The Daily Spin – DraftKings Daily Fantasy Golf Preview Zurich Classic

Zachary Turcotte
By Zachary Turcotte April 11, 2015 04:16

Is the hangover from The Masters over yet? I would guess not judging by the field this week in New Orleans. How good must your life be as a professional golfer when you have the chance to play for over a million dollar first prize…in New Orleans of all cities and you think to yourself, nah, I’ve got better things to do with my time. How can anyone not want to go to a city where you can literally hire your own personal marching band to follow you around while walking in a parade that you can actually set up for yourself in the French Quarter? Sounds like the best possible way to enjoy walking around if you ask me, but apparently it could not entice the vast majority of the PGA Tour’s top pros this week. But you play the hand you are dealt and in this case, it’s a hand with endless possibilities.

DraftKings pricing model seems to have come unhinged this week as an unusual field with a somewhat limited history at this tournament has seen its players priced all over the place. While we are not privy as to how its pricing model works, what we have noticed is that it is incredibly skewed towards tournament history and recent form. As in, if someone played well in the previous week, they are going to see a tremendous boost in their price the next week. However, in this particular case, there without the star power of most other tournaments, its model must be in a bit of flux this week.

Typically, we see very small differences in how Vegas odds are set versus DraftKings’s pricing each week, but there were some wild stretches in the middle and lower ranks. This creates some interesting opportunities for us as we go about constructing our rosters for the week. We made a few very bold moves with some of our lineup choices this week and overweighted a couple of players that have struggled recently, but present us with such an exciting opportunity for value that we are willing to take a bit of a risk and hope for the best.

Last week proved to be another solid week overall for our picks here at The Daily Spin. We had 10 of 13 players make it through the cut and fared pretty well in cash games for our subscribers. As always, there were a couple of surprising names to blow the cut and not make it into the weekend. Patrick Reed had a rough final hole on Thursday and never got things going in the right direction Friday and missed his first cut in 13 events this season. Charles Howell III also disappointed us enormously as he struggled in what was one of his worst efforts of the season. He had been a fantastic cut maker for us this year with the potential to rally for the occasional Top 10 finish and he faltered on a course that he has a lot of familiarity with in his career. Finally, Tony Finau let us down as a Sleeper pick for the week…again. After a great start to his rookie season in the fall, he just has not been able to dial it in over the last couple of months. As I write this, I am still deliberating as to whether or not I will roll the dice with him again this week and throw him into the Deep Sleeper category. The Deep Sleeper category is reserved for players where I really want to cover my ass if they blow the cut.

On the positive side of things, Jordan Spieth had a nice weekend a week after winning The Masters, shooting an amazing round on Friday to redeem himself after a lackluster opening round. He could not continue the momentum to make a serious charge, but we were pleased that he did not throw in the towel (I am looking at you, Patrick Reed) and earned us some valuable points to help a few of our teams into the money. Matt Kuchar woke up for most of the tournament, before fading a bit down the stretch, but we were happy to have the old Kuch back and playing well again.

Our value players had a nice week as well with Brendon Todd leading the way with a nice 4th place finish. He proved to be a perfect buy low candidate coming off of a rough performance at Augusta and he bounced back for a great run. Louis Oosthuizen was a throw in pick for us and finished in 7th. We regretted that we did not own him with more conviction. Russell Knox had us holding our nose on Thursday before roaring back on Friday and playing well enough over the weekend to earn an 18th place finish.

Our sleeper picks were a pleasant surprise (minus Finau). Considering the price, we were thrilled to get a 31st place finish out of Stewart Cink. He had great momentum early, but could not keep it going over the weekend. However, when you pay $4800 for a player that picks up 73 points, you will take that anytime you can get it. Zac Blair continues to have a very respectable rookie season. The course favored his game and he putted his way to a 44th place finish. Again, we paid $4700 and Blair scored 63.5 points for us so that is a very successful pick for his price.

We are right on the verge of a huge week. We’ve been getting 10 or 11 of 13 guys through the cut every week and if not for a handful of shocking 18th hole collapses on Friday afternoons, we would be very close to a couple of perfect weeks. We know that when the field was announced this week that most fantasy golf players were probably not too terribly excited. However, as we have dug into our research, we truly feel that this is a great week to be playing in contests. If you have been keeping up with your research each week, then you are going to have an enormous advantage over opponents who only follow golf sparingly and who just put in a lineup or two each week on a whim. As these weeks are more difficult to price out for sites like DraftKings, we are going to be able to spot some great value plays to exploit that just are not going to be available in other weeks.

The course itself, the TPC Louisiana, tends to be one of the easier courses on tour each year. It comes in around 7400 yards and is a Par 72. It is noteworthy for having an interesting mix of very short and very long Par 4 holes which should create some scoring opportunities for the bigger hitters out there. There are a handful of water hazards and around 70 bunkers. It’s a wild tournament and in researching the historical results we were left scratching our heads a bit. There are not a lot of players that play this course well consistently. A player will win here one year and come back and miss the cut the following season. This happens so often that in our analysis, we chose to focus in a little bit less on where players finished in the event and a little more on current form and some of the statistical categories that are going to favor certain players more than others. This event also tends to produce a lot of first time tournament winners so as you go through selecting your lineup, look at some of those noteworthy names that have been knocking on the door to win an event, but just have not quite been able to break through yet.

As always, please feel free to interact with us on Twitter. We get the chance to talk to a lot of folks every week and leave no question unanswered. We sincerely want each of you to succeed in whatever contests you are involved in so never hesitate to let us know what is on your mind.

Let’s get right to it. The course does not favor a lot of statistical categories with as much correlation as other courses. Distance off the tee is nice, but not essential. Accuracy does not seem to be much of a factor. Greens in Regulation correlates positively, but not dramatically so. It is always great to putt well, but again, this is a course where you can get away with being just okay on the greens. Par 4 scoring edges out Par 5 scoring slightly as a stat that correlates well with success in New Orleans, but it has shifted between the two so we will look at each category to see if we can find a few players that either excel at one or both. The big thing that we want to emphasize is to pick players this week that are playing well whose styles fit the course. Also, check out the odds versus pricing page this week. We do not always emphasize it as much for DraftKings as they are usually pretty on top of pricing, but this week there are some wild numbers where players are priced extremely high as well as extremely low. It almost seems like the built a new model. We are unsure if this is just related to the field being a little softer than normal or if they just wanted to throw us a curve, but in any case, we are going to take advantage of it and try to illustrate in a couple of cases just how deep the value is for certain players this week.

BLUE CHIPS

Dustin Johnson – With five Top 6 finishes in seven tournament starts this year, Johnson has been on an absolute tear. He is a great point scorer in the DraftKings format. He is the top ranked player in the birdie or better conversion category and with a course that yields a lot of birdie opportunities (and eagles for a hitter like Johnson) he should have a great chance to put together a strong debut in New Orleans. Johnson’s stats are impressive: 1st in driving distance, 1st in strokes gained tee to green, 4th in birdie average, 7th in eagle average, 2nd in approaches over 200 yards and 3rd in Par 4 scoring. His biggest deficiency continues to be his putting, but this is a forgiving course and considering that Johnson gives himself one opportunity after another, he does not have to putt great, merely hitting the putts he should make will keep him in contention this weekend. We own Johnson on 2 of our 6 $300 GPP teams this week. He would be reliable in cash games, but it will put a little pressure on your budget for the rest of your squad.

Jason Day – We loved him at The Masters and after he knocked in his 5th birdie in a row in the First Round, we were ready to pat ourselves on the back. That was right before the Jordan Spieth show kicked into full effect on Friday and left Day behind by 9 strokes before he had teed off. Day pressed a bit and struggled Friday and by moving day on Saturday he had fallen from contention and was simply playing out the weekend. We expect a nice bounce back this week from Day as he will look to get himself prepared for the next couple of weeks where he’ll be faced with top tier competition. Day is also long off the tee ranking 5th in driving distance, but is also 11th in GIR. He ranks 18th in strokes gained tee to green and 17th overall in strokes gained. His putter isn’t exceptional, but it will not hurt him, particularly at this course. Day is another great player that can score. He is 3rd in birdie average and 12th in eagle average. He scrambles well (30th) and is 1st in Par 4 scoring. He’s also solid on Par 5’s where he ranks 37th. He has not played here in quite a while, but his game is in a great place now. Day won the Farmer’s this year and has three other Top 5 finishes. Like DJ, we own Day on 2 of 6 GPP teams this week.

Justin Rose – Just when we were ready to throw some dirt on Rose, he went out to Augusta and played lights out pulling off a 2nd place finish. Going into The Masters, he had missed 3 of 5 cuts and his highest finish was 37th. He seems healthy now and that should set him up for a nice summer. Rose also has a good track record in New Orleans with three straight Top 15 finishes, including an 8th place finish last year. We are going to disregard his 2015 stats overall and focus on his return to form at The Masters. He is typically one of the top tee to green players, above average in driving distance as well as GIR. He’s not a great putter, but seems to have turned the corner on the road back to mediocrity on the greens. He is also one of the top players in both Par 4 and 5 scoring. We’re not eager to rush all in on Rose, but we will have him in 1 of our 6 GPP lineups this week.

VALUE PICKS

Steve Stricker – The value range had to stretch a bit as prices tended to move a little higher than normal, but we think Stricker represents a a great value for the week. This guys just makes cuts. In fact, he has only missed one cut over the last 5 years. I probably just put the worst possible hex on him so you can thank me when he blows it this week. He plays a bit of a limited schedule and is coming off of back surgery from back in December, but he didn’t miss a beat and had a very respectable finish at The Master coming in 28th. Stricker has a nice tournament history here with three straight Top 15 finishes, although they are spread out from 2009-2012. He is a solid GIR player, very good tee to green and he can putt. He’s good on both Par 4 and 5 holes so his game fits the course well. We did not see any issues in his return and think he will play well this weekend. He is a high floor/high ceiling player and his price makes him an attractive play for both cash and GPP contests. We will start him in 2 of 6 GPP lineups this week.

Morgan Hoffmann – Over the last few weeks, we have really started to see Hoffmann emerge as the star he was projected to be coming out of Oklahoma State. He is strong off the tee, but should not be hurt by the lack of accuracy at this course. He’s also putting the ball well lately where is 32nd in strokes gained putting. Hoffmann currently ranks 29th in Par 5 scoring and we love that Hoffmann is a scoring threat at this course as he has had an upswing in recent weeks in both birdie and eagle average. Hoffmann has played here the last two years and finished 34th and 21st so this week could be his chance to breakthrough for a Top 10 finish. The only thing we are not thrilled about is Hoffmann’s price, which is sitting at $9300. At The Masters, he was at $5800, for the RBC last week he was $7200 and now he is up to $9300. It’s steep, but he worth the risk for GPP play this week and we will have him on 2 of 6 rosters. He is not totally polished at making cuts so we don’t love him as much for cash games this week, but we would not have any issues with people using him there either.

Brendon Steele – Steele is another player that we will probably ruin by discussing the fact that he has not missed a cut in 12 starts this season. If the golf gods missed that, I said ‘STEELE HAS NOT MISSED A CUT IN 12 STARTS THIS SEASON’. Steele has two Top 10 finishes and six Top 25 finishes on the season. Steele looks like a different player this year than last so we are not going to fixate on his history in New Orleans. He took 52nd last year and 32nd in 2013, but we definitely expect him to improve on that this week. He’s 14th in driving distance, 49th in GIR, 13th in strokes gained tee to green and 18th in birdie average. He’s 6th in Par 4 scoring and 37th in Par 5 scoring. Another great part of Steele’s game is that he plays his best golf in the first two rounds ranking 23rd in 1st round scoring and 6th in the 2nd round. We would love to see him pick it up over the weekend, but the fact that he is playing every Saturday helps to keep us from losing our cool on Friday afternoons as we sweat out the cut. We own Steele in 2 of 6 GPP lineups and feel good about using Steele in cash games. Remember, we don’t need to beat out the whole field, so let’s make sure we keep finding players like Steele with a high floor.

Justin Thomas – Remember when we talked about players getting their first win on tour at a high rate here? We think Thomas could be poised to do just that this week. Thomas started the year as the rookie that everyone was talking about before Daniel Berger upstaged him briefly. Although he has had some struggles, he is a threat to be in the Top 10 at many of the tournaments he enters and we think that this course will suit his game well. He hits it 300 yards off the tee and is an above average tee to green player. He is also a scorer, ranking 14th in birdie average. He ranks 4th in Par 5 scoring and also plays his best golf the first two rounds so we feel comfortable with him in cash games and GPPs this week. He is in 3 of our 6 GPP lineups and our cash game lineup this week.

Jason Bohn – Here is another player that finds himself priced well above where we would normally see him. Bohn is quietly having a very nice season, having made 11 of 13 cuts on the year. Bohn actually has a victory at Zurich back in 2010, but has also miss the cut in 2009 and 2012. We would be happy with him making the cut this week with the tiniest amount of hope that he can make a move for us. He has twp Top 10 finishes and five Top 25 this season. He is not a big hitter, but is accurate (12th) and hits greens (28th). His tee to green game is solid (48th) and he is also hitting a lot of birdies this year ranking 22nd in birdie average. He’s not a great putter, but is pretty consistent whether on Par 4 (13th) or Par 5 (29th) holes. He tournament history is a bit checkered, so we probably would not recommend him for cash games, but he is experience in New Orleans and has some upside potential for GPP rosters where we own him on 2 of 6 teams.

Russell Knox – Considering the inflated prices on a lot of players this week, we were surprised that Knox did not see a bigger leap in his price after a very solid showing last week at the RBC. Knox ranks 21st in GIR and is above average in both strokes gained tee to green and strokes gained putting. He is 37th in birdie average and ranks 6th in Par 4 scoring. He is also a bargain as his price does not reflect where the oddsmakers have him ranked this week. He missed the cut here last year, but we think he will rebound here this year. He should make the cut and has upside potential. He is in 3 of 6 GPP lineups and we think he is priced well for cash game play.

Martin Laird – This one is for you, Glen Chorny, aka Choron. Yeah, we get it, this is not the flashiest player on tour, but his numbers this year show us a player that has stepped up his game a lot. With the inflated prices this week, he sticks out as an attractive play for the tournament. He has made 10 of 11 cuts this season and has not missed a cut since November. With a 70.9 point average over that time period, he has a lot of value for his $7500 price tag. He’s 31st in driving distance, 24th in GIR and 19th in strokes gained tee to green. Also of note, he ranks 19th in approaches between 200-225 yards, the distance of all the Par 3’s at TPC Louisiana. He is not a great putter, but does rank 13th in Par 4 scoring. We own him on 2 of 6 GPP teams this week. Glen, we want to reiterate our position that Martin is a new man this season and although he has not had a high finish in a couple of months, we think this will be the week that he turns that around.

Will Wilcox – We were excited on Monday morning when we found out the Wilcox would be in the field this week after a couple of players withdrew. We hoped that DraftKings would be able to work him into its field and were happy to see his name show up…just not at that price. Oh well, considering the level of inflated prices and a lack of overly attractive options at the lower pricing levels, we are comfortable paying a little more for Wilcox this week. He has made 5 of 6 cuts this season and had finished in the Top 20 three times. He also managed a 34th place finish in his first appearance here last year. He does not have a full stat line for 2015, but what we can tell you is that over the years, he has averaged about 290-300 yards off the tee, is reasonably accurate and ranks very well in GIR. He is a good tee to green player, but a below average putter. His approach game has been outstanding this year and he ranks 3rd in approaches longer than 200 yards. We think he will be widely owned as the fantasy golf press (yes, that’s a thing now) has given him a fair amount of coverage so do not expect to be too sneaky rostering him this week. He will be on 2 of 6 GPP rosters this week and we used him on one of our two cash game rosters.

SLEEPERS

Robert Streb – We are all in on Robert Streb this week. We are not that excited about his play over the last couple of months, but his price is such that are hand is going to be forced this week. At $6200, Streb has considerable value. If he merely scores his normal average of 63.9 (just makes the cut essentially) you are getting an amazing dollar per point deal. Consider this, for Dustin Johnson to achieve the same level of efficiency, he would need to score 134 points this week. And these numbers are if he simply makes the cut. Last year he took 2nd here although he did miss the cut in 2012. Knowing that we have some potential upside here beyond his average makes Streb a screaming value this week. He is above average driving the ball (42nd), above average in GIR (43rd) and above average in strokes gained tee to green (39th). He is an average putter, but does rank 13th in Par 4 scoring. We need him to start strong as he tends to improve with each round, but does rank 88th in first round scoring. The Vegas odds show Streb to be deeply underpriced this week. We own him on 5 of 6 GPP teams and all cash game rosters. He took a step in the right direction last week at the RBC at Hilton Head so we are hoping that he was able to gain back some of his confidence.

Jeff Overton – Here is another value that jumps off the page if you know what you are looking for. Overton is well underpriced when compared to where oddsmakers have him this week. This is a bit of a shock considering Overton’s tournament history here. He has made the cut here six straight times with two Top 10 finishes and four Top 20 finishes. He is coming off of a couple of missed cuts so he will be looking to get back on track this week. We suspect that this is what kept his price low this week given his past strong performances here. He made 3 of 6 GPP rosters this week based on value and tournament history. By using Overton and Streb, it helped to provide some much needed salary cap relief at the top for us to pick up some of the better player in the field.

Lucas Glover – We never envisioned that we would be including this historically bad putter in our write up, but here we are, and Glover is our final pick for the week. Glover is above average driving the ball, 4th in GIR and 12th in strokes gained tee to green. He’s 5th in proximity, 22nd in approaches between 200-225 yards, and 10th in approaches longer than 200 yards. Sounds too good to be true, right? Unfortunately, it is to some degree for Glover as he makes Vijay Singh look like a putting legend. He currently loses 1.579 strokes putting, offsetting the 1.187 strokes gained tee to green. He is just 8 of 15 making the cut this year so certainly NOT a cash game play this week or any other week. For his part, when he does make the cut, he tends to finish well and has five Top 25 finishes this season. Glover also has made the cut here four straight times and finished 4th in 2013. We are willing to give him a single roster spot on one of our 6 GPP teams.

We also had a handful of other one off players this week that we used to fill out our big game GPP rosters for the week:

Marc Warren
Daniel Berger
Cameron Tringale
David Hearn

We actually really liked Berger quite a bit and he found his way onto several smaller buy-in GPP and qualifier teams. He’s another long hitter that plays well tee to green. He can pick up extra points as he is above average collecting birdies and he plays the Par 4 and 5’s well. Like Thomas, he sets up really well here. Hearn we liked as a very low cost cut maker that has made the cut here the last four years. Tringale has a nice course history here with four Top 30 finishes in five starts. Finally, we used Warren as way of making sure we screwed up another great lineup with a largely unowned European player… In all honesty, Warren has played well this year in Europe and has finished well in some of the tougher PGA events that he has been a part of. We envision that he’ll be very lightly owned so a good performance from him could be what separates that team from many other similarly constructed rosters.

That wraps up another lengthy missive. We are going to try to stay positive all weekend, but that is simply not built into our DNA so check out our Twitter page for some Thursday afternoon expletives. It is typically the time of week when we hit our sharpest and wittiest notes.

Now go forth and conquer…I’m ready for a nap!

-Myzteriouzly

Zachary Turcotte
By Zachary Turcotte April 11, 2015 04:16

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