The Cheat Sheet provides fantasy golf players with course info, player history and the most noteworthy trends of the week to help them with their roster selections.
Journeyman Rod Pampling won his first PGA Tour event in a decade and surprised pretty much everyone in the field and probably many DFS players too. Pampling was chased to the finish by Lucas Glover and Brooks Koepka, but neither could match the Aussie’s finish. We saw this sort of “out of nowhere” win a lot last year as well with players like Vaughn Taylor, James Hahn and Jim Herman and it’s a good reminder that truly anyone can win any week on the Tour.
This is the second to last tournament in the Fall Series before the Tour officially goes on winter break. The field this week is right around 130 golfers as it’s being limited by the lack of daylight. The field isn’t particularly strong again, but Russell Knox, Jim Furyk and Spanish sensation John Rahm will all be teeing it up and are looking like pretty elite plays for fantasy. The cut will take place after Friday as always, and the top 70 and ties will play the weekend. As with most of the Fall Series events, it will behoove you to know the new players on Tour and figure out who has been in good form in the past few events.
El Camaleon, Riviera Maya, Mexico
Par 71, 6,987 yards
This is a Greg Norman designed course set on the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. This course has hosted the event since 2007, although the dates changed from February to November back in 2013. This is significant as the tournament has seen much lower scores since the move, mainly because winds at this time of year are much milder than they are in February. The winning scores the past three years have been -17, -21 and -18 respectively. As a short and a fairly wide open track, Driving Accuracy usually isn’t a huge issue here although players with great wedge games like John Huh and Jason Bohn have had a lot of success. In a lot of ways, this is very much a second shot course, and there should be a big emphasis on iron play and good putting. One other thing to note is the course uses Paspalum style greens which will be average or slow on the stimpmeter. These are similar greens to three weeks ago when the players were in Malaysia. Something to keep in mind.
The setup is fairly standard as El Camaleon plays as a par 71 with three par 5’s and four par 3’s. This is quite a short setup though, and as previously mentioned, wedge and short game play should be big this week as three of the four par 3’s measure in at 155 yards or less and none of the par 5’s come in at longer than 554 yards. There are five par 4’s that measure in over 450 yards, however, so the key for most will be to limit the damage on these tougher/longer holes while taking advantage on the easier/shorter scoring ones.
Last 5 winners
- 2016 — Graeme McDowell -18 (in playoff over Jason Bohn and Russell Knox)
- 2015 — Charley Hoffman -17 (over Shawn Stefani -16)
- 2014 — Harris English -21 (over Brian Stuard -17)
- 2013 — John Huh -13 (in playoff over Robert Allenby)
- 2012 — Johnson Wagner -17 (in playoff Spencer Levin)
- Three of the past four winners have ranked inside the top 50 for Birdie Average in the year of their respective victory.
- Four of the past five winners were playing this event for the first time in their career.
Strokes Gained: Approach
Par 4 Scoring
As mentioned, I’m not super concerned with stats off the tee this week, but I do want players who can hit it close and make a ton of birdies. Players who have finished in the top five here the past couple go arounds have all been within the top 50 or so in Birdie Average in the year of their victory, making it a viable statistic for the week. Additionally, a more specific look at players Strokes Gained (SG) when approaching the green tends to make a ton of sense as well. Looking specifically at the three men in the playoff from last year, two of the three ranked inside the top 20 on tour in SG: Approaches for the season coming into the event. The winner, Graeme McDowell, has been ranked as highly as 12th in that category.
Finally, I’d also consider Par 4 Scoring. There has been a fairly strong trend of players ranking well in this category on Tour and their finishing position here. With many of the par 5’s and 3’s playing as short and straightforward holes, those who can take advantage of the par 4’s should have an advantage on the field. It’s another category I would venture to emphasize this week.
Odds to win are one factor to think about when picking players (but not the only thing, so be careful how much weight you put in 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.
|Charles Howell III||60-1||$7,500||Jerry Kelly 70-1 and $7,700
Hudson Swafford 80-1 and $7,500
Jason Bohn 80-1 and $7,600
|Brian Harman||70-1||$7,000||Robert Garrigus 100-1 and $7,000
Harold Varner III 90-1 and $7,100
Patrick Rodgers 90-1 and $7,200
HORSES FOR COURSES
Chris Stroud has played this event every year since 2008 and only missed the cut once (last year). He has three top 5 finishes in that span and seemingly loves this event. It is worth noting that his recent form isn’t great, however.
Charles Howell III missed the cut here in 2014, but overall has made 6/7 cuts and finished inside the top 20 five times here. He’s definitely taken to the course and is coming off a nice week in Las Vegas.
Jason Bohn has four appearances here over the past six years and has yet to finish worse than 20th. He was 7th here in 2014 and runner-up here last year. He’s a great course horse, but it should be noted he hasn’t quite been the same since recovering from his heart attack.
Johnson Wagner has now ventured South to Mexico for this event five times and made the cut in four of those starts. Even better is the fact he’s finished 16th or better three times, including a win here in 2012.
My thoughts on roster construction echo a lot of the thoughts from last week. I think there are some terrific value plays under $7k again, lots of players who look solid statically and from a recent form point of view. Additionally, most of the top tier players have been in good form of late, and rostering a couple of those players on your teams should give you a good floor for fantasy this week as well.
Top Performing Studs from Last Week
- John Rahm $9,800 and 100 ftps
- Keegan Bradley $9,300 and 104.5 ftps
- Scott Piercy $9,700 and 90 ftps
Top Performing Value Plays from Recent Weeks
- Chez Revie $6,300 and 94 ftps
- Ryan Brehm $6,200 and 85 ftps
- Adam Hadwin $6,500 and 85.5 ftps
MY PICK: Marc Leishman ($8,500)
Looking at the top of the field this week, there aren’t any players who jump off the page at me. Russell Knox has obviously been consistent of late and could easily get the win here, but after that you have a few players who haven’t played much lately or just seemed overpriced. Leishman on the other hand is coming off one of his best events of the year in Malaysia a couple weeks ago (finished T5) on a course with greens that are similar to what the players will see this week. While he hasn’t played at this event in a while, I’m not overly concerned about it since past winners have had little to no course history here either. Leishman is a top 50 player in the world with a great price tag; I think he could do big things here at a very affordable price and that’s why he’s my main pick this week.
MY SLEEPER: Kyle Reifers ($6,200)
Sleeper Qualification: must be under $7,000 in salary and projected by me to be less than 10% owned
Reifers has gotten off to a nice start this year in the Fall Series, making two straight cuts. While he hasn’t posted any big finishes, his stats to start the year look like he might be headed towards one as he’s currently ranked 9th in Strokes Gained: Approaches and 18th in Tee to Green. While the putting has not been great, we all know that can change in a hurry (just ask last week’s winner). Reifers had a few close calls last season and tee to green has the game to compete in a weak field like this. At $6,200, he seems remarkably cheap for a player who is also very good at hanging around for the weekend. I like him to post his best finish of the year here and return nice value for fantasy.
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