WATCH: VALUE ALERT – BRENDAN STEELE
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.
It was a tough week from a fantasy perspective as many of the biggest names missed the cut, including the big threesome of Dustin Johnson, Tiger Woods and Jason Day. The tournament was no disappointment, as newcomer and future superstar, John Rahm sunk an improbable eagle on the 18th to win. The 22 year-old Rahm has the game to compete with the world’s best already, and this may not be his last win of the season.
Since there is only one course in play and the daylight hours are still shorter than usual, this tournament has a smaller field than most regular Tour stops with 130 or so golfers teeing it up. What this event does have, however, is one of the biggest party atmospheres of any stop on Tour, and that makes it more popular than usual. Once again, there will be a lot of quality at the top of the field, and big names like Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson (season debut) will all be in attendance. Jordan Spieth and the man who has dominated 2017 thus far — Justin Thomas — will also be here. With a smaller field, only about 60 or so of the 130 entrants will miss the cut which will still take place after Friday’s round — top 70 and ties play the weekend. For DFS purposes, I expect a much higher percentage of lineups (than last week) to get 5/6 or 6/6 players through to Sunday.
TPC Scottsdale: Scottsdale, Arizona
Par 71, 7,200-7,300 yards
TPC Scottsdale underwent some minor renovations two years ago that were aimed at “toughening up” the golf course and mainly resulted in a few holes being lengthened, and some bunkers being moved to provide better protection for pins and to challenge players off the tee. One of the big changes was on 18 as the new bunkering there makes it a very tough closing hole, especially off the tee. Even with the changes though, the winner still hit -14 last year (only two off the -16 winning score of 2014). I don’t think this will be an outright birdie-fest, but it will likely be slightly easier than last week.
TPC Scottsdale is a traditional par 71, made up of three par 5’s, four par 3’s and eleven par 4’s. All of the par 5’s are going to be very reachable in two by many players (especially the longer hitters), and these three holes are generally three of the easiest to score on. The par 4’s are mostly between 410 and 490 yards in length, and some of the shorter hitters may struggle on these holes this week. There is also a drivable par 4 (the 17th) which presents players with a huge risk/reward scenario coming home and always plays a huge role scoring wise later in the round — this hole basically cost Rickie Fowler the win last year.
The wide open nature of the course makes it semi-links like in feel — although water does come into play on six of the final nine holes. One final but important note, the Bermuda greens are quite different from the unpredictable poa annau the players putted on last week and should play relatively fast but easier overall. Players with strong Bermuda stats who didn’t fair well on the greens last week shouldn’t be overlooked here.
LAST 5 WINNERS
- 2016 — Hideki Matsuyama -14 (in playoff over Rickie Fowler)
- 2015 — Brooks Koepka -15 (over three players -14)
- 2014 — Kevin Stadler -16 (over Bubba Watson and Graham DeLaet -15)
- 2013 — Phil Mickelson -28 (over Brandt Snedeker -24)
- 2012 — Kyle Stanley -15 (over Ben Crane -14)
- Five of the last six winners have had a T5 or better in one of their last five starts before their win at the WMO.
- Six of the last seven winners have ranked inside the top 50 for Greens in Regulation in the year of their victory at the WMO.
Greens in Regulation
Par 4 Scoring Average
Greens in Regulation is a stat worth looking at this week. In 2015, Brooks Koepka won this event and tied for 4th overall in Greens in Regulation for the week, while two of the other top-four players that year were 4th and 1st for the week respectively. In 2016, eventual winner Hideki Matsuyama led the field in Greens Hit, while runner-up Rickie Fowler was T6 in that stat. Scrambling here can be tough, and players with good Greens in Regulation stats are set up better for this course.
Par 4 Scoring is another category of note. The past two winners of this event have both ranked first in Par 4 Scoring for the week of their win, with runner-up’s and other top-five finishes all performing well in this area too. Strong Par 4 Scoring stats are a plus this week.
The last category I’d emphasize here is Driving Distance. The course is fairly demanding off the tee in certain places, especially with some of the recent changes, and distance helps. Of the top twelve players in Driving Distance from last year’s event, seven of them finished inside the top 20 for the week.
Odds to win are one factor to think about when picking players (but not the only thing, so be careful 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.
|Matt Kuchar||50-1||$7,300||Billy Horschel $7,500 and 100-1
Ollie Schneiderjans $7,500 and 150-1
Bud Cauley $7,400 and 100-1
|Patrick Rodgers||90-1||$6,600||Steven Bowditch $6,600 and 300-1
Michael Kim $6,700 and 150-1
HORSES FOR COURSES
- Bubba Watson has been close to winning this event twice and finished in the runner-up spot in consecutive years (2014 and 2015). Since 2011 he’s played here six times and never finished worse than 29th.
- Ryan Moore has one of the longest and most consistent histories of play at the WMO. Since 2009 he’s made eight cuts in a row and recorded three top 10’s and two top 20’s. History tells us he’s likely going to be a steady player for fantasy this week.
- Brendan Steele has started 2017 in fine form and should keep that up this week. He’s played this event each of the past six years and recorded three finishes of 6th or better in that span. He was 17th here last season and has generally been money in the desert.
- Hideki Matsuyama perhaps has the most dominant history of anyone teeing it up this week. In three starts since 2014, Hideki has finished 4th, 2nd and 1st (last year). While he hasn’t challenged in his last two starts, don’t be shocked if that changes in Phoenix this week.
- Phil Mickelson has won this event twice, and, since he was raised in Scottsdale, he’s very familiar with the course. He’s been a bit boom or bust here over his career but is coming off an 11th place from year and might have finally figured out the changes to the course last season.
Cash Games: Pricing is very flexible this week. There is a ton of good value all around, so it’s really going to be about picking which of the top players you go with. Of the top three players, Hideki and Spieth seem like the safest plays given recent form and course history, but one of my top plays of the week is John Rahm at $9,700 who already has a fifth place finish to his name at this event and is coming off an uber-impressive win. I do like Spieth a lot this week, but I think starting your lineups with Rahm and then filling it out with solid upper-tier value is a decent strategy. A few other players that really stick out to me as high floor plays are Matt Kuchar, Louis Oosthuizen, Kevin Na and Lucas Glover.
Tournaments: The softer pricing makes it easier to stack five or six players with strong course history and recent form this week. With that being said, lineup construction will likely all follow a similar path, so it won’t be overly hard to differentiate yourself. Taking two of the top three players on your team leaves you with a smaller average salary left but also forces you to bypass many of the likely popular plays in the mid-$7k to upper-$8k range. I think some strong tournament plays who could go overlooked this week include Byeong-Hun An, Emiliano Grillo, Jamie Lovemark and Ryo Ishikawa.
Top Strokes Gained: Tee to Green from Last Week
1. John Rahm
2. Lucas Glover
3. Brendan Steele
Top Strokes Gained: Putting from Last Week
1. J.J. Spaun
2. Charles Howell III
3. Brian Harman
MY PICK: Jordan Spieth $12,000
There are a ton of players I could feel good about writing up this week, but I really don’t feel as strongly about any of them as I do about Spieth. Though he’s only played a few tournaments, Spieth’s Tee to Green play has been in fine form thus far in 2017, and he currently ranks first on Tour in Greens in Regulation Percentage, a section of his game he struggled with immensely last season — he ranked 145th at the end of 2016 in this same stat. While Spieth hasn’t putted well in 2017 (for him), the faster Bermuda greens at TPC Scottsdale should be more to his liking, and past winners here generally haven’t relied on a hot putter for the most part anyways. While John Rahm will undoubtedly be the most talked about play, I think Spieth has every chance to pay off this week with his first win of 2017.
MY SLEEPER: Geoff Ogilvy $6,900
Ogilvy’s game has recently started to look more like it was in the late 2000’s when he was consistently challenging at majors. In two of his last three starts, Ogilvy has ended the week inside the top ten in both Greens in Regulation and Strokes Gained: Tee to Green, and he’s also landed 4th and 25th place finishes in that span as a result. His course record here doesn’t look great, but considering how poorly he’s played over the past few years, the fact he’s made three straight cuts at TPC Scottsdale since 2014 suggests he likes the course. Coming from Australia, the desert style track with faster greens should suit him more than what we saw last week. I think he’s a great contrarian option on a week where certain sub-$7k players will undoubtedly be popular.
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.