off the resurgent Luke Donald, who was left for dead by the television cameras after a double bogey on the first hole, but soared back to life to eventually tie for the lead before a late Bryan birdie sealed the deal.
We had the top of the leaderboard covered last week with our plays. Wesley Bryan, Luke Donald, Patrick Cantlay, Jason Dufner, Kevin Kisner, Matt Kuchar, William McGirt and Adam Hadwin were all players who put up nice numbers for us over the weekend. Had Pat Perez not completely collapsed on Saturday afternoon out of nowhere, I am confident I would have personally had a shot at a few more GPP dollars for the week. Fortunately, while I was mostly even to a little above even for GPP’s, cash games were a nice success as only three players out of sixteen recommended plays missed the cut giving us many more wins than losses overall. If you were unfortunate enough to have two of the three golfers that blew the cut on one roster, you were a little unlucky, but should not despair as the three that missed were certainly reasonable plays that would probably make the list were I doing my research all over again.
If you are not getting into weekend golf contests yet, I would definitely recommend checking them out. I know the scoring system is a little foreign and will take some time to get used to, but at this stage, we still have a very real edge over the rest of the players who are still trying to figure out the proper strategy to play every week. This weekend should provide a particularly interesting opportunity for us. Over the first two weekends since the new product was launched, we saw perfect weather conditions throughout the final two days which took one of the most important elements of this type of contest out of the equation and made it fairly easy to assemble a reasonable team. However, at first glance, it appears that Saturday may present some very real challenges for those golfers who make the cut this weekend.
Valero is known among those of us who have been around the fantasy golf world long enough as a course where weather has played a major role in the outcome of events from year to year. For those of you who were playing back in the spring of 2015, you will recall all too well, the hellacious winds that crushed the Thursday morning wave of players into oblivion. Although conditions were still tough in the afternoon, they had subsided enough so that there was a four shot stroke difference between AM and PM players that day. Though the winds the following morning were tough, the scores definitely did not even out and those who dodged the worst of the weather on Thursday were in the driver’s seat over the final two rounds.
This is where you can have a very real edge in the weekend contests if tee times come into play. Now, by this point, the industry in general is going to be on this type of information, but there are always going to be enough players who ignore it or just flat out miss it to give you plenty of added value if you take the time to do just a bare minimum of research on Friday night or early Saturday morning. I put out a weekend edition of The Daily Spin each Friday night, ‘Statboy’ Erik Dantoft meticulously updates the model and we have created a whole new approach to factoring the odds for the weekend which helps us to look at the remaining field in a much different way than most other players.
While we are on the weather for the week, let’s take a look at TPC San Antonio. The Oaks Course has hosted the Valero Texas Open since 2010. It is a tough course, and plays as a Par 72 that is over 7,400 yards long. The fairways a little on the narrow side and lined with trees, but the rough should not be too punitive. However, for those players that do get too far off the fairways, the vegetation can be unusually cruel as Kevin Na found out on the 9th hole in 2011. The greens are Bermuda and not overly challenging and putting tends to not be a real differentiator in terms of doing well on the course. Three of the Par 5 holes are near 600 yards or more, meaning that only one of the four is typically going to be reachable in two this week, especially if winds come into play. The Par 4 holes are an interesting mix of five shorter holes that play between 340-410 yards and five holes of a more traditional length between 447-481 yards. This should open up some great scoring opportunities for plays who are either very aggressive off the tee and leave themselves with a wedge to the green or for those who are accurate off the tee and can hit the shorter irons really well. The Par 3 holes vary in length, but the 240 yard 12th hole will be especially challenging as it certainly one of the more lengthy Par 3 holes that players will see on tour.
We are looking for bigger hitters this week who can avoid big mistakes. Obviously, scoring is important this week, but this is the type of course where a score above par is still likely to get you to the weekend so bogey avoidance can be almost as important as the ability to score birdies as the winning score should be somewhere right around -10 to -12 for the week. As it is tough to hold these greens given their backward sloping nature, scrambling will be important this week. Given the length of the course and the limited scoring opportunities, Par 5 scoring will be important in determining who is in contention. Finally, mid range iron play will be a key component to success this week as the Par 4 holes and lengthy Par 5 holes will provide plenty of opportunities from 150-200 yards. The key stats as provided to us by our friends at Fantasy Golf Metrics are as follows:
Strokes Gained Tee to Green: 25%
Birdie or Better Percentage: 20%
Strokes Gained Putting: 20%
Par 5 Scoring: 10%
Proximity 175-200: 10%
In terms of strategy this week, this is one of the weaker fields that we are going to see all year which will make this a very challenging week for DFS purposes. There are a few names around the top that have some course history and form, but these are definitely not guys we are ever going to get used to paying up for on any sort of regular basis. Many of the names that we would normally gravitate towards immediately near the top are also not playing particularly well this season which also makes things more difficult for us. Given the potential issues with weather over the weekend, there is even a little more added uncertainly for this event. I will be playing my normal bankroll this week, but if you are just starting out, this is a good week to take things a little slower and tighten up your approach by working with a more heavily weighted core group that you trust while sprinkling a little more around the edges to fill in the blanks.
The contests are a little different this week for the GPP events so definitely take that into account when planning out your rosters. Given that the biggest event is a 20 entry max this week, I chose to write up my picks for the week to be tailored around 20 entries. You will note that this reduces the number of players that I use by about one third. I really am not a big fan of this type of event as 20 bullets is just to small for me to feel like I have much of an edge over anyone. With your entries limited and the field so large, you should really focus heavily around your core group of players and hope that if they hit hard, you maximize your chances to win. Building 20 lineups at random and spraying your bullets everywhere is likely to lead to having maybe one team at the most that is in the mix over the weekend so I would advise you to go for broke in this contest and really trust your core golfers to hopefully give you 5-10 great teams rather than looking for one magic team to somehow emerge.
As we have been saying for weeks, we would like to build a little team spirit on the leaderboards each week. For anyone who takes down a nice score who is sporting our logo as their avatar, we’ll send out some free FGI merchandise as an added bonus. The easiest way to do this from your phone is to go to our Twitter page (@fantasygolfers) and click on our logo on the upper left side. When you do that, it will enlarge the image. Take a screenshot of the logo and go into the DraftKings App main menu, click on your screen name to pull up your account details and then click the little camera next to the circular avatar space which will allow you to choose the photo of our logo that you just took previously. After that, all you have to do is build a winning team!Sign up for an FGI account today to see the rest of this post.