Fantasy Golf

2017 Players Championship DFS Golf Outlook

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Alright, so you’re back after winning some money with me after a Sergio Garcia and Justin Rose playoff at the Masters. All I have to say is welcome back and I hope I didn’t expend all my luck at Augusta National!

Now we arrive at what’s widely known as the unofficial 5th major. TPC Sawgrass hosts the 2017 Players Championship and it looks like it will be a lovely weekend in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. Lord knows what I’d do to be in Florida this weekend. Instead I’m stuck in northeast Louisiana. But I digress.

It’s a packed field with every notable player making an appearance. Only the strong survive the Stadium Course and its island green. Who can we count on this week in DFS? Here’s everything you need to know for this glorious event! Well, scratch that, here’s a large chunk of what you need to know. Enough to make some money, anyway!

2017 Players Championship DFS Golf Outlook

Course Preview

TPC Sawgrass, Stadium Course 
Par72
Rating76.4
Slope155
Length7,215 yds
GreensTifEagle bermudagrass
WeatherSunny, 87°F, 10-15 MPH wind
Purse$10.5MM

Key Statistics

  1. Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green
  2. Strokes Gained: Putting
  3. Greens in Regulation Percentage
  4. Scrambling Percentage
  5. Par 5 Scoring

The Strokes Gained statistics are going to be common in these rundowns. The importance of those two is obvious, so I won’t spend any time on that.

Usually I take this section to talk about a driving statistic. However, that won’t be necessary this week. Now I will include the Par 5 Scoring statistic to account for those golfers who are ‘well-driven’. Oh, come on, that’s an awesome joke. Where’s my golf clap?!

Greens in regulation (GIR) has long been recognized as an important statistic for TPC Sawgrass. I consider it the most vital statistic when analyzing players this week. Scrambling percentage was kind of a wildcard, but I looked back at past winners and what they ranked in scrambling for that season. I saw some nice correlation between that statistic and success. Basically, you don’t want someone who wastes shots approaching or around the green on this course.

Another factor in consideration was launch angle off the tee. I’m a baseball enthusiast first so I found launch angle to be an intriguing option with moderate-to-high winds. I did find a cool article at Future of Fantasy that I will refer to often throughout this article in regards to players who perform well under windy conditions.

Recent History

The following table shows the top 10 over the last three years in this tournament. I calculated z-scores for each player based on their finishes each year. Because having golfers who played in all three events and make the cut was rare, I decided to change it up a bit. I took each of the golfers’ two best scores from the past three seasons and added them together.

Playerz-2014z-2015z-2016Total
Sergio Garcia1.821.913.73
Francesco Molinari1.351.412.76
Rory McIlroy1.351.052.40
Justin Rose1.580.652.24
Matt Kuchar0.631.602.23
Martin Kaymer2.30-0.102.19
Jim Furyk2.060.082.14
Hideki Matsuyama0.621.412.03
Justin Thomas0.411.602.01
Kevin Chappell0.161.791.95

Oh man, that list of players is beautiful. Experience is a major factor that doesn’t show up in the statistics. Let’s see if this year’s statistics like any of those past trends to continue.

Golfers to Own

Dustin Johnson, $11200

And just like that, DJ is BACK!

All those doubters out there who mocked him after a freak accident during the biggest golf week of the year were silenced last week. DJ went out and posted a T2 finish at the Wells Fargo Championship. Well, his word wasn’t ‘posted’ – more like ‘settled’. That’s the fire I like out of Johnson and I look forward to watching him return to that unbelievable pre-Masters form.

So, yes, he is the most expensive player by quite a margin. However, that speaks to just how ‘money’ he is. And that’s not just an overused slang term, that’s a statistical statement. He wins 9.46% of the available money at the events at which he competes. For reference, Hideki Matsuyama is in second at 5.07%.

When you pay up in DFS for DJ, you are paying for a known commodity. To be contrarian is one thing, but don’t get cute and fade him. He should be played in over half of your lineups, cash or tournament. Differentiate in the player pool elsewhere.

Justin Thomas, $9100

Thomas is in that weird price range that many people don’t dive into if they are owning DJ or one of the other expensive players. That’s a mistake and I’m liking some of the players in the $9000 range because of it. Instead of rostering two elite guys, why not snag three or four guys in this range and round out your lineup better?

He is coming off a top 5 finish last week at the Zurich Classic in New Orleans. The statistics love him to have success at this course, especially with an impressive 71% GIR. He’s won three events in 2017 and, while he misses his fair share of cuts, consistently finishes high on the leaderboard by the week’s end. I will be looking to employ the fake JT in all types of entries.

Rickie Fowler, $9400

Can I just reserve a spot for Fowler on my DFS Golf articles? He’s been on every single one I have done so far and for good reason. He helped me win money in my Masters lineups and I’m expecting him to show up in a big way this week.

Yes, I realized he missed the cut at New Orleans last week. That was his first tournament since the Masters though and he was shaking off some cobwebs. He’s a resilient golfer who has the added bonus of being a good windbreaker. According to Future of Fantasy, he is the 13th best performer in windy conditions. Another top 10 finish is in the wings for Fowler.

Russell Henley, $6800

Alright, here’s the guy who’s going to be in all of my lineups – tournament or cash. The price is way too good for someone with the sort of upside that Henley has. He missed the cut at this event last year but had top 25 finishes in 2014-2015. In the last month or so, he’s won the Houston Open and finished T11 at The Masters.

If your memory isn’t serving you right, he’s the dude who did this on a tough hole at Augusta. The 28 year old has his stroke down and will hit greens with the best of them en route to a top 15 finish.

Golfers to Avoid

Martin Kaymer, $8500

I understand if you want to play Kaymer in cash games. He’s been extremely consistent for the 2017 season and proven that he can win this tournament (back in 2014). However, as I’ve stated before, I don’t play the simply reliable guy who also has a moderate to high salary.

His strokes gained stats are very good, but the three key statistics mentioned earlier don’t bode well for the German. He’s very subpar in GIR, scrambling, and par 5 scoring, which makes you wonder how the hell his strokes gained stats are good anyway. This is far from the player that won it a few years back. I would much rather dip down into the $7000-$7600 player pool than spend up on Kaymer.

Jimmy Walker, $8500

At first, I didn’t feel the need to harp on Walker very much. That was until I read some other DFS articles and listened to some golf analysis on SiriusXM. These guys are feeding you lies – LIES!

Walker hasn’t played in three weeks. He hasn’t posted a top 10 in a competitive tournament this season. I like the guy, but come on people! For my style of DFS play, these are exactly the guys I try to avoid. Same as Kaymer, I will enjoy saving over $1000 to dive into the cheaper range of players who will undoubtedly finish higher than him.

Oh shoot, that reread really harshly. My bad, Jimmy!

Patrick Reed, $8200

Just in case any of you were going by last two weeks of results, beware! Reed will be close to the top of your list after two top 14 finishes. I wouldn’t touch Reed with a 10 foot pole this week. Check out those three finishes before the Zurich Classic. What do you see? I see a hair salon. Cut, cut, cut.

Now that the horribly awful joke has marinated, let’s look at the numbers. The only statistic of the five above in which he is above average would be strokes gained putting. I’m no golf analyst, but if you can’t compete with the rest of the field on wasting shots when approaching the green, how can you make up for those shots with just the putting stroke? I don’t think he will be able to and we could see another visit to the hair salon for Reed as the weekend begins.

Sleeper of the Week

Kyle Stanley, $5500

The great Yogi Berra once spoke “It’s like deja vu all over again.”

I recommended Stanley a couple of months ago for the Arnold Palmer Invitational at another Florida course, Bay Hill. He ended up posting a T17, not bad for a sleeper!

Well, it looks like FanDuel hasn’t woke up to him yet. He’s had top 30 finishes in four of his last five events including the one at Bay Hill. I know that’s not elite status, but he just doesn’t miss cuts. That’s valuable in DFS, where he would be a perfect 1-2 round pick in the FanDuel format. Stanley’s $5500 price matched with an expensive player like DJ will outweigh two average players any day of the week.

Bonus Sleeper – Luke List, $5800

This might be a leap of faith to most people. List has been struggling lately, missing the cut in the two events prior to last week. What I like about him though is that he took a weekend off to regather himself and did at least make the cut at the Wells Fargo Championship last week. Here’s a golfer who is incredibly streaky and has the style of play that meshes well with this track.

He’s absolutely just a tournament play – I repeat, DO NOT PLAY HIM IN CASH GAMES! However, consider that he might be one of the lowest owned players this week. If he goes off like he is capable of doing in your tournament lineup, you could be rolling in some dough.

My Friend JSK’s Lock of the Week

And now, the main event! The guy who admitted to the fact that he is still, as recently as this week, watching Masters reruns while in a dark room with nothing but his underwear on and a jar of almonds. My boy JSK’s champion is…

“You guys are going to think I’m crazy, but Sergio Garcia is a lock this week at TPC Sawgrass.

The knee-jerk reaction is to assume that coming off of his first major victory, El Hombre (formerly El Niño) will lose focus on practice and become complacent. However, Sergio has said that getting the “major monkey” off his back has only fueled his self-belief and drive to win more big tournaments.

Many people compare the Spaniard’s win at Augusta to Phil Mickelson’s in 2004. That year, Phil the Thrill went T3, 2, 3, T6 at the Players, US Open, Open Championship, and PGA Championship, respectively. That is insane! If not for a few back nine miscues, some of those high finishes could have been more wins. There’s no reason to assume that Garcia couldn’t do the same or even better this season.

Since 2007, no player on Earth has been more consistent than Sergio Garcia at the Players. He ranks number one in: score to par, scoring average, rounds of 67 or better, and birdies/eagles made. He has already won here once, and could have had a few more (see 2007, 2013, 2014, 2015). Needless to say, he is quite comfortable at this venue.

The floodgates have opened for Sergio, and he’s going to add another Players Championship trophy to his cabinet this weekend.”

I made the obvious choice going with DJ this week, but I love that JSK is going against the script here with Sergio Garcia. The Spaniard will likely be faded in DFS this week due to the post-Masters hangover. I was originally going to fade him (you won’t see a lineup with him below), but I’m definitely going to have some exposure now after reading this.

Yay, an excuse to have more lineups!

Proposed DFS Lineups

Tournament

RoundsPlayerSalary
Total$59,700
1-2Daniel Berger$7300
1-2Luke List$5800
1-2Kyle Stanley$5500
1-2D.A. Points$5400
3-4Dustin Johnson$11200
3-4Jon Rahm$10100
3-4Francesco Molinari$7600
3-4Russell Henley$6800

It was pretty difficult to fit my personal top two contenders, DJ and Jon Rahm, in the same lineup. However, I think I was able to make it work, but will need some luck to come through in my lowered priced options.

I already touched on my level of belief in Henley, Stanley, and List. Daniel Berger is someone I always enjoy using in DFS. Francesco Molinari is always a threat on courses that favor precision over distance. He finished T7 at Bay Hill about a month ago and that’s a good barometer for this tournament.

Lastly, I’m just hoping D.A. Points gets me any kind of, well, points. Did I pick him just to make that dumb joke? Maybe. But he has actually been halfway decent this year so that $5400 tag is worth the risk.

Cash

RoundsPlayerSalary
Total$60,000
1-2Brendan Steele$7000
1-2Pat Perez$6800
1-2Sung Kang$5700
1-2Kyle Stanley$5500
3-4Jordan Spieth$9700
3-4Rickie Fowler$9400
3-4Justin Thomas$9100
3-4Russell Henley$6800

The more I look at this lineup, the more I love it. Three legitimate championship contenders in Jordan Spieth, Fowler, and Thomas. Once again the Henley-Stanley duo strikes.

A couple of names I liked before the Masters show up in Pat Perez and Brendan Steele. They didn’t do all that great at Augusta, but I’m ready to roll with them again. Perez is coming off a T2 at the Zurich Classic, dope. Steele has been pretty bad recently, I must admit. However, the dude is a cut-maker (outside of his last event) and I expect the veteran to bounce back this week.

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Sung Kang is a very intriguing player to me this week. Not your typical cash game player, he’s largely feast-or-famine on the leaderboard. However, I wanted to throw his name in here just to give this group some extra life, you know, that oomph! If he’s a bust in the opening two rounds, I can make up for it with my weekend warriors.

 

About Tyler Thompson

Follow me on Twitter at @therealwody. For all the latest news and best advice out there, like us on Facebook, Google+ and Instagram.

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