DraftKings PGA Preview: Rocket Mortgage Classic
DraftKings has only seven golfers priced at $9,500 or above this week. Dustin Johnson is the overwhelming favorite this week with Vegas odds of 6-to-1 and a $12,000 price tag. Rickie Fowler is next highest priced golfer at $11,200. Gary Woodland ($10,900), Hideki Matsuyama ($10,200), and Brandt Snedeker ($9,900) round out the top five, in terms of salary. DraftKings provides you with $50,000 to select six golfers for an average roster spot of $8,333.
All of the tips and information that I mention in this article are plays that I will be considering for my own lineups. In fact, most of the plays mentioned are based upon an extensive customized model that utilizes a number of statistics and results. However, that doesn’t mean that I will end up with all of the guys that I mention. Additional news, research, and roster construction may lead me to different plays. Remember to check the news and social media reports leading up to the first golfer teeing off. Though golf is more difficult to get injury news, you might be able to pick up a nugget or two that helps with roster construction – especially when dealing with possible withdrawals.
Work at having a solid process week in and week out as opposed to getting bogged down by recency bias or the ups-and-downs of the weekly golf grind. Though the best golfers will perform best during the season, from week-to-week, any golfer is capable of winning and the best golfers are capable of missing the cut. Have a solid process and use all the information available to make the best decision possible for your lineup. Good luck and, most importantly, have fun! Whether you win or lose, golf is one of the most entertaining fantasy sports to follow because you get four days of action.
This event went from being the Quicken Loans Open to the Rocket Mortgage Classic and it also changed locations to Detroit, Michigan. The Detroit Golf Club will play host to this year’s Rocket Mortgage Classic.
156 players are scheduled to tee it up this week with the top 70 (and ties) making the cut. The MDF (secondary cut) is in effect this week. This means that the top 70 (and ties) will also make it to Sunday.
The North Course at the DGC will be utilized for all but one hole from the South Course. Six new tee boxes were added in the last year to this Donald Ross design to add approximately 300 yards to the course. The par-72 course now measures 7,340 yards.
The greens are POA with some bentgrass mixed in. They have a lot of undulations (normal for Donald Ross designs). The green speeds are 12.5 on the stimpmeter. The size of the greens is slightly smaller than the tour average.
The course superintendent has stated that the rough is approximately 3.5” and they have no plans to cut this. There is only one water hazard on the course.
The four par 3s average 184 yards. Four of the par 4s are between 350-400, which should have the pros licking their chops at the birdie possibilities. Three of the four par 5s might be reachable to golfers, so we could see a birdie or better percentage of 40-50% on those holes for the week. This field is not that strong as only five of the world’s top-25 golfers are teeing it up this week.
COURSE FIT & KEY STATISTICS
We don’t know exactly how this course will play this week since it is the first time it has hosted a professional event. There is no safe play when it comes to DFS golf, however, you may want to rely upon the golfers that have the best overall games as opposed to targeting certain types of players.
My customized overall stat model measures all key stats (driving, approach, short game, putting, etc.) from both a short-and-long-form standpoint. The best golfers, in terms of stats, for my customized model this week (in ranked order) are Dustin Johnson, Gary Woodland, Hideki Matsuyama, Chez Reavie, Kevin Streelman, Billy Horschel, Viktor Hovland, Joaquin Niemann, Rickie Fowler, and Ryan Moore.
Official World Golf Rankings
Sometimes it makes sense to just play as many of the best golfers as you can. Here are the top-15 golfers in the field (according to their OWGR): Dustin Johnson (2), Gary Woodland (12), Rickie Fowler (14), Bubba Watson (22), Patrick Reed (25), Chez Reavie (26), Kevin Kisner (27), Hideki Matsuyama (31), Cameron Smith (40), Billy Horschel (41), Brandt Snedeker (45), Byeong-Hun An (53), J.B. Holmes (54), Charles Howell III (55), and Kyle Stanley (56).
There are four par 5s on this course, with three of them being reachable. When looking at golfers who perform best on par 5s (both from a short-term and long-term perspective), here are the golfers you might want to consider: Gary Woodland, Sam Burns, Wyndham Clark, Kevin Tway, Dustin Johnson, Matt Jones, Matthew Wolff, Sung Kang, Sungjae Im, and Hideki Matsuyama.
Gary Woodland ($10,900)
He has made the cut in 27 of his last 28 events. He became famous two weeks ago with his U.S. Open win. That might have put him on the radar of the general public, but golf fans have seen him trending up for the last year. He finished T8 at the PGA Championship and has a couple of runner-up finishes this season.
Hideki Matsuyama ($10,200)
Nobody in golf has made more consecutive PGA Tour cuts than Matsuyama’s current streak of 23. He has yet to really contend on Sunday, but he is still playing solid golf. In fact, in the last 24 rounds, nobody has scored more fantasy points in this field than has Matsuyama. He finished in sixth place at the Memorial Tournament. That was sandwiched between a T21 at the U.S. Open and a T16 at the PGA Championship.
Chez Reavie ($9,700)
He won last week after finishing T3 at the U.S. Open. He finished T14 at the PGA Championship before that. I would say that the guy is coming in with good form.
Kevin Streelman ($8,600)
He has made the cut in six straight events, but more importantly he has three top-six finishes during that streak. He also finished T15 last week at the Travelers. In the last 24 rounds, only Dustin Johnson and Chez Reavie have gained more total strokes on the field than has Streelman.
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Dustin Johnson ($12,000)
He has had a “disappointing” season (for the world’s number two player) and hasn’t looked as dialed in with his irons or putter as normal. He could easily win this event by three or four strokes. He could also finish T35, which would not be good for your DFS lineups. I am going to bet on talent this week. The only issue for me is that I don’t see much value to fit him into my lineups. I will be essentially throwing some darts to fit him in and hoping those punt plays make the cut. I will only be playing him in MME lineups, but will go very heavy on him in those tournaments (I might even hit the lock button in some of the 20-max tournaments). In my single-entry and three-max lineups, however, I will be starting with Matsuyama for nearly $2,000 less.
Hideki Matsuyama ($10,200)
I think Matsuyama breaks through this week and contends on Sunday. He has been making cuts and returning fantasy value this season, but not showing up on Sunday leaderboards. I think he is trending up. I am not opposed to Gary Woodland, but I am going to be cautious with the major victory hangover. These two are essentially neck and neck in my customized rankings. Matsuyama is a former top-five golfer in the world and has shown signs of regaining that form. In the last 24 rounds, nobody has scored more fantasy points in this field than Matsuyama. He has also made 23 straight PGA cuts, which is the best on tour.
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Chez Reavie ($9,700)
I have a bit of sticker shock in clicking on Reavie’s name, but this is a bad field and he is playing great. Yes, there could be some hangover from his win last week, but the attention that he gained was nothing compared to Woodland’s U.S. Open victory. Reavie is on fire and has a solid game. He doesn’t make mistakes and is a great ball-striker. He is just a solid golfer that is playing really well. In the last 24 rounds, only D.J. has gained more total strokes of the golfers in this field. In addition to his Traveler’s win, he finished T3 at the U.S. Open and T14 at the PGA Championship.
Billy Horschel ($9,000)
This is a play that I would love better if I knew the winning score would be in the low teens. If this becomes a shootout, then I don’t think Horschel can win. However, regardless, he should make the cut and play well. He is not a big scorer, but doesn’t tend to shoot himself in the foot. If his putter catches fire, then he could find himself on the Sunday leaderboard. The 2014 FedEx Cup Champion has played during the weekend in 22 of his last 23 events. Even though I said that he doesn’t tend to go low, remember that he is still capable of catching fire like he did last year during the playoffs when he finished top three at the Northern Trust, BMW, and TOUR Championship (which, by the way, is played on a Donald Ross course). He is ranked sixth in my customized stat model that measures all of the key stats.
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Joaquin Niemann ($8,900)
In all of the buzz about some of the amateurs turning pro (i.e. Viktor Hovland, Matthew Wolff, Collin Morikawa, and Justin Suh), it seemed that people have quickly forgotten last year’s number one amateur and who burst onto the scene with four top-10 finishes in his first eight starts. Granted, he has not had a great season, but he has made the cut in each of his last four events, including a T5 at the Travelers this past week. If you look at only the last 12 rounds played, he is eighth in this field for total strokes gained. He feels a little overpriced on DK, but I still plan on playing him as he has shown an ability to put back-to-back high finishes together since joining the tour full-time last year.
Kevin Streelman ($8,600)
He is third in SG: Total and sixth in fantasy points in the last 24 rounds for players in this week’s field. Those ranks are not surprising since he has three top-six finishes in that span of time. He also finished T15 last week at the Travelers. He isn’t particularly flashy, but also doesn’t have any glaring weaknesses. He is a good ball-striker and I plan on making him a core play this week.
Rory Sabbatini ($8,500)
Jump on the Rory-Train! He is on quite the streak lately. He has made the cut in 12 straight PGA events. He has four top-10 finishes during that stretch. In the last 24 rounds, he is fourth in both SG: Total and fantasy points. He is the sixth-ranked player in my model this week. Not bad for a player that is priced as the 15th most-expensive player.
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Vaughn Taylor ($7,600)
I have been playing Taylor a lot this year, but it has always been at a much lower price. I am not used to seeing him in this price range after his T4 at the Travelers last week. However, for the strength of the field, he is still a good value. In fact, he is my 10th-ranked golfer overall, regardless of price this week. Considering that he is the 31st most-expensive golfer on DK, that makes him a great value. He has made five straight PGA cuts and has six top-20 finishes this calendar year. In the last 24 rounds, he is 14th in total strokes gained of the players in this week’s field.
Sam Burns ($7,100)
If we don’t count the Zurich Classic team event (which can be a good indicator for some and not so much for others), then Burns has made 10 straight PGA Tour cuts. That is really good for a guy at this price. His finishes haven’t been amazing, as his best finish was a T9 at the RBC Heritage. However, he did finish T29 at the PGA Championship. In his last 24 rounds, he is eighth in SG: Total and fifth in fantasy scoring. I will take that any day of the week with a guy at this price point.
Cameron Tringale ($7,000)
He was showing some life last week with a 67 and a 69, but then a miserable 75 on Saturday made him a victim to the secondary cut. He lost 3.4 strokes putting, which explains his performance on Saturday. At this price point, I like seeing signs of life out of golfers I am considering. This is a bad field, so everyone will have flaws. I like that he has made the weekend in six of his last seven events (if you count his T5 at the Zurich Classic team event). He also finished T11 at the RBC Canadian Open a few weeks ago. Overall, he ranks out 33rd in this field for SG: Total, which is good considering that he is the 61st highest priced golfer on DK.
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Hank Lebioda ($6,900)
For better or worse, Lebioda ranks as the best value of the week in terms of rank versus salary. He is my 20th ranked golfer, regardless of price, but he is only the 66th most-expensive golfer on DK. He has made the cut in nine of his last 10 events (if you count his T5 at the Zurich Classic team event). Other than that top five at the Zurich Classic, his best finish has only been a T14 at the RBC Canadian and a T17 at the Valero. However, he is one of the top golfers in terms of outscoring his finishing position. In his last 24 rounds played, he is ranked 18th in the field for fantasy scoring. At this price point (as with any price point when it comes to DFS golf, by the way), there is no guarantee that he makes the cut, but in a bad field at this price, he is mispriced, so I will be firing him up a lot this week.
Adam Long ($6,900)
This is a pure gut play and not really backed up by my model this week. I have a soft spot for him because he won earlier this year after essentially missing every cut for his entire career. After winning, the 30-something-year-old rookie went back to his normal self and missed his next five cuts. However, he snapped out of that streak with a top-10 finish in a strong Arnold Palmer Invitational field. Recently, he has made four of his last five cuts. He shot 66 – 67 last week at the Travelers to be on the leaderboard after Round 2. He fell off on the weekend to finish T21, but I liked what I saw. In a poor field, Long makes a solid option as a guy that has won this year and has shown decent form.
Jamy Bechler is a regular contributor to FantasyPros for NBA, NFL, and PGA. You can follow him on his DFS twitter @WinningDFS101. When he is not playing DFS, Jamy is an author, host of the “Success is a Choice” podcast, and is a leadership trainer, working with businesses and teams across the country (including the NBA). Even though he offers his advice on players and contests, after additional information and consideration, he may end up using different players and strategies than what he recommends.