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.
The Copperhead Course is one of the hardest tracks the players face each year, headlined by the Snake Pit. Very similarly to PGA National’s Bear Trap, the Snake Pit consists of a three hole stretch that often determines the tournament on Sunday afternoon. The course is a par-71, checking in just over 7,300 yards. What’s important to note is the course still has four par-5s, so bombers tend to do well. There is an extra par-3 this week, which again emphasizes how important ball-striking and proximity will be this week. Certain bombers who can club down off the tee (Tony Finau, Gary Woodland, and Jason Kokrak) are definite targets for me this week.
As usual, we need to look towards Florida and bermuda green specialists during the Florida swing. While the courses are all a little different, accuracy, ball-striking, putting on bermuda surfaces, and handing the wind are all characteristics we need to target. The wind has played a major factor here in the past, so make sure to check the weather reports on Wednesday to see if one wave has an edge over the other.
Correlating courses that I’ll take a small look at this week are Colonial, TPC Sawgrass, and Harbour Town, with an added emphasis on bermuda, Pete Dye, and hard course specialists.
This week’s field is headlined by Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia, Paul Casey, Henrik Stenson, Patrick Reed, and… Tiger Woods. If I had to pick one of these guys to win this week, it would be Jordan Spieth.
Recent Tournament History
Here are the leaderboards from the past three installments of the Valspar Championship:
Current Form Review
Each week, we’ll look backward at the last three tournaments on the PGA and European Tours. Here are the leaderboards from the past three events: the Genesis Open, the Honda Classic, and last week’s WGC Mexico Championship.
Strokes Gained Approach (SG:APP): Ball-striking, especially with irons, is going to be a major key for players this week. Copperhead is a ball-striker’s paradise, where iron play will be key. The greens are small targets, and scrambling will be a challenge. The players are going to need to back a bundle of birdies this week to offset the bogeys and double bogeys that are lurking. In terms of recent play, the players to target in strokes gained approach are Charles Howell III, Sam Burns, Adam Scott, Ollie Schniederjans, Byeong-Hun An, Adam Hadwin, and Chesson Hadley.
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. Copperhead is more of an accuracy course, but that’s still reflected in some of the names near the top of SG:OTT. The best off-the-tee players are Ryan Palmer, Lucas Glover, Brandon Harkins, Justin Rose, Gary Woodland, and Paul Casey.
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 higher scores, so players who can steal the most points for birdies will be ahead of the pack. The best players in this field in recent birdie or better percentage are Justin Rose, Martin Laird, Adam Hadwin, Paul Casey, Ollie Schniederjans, Ted Potter, Austin Cook, and Jason Kokrak.
Par-3 Scoring (P3): Copperhead is a unique course in that it features five par-3s. That definitely means there’s an added emphasis on those holes, and on iron play in general. Par-3 scoring is notoriously difficult, so this is where the winner will separate himself from the field. Some of the best par-3 scorers in this field are Bill Haas, Scott Stallings, Byeong-Hun An, Paul Casey, Kevin Na, Sangmoon Bae, and Derek Fathauer.
*In order of my rankings
Jordan Spieth ($11,800) – Despite his struggles on the greens, Spieth continues to post top-20 finishes with the occasional top-10. Bermuda grass is one of his better surfaces, and it’ll be a nice break from the poa surfaces he saw in California and Mexico. Spieth comes back to Copperhead where he’s posted 7th, 20th, 1st, and 18th place finishes in his career. This time of year is key for Spieth, as he gears up for yet another run at The Masters. And there has to be added motivation for him, now that Justin Thomas has passed him in the world rankings.
Paul Casey ($9,800) – Casey tops all of my models this week, which is a little scary. Because he struggles to get the job done on Sundays, I have him behind Spieth, but he’s got a great chance this week. Copperhead suits his game to a tee: you have to hit fairways and place approach shots accurately. He has two mediocre finishes and two missed cuts here, but he’s playing some of the best golf of his career these days. He’d be the safest place to start any cash game teams.
Sergio Garcia ($10,900) – Like Paul Casey, Garcia fits this course perfectly. He can shape his tee shots around doglegs, and he’s still one of the premier iron players in the game. I’m still worried about his scrambling, which is key this week, though. He also displayed a poor attitude on Sunday in Mexico, and I saw some flaws that had me worried. In any event, he’s playing well, and he’s gearing up for his title defense at The Masters.
Justin Rose ($10,000) – Rose went on a tear in the Fall, posting three wins and a string of top-10 finishes. He comes off a middling performance in Mexico, but that was just him shaking off the rust. Rose has played well at Copperhead in the past, posting a handful of top-25 finishes with two top-10s. He’s one of the most consistent players on Tour, and tends to play his best this time of year. He nearly won the Masters last year, and he’s chomping at the bit for another chance.
Kevin Na ($8,000) – Looking into the middle tier, nobody fits this course as well as Kevin Na. He’s fresh off a runner-up finish at Riviera, so his confidence should be high. Na is an accurate (but short) driver, an elite wedge and iron player, and has one of the best short games on Tour. He loves this course, making six of his last eight cuts with three top-10 finishes. Na needs a solid week here to lock up a berth in the WGC Match Play and at The Masters.
Patrick Reed ($7,700) – I’ve been off Reed all year, but I was finally encouraged by his final round in Mexico. He was 6-under through sixteen holes before faltering down the stretch, but I think that confidence carries over. Reed has two top-10 finishes at Copperhead, including a playoff loss to Jordan Spieth in 2015. I’m a big fan of his game overall, and I think the familiar grounds here will bring out the best in him. Reed loves putting on bermuda surfaces, and his low ball flight works well in the windy conditions.
Chesson Hadley ($7,400) – Hadley imploded at the Honda Classic, which was disappointing to see. But that event always leaves carnage, and I’m willing to overlook one bad week in lieu of his body of work. At Honda, Hadley lost most of his strokes around-the-green, which means his ball-striking wasn’t bad. He’s made all three cuts at Copperhead, with a best finish of 14th place. He plays well on bermuda greens and is one of the best wind players on Tour. I like Hadley as a bounceback top-20 candidate this week.
Matt Fitzpatrick ($8,300) – Although Fitzy didn’t have his best stuff last week in Mexico, a solid 68 on Sunday got him into a tie for 30th place. That course didn’t suit his style well, and he doesn’t have much experience on poa/kikuyu surfaces. This week is the real litmus test. Copperhead is right up his alley: a tight, tree-lined course with slick greens. Fitz has played well at Augusta in the past, and this course has some of the same elements. He’s a great ball-striker (although he’s struggled a bit this year), and he currently leads the European Tour in strokes gained putting.
Jason Dufner ($7,800) – Dufner performed well for me at the Honda Classic, and I’m back on him at a similar course at Copperhead. He struggled in Mexico last week, but that course didn’t have the same elements. Dufner is a plodder, so this course – where par is a good score – is much more in his wheelhouse. And his record shows that: Dufner has made nine cuts in a row here, with 28th being his worst finish. That sort of consistency is what we want on a challenging course.
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: