OUT: Charles Howell III
Weather: Hot, but no huge winds. No advantage to either wave of golfers.
Ownership: DJ, Rahm, and Rory will be the highest owned on the high end. There also will be high ownership on Rickie Fowler, Justin Thomas, Adam Scott, Martin Kaymer, and Adam Hadwin. You may want to find pivots off of one or two of them in tournaments. There has been some discussion on Kevin Kisner, Brendan Grace, Francesco Molinari, and Paul Casey. I wouldn't talk you off any of them; they just didn't make my final lineups due to the strength of the field.
Other Players: I briefly mentioned David Hearn as a value play on FanDuel. He has never missed a cut in five starts at Sawgrass. I like him at 5,200 on FanDuel, and the 11,300 price on FantasyDraft. The only player that I have added to my roster that I didn't write about is Jhonattan Vegas. I have always liked Vegas, maybe because I picked him at the RBC Canadian Open as a value play last year and he won. He is not great at any particular stat but is 27th in Par 5 Birdie or Better %, 30th in Greens in Regulation, and 36th in SG: Approach. He's 12,300 on FantasyDraft, and gives you some solid value at a low price on such a strictly priced salary structure.
Enjoy your week and if you win lots of money on Sunday, make you sure you treat someone to a nice Mother's Day. Good luck!
TPC Sawgrass, Ponte Vedra Beach, FL. Par 72, 7,215 yards
Defending Champion: Jason Day (-15) by 4 over Kevin Chappell
Roster Lock Time: 7:10am EST (6:10 CST, 5:10 MST, 4:10 PST)
The unofficial 5th major, the Players Championship brings in a top field of golfers throughout the world. You won't see many rookies this week, as there is a criteria to get in: Top 50 in the world, winner on tour this year, and finishing in the top 125 in last year's FedEx Cup Standings prior to the playoffs. Before I get to the course and the tournament itself, I'll review last week's Wells Fargo Championship.
Wells Fargo Championship Recap
A lot of things went right for me last week. Though my combination of Laird, Molinari, and Noren hurt me on DraftKings on Sunday, a Pat Perez run to 2nd place, and solid outings from J.T. Poston and Brandon Hagy led me to a 2nd place finish in the $25 tournament on FantasyDraft. My one regret: not using the winner, Brian Harman, though I was high on him. Part of it was the players around his price range: part of it was that he was on that Thurs PM/Fri AM draw that looked troublesome at lineup lock. He had been playing very well leading into this so I'm not surprised Harman won. Dustin Johnson showed his back was fine, shooting -10 on the weekend to end up second. Jon Rahm continues to contend every week it seems like. What a future he has.
The Players Championship
TPC Sawgrass is one of the most iconic courses in the United States; perhaps the world. This was the first stadium course built, designed for fans' viewing of a golf tournament. The Players Championship has been held here ever since its inception and it truly does not favor one style of play. The most famous hole is the 140 yard Par 3 17th; the Island Green. What should be a simple shot for pros has them hitting a lot of shots in the water, making it a great strategic hole. The 18th is an underrated finishing hole, with water on the entire left side, and is one of the toughest holes on tour. #12 has been turned into a Drivable Par 4, which should add to some of the strategy on this course.
Looking at past winners, I have seen long drivers of the golf ball win, and accurate drivers of the golf ball win. This will have me looking at specialists in either area, and possibly Total Driving to combine the two. The one thing that stood out as being consistent among top finishers was hitting greens in regulation, making Shots Gained Approach important: Par 4 and Par 5 Scoring stood out as an important stat among winners and Top 5 finishers.
Scoring will plentiful here. Winning scores usually end up somewhere around 13, 14, or 15 under par. Last year, -2 was the cut, leaving a lot of talented golfers at -1 out of weekend play. I also will value tournament history here, as it is a unique course and experience should play a factor here. You will see very few repeat winners throughout the history of this tournament, showing you it's diversity.
MyFantasyFix League on DraftKings
I am going to have a 20-person league on DraftKings this week. Cost is $2, with the Top Three cashing. If you listen to Fantistics on Sunday, it's the same format; just different sport and different site. I will not be posting this on Twitter for those who follow Fantistics of My Fantasy Fix until Tuesday night. This means as a subscriber, you get a first chance to join before anyone else. If it fills this week and there is interest, I will run it every week. To sign up, click here
Rory McIlroy (11,200)
I usually don't take McIlroy in events: maybe it's that I'm more familiar with Spieth and Johnson; or that he doesn't play as much as some others. However, I am on him this week. The reason is he has played Sawgrass seven times: He missed the cut in each of his first three attempts. The last four years: 8th, 6th, 8th, and 12th. I feel like we've seen players win tournaments this year at courses where they have played well, but had not won prior (Fowler at the Honda Classic jumps to mind). He's also in great form: Seven consecutive Top 10s in stroke play events, and did win two of the four playoff events last year. Dominant Tee-to-Green, he also is more than half a stroke under par on Par 5s, on average, this year. McIlroy will certainly attract ownership, but if he's coming less than DJ or Spieth, I will be heavily invested on the newlywed. (Cash and GPP)
Sergio Garcia (10,200)
We haven't seen Sergio since he won the green jacket a month ago in Augusta. However, I'm not worried about the layoff, especially when it comes to his history at TPC Sawgrass. Sergio has a win, five other Top 10s, and only two missed cuts in 17 starts at this event. Garcia hasn't missed a cut since the PGA Championship last August, with 2 wins in that span. Statistically, Garcia is 1st in SG: Off-the-Tee and Total Driving, 3rd in SG: Tee-to-Green, 4th in Greens in Regulation, 5th in Par 4 Scoring, and 8th in Par 5 Scoring. The only concern I have is how popular is he going to be, coming off the win at The Masters. Outside of that, Sergio checks all the boxes I'm looking for at Sawgrass. He's a great bargain on FanDuel, as the 10th highest priced golfer. He's almost a must play there, and is good for all formats this week. (Cash and GPP)
- Dustin Johnson (12,000) showed no ill effects from his back injury, logging his 5th straight Top Three finish. The only negative on Johnson this week; 28th is his best finish at The Players. If you are looking for a reason to fade DJ, go with his lack of success here. But, you will hold your breath all week if you do fade DJ.
- Jordan Spieth (10,800) is a slight bargain on FanDuel, as the 5th highest priced golfer. He missed the cut last year but was -1 when he was cut. Only concern is he hasn't had a Top 10 in his past four events. That's nitpicking though; 1st in SG: Approach, 2nd in Greens in Regulation and Par 5 Scoring, and 5th in Par 4 Scoring.
- Hideki Matsuyama (9.700) bucks the trend for needing experience here. He has played here three times: 23rd, 17th, and 7th. 11th at The Masters, had not been playing his best prior to that tournament. Should be a low owned in this tier.
- Jon Rahm (9,600) comes in as the best bargain on DraftKings, as the 8th highest priced golfer. Rahm hasn't missed a cut in eight starts with five Top 10s this season. Is 2nd in Par 4 Scoring, SG: Off-the-Tee, and SG: Tee-to-Green.
Cash: DJ, Spieth, Rahm
GPP: Matsuyama, DJ, Spieth, Rahm
Justin Thomas (8,900)
I think this is a fair price for Thomas and is fairly priced on the other two sites. He started the year on fire, sweeping the events in Hawaii. He has cooled off since, but did finish 5th at WGC-Mexico and 22nd at The Masters. He has only played Sawgrass twice: a 24th in 2015 and a 3rd last year. Thomas is #1 in Birdie Average, Par 4 Scoring, and Par 4 Birdie or Better %. He is also 5th in SG: Tee-to-Green and Total Strokes Gained, along with being 6th in Driving Distance and 16th in Greens in Regulation. I think Thomas may go overlooked and makes for a nice pivot off of the golfers in the 9k range (GPP, playable in Cash).
Adam Scott (8,400)
Scott has not been playing up to his normal high level. Yet, he still has two Top 10s, including a 9th at The Masters, and has only missed one cut this season. Scott is a previous champion, and has made five straight cuts at The Players. He is above average in all the stats: 44th in Greens in Regulation and is positive in all of the strokes gained categories. I suspect he will be popular at this price range and is a fine play in all formats, though I think he's a better cash game play. (Cash, Playable in GPP).
- Rickie Fowler (9,300) has only made the cut here three times in seven starts (though he missed cut at -1 last year). Those results: Win, 2nd, and 77th. Six straight Top 16 finishes this year, with a win and two other Top 5s. A great tournament play due to his boom/bust nature at TPC Sawgrass.
- Kevin Chappell (8,500) has regained his form, finishing 7th at The Masters and winning his last start: The Valero Texas Open. Was 2nd in this event last year. Is very mispriced on FanDuel, making him a great play there.
- Pat Perez (8,100) looked like he was heading to a playoff last week with DJ until Brian Harman birdied the last two to win. He has only missed one cut this year with mixed results in the past at The Players. Is 8th in Par 5 Scoring, and positive in almost every one of the SG Categories.
Cash: Chappell, Perez
GPP: Fowler, Chappell
Lee Westwood (7,500)
I'll start the wide variety of options in the 7k range this week with veteran Lee Westwood. Lee has made 9 of 13 cuts with five Top 10s in his career at The Players, but has never won the event. He finished 18th at The Masters in those tough weather conditions and always seems to get up for these large events. He hasn't played enough on the PGA Tour this season to get relevant stats, but for a world class player with success here, I think 7,500 makes Westwood a very nice cash game play. (Cash)
Martin Kaymer (7,300)
8 for 8. It's the theme for Kaymer this week. In 2017, he has made the cut in all eight events he has played in this year worldwide, including two Top 10s. He is also eight for eight in his starts at The Players, with three Top 25s, including a win in 2014. Kaymer excels on the Par 4 holes, ranking 4th in Par 4 Birdie or Better % and 32nd in Par 4 Scoring. Kaymer is also 8th in Driving Accuracy, and 12th in Total Strokes Gained. DraftKings is the place to play him, as the 35th highest priced golfer, compared to being Top 20 on the other sites. Kaymer's recent form and past success here makes him a viable play in all formats (Cash and GPP).
- Matt Kuchar (7,900) is a prior champion, and should always be considered on Pete Dye courses. Though he finished 4th at The Masters, he doesn't have the top finishes like we've seen the past couple of years. Limited to cash only for me.
- Tyrell Hatton (7,600) struggled in Augusta, but played well until a tough Easter Sunday at The Heritage. Hatton has been elite in all of the Strokes Gained categories except Around the Green. Only concern is that it's his first trip to Sawgrass.
- Phil Mickelson (7,400) seems very low priced considering he hasn't missed a cut this year. However, he has missed four straight cuts at Sawgrass. I don't think I will be playing Phil and if it sounds like ownership is going to be high on him, you should fade.
- Zach Johnson (7,200) has only missed one cut in 12 starts at TPC Sawgrass with two Top 10s. His form hasn't been great so far this year, but did finish 18th last year. A good ball striker, this may be the time to buy on Zach.
- Ryan Moore (7,000) is really cheap on DraftKings. He's coming off a 9th at The Masters and 18th at the Valero Texas Open. Has only missed three cuts in ten starts, though the missed cuts have been in the past four years. Is 16th in SG: Approach and 20th in Driving Accuracy.
Cash: Kuchar, Moore, Johnson
GPP: Hatton, Mickelson, Moore
Brendan Steele (6,900)
Steele will be the example for the recent form vs tournament history test this week. Steele has not missed a cut in 9 starts this year, including a 27th at The Masters. He did struggle on the weekend at the Valero Texas Open, but that was also some tough weather. He doesn't have the best history at Sawgrass, only making two of six cuts. Stats wise, Steele checks a lot of boxes for me: 7th in Total Driving, 12th in Par 4 Scoring, 16th in SG: Tee-to-Green, 18th in Total Strokes Gained, and 20th in Par 5 Scoring. At this low price and being sub 13k on Fantasy Draft, Steele can be used as a cash game play. (Cash, GPP Salary Saver)
Adam Hadwin (6,800)
Hadwin is somehow the 77th highest priced golfer on DraftKings. He's 77th if you combine the rank on Fantasy Draft and FanDuel. This looks like a big mispricing and will lead to high ownership in my opinion, on DraftKings. Hadwin hasn't missed a cut in 2017 with a win and two other Top 10s. He had a horrible Saturday at the Valero Texas Open, but that's about the only thing he's done wrong this year. Hadwin is positive in all of the strokes gained categories, 6th in Par 3 Scoring, Top 50 in Par 4 and Par 5 Scoring, and 31st in Total Driving. He's a near must-play in cash games on DraftKings, but may be worth a fade in tournaments, due to high projected ownership. Check back on Wednesday though on ownership. (Cash Lock on DK)
- Wesley Bryan (6,900) followed his initial win at the Heritage with a missed cut last week. Has four Top 10s and four missed cuts in 11 starts. Does play well on shorter courses, which TPC Sawgrass is a fit.
- Alex Noren (6,800) was in the final group on Sunday last week; however, a 77 dropped him to 31st. Noren is making his first appearance at Sawgrass, but the price is hard to ignore here.
- Brian Harman (6,800) is coming off a win last week; his 4th Top 10 this season with three missed cuts. He's three for five at Sawgrass with an 8th place finish. Is Top 50 in Par 3, 4, and 5 Scoring.
- Graeme McDowell (6,700) has only missed two cuts in nine starts here, with a 9th place finish here last year. He's only missed one cut this season (Puerto Rico, which makes little sense) with eight Top 30 finishes. Another big value here on DraftKings.
Cash: Noren, McDowell
GPP: Bryan, Harman, McDowell
Every week, I'll have the link to the Scoring Average before the cut posted here. It should help not only on FanDuel games, but on the other 2 sites as you try to get golfers to make the cut.
Players that I haven't written about that I don't mind on FanDuel:
- David Hearn (never missed a cut in five starts, three Top 30s)
- Patrick Cantlay (Two Top 10s, hasn't missed a cut in four starts this year)
- Russell Henley (Five Top 25s in 9 starts this year)
Fantasy Draft Strategy
With the pricing being so sharp on Fantasy Draft, I figured I would briefly write about players I'm considering in the 12k range, that I haven't mentioned yet.
- Gary Woodland (Three Top 10s this year, Two Top 30 finishes the past 3 years at Sawgrass)
- Rafa Cabrera Bello (Missed three cuts in a row, his only MC this year. Was 24th last week and Three Top 10s this year)
- Brian Gay (Was in line for a third straight Top Ten last week before a Sunday 77 ruined that plan. 6/13 in making cuts at Sawgrass).
There are plenty of golfers to consider in each tier. That's what happens when 48 of the Top 50 golfers in the world enter. If I find myself rostering anyone I haven't originally written up in this article, I will let you know on Wednesday. I will update Wednesday with any late withdrawals from the tournament, weather updates, and where ownership may be heading. Finally, don't forget to sign up for the private league on DraftKings that I have linked at the top of the article. Good luck with your lineups and feel free to hit me up on Twitter (@skeeterrobinson) if you have any questions or if you just want to discuss this week's tournament.