WATCH: VALUE PLAY – J.B. HOLMES
The PGA Tour continues on to the Pacific Palisades and the Riviera CC for the Genesis Open this weekend. As the Tour proceeds past the Pro-Am from last weekend, the best field of the season is showing up stateside, which makes for plenty of ways you can go when building your fantasy rosters. Here are a few names to consider from every price range.
Jordan Spieth ($12,600) – You can’t ignore the player who just dominated Pebble Beach to get the win and now has four straight top-10 finishes in the U.S. He did it with his normal lights-out putter, but combined that with a 80% Greens in Regulation (GIR) rate (89% on Sunday), and when he is striking the ball that well, he is always going to be tough to beat.
Hideki Matsuyama ($11,500) – He has played here three times, and he’s been inside the top-25 all three times, and the top-10 once. And none of those performances came off a win at the Waste Management Phoenix Open (WMPO) in which he had a high round of 68. Playing as well as anyone on Tour, there is a reason he’s here in the clear-cut top-tier.
Dustin Johnson ($11,400) – The third of the clear top-three options for the weekend for me, sometimes it feels like he should be first. Early week reports are out that the rough is cut to about two inches for this weekend, perhaps due to the threat of bad weather, which should make this a good set-up for all the biggest bombers on Tour. As if DJ, who has finished T4 or better here FIVE times since 2010, needed any extra advantage.
Sergio Garcia ($9,300) – Coming off the win in Dubai, he is my personal favorite from the second tier of still-expensive options for this weekend. He’s always been a player who has been able to make birdies even when he is struggling, something that makes for a consistent fantasy option. He has finished inside the top-five here twice in the past, and will look to repeat that kind of performance on his way to a stellar start to 2017.
Justin Rose ($8,400) – He finished T16 here last year, and he is here following up on an up-and-down performance last weekend, which likely helped keep his price down. But he had a low-round of 68 on Saturday and managed 17 birdies for the weekend, whereas the winner, Spieth, managed only six more than that (23) despite beating Rose by 15 strokes. In other words, Rose was making a lot of shots, and that kind of performance could lead to a better showing on the leaderboard this weekend.
Bubba Watson ($8,300) – The defending champ, and the same logic that applied to DJ and why the big hitters should thrive here still applies to Bubba. He hasn’t been playing very often over the last couple of months, and the last time we saw him he was missing the cut in Phoenix. His track record here is very hit-or-miss, with two wins and and four other finishes in the top-20, but also four missed cuts. He is someone you could use if you’re shooting for the biggest possible upside in a GPP contest.
Anirban Lahiri ($7,700) – He has two top-20 finishes in Europe already in February, with a T19 in Dubai and a T7 at the Maybank Championship, finishing this tournament last weekend with 24 birdies after four straight rounds in the sixties. He finished just inside the top-100 on Tour in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee and Approach-the-Green last season, a skill set that should translate onto a course where players need to be consistently giving themselves realistic putts.
Keegan Bradley ($7,500) – He has been inside the top-five here twice before, and while he missed the cut at his last outing, in Phoenix, he is coming off a January in which he carded a T25 at the CareerBuilder Challenge and a T4 at the Farmers Insurance Open. Despite that tough performance at the WMPO, he is still 17th on Tour so far this season in Total Driving and 35th in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green, exactly the kind of skill set he’ll need to display to contend at Riviera.
Brendan Steele ($7,100) – The California native has always seemed comfortable on this course, and has finished in the top-20 twice over the past three years. That track record combined with four straight top-20 performances in 2017, including two top-10s, make him a player to consider, with plenty of consistency and upside for any contest type.
Tony Finau ($6,800) – The last of the easy-answer “he can go long” guys on my list, the fact is, he can go long. It is not often you can find someone with any truly elite skill at this price range, and Finau has that, currently sitting at 10th in Driving Distance after finishing last season at third. He had a blip with a missed cut in Phoenix, but otherwise hasn’t finished outside of the top-25 this year, and has shown an ability to compete with some of the top players in the game.
Cameron Percy ($6,700) – The Australian finished T10 at Pebble Beach, typically a great indicator of the shape of a player’s game heading into the first real action-packed section of the PGA schedule. He was 14th in putts per green last weekend on top of also finishing with more than 70% of his greens hit in regulation. He had 16 birdies each of the last two weekends, so if he can avoid the big trouble holes, he could actually prove useful to you as a lower-end fantasy option here.
Nick Taylor ($6,600) – He finished tied with Percy at T10 last weekend at Pebble Beach, but he did it on the back of four eagles over the course of the weekend. If he can show that kind of confidence on the par-fives again this weekend, he could score enough to make the cut and give you some useful fantasy production on the cheap in order to help you afford those big names players on the top of your roster.
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.