The Cheat Sheet provides fantasy golf players with course information, player history and the most noteworthy trends of the week to help them with their roster selections.
This week’s event has been held at its current location in Napa since 2014 and remains a full-field PGA Tour event. The field we’re getting this week is also the strongest we’ve seen since the fall series began. On the start list this week we have several top players who have yet to make an appearance in the fall swing, including World No. 6 Justin Thomas, World No. 7 Patrick Cantlay and World No. 15 Adam Scott. These three players headline the event but also will be joined by the likes of Hideki Matsuyama, Bryson DeChambeau and Marc Leishman. The 140+-man field still will have a lot of the same names we’ve been gotten accustomed to seeing the past couple weeks, with several new Korn Ferry Tour grads in the field, but the top end of this week’s field is much deeper. The new cut-line remains in effect as the top 65 players and ties after Friday’s round will make the weekend.
Silverado CC (North), Napa, California
7,200-7,300 yards, Par 72
This will be the fifth year in a row the players will be teeing it up at the Silverado CC, so looking at results from before 2014 won’t help much in terms of course history.
The Silverado North Course isn’t extremely long, but there are several challenging features about it that once again likely will keep the scores down to at least the mid-to-high teens. Many holes have doglegs that require some accuracy off the tee, but these can be challenged by longer hitters who don’t mind taking on some risk. The greens are Poa Annua and smaller/tricky. Johnny Miller, who helped with the redesign here in 2011, described them as “Augusta-like” in speed and slope, and as the most challenging part of the course.
With four shorter par 5s, the course again sets up well for those with length, as the field averaged well under five shots for those holes in 2014. Additionally, there are three par 4s that measure in under 400 yards in length and only two that measure in at more than 450 yards. Players often will be asked to either attempt to blast driver down more narrow fairways or lay up and try and tackle the tight greens with irons. According to the data supplied by fantasygolfmetrics.com, the approach shot dispersion here has been fairly spread out with the most popular approach distance being more than 200 yards (20.4%) for players who have made the cut at this event between 2015-17.
Of note is also the fact past winners traditionally have averaged much higher driving distance for the week and as a result had less approaches from 200 and beyond. Last year this was the 29th hardest venue on tour (out of 49) and played to a 71.103 scoring average.
2019 Weather Outlook: The weather is slightly more notable this week than it has been to start the fall swing. Things start off nice early in the week with the highs in the mid-80s, but it is slated to get cool over the weekend with highs going down into the low-70s. Wind also could be more of a factor this week, and we have seen some windier conditions at this venue in the past. Thursday afternoon looks to be the windiest conditions of the week as gusts could approach 12-15 mph. The winds are set to get up into the 10-12 mph most afternoons, but Thursday might be the windiest day on the slate, so be sure to take that into consideration when making Showdown lineups this week.
PAST FIVE WINNERS
2018—Kevin Tway -14 (over Ryan Moore/Brandt Snedeker playoff)
2017—Brendan Steele -15 (over Tony Finau -13)
2016—Brendan Steele -18 (over Patton Kizzere -17)
2015—Emiliano Grillo -15 (over Kevin Na, playoff)
2014—Sang Moon Bae -15 (over Steven Bowditch -13)
– The past eight winners all have had a finish of T20 or better in one of their previous four tournaments.
– The Frys.com/Safeway Open was the first PGA Tour win for five of the past eight winners.
Strokes Gained: Tee to Green
Par 5 Scoring
Birdie or Better Percentage
Silverado requires a solid all-around game and a good ball-striking week. Three of the past five winners have led the field in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green here in the week of their win — including Brendan Steele in 2017 and 2018 — with last year’s winner ranking third in this stat. Looking for players clicking in that category this week is a must.
Getting up and down from around the greens is also key at Silverado. Last year’s winner, Kevin Tway, ranked first in this category, while the 2016 and 2015 champs placed third for the week in this category. It’s also one to emphasize here around tricky green complexes.
Finally, weighting Par 5 Scoring and Birdie or Better percentage heavily this week also can be considered. Three of the past five winners of this event led the field in Par 5 Scoring for the week, and two-time defending champion Brendan Steele has led in this stat in both his wins. The tournament typically yields quite a few birdies for the week as well, so given DraftKings’ birdie or better bonuses, this is an event where players strong in this category often will end up as good fantasy plays.
Odds to win are one factor to think about when picking players (but not the only thing, so be careful of putting too much weight on them). This section is going to detail a few of the players who have the best fantasy value comparative to their odds of winning this week.
Player: Troy Merritt
Odds to Win: 60-1
DraftKings Price: $7,700
Bud Cauley; $7,800 and 66-1
Harold Varner III; $7,800 and 66-1
Harris English; $7,900 and 70-1
Player: Kevin Na
Odds to Win: 40-1
DraftKings Price: $9,000
Marc Leishman; $9,300 and 40-1
Ryan Moore; $9,100 and 40-1
Chez Reavie; $9,200 and 40-1
HORSES FOR COURSES
1. Brendan Steele (best finishes: win-2017, 2016): Steele’s won this event twice and also finished T17-T21 in two previous years at this week’s venue. The American’s consistency tee-to-green pays off well for him in Napa, and despite a down 2018-19 season, he’s a top course horse this week.
2. Ryan Moore (best finishes: second-2018): Moore finished runner-up last season, losing in a three-man playoff to eventual champion Kevin Tway. He’s played Silverado three times and never finished worse than T17 now.
3. Emiliano Grillo (best finishes: win-2015): Grillo won this event back in 2015 and finished T26-T28-T41 here over the past three seasons. If you’re weighting course history heavily this week, Grillo should be near the top of your plays.
4. Justin Thomas (best finishes: T3-2015): Thomas hasn’t played this event since 2016, but it’s notable he finished inside the top 10 twice here when he was younger and not yet the dominant player he is today. He’s clearly the top player in the field this week.
5. Martin Laird (best finishes: T3-2014; T8-2016): Laird has played Silverado each of the past five seasons and is 5/5 in cuts made here. He typically has played well in the desert and on the West Coast over his career, so a solid start from him here isn’t out of the question at all.
1. Sung-Jae Im: Coming off a heart-breaking runner-up finish where he lost in a playoff, Im has finished outside the top 20 just once in his past six starts.
2. Bronson Burgoon: He continues to show improved play as he finished T6 last week. He has three finishes of T6 or better in his past six starts and just one finish outside the top 20 in that same span.
3. Sebastian Munoz: Last week’s winner enters this tournament on a clear roll. He hasn’t missed a cut in each of his past eight starts and has gone T7 and a win in his first two fall series events.
4. Byeong-Hun An: Another close call for An last week as he led after 36 holes but finished T3. He hasn’t missed a cut in seven starts and has two top-5s over his past five starts.
5. Adam Scott: He enters this week off a break, but fantasy players should remember he finished 2018-19 on a roll, going T5-T9-6 in the FedEx Cup playoffs.
Cash Games: As tempting as it is to go balanced in this format, I really like starting with Justin Thomas ($11,600) this week given his course history and form. There’s lot of value at other levels to take advantage. Kevin Streelman ($8,300) and Bronson Burgoon ($8,000) are two of the cheaper plays that stack up well against the rest in their respective price-points and look like solid targets here given their current form. Other targets for this format include Brendan Steele ($7,300), Dylan Frittelli ($7,900), Lanto Griffin ($7,400) and Daniel Berger ($7,500).
Tournaments (GPPs): Considering the price, Francesco Molinari ($9,700) has to be considered heavily here. The Italian is coming off a solid week over in England and feels quite underpriced compared to his upside. Lucas Glover ($8,900) and Abraham Ancer ($8,700) both look like solid upper-tier targets as both are coming off great seasons and look underpriced based on not having done much the first two weeks of the fall swing (Ancer hasn’t played yet). Other targets for large GPPs this week include Harris English ($7,900), Carlos Ortiz ($7,400), Grayson Murray ($6,900) and Jamie Lovemark ($6,300).
MY PICK: Harris English ($7,900)
English has had a great start to the new season, finishing T3 and T6 in his first two starts. The now 30-year-old English is coming off yet another sub-par season, but his early season play should be turning some heads. English has ranked 21st and third in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee in his first two starts after ranking well outside the top 100 in this stat in each of his past three seasons. His improved play here is significant as English always has been a terrific putter (15th in SG: Putting last year) and is known as a clear talent who perhaps hasn’t lived up to expectations (yet). It’s a small sample, but this kind of improved off-the-tee performance from English is significant, and he should set up well for this week’s venue in Napa, which features Poa Annua greens, a surface on which English nearly has always excelled on — even when not hitting the ball half as well as he is now. He looks like clear DFS value this week at under $8K and could be in line for a comeback win at some point on this fall swing.
MY SLEEPER: Grayson Murray ($6,800)
The sometimes-volatile Murray is coming off his first missed cut of the new year, but his overall form over the past couple months remains hot. Murray’s record before last week includes three top-25 finishes over his past six starts, and the venue for this week might be better suited to his strong tee-to-green game. Ranked 27th in SG: Tee to Green and ninth in SG: Off the Tee already on the year, the 2017 Barbasol Championship winner will be playing at Silverado for the fourth year in a row this week and has finished T9-T41 here on his past two visits. Longer hitters like Kevin Tway and Brendan Steele have found success here in the past, and considering Murray’s vast talent and power off the tee, a quick rebound here this week at a more favorable venue wouldn’t shock me in the least. He carries real upside at less than $7K this week on DraftKings.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is wavegoodbye) 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.