FanDuel recently updated their PGA DFS offering, so players are trying to figure out the new format and optimize their lineups accordingly. Basically, they’ve taken away their eight-man rosters, and made their PGA product very similar to DraftKings’ product. The main difference is that you’ll have to adjust to the scoring system and new pricing.
FanDuel Golf Scoring System:
Eagle = 7 points
Birdie = 3.1 points
Par = 0.5 point
Bogey = -1 point
Double bogey (or worse) = -3 points
Streak bonus = 0.6 points per hole under par
Bounce back (birdie or better after making bogey or worse) = 0.3 points
5+ Birdies in a round = 4 points
Bogey-free round = 5 points.
1st place = 20 points
2nd-5th place = 12 points
6th-10th place = 8 points
11th-25th place = 5 points
Not only do we have a weak field for the Byron Nelson this week, but we have a new venue. With a new venue brings many questions, but mostly just incorrect assumptions. Trinity Forest is a 7,300-yard par-71 course that is categorized as “American Links” style. There’s a lot of way that can be interpreted, but regardless, it’s going to look and play differently than most courses on Tour. The idea is for the track to play firm and fast, challenging players’ iron game and making scrambling a huge key. Like traditional links courses, the greens have huge undulations and mounds that will throw approach shots way off-line, even if a player misses by mere inches. I think mental fortitude and patience will be critically important this week as players adjust to the challenge of Trinity Forest.
There will be obvious comparisons to Chambers Bay, but there are other courses I’m looking at due to similar attributes and grass types. TPC Southwind, Pinehurst #2 (multiple host site of the U.S. Open), and the Atlanta Athletic Club are all courses with a similar grass and green combination to Trinity Forest. Recent winners at those tracks are a who’s who of ball-strikers, without much distance off-the-tee. Think more David Toms, and less Bubba Watson.
Recent Tournament History
Because we have a new course this year for the Byron Nelson, we don’t have any course history to draw upon. To make matters worse, Trinity Forest presents unique links-style golf challenges that players don’t see very often. Talk about unpredictable.
Current Form Review
Each week, we’ll look backward at the last three tournaments on the PGA Tour. Here are the leaderboards from the past three stroke-play events: the Valero Texas Open, the Wells Fargo Championship, and last week’s Players Championship.
Strokes Gained Approach (SG:APP): Links golf lends itself to ball-striking, as precise iron play into quadrants of the green is a major factor. If a player is off by even a yard or two, some approach shots may end up 50-60 feet from the hole, leading to bogeys. In terms of recent play, the players to target in strokes gained approach are Joaquin Niemann, J.J. Spaun, Scott Piercy, Cameron Tringale, Sergio Garcia, Marc Leishman, Troy Merritt, Bronson Burgoon, Jordan Spieth, and Tyler Duncan.
Strokes Gained Around-the-Green (SG:ARG): Because the green complexes are so difficult at Trinity Forest, I’m adding extra emphasis on the short game. I want elite scramblers who can save pars when they miss approach shots. The best around-the-green players in recent weeks are Daniel Summerhays, Ben Crane, Alex Cejka, Hideki Matsuyama, Matt Atkins, Ricky Barnes, Jonathan Byrd, Marc Leishman, Jimmy Walker, and Johnson Wagner.
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. This is a difficult course, but much of the fantasy scoring will come from birdies and occasional eagles. The best players in this field in recent birdie or better percentage are Keith Mitchell, Jordan Spieth, Brett Stegmaier, Ricky Barnes, Zac Blair, Matt Jones, Grayson Murray, Aaron Wise, Jimmy Walker, and Kevin Na.
Strokes Gained Tee-to-Green on Par-4s (SGT2G:P4): Par-4 scoring is always important, but I’m adding even more emphasis this week with strokes gained tee-to-green on par-4s. Trinity Forest is a par-71, so there’s added emphasis on the par-4s. Some of the leaders in terms of strokes gained on par-4s over the last ten events are Jordan Spieth, J.B. Holmes, Grayson Murray, Hideki Matsuyama, Keith Mitchell, Joaquin Niemann, Talor Gooch, Adam Scott, Scott Piercy, and Jimmy Walker.
*In order of my rankings
Jordan Spieth ($12,900) – Spieth will likely be one of the highest owned players this week, but he’s not going to be nearly as popular as he should be. He’s the class of this field, and it’s not even close. Although he closed with a quadruple-bogey at TPC Sawgass, he was pretty solid all week. Before that, he’d recorded two 3rd place finishes, including at Augusta. Spieth is a hometown favorite here in Dallas, and always treats this event with the reverence he deserves. He was one of the founding members at Trinity Forest, and knows this course better than anyone. Spieth can handle links courses (he’s the defending Open Champion), and is 1st in my statistical model by a wide margin.
Matt Kuchar ($12,100) – Right behind Spieth is Matt Kuchar, who seems to have broken out of his 2018 slump. Kuchar played well again at TPC Sawgrass, although most of the damage was done in round one. He’s the kind of player who tends to perform well when he’s in weaker fields, so there’s no reason to doubt him here. Kuchar is a solid links player, with runner-up finishes at both the Open Championship and the Scottish Open. He has an incredible short game, which is key around Trinity Forest. Lock him in for a top-10.
Sergio Garcia ($12,400) – I was glad to see Sergio round back into form last week at the Player Championship, even though he stalled on the weekend. For two days he was right in the thick of things, and I thought he’d be a major factor on Sunday. Garcia is a Texas resident these days, so he’s accustomed to the heat and windy conditions. He’s also one of the best ball-strikers on Tour and has a fantastic record in the Open Championship. For Sergio, this week is all about how motivated he is.
Marc Leishman ($11,200) – Leishman is going to be popular this week, but he’s the type of player who can legitimately win. Statistically, he hasn’t been great of late, but I was impressed by his weekend at TPC Sawgrass. Even though the stats aren’t pretty, Leishman has racked up top-10 finishes at the Kapalua, Torrey Pines, Bay Hill, and Augusta this year. He’s won in Texas, is a great wind player, and has had success on links-style courses, including a playoff loss at the 2015 Open Championship at St. Andrews.
J.B. Holmes ($9,400) – Holmes has finally turned a corner in 2018 after a brutal slump last season. Over his past twenty rounds, he ranks 8th in strokes gained tee-to-green in this field, making him an obvious value choice. Holmes hits it a mile, but is also an improved iron player. He plays extremely well in the wind, and has a 3rd place finish at the Open Championship (2016). He’s a prolific birdie-maker and plays his best golf here in Texas. Holmes in a multiple-time PGA Tour winner in the Lone Star State, so he should feel very comfortable this week.
Grayson Murray ($9,300) – Most people will target ball-strikers over bombers and forget about Grayson Murray this week, but I won’t. He’s been in great form all year, and is always a great fantasy scorer due to his birdie-making upside. Murray is actually one of the top performers in Texas over his career (just four starts), which includes 14th and 16th place finishes this season in Houston and San Antonio. He finished 30th at last week’s Players Championship, and ranks 4th tee-to-green over the past ten events.
Kevin Na ($9,000) – I didn’t expect to see Kevin Na so low in pricing this week. He’s been playing better of late, and has had success on links-style courses in his career. He also has one of the best short games on Tour, which is key this week at Trinity Forest. He made the cut last week at TPC Sawgrass, and gained strokes tee-to-green for the first time in over a month. Hopefully that trend continues, because he’s a top-20 talent in this field.
Hideki Matsuyama ($11,600) – This is quite a fair price for Matsuyama, even though his recent form has been poor. He missed the cut last week at the Players Championship, but that was just due to the 17th hole, which he played +7 over two days. Take away that hole, and he’s -3 for the tournament and safely through the cut. Hideki has had success on links courses, and played well at each comp course I’m using this week, and is still one of the best ball-strikers in the game. He also has an underrated short game.
Ben Crane ($8,300) – Crane is one of my favorite sleepers of the week, especially at an elevated price. He’s made three straight cuts on Tour, with finishes of 45th, 43rd, and 11th. While those aren’t that inspiring, his statistics are. Crane ranks 3rd in strokes gained tee-to-green over the past ten events, and has done most of his damage with his elite short game. Crane can scramble with anyone on Tour, and that skill is critical this week at Trinity Forest. Crane is actually a five-time PGA Tour winner, including at TPC Southwind, one of my comp courses this week. He has an 11th place finish on his record at the Open Championship, so there are signs that he can handle links golf.
This section focuses on “odds” players – those players whose odds vary the greatest with respect to their Fanduel 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.
Here is a list of the top-10 “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-10 worst “values” based on my aggregations:
Fanduel lineups for the Byron Nelson:
Stars and Scrubs: