CHASE OR FADE: PAY UP FOR STENSON
The Bay Hill Club & Lodge in Orlando, FL hosts the Arnold Palmer Invitational this weekend, teeing off Thursday morning. A few of the top international players in the world will be on hand, and there are any number of ways you can go in building your lineups – here are a few names to consider from every price range.
Rory McIlroy ($12,000) – At a higher price point than the other top options, he is not easy to roster, but he could be a way to differentiate in tournaments. He has been banged up over the past few months, but he returned in Mexico two weeks ago and in his first action since January, started off 68-65. He tailed off a bit over the weekend to finish up T7, but his game looked sharp enough that he has the potential to give you the multiple-stroke victory you need to justify the price.
Jason Day ($10,600) – It’s not easy to skip over Stenson ($11,500) as a recommended play here, but the 2016 champ comes at enough of a discount that I think he has to be considered despite the lack of any recent track record to analyze. He has been out with an illness, though, so he shouldn’t be combating any physical ailments on his return, and considering that he led after every round here last year en route to his win, he should be very intriguing as another GPP option.
Justin Rose ($9,500) – Putting usually makes or breaks the performance for Rose, so it’s no surprise to see that he is leading the Tour in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green. But on a course that yields plenty of scoring opportunities, that kind of precision from the tee and the fairway can go a long way. With a player like Rose almost always finding himself in a position to at least make a run at a birdie here, it helps explain the four top 20 finishes he has accumulated here since 2011.
Tyrrell Hatton ($9,100) – He started finishing near the top of some leaderboards in Europe near the end of 2016, and he has kept the trend up on into the new year. He has three straight top 10 performances since the beginning of February and hasn’t ended up a single tournament this year worse than T13.
Francesco Molinari ($8,600) – This week’s best example of “converging trends,” Molinari has finished inside the top 20 in seven of his last eight starts since last fall, and also finished inside the top 20 each of the last three years here at Bay Hill. He finished T20 in Mexico by holing 18 birdies, showing the kind of scoring ability you need to stay in contention here, on a course that can yield some low scores on occasion.
Adam Hadwin ($8,400) – Hadwin has had a very good 2017 so far, with a solo-2nd in January, a T12 in February and now a win already in March. In between, he’s made all his cuts and has been averaging just about 70 fantasy points a weekend even if you remove those three best showings, which to me makes for a solid cash game option at this price.
Kevin Kisner ($7,600) – Kisner is one of those players who just seems like his price is wrong this weekend. He is coming off a solo 11th finish at the WGC – Mexico Championship, his third top ten (and fourth top 25) showing since January, and he’s made at least 15 birdies in every one of those tournaments. He has a very good chance of giving you 75+ fantasy points here this weekend, which is more than I would say for a few of the golfers priced directly above him.
Tony Finau ($7,600) – He has been somewhat unpredictable, which of course, is another word for unreliable in DFS. But he finished fifth at the Valspar Championship in large part due to the round of 64 he fired on Sunday. If Finau is allowed to start off the tee comfortably and finish easily once he’s on the green, his distance will give him an advantage here, allowing him cleaner looks at the pin over the course of the four days.
Chase or Fade: Can Kevin Kisner stay hot this week?
Charl Schwartzel ($7,400) – He finished sixth at the Valspar Championship after firing four straight rounds under par (he has only one over par in his last eight). When he is playing well, he is a player who controls his irons and wedges as well as anyone (10th in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green and seventh in Strokes Gained: Approach-the-Green last season), a skill set that should translate well here.
Tommy Fleetwood ($7,200) – The WGC Mexico Championship was his first PGA Tour event of 2017, and he came through with a solo fifth after an interesting start to the year for him in Europe. He clearly makes for more of a GPP play than a cash game consideration, because since the beginning of January, he has played in four tournaments on the Euro Tour: two missed cuts, a win, and a T12. His game seems to be in good shape right now with his 18 combined birdies and eagles against just six bogeys last weekend, so I’m looking for him to carry the momentum into Bay Hill.
Wesley Bryan ($7,100) – He’s a rookie, so I wouldn’t go trusting him in your cash game lineups just yet, but I recommended him last weekend and he rewarded me with a T7, 82.5 fantasy point performance. And that was his WORST performance over the course of the last month. In his last three tournaments, he finished T4-T4-T7 and averaged 18 holes under par, and a 25% birdie or better %.
Brooks Koepka ($6,900) – At this price, I think a player with his talent has to be a GPP consideration, no matter how many cuts he’s missed in 2017. But his performance last weekend at the Valspar Championship actually gives you some actual reason for optimism. He only finished T48, but after missing three straight cuts, he opened the weekend with a 76 on Thursday, which could have just been the beginning of another terrible showing. But he bounced back with rounds of 69 and 68 on Friday and Saturday and ended up with 16 birdies and 62.5 fantasy points. Bay Hill could be just the course to help him continue getting his 2017 back on track.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is theasquad) 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.