The PGA DFS Breakdown offers data-driven analysis for each week’s slate, using the FantasyLabs Tools and metrics to highlight notable golfers.
The TOUR heads to Memphis this week for the first leg of the FedEx Cup Playoffs. TPC Southwind hosts the FedEx St. Jude Championship. The course is a par 70, measuring 7,244 yards with Bermuda grass greens.
I’ll be highlighting the best cash game/single-entry plays on the DraftKings main slate, but these players are often great options in any contest.
My analysis will frequently reference Strokes Gained, a set of proprietary metrics generated by the PGA TOUR using millions of data points to calculate how many shots, on average, it takes a player to get the ball in the hole from every distance and situation.
Strokes Gained is now available in the FantasyLabs PGA Models.
There are a variety of Strokes Gained-related metrics, but the six main categories you need to know include:
- Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee (SG: Off-the-Tee)
- Strokes Gained: Approach (SG: Approach)
- Strokes Gained: Around-the-Green (SG: Around-the-Green)
- Strokes Gained: Putting (SG: Putting)
- Strokes Gained: Ball-Striking (SG: Ball-Striking), which is SG: Off-the-Tee + SG: Approach
- Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green (SG: Tee-to-Green), which is SG: Ball-Striking + SG: Around-the-Green
If you missed it, we added two new metrics in our models — Perfect% and SimLeverage. You can find an explainer on those metrics here.
The cliff notes version is that you can use SimLeverage to quickly find leverage plays in tournaments, while Perfect% is great for finding the best price-considered plays for cash games.
The following players listed are based on DraftKings scoring and pricing.
PGA DFS Core Picks
Tony Finau ($9,700 DraftKings)
I probably don’t need to go too deep into why Finau is a good play this week; the man has won two PGA TOUR events in a row, something you do not see very often. In the process, he’s gained over 11 strokes ball-striking in each of the wins, and I would certainly expect that level of play to continue into this week.
TPC Southwind is not an easy test, and you must be hitting it well to contend. It will come as no surprise, but Finau ranks No. 1 in SG: Tee-to-Green, SG: Approach, SG: Off-the-Tee, SG: Ball-Striking and SG: Total across his past eight rounds. There have only been two instances since 2004 (26 total) that someone has won three consecutive PGA TOUR starts: Dustin Johnson in 2017 and Rory McIlroy in 2014. Finau will look to become No. 27 on that list, and I would not put it past him the way he’s playing.
Just as a fun fact, Tiger Woods once won SEVEN TIMES in a row during the 2006-2007 season. Absolutely absurd stuff from the GOAT.
Will Zalatoris ($9,500 DraftKings)
Unlike many of the other elites teeing it up this week, Zalatoris has been playing competitive golf of late. He played both the Rocket Mortgage and then again last week at the Wyndham, and he turned in T21 and T20 finishes. Last week it seemed like something clicked after his first round, as he shot 66, 66, and 68 over his final three rounds. His approach game looked strong, gaining strokes in that department over his final three rounds as well.
Zalatoris ranks No. 1 in this field in SG: Approach over his past 48 rounds, which will come in handy at a course that rewards elite approach play. We know he’s better suited for more demanding tracks where birdies are hard to come by and that he putts better on Bermuda. He’s checking a lot of boxes this week and is very affordable at just $9,500. He finished T8 here a year ago, and I expect another top-10 finish at the minimum.
Jordan Spieth ($9,100 DraftKings)
Spieth might go under the radar this week for whatever reason. However, he’s coming off a great trip overseas, finishing T8 at the Open Championship and T10 at the Genesis Scottish Open. He gained strokes both on approach and off-the-tee in seven of eight rounds over those two events and is now returning to a course that’s treated him well historically.
In three starts at TPC Southwind, Spieth has gone T12, T30, and T12 and is averaging .20 strokes tee-to-green and .83 strokes putting per round in those three starts. There are a lot of flashy names in the field this week, but Spieth’s price stands out to me. He’s been a rock this year with six top 10 finishes, including a win at the RBC Heritage. Don’t sleep on him this week.
Billy Horschel ($8,200 DraftKings)
Billy Ho is a course history play. He’s played this event nine times over the past 10 years, and he’s finished inside the top 25 seven times with five top-10s. He shook some rust off last week at the Wyndham, finishing T27 despite not having his best stuff.
At his best, Horschel is someone who finds a ton of fairways and gets hot with the putter. It’s been his recipe for success for years now. Being a Florida guy, we know he prefers Bermuda greens as well. His price tag is highly enticing this week at just $8,200, and he should be solid yet again at one of his favorite courses on TOUR.
PGA DFS Value Picks
Russell Henley ($7,800 DraftKings)
Henley has been locked in with his ball-striking of late, gaining over 1.0 strokes on approach in seven of his past eight rounds, including three rounds over 2.0 strokes in that stretch. It will come as no surprise that he’s finished T10 and T5 at the Rocket Mortgage and Wyndham.
Taking a broader view, you will see that Henley ranks No. 3 in this ridiculously loaded field in SG: Approach over his past 48 rounds. The only two golfers better than him in that timeframe are Zalatoris and Scottie Scheffler. It’s always the putter that holds Henley back, but at least we are back on his preferred Bermuda surface this week. At $7,800, he will be one of the chalkiest players on the slate, but when someone’s hitting it like he is right now, it makes it tough to fade.
Corey Conners ($7,600 DraftKings)
You can take everything I just laid out about Henley and apply it to Conners as well, who ranks 12th in SG: Approach over the last 48 rounds. The thing about Conners that separates him from Henley is his prowess off the tee. When you combine the OTT and approch play, Conners ranks seventh in this field in SG: Ball-Striking over his past 48 rounds.
His putting will make you want to pull your hair out, but we are back on Bermuda, which is his favorite surface. You cannot fade this elite of a ball-striker at just $7,600. He will also be chalky, but we play the best plays around these parts and let the fish make the mistakes.
Scott Stallings ($7,100 DraftKings)
Stallings’ last four finishes read T13, T10, T4, and T8. During that stretch, the only golfers on TOUR who rank better than him in SG: Ball-Striking are Scheffler, Brendan Steele, Finau, McIlroy, Conners, Zalatoris, and Matt Fitzpatrick.
That’s a pretty good list to be on if you’re Stallings, who currently ranks No. 106 in the world. He’s played this course seven times this decade — albeit all seven came before this event was made into a WGC three years ago — and has made the cut in five of those starts, including a runner-up in 2013. That said, we’re not playing Stallings for what he did here nine years ago, but because he’s locked in and costs just $7,100.
Tom Hoge ($6,800 DraftKings)
You probably don’t know this, but Tom “Hollywood” Hoge sits 17th in the FedEx Cup standings right now, one spot behind former good golfer Jon Rahm. It’s been an incredibly odd season for Hoge, as he won at Pebble Beach back in February, finished ninth in the PGA Championship three months later, and then proceeded to miss six consecutive cuts.
That streak ended three weeks ago at the 3M, where he gained a whopping 10.36 strokes on approach. That four-round stretch leads this field by a decent margin. Hoge has some history at TPC Southwind, and if he can hit his irons like he did in Minnesota, he will easily pay off his $6,800 salary this week.