Daily Fantasy Golf: An Introduction to Cash Games
Daily fantasy sports are fun. Daily fantasy golf is especially fun. But the end of the day, you want to be able to find success with your lineups and feel confident that you can do it again the next time a slate starts.
Unless you're brand new to daily fantasy sports, you've heard of "cash games," and if you are brand new to daily fantasy sports, don't worry -- we'll cover what you need to know about cash games, what your strategy should be, and how you should go about trying to accomplish that goal in PGA DFS on FanDuel.
So, let's get right down to it.
What's a Cash Game?
A cash game isn't exactly just a game where you can win money, but they often are. Rather, cash games refer to games where roughly half the field "wins."
That can come in the form of a head-to-head (one player wins and the other doesn't), a 50/50 (half the field wins and half doesn't), or a double-up (nearly half the field wins but those who do double their entry).
It's always fun to come in first place in a big 50/50, provided that you played that same lineup in a tournament, but you'll win the same if you finish 1st or 50th in a 100-entry game.
So, you don't need to swing for the fences -- or go for the green in this instance -- with each selection.
You just need to build a lineup that can get you in the top half.
How can you do that?
Building a Safe Lineup
With the way that FanDuel's PGA offerings are set up -- where you roster four pre-cut golfers and four post-cut golfers -- you really can't be safe. Everyone (even the superstars) is at risk of missing the cut, and that means your Rounds 3 and 4 golfers could give you zeroes -- regardless of price.
But that doesn't mean you can't build a safe eight-man lineup.
Round 3 and 4 Strategy
We're actually going to work backwards here because of how important it is to maximize your players who make the cut. You'll be sitting pretty if you spend up for stars in Rounds 1 and 2 who are all in the top-10 come cut day, but if your final four are all out of the tournament, your lineup will be sunk.
That's why you need to aim to go four-for-four on post-cut players (which will be the same idea in tournaments, of course, but the "building great lineups" strategy is viable regardless of your contest type).
So, how can you try to target players who will be playing on the weekend?
Big-name golfers are going to be pricey for a reason: they should be in contention if their stats line up with the relevant stats for the given course. Even if your top-priced option doesn't win the tournament, positive points from them on the weekend will elevate your lineup's floor. You can find the field's favorites at a site like Pinnacle.
Study Cut History
While a player who barely makes the cut and doesn't contend for a top-10 finish probably isn't putting up massive stats, cuts made really will matter in the long run for your DFS success.
Account for Course History and Recent Form
As with any DFS sport, there's some subjectivity and finesse involved in DFS PGA, and that comes in the form of course history and recent form. Researching how well a golfer played at the same course in prior years can possibly show a familiarity and liking (or aversion) to the particular course. Courses do get re-vamped every now and again, so be sure to factor in course changes when analyzing course history.
Recent form is really something you can weight as heavily as you want. There's no guarantee that a player with five straight top-10s will even make the cut the following week, and a player who missed three straight cuts could find his groove on a certain course. That being said, you won't want to favor players who are struggling to stick around for Rounds 3 and 4 in cash games because you're just asking for trouble.
Consider Players Who Play Safe
Along the same lines, you can -- in theory -- trust certain players more than others. Some players scramble better than others, meaning they can recover from missed greens in regulation.
Some players "go for the green" more frequently than others, meaning they try to get to the green on their tee shot of a par 4 or the second shot of a par 5. That can lead to eagles, but it could also lead to disaster.
Target Players Who Earn Pars and Avoid Bogeys
Pars are boring, but they matter in DFS with the way that FanDuel's scoring is set up, as each par is worth half a fantasy point. Bogeys, by comparison, are worth -1 fantasy points, and double bogeys and worse are worth a full -3. That'll take a lot to recover from, so bogey avoidance is important in cash games.
When in Doubt, Build a Top-Down Lineup
Generally in DFS, building lineups from the top to the bottom is problematic because your low-cost options can really limit your lineup's upside and floor. While that doesn't mean you can roster the top four players in Rounds 3 and 4 and punt all four options in Rounds 1 and 2, you can get away with building a back-end-heavy lineup because your early-round selections should be able to generate some positive points if you identify the better values to start the tournament.
And, no, allocating a large majority of your salary on golfers in Rounds 3 and 4 (i.e. players who are still vulnerable to be cut) doesn't make your lineup foolproof, but trying to get a low-priced option through the cut could be a losing proposition in the long-term.