The PGA Breakdown offers data-driven analysis for each week’s slate, using the FantasyLabs Tools and metrics to highlight notable golfers.
The PGA Tour gave everyone some time off to play daily fantasy football last week, but the FedEx Cup Playoffs continue this week at the BMW Championship. It’s Round 3 of 4, which means that only the top 70 golfers will compete for 30 final spots. As a result, it is a no-cut event.
The BMW Championship has rotating sites, although it keeps the rotation tight: Only six courses have hosted the event since its inception in 2007. It’s being played at Conway Farms Golf Club in Lake Forest, Illinois, where it was held in 2015 and 2013. Jason Day and Zach Johnson won those events, posting respective weeks of -22 and -16, and that’s an interesting duo considering their different games. Day is long off the tee and has historically been a great putter, whereas ZJ is short but excels at hitting fairways. Colin had a theory as to why the course played differently in those two years on our PGA Daily Fantasy Flex podcast: The 2015 tournament featured heavy rain, which changed how the course was played.
It seems like a long course — it is a Par 71 playing at nearly 7,200 yards — and it’s true that longer hitters will likely be rewarded. As we saw two weeks ago, the truly long, talented golfers like Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas can use those skills to put themselves in constant birdie situations and absolutely roll over the field. That said, there’s a bit of uncertainty to the course this week. Being accurate will also be key to success, and given the lack of data on the course — especially if you heavily discount the rain-filled year — it might be wise to weight something like Course Adjusted Round Score a little less than usual.
On the other hand, both Long-Term and Recent Adjusted Round Score are important this week, the latter given how tough the field is. Unfortunately, the FedEx Cup has brought out the best in the top players: Among the top-fix golfers in terms of Recent Adj Rd Score, only Paul Casey is below $9,900 on DraftKings:
Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson are particularly interesting because of their prices: At $11,800 and $11,500, they are priced as they normally are despite the smaller field. In most weeks, there are a bunch of golfers in the $6,000 range to pair with the studs in a stars-and-scrubs lineup approach, but that is not the case this week; only six golfers are priced at the minimum $6,900. As a result, it’s difficult to roster Spieth and DJ and still load up on other golfers; rostering Spieth, for example, leaves only $7,640 per remaining golfer. With a loaded, smaller field, it’s likely DFS players will elect to go with balanced rosters, which means that doing the opposite and going heavier on Spieth and DJ could be worthwhile in tournaments.
That dynamic existed last week, and it should only be more extreme this week. Per the DFS Ownership Dashboard, users strongly elected to dip down in salary and go for guys like Rickie Fowler, Jason Day, and Rory McIlroy, as those guys provided an easier avenue to a balanced lineup with possible higher expected value (EV).
To maximize EV in cash games, it’ll probably again be wise to roster some of the lower-salaried studs instead of Spieth and DJ. But GPPs are about putting together lineups that can take advantage of variance and jump to first, and those two guys could likely provide an ownership edge.
One guy who is interesting as a cash-game play is Hideki Matsuyama, who played horribly in the first round of the FedEx Cup Playoffs, missing the cut and scoring only 24.0 DraftKings points, but overall he’s been excellent in 2017. He’s just a month removed from winning the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in a loaded field, and he’s put together an outstanding +14.57 Plus/Minus with a 90 percent Consistency Rating over his last 10 events.
He’s long enough off the tee (306.0-yard Recent Driving Distance), but importantly he combines that with excellent iron play, as evidenced by his 70.1 percent Recent Greens in Regulation (GIR) mark — the seventh-best mark in the field. That combination is rare, and Matsuyama has shown he can play well here, finishing seventh in 2015, when he hit 76.0 percent of greens.
It’s difficult to discount any of these guys, and the best course of action could be to leverage our ownership projections found within Models and move from there.
The Value Plays
Paul Casey was $8,900 last week and finished fourth at the Dell Technologies Championship. You might think he would deserve more than a $300 bump up to $9,200 this week, but that’s how DraftKings has played him all year. He’s been perhaps the most valuable DFS golfer this season, averaging a ridiculous +17.47 Plus/Minus with perfect Consistency over his last 10 events. Look at these results.
He has elite marks in essentially every category for a golfer, including our proprietary metrics. His 68.3 LT Adjusted Round Score is a top-10 mark, and his 67.0 Recent Adj Round Score is the third-best mark in the field. He’s hit greens to the tune of 70.5 percent over his last four tournaments, and he’s also had a steady putter, posting a 29.2 Recent Putts Per Round mark. He has averaged 16.3 birdies per tournament and has dominated Par 5s, averaging a -4.3 score on them over the last four events. He is arguably one of the best golfers in the world right now, and he’s priced as just the No. 9 golfer on DraftKings and No. 8 guy on FanDuel.
Right there with him in terms of Plus/Minus and cash-game value is Patrick Cantlay, who finally got a price increase up to $8,600 — at least on DraftKings. He is still laughably cheap at just $6,700 on FanDuel and should have sky-high ownership there. He’s been just as good as anyone over the last couple months, posting a stupid +21.69 DraftKings Plus/Minus and +26.10 FanDuel Plus/Minus with perfect Consistency on both sites. Why wouldn’t that player get a price hike?
The highest-rated player in the Colin Davy Pro Model currently, Cantlay has an elite LT Adjusted Round Score of 68.3, and his 67.6 recent score is the third-best mark among players priced under $9,900 not named Henrik Stenson or Patrick Reed. Cantlay has hit 71.3 percent of the greens over his last three tournaments, along with 64.3 percent of the fairways. He has no course history at this track, but (as mentioned earlier) that should potentially be discounted anyway. Cantlay is second to only Fowler in this entire field with a +22.9 FanDuel Plus/Minus over the past year.
The Bump and Run
Choke up and take a narrow stance.
Lucas Glover: If you want to dip down to almost min price, Glover is coming off an 82.0-point DraftKings outing at only 1.2 percent ownership last week. He has a solid 69.2 LT Adjusted Round Score and is long enough to compete, as evidenced by his 303.0-yard Recent DD. Scrambling could also be an underrated stat this week, and Glover’s 68.6 recent mark is second in the entire field.
Henrik Stenson: He’s an odd guy this week, and part of his recent data is likely propped up by a first-place finish at the Wyndham Championship. That said, his field-leading 72.9 percent Recent GIR mark is impressive in any field, and he’s also hit 70.5 percent of fairways over his last four events. He’s a fine cash-game play given his low salary of $8,900, and we’re currently projecting him for a fairly chalky 21-25 percent ownership rate.
Daniel Berger: He’s missed salary-based expectations in three straight events, but that could keep his ownership reasonable. Birdies are important in a no-cut event, and Berger’s Long-Term Birdie Score of 14.1 is tied with Charl Schwartzel‘s as the best mark among golfers priced under $8,500 — and he’s just $7,500. That’ll do. Also, I know it’s less important, but his second-place finish here in 2015 could at the least give him confidence this week.
Good luck this week!