Fantasy Golf Picks: 2018 John Deere Classic Rankings, Stats, Preview

This Week’s Event: 2018 John Deere Classic

Pat Mayo and Geoff Fienberg debate their 2018 John Deere Classic picks and one and done selections from TPC Deere Run. Plus, a quick look at the 2018 Scottish Open

2018 John Deere Classic — Picks and Preview | Picks/Field/Course | Picks Podcast | Golfer Stat Power Rankings | Quick Picks | One and Done | Picks Cheat Sheet | All Stats | FavoritesMiddle Range | Long Shots | All-Golf Cust Corner

2018 John Deere Classic — Picks and Preview | DK Cheatsheet | Audio Podcast | $10K-Plus | $9K Range | $8K Range | $7.5K-$8K Range | $7.4K-To-$7K Range | $6K Range | Lineup Strategy | Initial British Open DK Pricing

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2018 John Deere Classic & Scottish Open Picks: Show Index

1:11 Greenbrier/Irish Open Recap
6:20 Danny Willet
12:10 Winners/Giveaways
13:54 Canadian Open Schedule Move
15:49 John Deere Classic Course/Stats
18:07 John Deere Classic Favorites
26:06 John Deere Classic Mid Range
34:11 Chargers Radio 1
38:54 John Deere Classic Long Shots
47:24 Quick Picks
49:24 One and Done
50:07 Scottish Open
58:56 Chargers Radio 2


2018 John Deere Classic Field

156 Players | Top 70 & Ties Make The Cut After 36 Holes
First Tee: 8 a.m. ET; Thursday, July 12
Defending champion: Bryson DeChambeau

PHIL!!! ROSE!!!! RICKIE!!!! REED!!!! HIDEKI!!! KUCHAR!!!!! RAFA!!! They’re all playing this week. In Scotland. There may be more world ranking points among those seven players than the entire field of 156 at the 2018 John Deere Classic. Fortunately, since the JDC offers one final British Open spot to the lowest score of those previously not in the Carnoustie field, there is still some drama before the few big names jump the private charter from Silvis to Scotland.

Site of his breakthrough victory, defending champion and jaunty chapeau aficionado Bryson DeChambeau headlines the field in the Quad Cities along with HOT FIYA Francesco Molinari. They’re joined by Zach Johnson, Kyle Stanley, Ryan Moore, Joaquin Niemann, Si WOO Kim, Kevin Na, Charles Howell III, and three-time champ Steve Stricker. It’s not a great sign for the strength of this field when a Senior Tour player is legitimately one of the best players entered.

The next tier of talent is highlighted by Patrick Rodgers, Scott Piercy, Chesson Hadley, Andrew Putnam, Chris Kirk, JJ Spaun, Patton Kizzire, Kevin Streelman, Wes Bryan, Andrew Landry, Nick Watney, Chez Reavie, Danny Lee, Austin Cook, Davis Love III, Harold Varner IIISean O’Hair and Ryan Palmer. No joke, those are actually the next best players in the field.

Strangely, despite the lack of marquee names, TPC Deere Run has produced a string of notable winners over the years. The past 10 John Deere Classics: Jordan Spieth has won twice, Stricker thrice, ZJ, Moore, Kenny Perry, have all cashed a novelty check as one of the tournament favorites. One of those Spieth victories (2013) was Spieth’s first win on TOUR, which was a launching point for better things in his career. Ditto for Bryson (2017) and Brian Harman (2014). So, the winner is generally the obvious person, or one you project to be quite notable in a few years.

That’s great news for some of the highly talented, less-experienced players in the field: Niemann, Broc EverettDoug Ghim and Norman Xiong.


2018 John Deere Classic Key Stats

Strokes Gained: Approach
Birdies or Better Gained
Proximity Gained: 125-175 Yards
Strokes Gained: Putting
Mayo’s Custom Stat POWER RANKINGS from FantasyNational.com


2018 John Deere Classic Course

TPC Deere Run | 7,268 Yards | Par 71
Greens: Bentgrass | 38/50 in 2017 Difficulty (-0.141)

From one wedge fest to another. If you thought the field got low at The Greenbrier, take away some length, add an extra Par 5 and you have TPC Deere Run. Adding to the fun, everyone hits the fairway! Over 72 percent of drives find the short grass. The greens in regulation percentage is over 70 percent, too. Likely explained by a plurality of approaches that will be coming from 125-175 yards with three Par 4s measuring less than 400 yards and another four from 400-450 yards.

Of Top 10 finishers the past few years, Strokes Gained: Approach has been more than twice as impactful as SG: OTT and almost four times SG: ATG among the Top 10 finishers. That gap is even more pronounced when you isolate the Top 5 finishers. This is all about irons and putting. And, weirdly, being able to manage off-balance lies, like at Augusta.

Shorter hitters who’ve experienced a lot of success at The Masters also have a decent track record at TPC Deere Run as well, mainly because of the approaches. While this course is much easier, the angled lies have seen players like Spieth and Zach Johnson claim wins at both — even players who’ve never donned sports’ highest sartorial honor like Moore, Stricker and DeChambeau have had consistent performances at both courses.

It’s clear distance off the tee isn’t going to factor into the end result as significantly as most weeks. Just load up on the players who make birdies in bunches and pray their putters don’t let them down.


2018 John Deere Classic Picks — Targets From Each Range

Zach Johnson ($11,200)
There’s no fun picking Zach Johnson at the John Deere Classic. It’s like the final few years of Marvin Harrison’s career, when he’d just slip down draft boards because everyone had owned him at some point and wanted someone more exciting. But this is HIS event. Consistently one of the top skilled players in the field, ZJ plays every year and churns out a top finish every single time. Since missing the cut in 2007, he’s piled up a win and seven Top 5s in his subsequent 10 starts in the Quad Cities. It’s short and focuses on decent putting and elite wedge play. That’s Zach Johnson.

Chesson Hadley ($9,500)
Feels like now or never for Mr. Hadley. Having far and away the most successful season of his career, the 31-year-old has been in (relatively) consistent form since last October and gets a course that empathizes his irons and putting while throwing aside the one area where he routinely struggles: short game. Over his past 24 rounds, he’s Top 15 in this field in SG: APP, SG: Putting, birdies or better gained, and ball striking.

Harold Varner III ($7,400)
Short term, HV3 has his irons clicking and found a bit of a putting stroke. Generally, as long as he’s not putting himself out of tournaments, he’ll have a shot. Seventh in field in SG: APP over his past 12 rounds, Varner actually has been the most deadly in the key proximity ranges, ranking fifth from both 125-150 and 150-175 yards against the field in his past 24 rounds. He flirted with victory last week and may actually have a better chance this time around.

David Hearn ($7,300)
It’s difficult getting excited for the short-hitting Canadian, but just look at this field, there’s nothing exciting about it. Hearn enters having made two consecutive cuts, gaining an average of over three strokes gained on approaches in those starts. Last week at Greenbrier, he actually topped the field in proximity gained from 125-150 yards and was second to only Kevin Na from 150-175 yards. Hearn’s made three of his past four cuts at TPC Deere Run, including the best finish of his career in 2013, when he was runner-up to Spieth.

Lanto Griffin ($7,000)
A lift in expected driving accuracy because of the easy fairways could be what Lanto needs to push him up a level. It’s difficult to imagine him winning, but the guy just makes so many birdies that he seems perfectly suited to make a run if he can catch a hot putter. He’s made three straight cuts, gained on his approaches in each, and, in the past 24 rounds, ranks Top 25 in both key proximity distances gained against the field.

Other notable names appearing near the top of stat models and the win simulator at FantasyNational.comFrancesco Molinari, Joel Dahmen, Bryson DeChambeau, Joaquin Niemann, Aaron Wise, Scott Stallings, Chris Kirk


Pat Mayo is an award-winning video host and producer of long and short-form content, and the host of The Pat Mayo Experience daily talk show. (Subscribe for video or audio). Mayo’s (@ThePME) 14 Fantasy Sports Writing Association nominations lead all writers this decade and are third-most all-time. Mayo has been recognized across multiple sports (Football, Baseball & Golf), mediums (Video, Writing & Podcasting) and genre (humor). Beyond sports, Mayo covers everything from entertainment to pop culture to politics. If you have a fantasy question, general inquiry or snarky comment, ship it to Mayo at ThePatMayoExperience@gmail.com and the best will be addressed on the show.


I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is ThePME) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.