FanDuel PGA Lineup Advice: The American Express (2021)
The PGA Tour will leave Hawaii after two straight weeks of beautiful scenery and great golf. The players will now head to California for the American Express.
Now that superstar Jon Rahm has withdrawn, FanDuel has seven golfers priced at $11,000 this week. They provide DFS players with a salary cap of $60,000 to select six golfers for an average roster spot of $10,000. Patrick Cantlay is now the highest priced golfer in the field at $11,800, with Brooks Koepka close behind at $11,700. Patrick Reed ($11,500), Scottie Scheffler ($11,300), and Tony Finau ($11,200) round out FanDuel’s top-five highest priced golfers.
Work at having a solid process week in and week out instead of getting bogged down by recency bias or the ups-and-downs of the weekly golf grind. The best golfers will perform at a high level throughout the course of a golf season. However, from week-to-week, a major variance can occur. Even the best golfers can miss the cut. Conversely, any PGA golfer can win (e.g., Andrew Landry won this event last year despite coming in, having missed his previous five cuts).
Use all the information available to you to make the best decision possible for your lineup. Whether you win or lose, golf is one of the most entertaining fantasy sports to follow because you get four days of action. Good luck and, most importantly, have fun!
- The American Express is played in the greater Palm Springs area. In the past, this has been a pro-am event but not this year. That means it will only use two courses instead of the normal three.
- The 156 golfers scheduled to tee it up will play the Stadium Course once and the Nicklaus Course once on Thursday or Friday. The top-65 (and ties) will make the cut and play the weekend. In the past, three courses were used, and the cut occurred after Saturday’s round.
- This tournament was previously known by many names, including the Desert Classic, CareerBuilder, Bob Hope, and Humana Challenge.
- The Stadium Course at PGA West is a Par 72 course measuring 7,113 yards. All the golfers will use this on the weekend.
- The Nicklaus Tournament Course at PGA West is a Par 72 course measuring 7,159.
- Both courses can produce lots of scoring; however, the Stadium Course also provides several challenges that can cause problems. There are not a lot of problems golfers can find on the Nicklaus course.
- Past winners scheduled to play this week include Andrew Landry (2020), Adam Long (2019), Hudson Swafford (2017), Jason Dufner (2016), Bill Haas (2015 & 2010), Patrick Reed (2014), Brian Gay (2013), Mark Wilson (2012), Jhonattan Vegas (2011), Pat Perez (2009), D.J. Trahan (2008), Charley Hoffman (2007), and Phil Mickelson (2004 & 2002).
- The average winning score from the last 10 years is 25-under par. The last time a winner shot worse than 20-under par was in Charley Hoffman (-17) in 2007.
- Two-time winner Phil Mickelson is the official tournament host, and his charity, The Mickelson Foundation, is the host organization.
- Eleven of the last 12 winners of this event played in Hawaii (Sony Open or TOC) to open up the calendar year.
- The putting surfaces are Bermuda overseeded with rye and poa. They tend to be some of the slowest greens on the PGA Tour.
Course Fit & Key Statistics
The golfers that rate out the best in my customized recent form model (in ranked order) are Sungjae Im, Patton Kizzire, Adam Long, Chris Kirk, Kevin Na, Charles Howell, Abraham Ancer, Patrick Reed, Patrick Cantlay, and Sepp Straka. Patrick Reed leads the field with 12 straight PGA Tour events in which he’s played the weekend. Zach Johnson and Tony Finau are next with nine and eight made PGA cuts, respectively. Patton Kizzire and Patrick Cantlay both have streaks of seven.
Because each of the three courses are shorter than normal and the event is conducive to amateur play (with it being a pro-am), then an emphasis on ball-striking is important. Distance is never a bad thing, but it is not necessary at this event. In looking at the best ball-strikers, the following ten golfers (in ranked order) rate out the best in my customized model for both short-and-long-term: Emiliano Grillo, Keegan Bradley, Doc Redman, Ryan Moore, Erik Van Rooyen, Henrik Norlander, Russell Knox, Chez Reavie, Matthew NeSmith, and Zach Johnson.
I tend to emphasize baseline talent and recent form, but there is a lot to be said for golfers that enjoy playing at certain courses. Some courses just line up better for some golfers. Comfortability with the way a golf course plays can give a golfer confidence going into the week. The ten golfers that rate out the best in my course history model include Adam Hadwin, Andrew Landry, Brendan Steele, Sean O’Hair, Charles Howell, Phil Mickelson, Brian Harman, Kevin Na, Sungjae Im, and Sam Burns.
My customized overall stat model measures all stats (driving, approach, short game, putting, etc…) from both a short-and-long-form standpoint. In terms of stats, the best golfers for my customized model this week (in ranked order) are Tony Finau, Patrick Cantlay, Si Woo Kim, Scottie Scheffler, Patrick Reed, Cameron Tringale, Sepp Straka, Peter Malnati, Talor Gooch, and Abraham Ancer.
Official World Golf Ranking
All the statistics and course history are good to know, but sports (particularly DFS golf) often come down to betting on talent and playing the best overall players. Sure, salary is involved, but fitting as many of the world’s best golfers in your lineups increases your chances for success. According to the OWGR, the best ten golfers in this field (in ranked order) are Patrick Cantlay (No. 10), Patrick Reed (No. 11), Brooks Koepka (No. 12), Matthew Wolff (No. 15), Sungjae Im (No. 18), Tony Finau (No. 22), Kevin Na (No. 23), Abraham Ancer (No. 26), Paul Casey (No. 27), and Scottie Scheffler (No. 33).
Favorite $11,000+ Plays
Patrick Cantlay ($11,800)
With Jon Rahm withdrawing, Cantlay is the highest-priced golfer and the top-ranked golfer in the field (No. 10 in OWGR). He is deserving of this but is not a clear-cut favorite. Outside of his win at the ZOZO, he hasn’t had many high finishes. However, we have to remember that he only plays big events. In the last year, he has only played two events comparable to this field, and he finished T11 at the Travelers in June and T8 at the Shriners in October. He is a guy I plan on playing a lot (provided his ownership isn’t out of control) and feeling confident in a top-10 finish. That isn’t what we want out of the most-expensive golfer, but I am not sure any of the other 10K or 11K golfers have the high probability of a good finish as Cantlay in a weak field. If I can wrap up a T5 type finish from him and then pick the winner out of the 8K or 9K range (hopefully), my lineup will have a chance.
Sungjae Im ($11,100)
I like his consistency here the last two years with a T10 and T12 finishes. He didn’t play particularly well last week but was T5 at the TOC and T2 at the Masters recently. He finished in the top five last week despite putting horribly, as well. Overall, he has made the cut in 11 of his last 12 events. I am fine with any of the other 11K golfers and will be sprinkling all of them in my MME builds.
Favorite $10,000 Plays
Abraham Ancer ($10,900)
Even though there are some talented golfers in this range, I really like the 8K and 9K golfers. I don’t mind the 10K golfers but would rather pay down to mix and match more of the 11K golfers. The guy I plan on playing a lot is Abraham Ancer. He missed the cut last week. He was terrible with the flat stick (unusual for him) but still shot 69-68. He came into the Sony with made cuts in 24 of his previous 25 events, including nine straight. He had three straight top-20 finishes before the Sony. He was T4 at the Shriners and was also in the final grouping at the Masters before having a terrible Sunday. He certainly has the consistency, all-around game, and the upside of a guy that could win this tournament.
Sam Burns ($10,300)
He has finished T6 and T18 here in the last two years. As for recent results, he hasn’t played in more than two months. However, when he did play last, he finished T7 at Houston. In his last 11 events, he has nine made cuts and four top-20 finishes. He ranks sixth in total strokes gained in the last 24 rounds and 11th in fantasy scoring. He can also get really hot with his flat stick.
Favorite $9,000 Plays
Adam Hadwin ($9,800)
This will be a classic course history vs. recent form case study this week. Hadwin has been playing poorly but has amazing course history. He missed the event last year for a child’s birth but finished T2-T3-2-T6 in his previous starts here. He did finish third at the Rocket Mortgage Classic back in July, so he hasn’t completely lost his game. If he ends up coming in with high ownership, then I’d probably look elsewhere.
Patton Kizzire ($9,300)
His T7 last week at Sony gave him his seventh straight made cut in a row. He also has a T10 at the RSM and a T11 at the Houston Open during that streak. In the last 24 rounds, he is second in fantasy scoring and second in total strokes gained.
Doc Redman ($9,100)
I am afraid his ownership will be through the roof, but it’s hard not to play Redman this week in single entry or small-field events. He is an elite ball-striker with huge upside. He has three top-five finishes in his last eight events. He was T29 last year. He is too cheap not to play but realize his ownership will probably be very high. Other 9K golfers I like are Brian Harman ($9,800), Chris Kirk ($9,500), Talor Gooch ($9,200), Sepp Straka ($9,100), and Cameron Tringale ($9,000),
Favorite $8,000 Plays
Peter Malnati ($8,700)
This tournament doesn’t require golfers to bomb it, which brings Malnati into play. He is an accurate driver, a good ball-striker, and an elite putter. His T14 may have left a sour taste for many DFS players after he was the first-round leader. However, he has made the cut in six of his last seven events. This has included a runner-up at Sanderson Farms and a T5 at the Shriners. In the last 24 rounds, he is third in fantasy scoring, and fifth in total strokes gained.
John Huh ($8,600)
He has made the cut in nine of his last 10 events, including four in a row. This includes three top-20 finishes in his last four events. The recent form is nice when you combine it with three straight cuts here, including a T3 in 2018. In the last 24 rounds played, he is ninth in total strokes gained and 16th in fantasy scoring. He is also a good putter, gaining strokes on the green in nine of his last 11 events.
Andrew Landry ($8,300)
The defending champion just missed the cut at the Sony, but he was T38 and T4 in the two previous events. Not only did he win last week, but he was T28 in 2019 and runnerup in 2018. Other 8K golfers I will be considering are Charley Hoffman ($8,900), Keegan Bradley ($8,900), Brendan Steel ($8,800), Matt Jones ($8,600), Matthew NeSmith ($8,500), and Nick Taylor ($8,500).
Favorite $7,000 Plays
Anirban Lahiri ($7,500)
Lahiri comes in with a streak of five straight PGA cuts. During this stretch of golf, he has a T11 at Bermuda and a T6 at Puntacana. A terrible Sunday last week dropped him to T62 at the Sony. He shot a 65 and 64 on Friday and Saturday. In the last 24 rounds, he is 18th in fantasy scoring and 21st in total strokes are gained.
Sean O’Hair ($7,100)
If you are looking for a long shot punt play, O’Hair is intriguing. He has made five straight cuts here, including T9 finishes in 2019 and 2017. He hasn’t played great during the last year but has made the cut in his last two events (RSM and Houston). He also had a T14 back in September at Puntacana. His game is volatile, but he can catch fire with the flat stick, and he likes this course. When playing 150 lineups, I will also consider mixing in Doug Ghim ($7,900), Mark Hubbard ($7,900), Andrew Putnam ($7,800), Steve Stricker ($7,700), Jason Dufner ($7,500), K.H. Lee ($7,300), Nate Lashley ($7,200), Tim Wilkinson ($7,000), and Sam Ryder ($7,000).
Whether you’re new to daily fantasy golf or a seasoned professional, be sure to check out our Daily Fantasy Golf Glossary. You can get started with The Stats That Matter Most or head to a more advanced strategy — like How To Use Vegas Odds To Generate Your Lineup — to learn more.
Jamy Bechler is a regular contributor to FantasyPros for NBA, NFL, and PGA. You can send him questions and 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 a leadership consultant, working with businesses and teams across the country (including the NBA). Even though he offers his advice on players and contests, he may end up using different players and strategies after additional information and consideration than what he recommended in this article.