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.
IT’S MASTERS WEEK!!!!!
This Masters is full of anticipation and storylines. Rory is going for the career grand slam, and is coming off a win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Phil Mickelson won the WGC-Mexico, and comes into Augusta in stellar form. DJ is still the man to beat, but Justin Thomas and Jon Rahm have been hot on his tail for world number one. Justin Rose is on fire. Jason Day has won recently. And… Tiger is back! Then we have the first-timer’s curse: no Augusta debutant has won since 1979. This year, we have several guys who can overcome that curse, namely Tony Finau and Xander Schauffele.
Augusta National is a course where I’m heavily weighing course history and tournament experience. First-timers have a poor track record here, but I mentioned a couple of debutants that I could see cracking the top-10 this week. The green complexes are so difficult and undulating that knowing where to miss shots and how to smartly recover is even more important than at other Tour stops. Because scrambling is so difficult this week, hitting greens and placing your shots correctly is key. I’m going to look heavily at strokes gained tee-to-green this week, which obviously spits out the best players in the world. If you break up the strokes gained stats even further, off-the-tee play has the biggest correlation with finishing position at Augusta. It makes sense, as most of the recent bombers who have won the Masters are guys who gain the most strokes off-the-tee (Bubba Watson, Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm, etc.). I’ll be looking at short game play as well, but it will be weighed less than off-the-tee and approach shots.
Roster construction is going to be very difficult this week. Odds are, one of the top guys will win. Odds are also that several of the top guys will finish inside the top-5 this week. My suggestion would be to pair two studs on each team, and try to find the value plays / sleepers who can crack the top-10 (at least in terms of fantasy scoring). Also, because this is a limited field, a high percentage of the field will make the cut. This allows us to be a little riskier in terms of picks. Most people will choose one stud this week, and pair that player with two middle-tier options such as Paul Casey and Justin Rose.
Recent Tournament History
Here are the leaderboards from the past three installments of The Masters:
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 Valspar Championship, the Arnold Palmer Invitational, and last week’s Houston Open.
Strokes Gained Off-the-Tee (SG:OTT): Every week, off-the-tee play is a main target. Guys who can hit it long and straight have a huge advantage over the rest of the field. It makes courses shorter, and allows them to hit approach shots from shorter distances, setting up birdies. Augusta typically has short rough, so bombs away! Scoring on the par-5s will be the major key for players this week, so give me all the distance. The best off-the-tee players in recent weeks are Bubba Watson, Brendan Steele, Francesco Molinari, Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, and Dustin Johnson.
Strokes Gained Approach (SG:APP): Ball-striking, especially with irons, is going to be a major key for players this week. The greens at Augusta National are so challenging that controlling iron shots into the greens will be extremely important. If players hit their irons into the wrong quadrants of the greens, they’ll be faced with three and four putts all week. In terms of recent play, the players to target in strokes gained approach are Adam Hadwin, Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Rickie Fowler, Bryson DeChambeau, Justin Thomas, and Xander Schauffele.
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 event should lend itself to low scores, with some short par-4s and reachable par-5s. The best players in this field in recent birdie or better percentage are Phil Mickelson, Jon Rahm, Bryson DeChambeau, Kevin Chappell, Justin Rose, and Pat Perez.
Par-5 Scoring (P5): All of the par-5s are reachable for the majority of players in the field, especially holes #13 and #15. Players who can attack these holes and rack up birdies and eagles will be leading throughout the week. This could mean bombers, or it could mean elite wedge players. Some of the best par-5 scorers in this field are Pat Perez, Jason Day, Bryson DeChambeau, Justin Thomas, Kevin Chappell, and Phil Mickelson.
*In order of my rankings
Jordan Spieth ($10,400) – The Masters runs through Jordan Spieth. There’s no denying that. He faded last year to an 11th place finish, but had previously gone 2nd-1st-2nd in his three starts. He’s struggled with his putting most of this season, but the ball-striking continues to be the best on Tour. This weekend in Houston, he continued his onslaught with his irons and wedges, and nearly won. Take away a few misses inside four feet, and he would have won. In any event, that 3rd place finish will really boost his confidence heading back to Augusta. He should be the favorite in a stacked field.
Justin Rose ($9,200) – This will be one of the most popular picks of the week, but I don’t see how anyone could say a bad word about Justin Rose. His Masters record is incredible – highlighted by his playoff loss last season – and his form matches. Rose is coming off back-to-back top-5 finishes at the Valspar Championship and the Arnold Palmer Invitational, so he’s full of confidence heading to Augusta. Rose has been solid off-the-tee and has one of the purest putting strokes in the world. Two-time major champion Justin Rose has a nice ring to it.
Tiger Woods ($10,000) – I don’t know if this is going to be a popular sentiment, but I think Tiger Woods wins the Masters. This would be one of the greatest comebacks in sports history, but all the signs are there. Tiger is clearly healthy, and he’s shown the consistency that was lacking in each of his previous comebacks. He recently finished 12th at the Honda Classic, 2nd at the Valspar Championship, and 5th at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Tiger ranks 15th in strokes gained approach, 7th in strokes gained around-the-green, and 14th in strokes gained putting. If he can straighten out his driver, he’ll be a factor once again.
Bubba Watson ($8,700) – Re-motivated and rejuvenated, we’ve seen Bubba Watson dominate this year. He won Riviera for the 3rd time, and rolled to a victory in the WGC-Match Play a week ago. Bubba comes to Augusta – where he’s won twice – full of confidence, which is critically important. His driver is still a huge weapon, and he’s sharpened his short game dramatically this season. He ranks 6th in strokes gained off-the-tee and 16th in greens in regulation this season, who key stats for the Masters. Watson is priced in the mid-tier, but should be a top-5 favorite this week.
Dustin Johnson ($11,500) – Dustin Johnson. World number one. Remember him? It was one year ago that DJ had to withdraw after a “fall down the stairs” which sent shockwaves through the field. He came into that week on the heels of three consecutive wins. He opened 2018 with an 8-shot win in Hawaii, but it’s been tough sledding ever since. He’s had some great weeks, but has struggled on Sundays. In any event, he’s finished 4th and 6th in his last two starts at Augusta, and has the perfect game for the course. He bombs it off-the-tee and can dominate these par-5s.
Phil Mickelson ($9,500) – He’s playing the best golf he’s played in the past decade. Phil won the WGC-Mexico Championship, and continues to flash an all-around game. Statistically, he’s near the top of the field in most strokes gained categories, but needs to improve his accuracy off-the-tee. A final round 67 in Houston bodes well for his chances this week. He’s the best performer on the par-5s at Augusta National, which is a trend he’ll have to continue in order to contend this week. Phil is a three-time Masters champion, and there’s no secret that this is what his year is all about. This year could continue to be a magical one for him.
Paul Casey ($8,800) – The ownership on Casey will be interesting this week, since he’s surrounded by names like Bubba Watson, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose, and Sergio Garcia. He recently won the Valspar Championship, for his first PGA Tour win in nearly a decade. Casey has finished inside the top-6 at Augusta each of the past three seasons, and has reached the point of his career where it’s major or bust. Casey ranks 8th in strokes gained approach and 11th in strokes gained around-the-green this season.
Ryan Moore ($7,000) – Moore’s career at Augusta began years ago, as an amateur, so he loves coming here. Recently, Moore has made five of seven cuts here, including 9th last season and 12th in 2015. He’s an elite ball-striker and wedge player, but struggles on the greens. His experience should bode well, and hopefully some of those putting woes are neutralized by his experience. He hasn’t played much this season, but a top-10 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational was a great sign leading up to this week.
Pat Perez ($6,900) – With Bryson DeChambeau and Kevin Chappell (and Ian Poulter, when he’s added to the player pool) drawing a ton of ownership, I think Perez makes for the obvious value play. He’s playing the best golf of his career, cracking the top-20 in the official world golf rankings. Perez won the CIMB Classic earlier this year, and consistently finds his way in the top-25 most weeks. He finished 18th at Augusta last season, and I expect him to duplicate or improve on that finish in 2018. His wedge game is fantastic, and his care-free attitude should suit him well this week.
Jason Day ($9,800) – Day went from under-the-radar to chalk and back to under-the-radar in just a few weeks. 2017 was disastrous for him, on and off the course, but he’s charged back in 2018. He won at Torrey Pines last month, and has continued to play well since, including a runner-up at Pebble Beach. Day has had a ton of success at Augusta, including 2nd, 3rd, and 10th place finishes. Aussies tend to perform well here, and Day is no exception. Considering the ownership of Rose, Woods, and Phil around him, I think Day goes under-the-radar this week. His short game has been especially sharp lately, and I know his long game will catch up soon enough.
Hideki Matsuyama ($8,400) – At first glance, this price looked ridiculously low for Hideki. On second glance, I feel the same way. The best part is that he’ll still be under-owned, considering names like Casey, Rose, Bubba, and Sergio are right around his tier. Matsuyama has finished 5th, 7th, and 11th the past three seasons at Augusta, which should bring back plenty of positive memories. He has some question marks surrounding his injured wrist, but I’ve seen enough the past couple of events to hop on board in a great spot. His short game is great, his putting has improved, and we know that he’s one of the top ball-strikers on the planet.
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.
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:
DraftKings lineups for The Masters:
Stars and Scrubs: