Daily Fantasy Golf Helper: Desert Classic

Hudson Swafford is coming off a third-place finish at last week's Sony Open. Can he offer big fantasy value again this week?

By now, you've probably dabbled in daily fantasy sports, but if not, don't worry. Now is a great time to start, especially with FanDuel now offering a revamped version of PGA golf.

Golf can be one of the most exciting DFS sports to follow, as tournaments span four days and allow ample time to prepare each week, so be sure to familiarize yourself with the basics of building a lineup on FanDuel, the scoring setup, and advanced stats to know about the PGA.

But whether you're brand new to the PGA or daily fantasy sports in general, we have you covered -- and we have daily fantasy golf projections and lineup building tools, too.

Let's take a look at some golfers to target this week.

Key Stats

Key Stats for the Desert Classic at TPC Stadium Course,
Nicklaus Tournament Course, and LaQuinta Country Club
Strokes Gained: Approach
Greens in Regulation Gained
Strokes Gained: Off the Tee
Strokes Gained: Putting on Bermuda

My approach again this week is highlighting ball-strikers. The three-course setup is quite unique, as Mike Rodden detailed in this week's course primer.

As always, strokes gained: approach finds itself at the top of the list in terms of general predictability and usefulness. Via datagolf, 38.0% of the scores here since 2018 has been generated by approach play, compared to 34.8% for the Tour average. Greens in regulation gained over the field has helped lead to solid FanDuel scores, so it makes the list. While we're at it, strokes gained: off the tee popped as something we should factor in.

Good drive rate looks useful, too, but good drive rate is really just a combination of driving accuracy and greens in regulation (when missing fairways), and we need to be careful not to give too much weight to the same stats.

The greens are Bermuda, overseeded with Ryegrass and Poa Trivialis, via Future of Fantasy, so we can look for Bermuda splits, provided we widen the sample.

Stats cited below come from FantasyNational and include the past 36 rounds (strokes gained: putting is for the past 100 rounds) on the PGA Tour unless noted. Ranks are among the field.

Best of the Best

Justin Rose (FanDuel Price: $12,100 | Betfair Win Odds: 9/1) - Rose, the world's number-one golfer, ranks 8th among the field in strokes gained: approach over the past 36 rounds and 10th in strokes gained: off the tee. That ball striking comes along with a 3rd-place finish at the Hero World Challenge, his only PGA event in the past seven weeks. He also finished 17th at the BNI Indonesian Masters five weeks ago. He's a high-floor play who has missed just three cuts since the start of 2017.

Jon Rahm ($11,900 | 8/1) - Rahm could be the most popular pick of the week, as he has finished 4th at the DP Would Tour Championship in Dubai, 1st at the Hero World Challenge, and 8th at the Sentry Tournament of Champions over the past nine weeks. The TOC finish gives him a recent start, something that Rose and Patrick Cantlay don't have. On top of that, Rahm won here last year and rans top-six in both strokes gained: off the tee and greens in regulation gained over the past 36 rounds.

Patrick Cantlay ($11,300 | 19/1) - Rust for Cantlay is the biggest concern, as he hasn't played since the Hero World Challenge (5th). Prior to that, he finished 2nd at the Shriners, 7th at the WGC-HSBC, and 17th at the Safeway Open. Cantlay's ball striking has been on point over the past 36: 3rd in approach and off the tee. He's also 2nd in greens in regulation gained in that split and is a plus putter on Bermuda in his career. He's a tournament pivot option from Rose and Rahm.

Joaquin Niemann ($10,400 | 61/1) - Niemann is very likely overpriced on FanDuel, but at some point, Niemann's elite ball striking is going to pay off. He ranks 1st in the field in strokes gained: ball striking (6th in approach and 1st off the tee) but just can't putt consistently (141st in strokes gained: putting on Bermuda). A lot of other options near his price are reliant on putting well to succeed of late, so Niemann's ball striking should give him a pretty high floor this week.

Mid-Range Options

Aaron Wise ($10,100 | 29/1) - Wise's recent approach (88th) is a weakness here, but we still know his ball striking is stellar enough (9th off the tee and 17th in greens in regulation gained), and his irons have been better over a larger sample. Wise also putts well (for him) on Bermuda greens. Wise has finished 34th and 17th at this event in the past two years and has finished 15th, 10th, and 27th (Tournament of Champions) over his past three, giving him a recent event in there to help with the rust angle.

Chez Reavie ($9,800 | 34/1) - Reavie finished third last week at the Sony Open despite being one of two golfers in the top 10 to lose strokes putting (-0.9). Reavie bounced back from a missed cut here in 2015 to finish 17th, 12th, and 36th the past three years. Reavie ranks 8th in greens in regulation gained over the past 36 rounds.

Patton Kizzire ($9,400 | 41/1) - Kizzire's approach play ranks him 9th over the past 100 rounds and 16th over the past 36. He's been struggling off the tee in the shorter sample (143rd), just part of Kizzire's stat profile. He's been fine here (42nd, 50th, 42nd) but has really stepped it up of late: 15th (RSM), 8th (Tournament of Champions), and 13th (Sony Open).

Cheng-Tsung Pan ($9,300 | 61/1) - Pan has had a long layoff (nine weeks since a missed cut at the RSM). He had made 12 straight cuts prior and ranks 3rd in approach and 7th in greens in regulation gained over the past 36 rounds. He's a negative putter on Bermuda in his career, yet could be a bit of a high-floor play here at his price.

Low-Priced Picks

Corey Conners ($8,700 | 61/1) - Conners tied for 3rd last week and ranked 3rd in strokes gained: approach at the Sony. He's also 2nd in greens in regulation and 3rd in strokes gained: off the tee over the past 36 rounds. Conners finished 50th here last year, so he has some course knowledge of the rotation and hot irons entering.

Sungjae Im ($8,800 | 41/1) - Im has gained strokes with his ball striking on 80.0% of his 30 rounds on the PGA Tour, via FantasyNational, an elite rate. Most of that comes from his off-the-tee play rather than the approach, yet Im is solid all around: 61st in approach, 34th in greens in regulation gained, and 22nd off the tee over the past 36 rounds. He's a bit underpriced and just finished 16th at the Sony last week.

Dylan Frittelli ($8,600 | 67/1) - Frittelli came through well enough last week, finishing 51st at the Sony Open, but he did lose strokes with his approach play -- not a good sign. He also lost strokes on the greens. However, Frittelli's recent form has been solid enough to consider him at this salary (21st at the Nedbank Golf Challenge, 7th at the DP World Tour Championship, 5th at the Afrasia Bank Mauritius Open, cut at the South African Open, 12th at the Alfred Dunhill Championship, and 51st at the Sony).

Hudson Swafford ($8,200 | 46/1) - Swafford finished 3rd last week at the Sony Open and ranked 6th in strokes gained: approach there. He also gained strokes on the Bermuda greens but wasn't carried by a hot putter. Swafford, a winner here in 2017, has made four of five cuts here over the past five years.