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PGA DraftKings and FanDuel DFS Primer: John Deere Classic (2023)

PGA DraftKings and FanDuel DFS Primer: John Deere Classic (2023)

The 2023 John Deere Classic is set to get underway from TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Illinois. Located along the banks of the Mississippi River, the John Deere Classic is expected to have its strongest event in over a decade, with nine of the OWGR’s top 50 ranked golfers teeing off to improve their stock in the FedExCup playoffs. The field is led by Russell Henley at 14/1 odds, followed by Denny McCarthy, Cameron Young, Adam Hadwin, and Ludvig Aberg rounding out the top-five outright betting favorites. It’s a board that presents quite a bit of value in its lower salary brackets, just like we witnessed during the 2023 Rocket Mortgage Classic last week.

Built on a former Arabian horse farm, TPC Deere Run is a par 71 that runs under 7,300 yards. Designed by D.A. Weibring and Chris Gray, this course was established in 1998, where it’s been a mainstay on the PGA Tour schedule. Red scorecards will abound yet again, as most of the course is designed with doglegged fairways, sprawling sand bunkers, and plenty of trees to create difficult lies with errant tee shots and approach shots. Finding greens in regulation is the key to success, while sinking putts on the Bentgrass greens will quickly identify the contenders in one of the strongest fields the JDC has seen in several years.

Let’s take a look at previous winners, a few relevant betting stats, and take a closer in-depth look at TPC Deere Run before diving into six of my favorite DFS prospects on this slate. Several of the outright betting favorites are seeking their first PGA Tour win, which should make this event even more exciting as players jockey to improve their FedExCup rankings to finish inside the top 70 and qualify for the FedExCup playoffs next month. As always, best of luck, and let’s cash these DFS contests during the 2023 John Deere Classic!

2023 John Deere Classic DraftKings and FanDuel DFS Primer

Previous Winners

  • 2022 – J.T. Poston (-21)
  • 2021 – Lucas Glover (-19)
  • 2020 – Cancelled
  • 2019 – Dylan Frittelli (-21)
  • 2018 – Michael Kim (-27)

Relevant Betting Stats

  • Greens in Regulation percentage
  • Sand Save percentage
  • Strokes Gained Tee-to-Green
  • Birdie Average
  • Strokes Gained Putting

Course Overview

TPC Deere Run is a par 71, featuring four par 3s and three par 5s, with much more terrain elevation than we saw during the RMC at Detroit GC last week. Designed by D.A. Weibring and Chris Gray in 1998, the bentgrass greens continue to be tiny targets on an otherwise golfer-friendly course. The Stimpmeter suggests putting velocity will be at 12 feet, while four inch bluegrass rough and fescue punishes errant shots off the tee and approaching the greens. Water hazards will occur, but not at the same frequency seen at Detroit GC, with most of the hazards challenging in the form of doglegged, tree-lined fairways, large sand bunkers, and tiny greens.

Numerous sand bunkers sprawl out along the fairways and around the greens, lacking depth but covering a bigger surface area than other PGA Tour courses. This means sand save percentage is a relevant betting stat to hone in on, along with players who are hot with the putter. Of course, ball strikers will continue to be a premium asset in DFS lineups, as the small surface area of the greens will force players to frequently scramble if their irons aren’t accurate. Several of the par 4s run under 400 yards, while none of the par 5s exceed 600 yards, so there will be plenty of birdie and eagle opportunities around the green. Precipitation will slow the bentgrass greens early, but dry conditions later in the weekend will create faster green velocity, which will benefit golfers who have confidence in their putting game.

Recommended Plays: DraftKings

DraftKings maximum salary is set at $50,000

Denny McCarthy: $10,600
When it comes to putting prowess and birdie fests, Denny McCarthy stands out against most other PGA Tour players. The 30-year-old native of Maryland has yet to secure his first outright win on the PGA Tour, but he came close during a playoff loss against Viktor Hovland at the Memorial Tournament. That was a designated event too, which meant McCarthy was playing against stiffer competition. He improved from a missed cut at JDC in 2021, to a T6 finish in 2022. Plus, McCarthy ranks fourth strokes gained putting and ninth scrambling. He’s one of the outright favorites for a reason, plus McCarthy just logged 23 birdies with a T7 finish at RMC last weekend. I’m starting most of my builds with McCarthy, even though it’s chalky and more expensive than usual to roster him in DraftKings lineups. The final result will be worth investing in this excellent putter playing with extreme confidence right now.

Adam Schenk: $9,500
Adam Schenk posted a T4 finish at the 2021 JDC, going -4-under-par or better in three of his four rounds. The Indiana native withdrew due to a poor opening round at TPC Deere Run in 2022, but that isn’t going to stop me from inserting him into DraftKings lineups. Schenk just drained 26 birdies at RMC last weekend, climbing into a solo seventh-place finish. He’s recorded three T7 finishes or better in three of his past five events, but he did miss the cut at the U.S. Open and Travelers, which is why we’re getting a bit of a discount on his salary. Schenk ranks 41st strokes gained putting, 44th scrambling, 12th in total hole outs, and 35th going for the green percentage. Schenk is a birdie machine, totaling 321 birdies this season, good enough to rank 11th on the PGA Tour. He doesn’t make huge mistakes and is another player hungry for his first PGA Tour win, after coming close with a runner-up at the Charles Schwab Challenge a few weeks ago. Plug Schenk into lineups without hesitation.

Callum Tarren: $7,300
Callum Tarren hasn’t recorded a T25 finish across any of his last five events played, but he’s been strong at TPC Deere Run in previous outings. The 32-year-old Englishman does not have any eye-popping stats to focus on this season, but Tarren has delivered 16-19 birdies in three of his past five events. He’s missed more cuts (14) than he’s made this season, which is why he’s only $7,300 to roster on DraftKings, but Tarren has only missed one cut across his last five events, showing signs of improvement. His irons are sharp, which will be useful at a course where ball striking is rewarded. There’s a lot worse we can do in the $7,000 salary bracket range, so let’s invest in Tarren accordingly.

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Recommended Plays: FanDuel

FanDuel maximum salary is set at $60,000

Eric Cole: $10,500
Eric Cole is no longer a secret to deploy in DFS lineups but that doesn’t mean we should fade him. On the contrary, Cole has been dominating golf courses lately, sinking birdies and eagles at a frenzied pace. The 35-year-0ld Californian has recorded 15-24 birdies in each of his previous four events played, plus he has spent a couple of weeks off of the PGA Tour, so he should be rested and ready to resume his tear at TPC Deere Run. Cole missed the cut at this event during his last appearance in 2021, going +3-over-par in Round 2, but he’s logged five T25 finishes or better across his previous seven events played. Cole is another golfer hungry to secure his first PGA Tour outright win, so at $10,500 on FanDuel, I like inserting him into lineups as our birdie anchor.

Alex Smalley: $10,200
After starting even par at the 2022 JDC, Alex Smalley went -12-under-par across his final three rounds to wind up with a T16 finish. The 26-year-old American enters this event with previous finishes of T25, T9, and T47, while ranked 33rd strokes gained tee-to-green, 39th approaching the green, and 56th total driving. Smalley finds greens in regulation at a bristling 68.6 percent rate, ranked 18th on the PGA Tour, and is the best player when it comes to consecutive GIR hit. His slow starts tend to hold Smalley back from achieving more, but I like his game and how it fits at TPC Deere Run, especially since he has logged 43 birdies across his previous two events played. Smalley is a bit more expensive than I’d prefer at $10,200 on FanDuel, but it’s not high enough to concern me. Let’s add Smalley into lineups, primarily since he’s been generating birdies at an unconscious rate during the last month.

Ryan Palmer: $9,400
I like how Ryan Palmer’s game has looked during recent events. The 46-year-old Texas native has a T10 finish during his last five events, offset by a missed cut at the Charles Schwab Challenge. However, Palmer has recorded 16-25 birdies in all other four events played recently, which is the currency we chase in DFS. He’s a solid iron player, ranked inside the top 45 for strokes gained tee-to-green, off-the-tee, and approaching the green. His putter is a weakness, which could be an issue, however, Palmer ranks 24th in total driving, avoiding bad lies in the rough that allow him to generate birdie and eagle opportunities consistently. He’s also ranked 29th for greens in regulation at 67.8 percent, 32nd in proximity to the hole, and averages four birdies per round. At $9,400 on FanDuel, Palmer is a strong salary-saving candidate to prioritize, as he returns to the John Deere Classic, where he last logged a T18 finish back in 2019.

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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.

Matthew MacKay is a featured writer for FantasyPros. For more from Matthew, check out his archive and follow him @Matt_MacKay_.

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