The PGA Breakdown offers data-driven analysis for each week’s slate, using the FantasyLabs Tools and metrics to highlight notable golfers.
It’s the week before the British Open, and while most of the PGA Tour’s top golfers are across the pond playing in the Scottish Open the Tour is stopping in Illinois for the 2017 John Deere Classic. It’s a weak field — Daniel Berger, Brian Harman, and Kevin Kisner are the highest-priced options on DraftKings — but there are still enticing guaranteed prize pools on DraftKings, FanDuel, and FantasyDraft.
The John Deere Classic is hosted at TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Illinois; it is a Par 71 that plays at 7,257 yards. Check out Kelly McCann’s comprehensive course breakdown of TPC Deere Run. I’ll briefly touch on the main points. First, this is almost assuredly an accuracy course: Of the five different winners since 2009 — Ryan Moore (2016), Jordan Spieth (2015, 2013), Brian Harman (2014), Zach Johnson (2012), and Steve Stricker (2011, 2010, 2009) — none are considered bombers and all excel at ball-striking and putting.
That said, this is a fairly easy course: The winner has gone at least 19 under in each of the last eight tournaments. Per Kelly’s article, essentially every long-term and recent metric has proven to be somewhat important, which, again, suggests it’s an easy course. Even Long-Term Putts Per Round (PPR) — a metric that typically backtests poorly — has seen a +6.94 DraftKings Plus/Minus among golfers in the top 20 percent. The most important metric historically, and it makes sense given the low scores, is Long-Term Adjusted Birdies Per Tournament (Adj Bird Avg): Golfers in the top 20 percent of that metric have posted a ridiculous +14.73.
No golfer is at a huge disadvantage here because of the ease of the course, but look toward golfers who have a solid Long-Term Adjusted Round (Adj Rd) and good ball-striking metrics and can make birdies. You know — the usual.
Just because the course is easy, that doesn’t mean making lineups this week is. Because of how weak the field is, it’s going to be difficult to build a cash-game lineup that features six ‘safe’ golfers. Berger, who was $8,000 at the U.S. Open less than a month ago, is now $11,300 and the highest-priced option. Harman is the second-most expensive option, and he was all the way down at $6,600 at the U.S. Open. These aren’t bad golfers, but they’re priced up compared to where they would be if the field were even moderately strong.
That said, we can roster only golfers in the field, and Berger is tops among all options with a LT Adj Rd of 68.9. He’s coming off a win and second-place finish in June:
He struggled at Erin Hills, but so did just about every golfer. Berger has still managed an +8.75 Plus/Minus and 70 percent Consistency Rating over his last 10 events, and his Recent Adj Rd score is a strong 69.1. Perhaps most importantly he ranks first in the field with a 13.9 LT Adj Bd Avg. He’s the class of the group, but he could actually have manageable ownership levels because of how weak the golfers in the $6,000 to $7,000 range are — the golfers you need to roster to make room for his high salary.
Pro Subscribers can review ownership trends via our DFS Ownership Dashboard shortly after lineups lock.
Kyle Stanley is a bit cheaper at $9,600 on DraftKings, and he should be one of the most popular golfers this week given his course fit and recent play. He’s coming off a victory at the Quicken Loans National two weeks ago, and he was really good before that, too, averaging a +21.08 Plus/Minus with a 90 percent Consistency Rating over his last 10 tournaments:
He’s had back-to-back top-25 finishes at this course, and his 68.1 Recent Adj Rd score trails only that of Charley Hoffman, who is $100 more expensive and should also be a popular play this week.
We discuss the highest-priced golfers (and more) on this week’s PGA Daily Fantasy Flex podcast.
The Value Plays
Chez Reavie is down at $8,400 and has a strong 69.6 LT Adj Rd score, although his 2.0 percent odds to win the tournament are somewhat low for his price tag; he could see lower ownership than expected for that reason. That said, he’s a fantastic fit for this course: He has an excellent 67.0 percent LT Greens in Regulation (GIR) mark, and both his LT and Recent Driving Accuracy (DA) numbers are elite. Per the PGA Trends tool, there are just four golfers in this field in the 90th percentile in both LT and Recent DA:
- Steve Stricker ($9,800): 90.2% LT, 98.3% Recent
- Chez Reavie ($9,800): 90.4% LT, 97.0% Recent
- Steven Alker ($6,800): 96.4% LT, 98.3% Recent
- Boo Weekley ($6,600): 90.4% LT, 93.3% Recent
Alker is in awful recent form, posting a 72.0 Recent Adj Rd score and actually withdrawing from last week’s Greenbrier Classic, and Weekley is incredibly volatile, making only one of his last four cuts. In terms of recent play and course fit, one could argue that Stricker and Reavie are perhaps the two strongest plays of the week.
Reavie also impresses with a ridiculous 73.1 percent Recent GIR, tied with Chad Campbell for what are easily the best marks in the field. Peter Jennings (CSURAM88) always weights Recent GIR heavily in his personal model, and that’s definitely true again this week. Campbell missed the cut at the Travelers Championship but overall has been very solid over his last five events:
Further, Campbell has some of the best course history at TPC Deere Run: Among golfers with at least three appearances at this tournament, his 69.9 Course Adj Rd score ranks ninth. He hasn’t missed a cut here, finishing in the top 15 in back-to-back years in 2013 and 2014; he didn’t play last year. He’s projected for a chalky 17-20 percent ownership, and that’s scary in a normal week, but he’s actually a fine play in all contest formats given his data points and the surrounding options.
The Bump and Run
Choke up and take a narrow stance.
Wesley Bryan: If putting is indeed more important than usual this week, then Bryan is in a good spot; his 28.2 LT PPR mark ranks second among all golfers with at least 30 events in the last year. He has a poor 72.4 Recent Adj Rd score, but he came in eighth at this event last year, and his 70.1 LT Adj Rd score suggests he’s better than his current form.
Danny Lee: He’s been a stud of late, coming in ninth at last week’s Greenbrier Classic and posting an +11.34 Plus/Minus with an 80 percent Consistency Rating over his last 10 events. His Recent Adj Rd score of 68.7 is one of the best marks in the field, and he has above-average marks in GIR, DA, and PPR; that’s a recipe for success this week.
Joel Dahmen: His 30.2 LT PPR mark is disappointing, but his ball-striking data points are arguably the best in the field. He’s played in 30 events over the past year, and in those he’s hit 70.7 percent of Greens in Regulation and 68.6 percent of fairways; that first data point is easily the best in the field. Sure, his putter is volatile, but he’s also projected for just zero to one percent ownership. Aren’t his ball-striking marks worth a shot at that price?
Good luck this week, and be sure to do your own PGA research with the FantasyLabs Tools.