Daily Fantasy Golf Helper: The Masters, Presented by Goslings
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 for The Masters at Augusta National|
|Strokes Gained: Approach|
|Strokes Gained: Off the Tee|
|Strokes Gained: Putting on (Fast) Bentgrass|
|Course History at Augusta|
Woo, boy. It's pretty hard to quantify what it takes to pull off a win at Augusta. The grit, the course knowledge, the lack of data. Seriously, we have no strokes gained data from Augusta, so it's a real drag on figuring out what exactly the winners and top-10-finishers did to achieve that. We know for sure that making birdies and avoiding bogeys is going to correlate with a good score here, but that's all descriptive and not predictive of what might happen next.
What we can do, however, is rely on ball-striking stats. Strokes gained: approach is going to account for -- generally speaking -- performance on second shots and par 3s. Strokes gained: off the tee will combine distance and accuracy in a way that shows how well a golfer gains leverage on the field with tee shots on par 4s and par 5s. Accuracy doesn't correlate very strongly with success here. With virtually no rough, golfers will be hitting it out of pine straw on most errant tee shots. However, distance can help golfers get a leg up on the long par 72.
The greens will play lightning fast, per usual, and that means we need to bake putting performance into our picks this week more than usual. The bentgrass greens make just about every putt a grind. On a similar note, we can really dig into course history at Augusta more than we do at a normal course. First-timers just don't win at this course, though they can make a run for a top-10. We're looking for just the right combination of just about everything: ball-striking, distance, putting, and knowledge.
Stats cited below come from FantasyNational and include the past 50 rounds on the PGA Tour unless noted. Ranks are among the field.
Best of the Best
Rory McIlroy (FanDuel Price: $12,100 | FanDuel Sportsbook Win Odds: 6.5/1), Dustin Johnson ($12,000 | 11/1), and Justin Rose ($11,800 | 12/1) - To me, there's a top three here, and they happen to be the top three in FanDuel salary. However, with their past 50-round performance combined with their win equity (based on the betting odds), they're all a bit underpriced when compared to the rest of the field. McIlroy is gunning for the career grand slam and should be considered the top golfer by just about everyone, but Johnson has been every bit as good (if not better) than Rory of late and has three straight top-10 finishes at Augusta (Rory has five). Rose has finished 12th (last year), 2nd, 10th, and 2nd at Augusta and grades out better than Rory over the past calendar year by datagolf's True Strokes Gained. I would rank them Johnson, McIlroy, Rose, and Rose should see low ownership by comparison -- making him a leverage play in large-field tournaments.
Jon Rahm ($11,600 | 20/1) - Outside of the top three, there are a lot of places to look in this loaded field. Rahm jumps out to me. He grades out second among the field in strokes gained: off the tee over his past 50 rounds on the PGA Tour and is 11th in distance. He has played Augusta twice already, finishing 27th and 4th. That puts him fourth in total strokes gained average at Augusta since 2012, via FantasyNational.com. It's hard to split hairs with the world's best here, but Rahm's consistent success makes him intriguing.
Tiger Woods ($11,100 | 18/1) - Tiger is a four-time winner at Augusta and is almost assuredly going to be a popular play. Last year, he was the most-owned golfer on FanDuel for The Masters. Tiger does have a win on his resume over the past calendar year (at the TOUR Championship), nearly a prerequisite to win at Augusta. He grades out third among the field in approach over the past 50 rounds. Plus, if he wins, you get your entry fee for the MEGA Eagle back!
Paul Casey ($10,800 | 28/1) - Casey has really figured Augusta out, finishing 15th last year after a 6th, 4th, and 6th. A golfer known for struggling to close out wins, Casey has secured a victory at the Valspar, a very good sign for him this weekend. Jordan Spieth won the Valspar before his 2015 Masters win, Danny Willett finished 22nd before his win in 2016, and Patrick Reed was second last year before winning The Masters. Casey doesn't really have holes in his game, similar to a cheaper Rickie Fowler ($11,400), who is also firmly in play if you can spend up on him.
Jordan Spieth ($10,400 | 18/1) - Spieth gained 2.55 approach strokes in the first round of the Valero Texas Open, ranking him fifth in the field. He followed that up with +1.61, +0.42, and then -2.95. The bigger issue is his off-the-tee play, as he has lost strokes in that aspect in four of his past five events. Entering last year, the off-the-tee play was positive. Entering 2017's Masters, it was more lukewarm and even negative. This is not the same Spieth from years ago. Still, with his form at Augusta, it's easy to see why Spieth was the second-most popular golfer on FanDuel: 3rd (last year), 11th, 2nd, 1st, 2nd. Spieth is trending down, but he could net a top-10 at a cheap (for him) salary on a course he's dominated.
Bubba Watson ($10,200 | 33/1) - Bubba's stats never really seem to capture his game, so we can kind of gloss over them. Watson already has two green jackets and just finished fifth here a year ago. He averages +1.5 strokes gained over his 26 rounds here since 2012, tying him for seventh among the field. Winning the Travelers and finishing fourth at the Valspar and the Waste Management Open bode really well for Watson entering Augusta.
Tony Finau ($9,900 | 40/1) - Finau lacks a key win on his resume, and that's disappointing. While we're going to need the winner to have a great week, we don't need all six of our golfers to win (how would that even work?). Finau has five top-five finishes to his name over the past calendar year, including a fifth at the US Open, a fourth at the Dell Technologies Championship, and runner-up finishes at The Northern Trust, the WGC-HSBC, and the Hero World Challenge. Those are some loaded fields -- and some small fields. Finau also debuted with a 10th-place showing at Augusta last year, even after his celebration-induced ankle injury in the week leading up to the event.
Matt Kuchar ($9,700 | 45/1) - Kuchar has netted four top-eight finishes at Augusta over the past seven years and has just once finished out of the top-28 in the past nine Masters events. In all, he ranks seventh in strokes gained average at Augusta since 2012. Kuchar has recent wins at the Mayakoba Golf Classic and the Sony Open, too. He also grades out 13th in stroke gained: approach over the past 50 rounds on the PGA Tour.
Webb Simpson ($9,500 | 140/1) - Simpson won THE PLAYERS and has really done well at the recent majors: 20th at the Masters, 19th at the PGA Championship, 12th at The Open Championship, and 10th at the US Open over the past year. Simpson doesn't really have the distance we want for Augusta, but he grades out 19th in approach and 4th around the green over the past 50 rounds.
Brandt Snedeker ($9,400 | 120/1) - Snedeker's best finishes have come in weaker fields (a win at the Wyndham Championship, a second at the Safeway Open, a third at the Greenbrier -- but a fifth at THE PLAYERS). He owns a pair of top-10 finishes at Augusta (6th in 2013 and 10th in 2016). At this point in the pricing, we're looking for golfers who can make the cut, and that's what he has done in six of his past seven tries at Augusta.
Charles Howell ($8,600 | 190/1) - Howell has been racking up some good finishes this year, though it's paired with not-great recent approach play (49th among the field over the past 50 rounds). Howell isn't a debutant, as he finished 19th here in 2012, but it's been quite a while since he's been tested by Augusta. Howell has a win under his belt -- the RSM Classic -- to get him back here for a shot at the green jacket. Really, it comes down to Howell grading out as a better golfer than most options in this range. We have to be careful about loading up on too many cheap plays, but Howell looks underpriced by a tad.
Keith Mitchell ($8,500 | 240/1) - Mitchell is a debutant, and that should scare us away, but we can't just play every expensive golfer without the repercussion of spending down a bit, too. Mitchell's ball-striking is pretty elite even in this loaded field (7th off the tee and 17th in approach over the past 50 rounds). He's also 16th in distance. Winner of The Honda Classic, Mitchell owns one of the best profiles of all the first-timers.
Thorbjorn Olesen ($8,200 | 200/1) - Thorbjorn has some history at Augusta (6th in 2013 and 44th in 2014) but hasn't played here since. There's a lack of PGA Tour data on Thunder Bear, but he has eight top-10 finishes (and seven missed cuts) over 26 events since last year's Masters. That includes a win at the Italian Open, a second at the MBW International Open, a third at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, and a fourth at the Nordea Masters.
Kevin Tway ($7,600 | 430/1) - Tway has a soft win (Safeway Open) and a fifth at the Fort Worth Invitational last year. If we're taking stabs, we can at least take a stand on a type of player: one who can launch it. Tway is eighth in distance among the field and grades out 34th in strokes gained: off the tee (plus 30th around the green). He also has some promising Bentgrass putting splits.