Daily and weekly fantasy sports have become all the rage. Battling it out over an entire season is fun, but sites like DraftKings offer a quicker payoff and big payouts for winners! Not only do they offer daily action in the four major professional sports (MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL) as well as college basketball and football but also the PGA Tour.
Your DraftKings lineup is made up of six golfers you select from within the $50,000 salary cap.
Each week DraftKings offers a wide selection of games to enter at a variety of price points. You can even get a feel for the game in a freeroll contest. Before you put your cash on the line, I’ll offer my Top Values and Steals in this space every week, specifically geared to help build a winning DraftKings squad. I’ll also give you my Overpriced golfers to avoid and a couple of “Vegas Says…” tips to help you find those players for GPPs.
Let’s move on to this week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational which is held at the Bay Hill Club and Lodge course in Orlando. A lot of studs are in the field again, preparing for the WGC Match Play next week and the Masters thereafter. Our headliners this week are Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day, Justin Rose, and Hideki Matsuyama. Bay Hill offers a more traditional par-72 course layout, with four par 3s, four par 5s, and ten par 4s. The course is decently long, but a lot of the yardage comes in the Par 3s, which takes away the need for distance. There are many holes where players will be clubbing down off the tee and trying to position themselves for second shots. When you look at ShotTracker this week, you’ll see plenty of funky angles and big numbers on your players’ scorecards. It’s a fun one. One last point I’ll make is that many Tour players (even Europeans) make their homes in Orlando (at Isleworth or Lake Nona), so they are very familiar with Bay Hill and courses with similar conditions. Players that jump to my mind are Henrik Stenson, Ian Poulter, Justin Rose, Graeme McDowell, and Charles Howell III.
Recent Tournament History
Here is the data we can draw upon for this week’s Tournament History:
Current Form Review
Each week, we’ll look backward at the last three tournaments on the PGA and European Tours. I have included the top-20 from the past three full-field events: the Honda Classic, the WGC-Mexico Championship, and last week’s Valspar Championship.
Birdie or Better % (BoB%):
There are really not many weeks where we aren’t going to target birdie or better percentage, because that’s what fantasy golf scoring is all about. Guys like Jason Day, Emiliano Grillo, Bubba Watson, James Hahn, Tommy Fleetwood, and Kevin Chappell come to mind in this week’s field when targeting birdie makers. It’s possible to have a player finish top-10 in fantasy points while not finishing anywhere close to the top-10 in the actual event.
Strokes Gained Approach (SG:APP):
Bay Hill is all-striker’s course, so I’m targeting elite long iron players this week. I’m going to target SG:APP because players who find the most greens and give themselves the most short birdie opportunities will capitalize most. The thick, bermuda rough is always a challenge, making scrambling very difficult. If you have a player who sticks approach shots inside 10’ consistently, he’s going to shoot up the leaderboard and contend on Sunday. Some names that stand out in the field are Scott Piercy, Charles Howell, Adam Scott, James Hahn, Kyle Stanley, and Keegan Bradley.
Scrambling is always a major stat to focus on at Bay Hill, since players are approaching greens from long yardages throughout the week. The greens are firm and hard to hold, so chipping and pitching from the bermuda grass will separate the field this week. Some players who popped out to me were Kevin Na, James Hahn, Marc Leishman, Luke List, Patrick Rodgers, and Vaughn Taylor.
Off-the-tee play is key each and every week. Bay Hill is no exception, with many demanding shots and thick rough / hazards lurking oh most holes. The players will be able to club down on many holes, but there are still plenty of drivers that need to be hit. Names that stood out to me in this field were Francesco Molinari, Bubba Watson, Tommy Fleetwood, Emiliano Grillo, Lucas Glover, and Brandon Harkins.
*In order of my rankings
Tiger Woods ($10,000) – How cool was that weekend at Copperhead? Seeing Tiger in contention brings back all the feels. His ball-striking is great, and his short game is as sharp as ever. The key, as usual, is finding fairways. In any event, he’s proven that he’s healthy and confident, and he’s rightfully the favorite this week at Bay Hill. He’s won here a ridiculous eight times, including four of his past five starts.
Justin Rose ($11,500) – I was surprised to see Rose fall apart on the back nine at Copperhead, but he continues to post top-10 finishes and get himself into contention. After winning a few events in the Fall, Rose has continued his dominant play leading up to Augusta. You know he’s chomping at the bit to get back there after his playoff loss to Sergio Garcia a year ago. Rose is an elite ball-striker with a much-improved short game. He’s posted several top-10 finishes at Bay Hill, so I have all the confidence in the world that he’ll contend again on Sunday.
Jason Day ($11,800) – Day has finished 2nd and 1st in his past two starts, so you know he’s full of confidence. After a troubling 2017 on and off the course, Day seems healthy, motivated, and ready to test his game against the best in the world. He’s played well at Bay Hill, including a win in 2016. The key for him is going to be his iron play. He’s one of the longest and straightest drivers on Tour, and has a very sharp short game. If he gives himself makeable birdie putts for four days, Day could find himself hoisting another trophy at Bay Hill.
Brian Harman ($8,500) – A bit under-the-radar as usual, Harman is one of my favorite mid-tier picks of the week. In fact, I think he has an excellent chance to win, even in this field. Harman won the Wells Fargo Championship a year ago against the likes of Dustin Johnson and Jon Rahm, so he won’t be intimidated by anyone. He’s one or two good starts away from locking up a Ryder Cup spot, so he’s extremely motivated. Harman is very accurate off-the-tee, and continues to be one of the best putters in the world. He’s posted three top-20 finishes in six tries at Bay Hill, and comes into the event with three top-10 finishes in his past six worldwide starts.
Louis Oosthuizen ($8,200) – Louis continues his up-and-down weeks, but there have definitely been more ups than downs. He’s an elite ball-striker who just needs to find some confidence on the greens. He’s capable of winning anywhere, and we’ve seen him contend (and win) major championships in the past. He’s made all three cuts at Bay Hill, with a top-10 finish in 2015. He finished 16th last week at Copperhead, which showed the control that he has over his game.
Kevin Chappell ($7,300) – Anytime we get to a ball-striker’s course, Kevin Chappell tops my list. And if you look at his record at Bay Hill, you’ll see four of six made cuts with a runner-up finish in 2016. Chappell is another player on the bubble of the Ryder Cup team, so each and every week is important to his case. He’s one of the best iron players in the world, and has really become one of the best drivers, as well.
Sean O’Hair ($7,000) – O’Hair was very impressive last week at Copperhead, especially with his approach shots. At Bay Hill, he’s made eleven of thirteen cuts with three top-10 finishes, which is extremely solid consistency and upside. At this price, he really can’t hurt as long as he makes the cut. O’Hair finished 12th last weekend, and should feel very comfortable coming back to a course where he’s had success over the years. In any event, he’s a birdie-maker, which is good for any fantasy format.
Jamie Lovemark ($8,000) – I was glad to see Lovemark in this range, because it allows us to get him at a low ownership, despite his stellar play. He’s made his last four cuts on Tour, finishing 16th last weekend at the Valspar and 7th at the Honda Classic. Lovemark has also done well here, finishing 23rd and 6th the past two season. He’s struggled off-the-tee in recent weeks, but has more than made up for it with great iron shots and a hot putter. Sign me up.
Matthew Fitzpatrick ($7,400) – On paper, Fitzpatrick is the perfect player for Bay Hill. He’s very accurate with his irons, and is one of the best putters in the world. In fact, he’s been ranked #1 in SGP on the European Tour this season. Although he disappointed with a MC at the Valspar Championship, I’ll give him a pass as it was his first event in the U.S. this year. He’s played Bay Hill three times, improving each year: MC-27th-13th. I’m willing to gamble on him.
This section focuses on “odds” players – those players whose odds vary the greatest with respect to their DraftKings salaries. Keep in mind, this doesn’t make these players “good plays” or “bad plays”, but it simply measures the value based on their price. I’ve done this not just with the actual rankings, but as a percentage. So, if two players have a difference of 10 spots in pricing versus odds rankings, the player ranked higher overall will have a higher percentage. It’s a quick way to find value. I use an aggregate of odds from various odds makers to come up with my valuation.
The value differential column shows the number of spots lower in salary than their odds to win imply. The differential % column shows that as a percentage of the players DraftKings salary ranking. Here is a list of the top-20 “values” based on my aggregations:
On the flipside, we have the list of players Vegas believes are overpriced based on their odds to win. Using the same model and calculations as above, here are the top-20 worst “values” based on my aggregations:
Example DraftKings lineups for the Arnold Palmer Invitational:
Stars and Scrubs:
- Justin Rose
- Rory McIlroy
- Kevin Chappell
- JB Holmes
- Anirban Lahiri
- Kevin Tway
- Tommy Fleetwood
- Adam Scott
- Brian Harman
- Jamie Lovemark
- Zach Johnson
- Emiliano Grillo