Daily Fantasy Golf: An Introduction to Tournaments
Daily fantasy sports favor the prepared.
Successful players who are consistently generating productive lineups aren't just getting lucky. They're studying trends and stats and pricing and much more to create lineups and narrow down their player pools.
Then again, there is a whole lot of randomness in sports -- like in most aspects of life. That means that the most obvious plays might perform the best if the contest was played 1,000 times, but sports aren't played on paper.
Any golfer can get hot and land a top-10 finish, and any DFS player can do the same. Both take preparation and thorough knowledge of what lies ahead.
So, how can you go about building PGA tournament lineups?
Just to clarify, the strategy we'll discuss here isn't really intended for your 20-person office league, though similar principles will apply, and we also aren't talking about large 50/50s and double-ups. You probably want a more cash-game oriented approach for those.
Rather, we're talking about the large puppies, the tournaments with guaranteed prize pools (GPP) that pay out to the top 20% or so of lineups.
You can have a cash-game lineup post a monstrous score, and all the power to you, but there are some things you should know about entering big tournaments. Here are a few to get you started.
General Daily Fantasy Tournament Strategy
If you've been playing DFS for a while, you know that ownership is a hot topic.
If 80% of your competitors have a particular player on their lineups and he does well, you could have trouble catching them in the standings depending on how your choices play. Of course, if the heavily-owned player (commonly referred to as "chalk") were to have a poor outing, a large number of entries could be rendered mostly moot in the standings.
That's especially true with a volatile sport like golf and with the cut in most tournaments.
Let's say the chalk of the week is Jordan Spieth. Because he's one of the best golfers in the world, he's going to command a big portion of salary, and if he were to miss the cut, those lineups with Spieth on them are going to be in trouble.
Trying to gauge ownership is often tough, and you might feel anxious about not having the heavy favorite on your team, but if you can avoid a popular landmine, you can set yourself apart.
Not Spending All of Your Salary
This topic doesn't get nearly the attention that ownership does, and without a history of FanDuel PGA tournaments to dig into, we can only speculate here. But if golf on DraftKings is any indication, spending all of your salary (or nearly all of it) can lead to a lot of similar lineups in a given week -- even with eight golfers to select.
Leaving salary on the table can help you differentiate your lineups from others in the same tournament, and that's definitely something to consider in large (and even smaller) GPPs.
When it comes to narrowing down your player pool, ownership and salary will obviously matter, but some golfers are going to be primed for tournament selections rather than safer, cash-game selections. In addition to figuring out who should play a given course well based on the advanced stats, keep these things in mind.
With FanDuel's streak bonus of 0.6 points per consecutive hole under par, back-to-back birdies will tally you 6.8 points (3.1 for each birdie and 0.6 for the streak), and that's nearly as valuable as an eagle is (7 points). Streaky players who an pile up par breakers can rack up points quickly.
Golfers Who Can Go Low
Again, tournament picks are always going to sound great for cash games, too, as low scores on the course will lead to good fantasy stats. But if you really want to contend for the top of the leaderboard in a big tournament, you'll need players who can post really low rounds, such as rounds in the 60s. Playing it safe won't be a good idea long-term for tournament success.
Study Course History
Golf is unique in a lot of ways from other DFS sports, but one of the -- perhaps -- most interesting storylines is that certain golfers grew up playing on certain courses because they were nearby to their hometown. That can give a golfer an edge over most of the field.
Veteran golfers may also just have been around long enough to play a given course multiple times. If the event form suggests he's fared well there and there haven't been major renovations, odds are that the course is right for his style.
This requires a little gamesmanship and subjectivity rather than cold-hard data, but making decisions based on instinct is part of playing and winning in large GPPs: the smartest plays based on stats don't always work out.
Take a Chance on a Value Player (or Two)
The low-priced options are probably priced as such because they don't have strong recent form. Put another way: they aren't making cuts. There could be other reasons for the low price -- a long absence, bad course history, or even amateur status -- but sometimes things line up for a few of the cheaper options.
Perhaps their statistical profiles suggest they're in a position for a great week, such as a player who is short off the tee but a great approach player and putter. Perhaps they actually have stellar course history and just happen to be struggling elsewhere. Perhaps they're inexperienced to the PGA Tour.
A big score from a value option or two (especially at low ownership) plus great outings from your star players could be the recipe for success for your tournament lineups more often than not. Just know that's a risky way to play it.