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 golf works, where the best players in the world can miss cuts out of nowhere, you can't really be safe. However, that doesn't mean you can't build a safe eight-man lineup.
Ideally, and this won't happen often, all eight of your golfers will make the cut. That's the real goal.
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. Some players make a living by just grinding out weak finishes and made cuts, and those types of guys can be welcomed additions to your lineups even if they don't come close to winning.
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, largely, 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 renovated 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 the final 36 holes in cash games because you're just asking for trouble.
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, Opt for a Balanced Roster
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. There will always be some really inexpensive options from which to choose, but those players are priced there for a reason.
If you're spending down on an unknown commodity just to squeeze in Dustin Johnson at $12,000, you better hope that DJ can earn a win to overcome 36 absent holes from the amateur golfer you rostered. Of course, that isn't to suggest that you can never play low-priced golfers.
In fact, these guys can sometimes contend for the top-10 all the same, but when you're building a lineup that needs to beat just half of your opponents, you might want to load up on more middle-tier players with penchants for making the cut, even if it means missing out on the top-ranked golfers in the field.
No overarching strategy makes your lineup foolproof, but trying to get extremely low-priced options through the cut could be a losing proposition in the long-term. Save that strategy for tournaments.