PGA All-Star - Lesson 03 - Distributing PGA Salaries

Derek ‘Notorious’ Farnsworth is one of the top daily fantasy writer in the industry, with the majority of his work done as the featured writer on RotoGrinders.com. He covers nearly every sport, with a focus on NBA, PGA and MLB daily fantasy content. He has been nominated for multiple Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards and took one home for his PGA Weekly Series in 2014.

Golf is a volatile sport. On any given week, the best players in the world can miss the cut. Likewise, the worst players in the field can compete week in and week out. Even in a sport with a volatile nature, we can create a lineup each week that has a great chance of succeeding. Research is obviously a big factor in lineup creation, but so is the distribution of salary.

On DraftKings, we are required to roster six golfers each week, with all six golfers counting toward our final score. The salary cap is set at $50,000, which leaves us with an average of $8,333 to spend on each golfer.  With salaries that range from $3,000 – $15,000 each week, how do we determine the best way to distribute our salary?

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DraftKings has a fairly aggressive pricing model, which really opens the door for a number of different strategies. We can take the stars and scrubs approach, the semi-stars and semi-scrubs approach, or go for a well-balance lineup. The ultimate goal in daily fantasy golf is to have as many golfers in our lineup as possible that are going to make the cut. We obviously want high finishes from our golfers, but that’s not going to happen if they don’t make the cut first.

The field and the pricing are going to change week-to-week, but we will analyze three different lineup approaches to gain an idea of which salary distribution model best fits different league types (i.e. cash games vs. tournaments). I like to break down the pricing into five different tiers:

$11,000 and up – Stars
$9,000 – $11,000 – Semi-Stars
$7,000 – $9,000 – Mid-Range Plays
$5,000 – $7,000 – Semi-Scrubs
$5,000 and less – Scrubs

Scenario 1 – Stars and Scrubs

Rory McIlroy is the best golfer in the world. He is the odds-on favorite to win every tournament that he enters. The favorite in the field is typically priced above $14,000 on DraftKings. For our purposes, let’s say that we want to target two of the best players in the pool, one priced at $14,000 and the other at $13,000. Targeting high-priced players requires some finesse.

In the example above, we would only have an average of  $5,750 left to spend on our remaining four golfers. Typically, you won’t find a single golfer that has better than 150/1 odds of winning the tournament. Players in this price range are also at a greater risk of missing the cut. This makes it extremely difficult to complete our goal of having all six golfers playing into the weekend.

There are weeks that feature a few attractive options in the scrubs’ price range, but in general, this salary distribution is better suited for large tournaments than it is for cash games. The high variance with the stars and scrubs approach isn’t what we are looking for in 50/50’s and Head-to-Heads.

Scenario 2 – Semi-Stars and Semi-Scrubs

In this scenario, we will take an approach that is somewhere between the stars and scrubs and the well-balanced roster. Given the high variance with the golfers that are priced under $5,000, this approach can be used in cash games, although it is a strong tournament approach as well.

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For our example, let’s target three players in the Semi-Stars’ tier. We can take three golfers that have an average salary of $10,000 and we will still be left with $6,667 to spend on our remaining three golfers. This is a safer approach than scenario 1, as we get three great golfers in our lineup, as well as three golfers that have a better chance of making the cut than those priced under $5,000.

Scenario 3 – Mid-Range (We don’t want no Scrubs)

It changes from week-to-week with different pricing and different tournament set-ups, but, in general, I prefer to take a well-rounded approach for cash games. You can make a well-balanced lineup with no weak links each and every week. That’s not to say that all six of your golfers are guaranteed to make the cut, but there won’t be any golfers that you are just taking a shot in the dark at.

As mentioned in the beginning of the article, we have an average salary of $8,333 to spend on each of our six golfers. Looking at the salaries from this year’s Valspar Championship, there were only 20 players in the field of 144 that were priced above our average amount to spend of $8,333. That means that you can target six players that are all projected to finish in the top 30 of the tournament.

Having a well-rounded lineup in daily fantasy golf is my preferred approach, but again, each week is a puzzle that we have to figure out. DraftKings is always on top of their pricing, which really brings lineup building into the forefront in terms of strategy.


Continue Reading PGA Training Camp

PGA All-Star – Lesson 01 – Getting Past the Cut Line
PGA All-Star – Lesson 02 – Odds to Win, Place and More
PGA All-Star – Lesson 03 – Distributing PGA Salaries
NEXT LESSON PGA All-Star – Lesson 04 – Using Recency to Draft
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