After a two-week hiatus for the Ryder Cup, the FedExCup Fall is back in action, as DFS fantasy golf returns to its typical format. The Sanderson Farms Championship is the first of three straight weeks of fall golf action before a one-week break and then three more tournaments before Thanksgiving. The six tournaments have important impacts on players’ position and status heading into next season when the PGA TOUR schedule will feature the new signature events and a slightly modified schedule.
The Sanderson Farms Championship this week will return to the Country Club of Jackson for the 10th straight season, so everyone has some course history to consider while building lineups. To learn more about the course and the kind of players that have succeeded here in the past, check out Matt Vincenzi’s weekly stats preview.
The field is typical of fall events, with a focus on players who missed the playoffs and are working to maintain their status for next year. No player in the top 35 in the Official World Golf Ranking will be teeing it up, but there are five players scheduled to play who finished in the top 50 of the pre-playoff FedExCup race. Eric Cole, Lee Hodges, Tom Hoge, Adam Svensson, and Emiliano Grillo have all locked in their status for next year and qualified for 2024’s Signature events. They’re at the top of this week’s field, but there are also plenty of interesting storylines to keep track of in the other players teeing it up.
Six of the nine winners at the Country Club of Jackson have been first-time winners, showing there’s definite breakout potential here. We should also expect a close contest since each of the last four events has been either a one-shot win or decided in a playoff. Last year, it was MacKenzie Hughes who emerged victorious, claiming his second career PGA TOUR win by beating Sepp Straka in a playoff.
The many layers of drama at the FedExCup Fall standings can get a little confusing since the PGA TOUR is trying to incentivize players across the rankings to tee it up. The main race to track over the next week weeks is the race for the top 125. The top 125 in the FedExCup Standings after The RSM Classic in November retain their status for the 2024 season
This weekly GPP post focuses on players with lower ownership projections than their potential performance. Finding high-leverage plays is critical for GPP success. The picks here are designed to go against the grain and take advantage of players who may be overlooked or not selected due to risk factors.
Since these are GPP picks, we can accept more risk if it raises the lineup’s ceiling. High-risk, high-reward options with low ownership create the “boom-or-bust” style lineups that usually lead to large-field success.
GPP contests are contests that have large numbers of entries and pay out huge prizes to the top few percent. Since this week is a major, the largest GPP on DraftKings is the $300K Sand Trap, which awards $100K to first place.
The players highlighted will be good options if they deliver in all formats, but they come with risk factors that usually keep them from being the safest plays. Safety and reliability should be the focus of lineups in cash and double-up contests, where finishing in the top spot isn’t quite as important. To find specific guidance for all contest types, check out our full Daily Fantasy Golf coverage each week.
No matter what type of format you prefer, be sure to use the FantasyLabs PGA Models to help you make the best choices. These models use stats and simulations to highlight different players’ strengths and weaknesses. A few critical new stats for GPP play are Perfect% and SimLeverage, which are further explained here.
Usually, I rely on the Stroked Gained Model, which is very predictive of results. I also tend to lean into players that gain shots on approach since week-to-week putting performance can be highly volatile, even for the best players on the PGA TOUR.
As you dig into the numbers, you can enjoy the many tools that FantasyLabs offers, including the Lineup Optimizer, which effortlessly creates up to 300 lineups. Alternatively, you can use the Lineup Builder if you prefer a more hands-on approach.
Check out my top picks in each price range listed below.
Editors note: SimLeverage and Perfect% numbers may change after this piece is published. Be sure to check the PGA Models for any updates to the sims.
High-Priced PGA DFS Picks
Stephen Jaeger $10,400
Even though he has the second-highest ownership projection in the field, Jaeger still has a positive SimLeverage. He has the second-highest ceiling and median projections of all the players in the field, behind only Ludwig Aberg, who has the highest ownership projection. Jaeger also trails only Aberg in Perfect% and landed in the optimal lineup in almost 30% of our sims.
Jaeger has the second-best odds to win this week, according to Vegas, as well as the second-best odds to finish in the top 10. He’s a good pivot to consider from the chalky Aberg, who will be arriving in Jackson after playing at the Ryder Cup. He may not be impacted by the travel and busy schedule, but Jaeger offers a similar upside without that specific risk.
Jaeger last played competitively at the Fortinet Championship a few weeks ago, where he made his 14th consecutive cut and finished T45. While Jaeger hasn’t finished in the top eight in any PGA TOUR event this season, he has posted top 30 finishes in nine of those contests.
During his run of success, he has outperformed salary-based expectations in seven of his past nine events. He has been playing well throughout his bag, finishing with positive SG: Approach and SG: Putting in eight straight tracked events.
He finished 30th last season in his debut at this event, and his game fits the course very well. He’s one of the most reliable options in play and worth paying over $10K for as a pivot from Aberg.
Doug Ghim $9,100
Ghim also has the kind of accuracy on approach and short game that should set him up for success in Jackson. Ghim continued a strong run of results at the Fortinet earlier this fall when he had his best putting performance in a long time with +2.7 SG: Putting. If the accurate approach specialist can keep his putter hot, this could be the week the 27-year-old from the University of Texas breaks through for his first PGA TOUR win.
Ghim comes in with the best SimLeverage of any player in the $9K range and ranks in the top 10 of our Perfect%. He barely ranks in the top 20 of ownership percentage but is inside the top 10 in ceiling, median, and floor projections.
His form coming into this event is superb. He has exceeded salary-based expectations in nine of his past 10 events, with his only slip-up at the Scottish Open. Ghim has four top-20 finishes during that run and has the skills to contend this week at the Sanderson. He and Jaeger are similar in that they post good, consistent numbers across the board but haven’t put it all together in one week to post a win or ultra-high finish.
Mid-Priced PGA DFS Picks
Tom Hoge $8,500
Hoge advanced to the BMW Championship in the FedExCup Playoffs and then took his game to England for a pair of tournaments in September. He made the cut but struggled to T88 at the Horizon Irish Open, but he looked even better the next week at the BMW PGA Championship, where he fired back-to-back rounds of 68 to climb to a T15 finish.
If Hoge can build on that momentum, he should be able to exceed salary-based expectations this week in Jackson. He has been able to do that in four of his last five tournaments. He tends to be a “boom-or-bust” play, but when he’s on point, he can challenge on layouts that reward ball-striking like this one.
Of all the players priced over $8K, Hoge is one of just two with under 10% projected ownership. Since he is in over 10% of optimal lineups, he has positive SimLeverage, which only a few players in this price range offer.
Back in 2019, Hoge started with a sizzling eight-under to lead the event but faded to a T39. He has made the cut in four of his eight career visits to the tournament. At this salary, he offers good upside to consider, especially given his projected ownership.
Davis Thompson $8,200
Thompson is another one of the few players in this price bracket that offer positive SimLeverage, and he’s actually a slightly safer play than Hoge, according to the projections. He’s just inside the top 20 in median, ceiling, and floor projections in this field and comes with a solid Projected Plus/Minus of +9.43, which is the highest or second-highest of all the players at his price or higher.
Thompson initially burst onto the scene this past season by battling Jon Rahm at The American Express, where he finished runner-up. He struggled for much of the summer after that but gained momentum towards the end of the season, exceeding salary-based expectations in four of his past five tournaments. He finished in the top 30 at the Fortinet despite a final-round fade of 74 on Sunday.
The strength of his game is definitely his driver, but if the former World Amateur Golf Ranking No. 1 can put his game together, he should be a breakthrough star this year. This should be the kind of low-scoring event that plays to his strengths creating and converting birdie opportunities.
Value PGA DFS Picks
Akshay Bhatia $7,900
Bhatia was built for low-scoring events like this one, and he has already proven he can win on the PGA TOUR after claiming the Barracuda Championship this past July. That event was opposite The Open Championship and had a field somewhat similar to this week’s in Mississippi.
Bhatia was rolling before the breakthrough win and had posted three top-10 finishes, including top-five finishes at the Puerto Rico Open and the Mexico Open at Vidanta. Unfortunately for him, Bhatia followed up that win with two missed cuts in two tournaments since, but he has the game to compete in this kind of event when he’s on point.
Partially due to the two missed cuts, Bhatia’s projected ownership is surprisingly low this week, and he brings the highest SimLeverage in the field. He appears in the sixth-most Optimal Lineups at just over 15%, but his ownership projection is hovering closer to the 10% level.
Bhatia played this event all the way back in 2020 as a 17-year-old in his PGA TOUR debut and missed the cut despite shooting even-par. This will be his first time back since then, and he’ll be looking to make an even bigger splash as he tries to open even more opportunities for next season.
Peter Kuest $7,400
Kuest is another young golfer on the rise looking for a spot to break through. The 25-year-old from Fresno and BYU played strong down the stretch, making the cut at the 3M Open and the Wyndham Championship but missing the cut at the Fortinet in his first tournament of the FedExCup Fall.
Kuest is one of the longest hitters in the field and also has strong play with his longer irons. He should be able to set up birdie chances with that skillset and has shown he can contend in low-scoring events. As a result of his upside, he has the fifth-best SimLeverage in the field. His projected ownership is under 7%, which gives his SimLeverage a good boost, and he ranks seventh in the whole field in projected Pts/Sal.
Sleeper PGA DFS Picks
Will Gordon $6,900
There are 83 players with salaries under $7K this week, and all of them are projected for 4% ownership or less. Getting value from a sleeper in this section can go a long way to differentiating your lineup and setting you up for GPP success.
No player under $7K has a higher Projected Plus/Minus than Will Gordon, who also has the highest ceiling, median, and floor projections of the 83 players in the sleeper range. Gordon has a positive SimLeverage and matches four Pro Trends, tied for the most of any player in this salary bracket.
He comes into this event off of three straight missed cuts but did post top-25 finishes earlier this year at the Scottish Open and the RBC Canadian Open to show he still has that upside. Gordon played the Sanderson last year for the first time and finished T30 after starting out hot and being tied for the lead after Round 1.
Trey Mullinax $6,900
Mullinax had a rough season last year, making just 12 of 26 cuts and posting two top 10s. One of those came last fall at the Cadence Bank Houston Open, and the second was at the Arnold Palmer in early March. After that was a rough stretch for Mullinax, with just one made cut in 13 events.
After the long slump, Mullinax got things turned around a little bit with a T50 at the 3M Open in late July and then a T67 at the Wyndham Championship. He exceeded salary-based expectations in both of those tournaments.
Mullinax finished fourth at this event two years ago and missed the cut last season.
This week, he brings the highest SimLeverage of all the players under $7K and the second-highest ceiling, median and floor projections. He’s definitely not a sure thing, but he brings enough upside to deserve attention with his salary under $7K and his projected ownership under 2.5%.