If you need PGA DFS to remedy football withdrawal, I will been posting DK targets each week on Fake Pigskin. My goal every week is to identify two to three low-cost/reasonable floor targets as foundational pieces for all my lineups. This way, you start by boosting your remaining price per player in the range to roster as many high floor/high upside guys who we all anticipate high place finishes from.
For example, this week I am not going to come at you with hot suggestions like Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau. What I will do is point out that rostering two five figure selections will leave your average remaining price per player around $7,000. This is the price range I will focus on each week.
In DFS golf, it’s all about getting your guys to the weekend first and foremost. The way DK prices their fields out, I almost never will play anyone 10k or above. With something as random as golf performances week to week, they simply do not justify the investment in my mind. Generally, I will fill out my roster with guys in the $7,500-$9,000 range. The factors I consider are event history, course layout versus player strengths, recent form, and prime bounce back candidates who are playing well, but happened to miss the cut the prior week.
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One factor does not necessarily out weigh another. And, like any good speculative decision-making process, instincts always play a role. Of course there’s my personal favorite factor–as is the same with other fringe DFS sports–the DK pricing model has no clue what the fuck it is doing! Before discussing targets, let’s take a look at the Genesis Open information to clarify some unique characteristics that you may want to consider before lineups lock.
Course: Riviera CC, par 71, 7,300+ yards Pacific Palisades, CA
As one of the signature early season tour events, golf wraps up it’s West Coast Swing at Riviera CC. The famous Los Angeles country club is sure to be filled with its share of face lifts, and Hollywood lushes for another deep field, featuring a vast majority of the world’s top 25 golfers. Regardless of event name changes over the years, Riviera Country Club has been the constant, playing host to this February tournament all but twice since 1973. Beyond that, Riviera CC has hosted multiple major championships and allegedly was the first place O.J. went to search for the real killers.
Keys to Success
If chicks really dig the long ball, then consider me the Jennifer Lopez of fantasy golf this week. Riviera typically will align better for bombers, that can manage their way around the course’s tighter fairways. Strokes gained: tee to green will be a critical stat for solid outcomes this week. In general, I would have my default selection settings toward guys that have the best mix of distance and accuracy off the tee. Specifically, seven of the eight most difficult holes (holes 2, 15, 9, 5, 13, 3, 12) in terms of handicap, are longer par fours. Players who are able to score, and/or avoid trouble here will have the best chance of sleeping in Sunday for a late tee time.
While longer hitters will have a larger margin for error, there have been plenty of examples of the more precision players having positive results. Just last year, Kevin Na followed up his T-4 2017 finish at Riviera with a runner up check. And for some ungodly reason, Aaron Baddeley has about as stellar of a course track record (13/16 cuts made, eight inside top 30, one win) in LA you could ask for.
It’s kind of like when I go out golfing. No matter how well I’m smoking my 235 yard drives, it really comes down to how good my misses are with longer irons or hybrids on longer par fours. After that, my three putt avoidance statistic usually determines whether my score begins with a one or nine.
Anyway, the point is that it can be done, shorter hitters just have a smaller margin for error trying to control longer clubs with their approaches on the toughest holes Riviera has to offer . But enough about me and my quest to be a mid 80s golfer. Let’s talk targets!
Keith Mitchell $6,400
2019 season, Cuts: 5/8 Top 25s: 3 Top 10s: 0
Course History, First appearance
There are a few standouts under 7k whose strengths fit the Riviera layout. Mitchell is coming off a strong rookie year where he was one event away from making to the Tour Championship. What almost got him there was his driving ability.
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The former Georgia Bulldog finished 10th on tour in driving distance, and ranked seventh in stroked gained: off-the-tee last season. Most of all, his PGA Tour profile page indicates cliff diving in Greece as a bucket list item. Because I have nothing better to do, I read a lot of these. I still cannot decide if they are real or not.
Jhonattan Vegas $6,500
2019 season, Cuts: 5/7 Top 25s: 1 Top 10s: 1
Course History, Cuts: 4/6 Top 25s: 2 Top 10s: 0
Moving on, Vegas also does his best work when he lets the big dog eat. If I find myself in a DK budget crisis, I’ll put my money on a couple of guys who have the ability to just blow it out there off the tee and figure out the rest.
Kyle Stanley $6,600
2019 season, Cuts: 4/6 Top 25s: 3 Top 10s: 2 Wins: 0
Course History, Cuts: 2/4 Top 25s: 1 Top 10s: 0
Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaatttttt?! Pretty rough for a top 40 player in the world who is coming off the best year of his career. Stanley’s ascension the past couple seasons has been built on a foundation of course management. Statistically, his strengths have always been his driving accuracy and approach game. Both are critical to having success at Riviera. However, like many pros, an inconsistent short game–primarily with the wand–tends to be his downfall.
He’s inexplicably fizzled in his last two outings since returning state side from Hawaii in the Sony Open in January. But who can blame him? He just got through the holidays coming off a great year. And who cares about January and February golf anyway? They really are the worst two months of the year.
I mean, if I have to bare being trapped inside for this bitter cold, dark, snowy, rainy, God forsaken frozen midwest tundra while being wildly unproductive (unless you consider watching every Netflix, Amazon, Hulu show and award nominated movie while eating everything in sight as productive), I say Kyle Stanley can miss a couple cuts. In other words, unless there is some unknown injury, it’s just a matter of time before he gets his season on track.
At their price, just making the weekend is enough to justify rostering any of these three. Stanley, by far, having the best career trending trajectory of the three (finished 17th and 18th in FedEx Cup last two seasons) makes the former Clemson Tiger my favorite price/floor/upside combo in the field this week.
Luke List $7,400
2019 season, Cuts: 3/6 Top 25s: 2 Top 10s: 2 Wins: 0
Course History, Cuts: 2/3 Top 25s: 1 Top 10s: 0
Coming in a close second to him is this guy. He fits the profile ranking seventh on tour last year in SG: Tee to green with the most measured rounds of anyone in the top 10. He has also perennially been one of the longest drivers since playing on tour. Not enough? Fine.
The Vandy product is among a handful of guys who have been on the verge of breaking through for that elusive first career PGA Tour win. You know he going into every start motivated with the mindset to win. Well… You may not know it but I do. Whether it’s someone like him, Tommy Fleetwood, Tony Finau (no I don’t really count the Puerto Rico win in 2016), Tyrrell Hatton, Cameron Smith (excluding his team event win), or Rafa Cabrera-Bello they are eager to get that monkey off their back. Right or wrong, I put a little premium on that. As an example, think Francesco Molinari last season.
Like Stanley, putting has been List’s biggest drawback statistically. But even that has shown substantial improvement in 2019–albeit a small sample size. Kevin Tway ($7,100) is also someone who seems like he should be closer to the 8k range based on all the aforementioned factors.
As mentioned, this is a loaded field. I get as tempted as anyone else to throw DJ or Bubba out there considering their undeniable track records here. However, with guys like Fleetwood ($8,600), Cantlay ($9,000), and numerous others in that $7,500-9,000 sweet spot with phenomenal floor/upside combos, my head is telling me to resist the security illusion that the bigger names provide.
Last season, I consistently laid out the theory that rostering players five figures and above just was not worth it week to week. Scroll toward the end on my results page to see how I used the Masters results as evidence to support this. The point is, golf performances week to week are so random I would generally suggest the good ole diversification strategy.
Going a step further, unlike most other DFS games that have positions, golf is just picking six guys that are doing the same exact thing in a given. That said, probably more than any other DFS sport I’ve played, leaving 1-2k on the table is perfectly fine. Do not feel like you HAVE to spend your entire cap. Throughout this season I will post a more thorough analysis of why both approaches make DFS golf a bit different from football or hoops, and how ridiculously futile it makes it when trying to win.
Good luck in LA! Next week’s tour event in Puerto Rico does not draw a majority of the top players, who are gearing up for the following week’s event in Mexico. The WGC Mexico event will feature roughly 70ish of the best players in the world, and is a no cut format. For these reasons, my next full post will be for the Honda Classic in late February. In the meantime, don’t hesitate to reach out on twitter insults and comments are always welcome.