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PGA DFS PLAYERS Championship Targets

PGA DFS PLAYERS Championship Targets

If you need PGA DFS to remedy football withdrawal, I post DK targets each week on Fake Pigskin. My goal every week is to offer targets in each price range, identifying two to three low-cost/reasonable floor targets as core pieces for all my lineups.

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.

One factor does not necessarily outweigh 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!

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 very erratic. 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 week. 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 more thorough analyses of why both approaches make DFS golf a bit different from football, hoops, and baseball. And how ridiculously futile it makes it when trying to win. All that in mind, let’s take a look at the PLAYERS Championship (PC) information to clarify some unique characteristics that you may want to consider before lineups lock.

Course: TPC Sawgrass (Stadium course)  Ponte Vedra Beach, FL  Par 72  Yardage 7,245

The new schedule change has given golf fans and degenerates an early season treat. Starting this season, golf’s “unofficial fifth major” moves into early March.

The PLAYERS Championship moving up on the schedule does a couple of things well in my mind. One, the obvious is that we now get one golf major in four consecutive months starting in April.

And two, it provides some early season sizzle for the eventual major steak we all will dine on in April at the Masters. It’s kind of like the Golden Globes kicking off award show season.

It’s fun. A majority of the big name stars are out. It’s really nice to win. But no movie promo beings with, “starring two-time Golden Globe nominated actress…”.

One the stars of the show is TPC Sawgrass itself, which has officially played host each year since 1982. Its epic 17th hole par 3 island green is the stuff of golf folklore, and has produced its share of drama over the years. Here are the last five winners:

Year Player To Par
2018 Webb Simpson -18
2017 Si Woo Kim -10
2016 Jason Day -15
2015 Rickie Fowler -12
2014 Martin Kaymer -13

Last year, Simpson really pulled away from the field with clinical ball striking and a new-found putting stroke. However, getting all the way to 18 shots under par is more the exception than the rule at Sawgrass.

Keys to Success

The typical winning score will land somewhere between 10 and 14 under par. The players that are able to manage the course, and picks their spots wisely on when to be aggressive will be taking the winning approach for Sawgrass.

I am focused on a couple of things this week in terms of targets. In terms of stats, strokes gained tee-to-green is my main focus. As stated, guys who can stay patient, play within themselves, and are able to play course management well, are who I would be most bullish on.

The other is form. Players who appear to be playing with a high level of confidence right now are my preference. My advanced metric to illustrate that is consistently contending in your starts (yes that’s was my uncanny sarcasm).

For example, a player to be named later in the Longshots section would perfectly fit that description right now. But first, let’s discuss/review how smart my chalk approach is and was last week.

Chalky McChalkerson (Five figures to round 9k)

Fading the big dogs for the second tier price range played out almost as good as J. Lo’s weekend. Now, it probably didn’t increase your net assets by 5 million, but it definitely got you above the cash line.

Most importantly, it validated my status as a PGA DFS genius. Except the part about not waking up in time to find out Jason Day withdrew. But let’s not talk about what was likely one of the top 30 worst moments of my life. Instead let’s focus on the table below.

NameFinishDK $
Francesco Molinari19000
Matthew Fitzpatrick27300
Rafael Cabrera-BelloT37500
Tommy FleetwoodT39100
Sungjae ImT37000
Sung KangT66700
Rory McIlroyT611400
Keith MitchellT67500
Matt WallaceT67400
Byeong-Hun AnT107500
Lucas GloverT108200
Jason KokrakT108300
Luke ListT107900
Adam LongT106000
Charles HowellT158600
Chris KirkT156900
Ryan BlaumT176200
Brendan SteeleT176400
Aaron BaddeleyT176600
Chesson HadleyT177200
Henrik StensonT178100
Bubba WatsonT178000
Kiradech AphibarnratT237100
Kevin KisnerT237200
Marc LeishmanT239500
Ian PoulterT238000
Roger SloanT236800
Jhonattan VegasT237000
Tyrrell HattonT298700
Carlos OrtizT296400
Adam SchenkT296700
Hudson SwaffordT296500

Big take aways:

  • Rory was the only five-figure guy that justified his price
  • Of the 32 golfers that finished T-29 or higher 16 were in that sweet spot price range
  • This includes ten players that had top 10 finishes including the winner Molinari

Again, I can’t stress it enough–Jason Day ruined my life last week…… Sorry. No. Generally avoid five-figure guys in DK. Especially this week being a red carpet like tournament where just about all the A-listers show up.

Doug Mills/The New York Times

However, if I had to pick one from the chalk this week, it’d be Koepka. His recent career penchant of showing up in big events is very attractive. And I always anticipate players of his caliber to bounce back strong from a missed cut, as was the case last week at Bay Hill.

Specifically in Koepka’s case, I have facts to support this wild theory. He hasn’t missed back-to-back cuts since early 2017.

Add in the facts that he’s cashed checks in three of four PC appearances and a slightly more budget friendly price, I feel safe with Brooksy as my chalk play of the week.

Sweet Spot (9k-ish to around 7.5k)

Without sounding too much like your fantasy parent again, load up on as many guys in this range as you can. Per usual, super deep fields typically result in very soft DK pricing.

For example guys like Stenson, RCB, Fleetwood, and even Molinari’s prices are actually down for the PC from one week ago. I would still much prefer their price/floor/upside combinations in favor of the chalk this week.

Patrick Cantlay  $8,700
2019 season, Cuts: 6/7  Top 25s: 6  Top 10s: 4  Wins: 0
Course History, Cuts: 2/2  Top 25s: 2  Top 10s: 0  Wins: 0

Another player whose game has been rock solid is Cantlay. I’ve written about his remarkable off-the-course battles throughout the last two years. If you haven’t…

Once you know what he’s been through, it’s hard not to root for this guy. Or if you just don’t care, and have a cold dead black heart inside, then I guess stats would be better.

The former UCLA Bruin owns a positive metric in every significant strokes gained category since last season, with the exception of 2018’s putting. From tee-to-green he finished ranked 10th last year, and has continued the trend ranking 7th on tour this season to date.

Similar to a Molinari last year, the next step for Cantlay is to contend for/win the big events. The way he has played going back to last season, I anticipate that happening sooner rather than later.

Adam Scott  $8,200
2019 season, Cuts: 5/7  Top 25s: 4  Top 10s: 3  Wins: 0
Course History, Cuts: 14/17  Top 25s: 9  Top 10s: 4  Wins: 1

If you love course horses Scott is probably the safest bet to cash a check this week. The deep field has dropped his price wayyyyy out from the five figure range he was at for the Honda Classic a few weeks ago.

Yes, that same few weeks ago when I mentioned him as my favorite five-figure play where he went on record his first MC in four starts, of course. But that’s the good news!

Speaking of not missing back-to-back cuts, this Aussie hasn’t had that happen in PGA events since June. Of fucking 2010! No way he would do that to me/us this week, right?

Maybe not quite as high level as Cantlay, but Scott has played stellar, consistent golf lately. He maintains only one negative stokes gained metric in 2019, and ranks 30th on tour in SG: total.

Even his notoriously shitty putting has been up this season. All of this should help Scott cash another Sawgrass check.

Other Considerations
  • Once again Fleetwood and Molinari for the aforementioned reasons cannot be ignored.

Mispriced Players (best values)

As I’ve mentioned, the combination of such a deep field and soft pricing makes it difficult to differentiate between these categories. For example, I would argue Stenson and RCB should be in the 8.5-9k range.

(Getty Images)

But I would also argue Fleetwood and Molinari should be closer to 10k. So, both are a bit mispriced in my mind. Until DK adjusts, all those guys will continue to be my favorite value plays.

Other Considerations
  • Lucas Glover $7,100 — Playing his best golf in years. Probably off to the best start to a season in his career. All positive SG metrics in 2019. Ranks 16th tee-to-green, 6th overall on tour.
  • Zach Johnson $7,000 — Has cashed 12 checks in 14 career PC appearances. Needs to get it going soon if he wants to be a factor in the FedEx standings. Good safe weekend candidate with a little upside.

Longshots (7k-ish and below)

Eighty-four of the approximately 145 player field are priced at under 7k. Which makes for tons of intriguing names in this range that definitely have the upside to do some damage at Sawgrass. As usual, there is no doubt a couple of top 10 finishes from this range will have a major impact on GPPs.

(golfingindian.com)

Andrew Putnam  $6,500
2019 season, Cuts: 7/9  Top 25s: 3  Top 10s: 2  Wins: 0
Course History, Debut

I wrote about Putnam’s out-of-nowhere ascension a few times last season. Admittedly, he doesn’t bare out as a great fit statistically for this week.

But he’s taken his game to a completely different level over the last 10-12 months. After just missing the Tour Championship finishing 33rd (top 30 in FedEx standings qualify to end the year), Putnam has already put himself right back in the mix this season.

He arrives at his first PC appearance ranking 23rd in the standings, and is on pace to beat all his personal bests set last season in terms of cuts made, top 25s, top 10s, and earnings. I’ll take all those trends when taking shots in this range.

Other Considerations
  • Jason Kokrak $6,700 — Shares lots of similarities to my comments on Glover. Hasn’t missed a weekend in 2019, and the stats support it.
  • Keith Mitchell $6,800 — He followed up his breakthrough Honda Classic win with a T-6 finish last week, on a much bigger stage at Bay Hill. That’s a guy who is feeling good about his game. I think he continues the validation tour this week on his way to making it all the way to East Lake (Tour Championship) to end the season.

Core Players

Last season, I started including my core players to build around in all my lineups. I try to identify targets before prices are released to stay focused, and avoid editing my lineup 2,000 times ten minutes before lock.

For example, I might auto-play Fleetwood as long as he remains in his price range regardless of the tournament. These selections are players that I believe have top 25 floors with top 10 upside, and a reasonable case to win. Three of my four made the cut last week. More detailed results are to come as the season moves along. This week’s selections:

  1. Cantlay
  2. Fleetwood
  3. RCB
  4. Scott

Good luck at TPC Sawgrass! Don’t hesitate to reach out on twitter compliments and insults are always welcome.

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