FanDuel Daily Fantasy PGA Snake Drafts: Basics and Strategy
The four-day enjoyment you can get from playing daily fantasy golf on FanDuel is great. It's one of the best things about any DFS sport.
And the best part of fantasy sports is hopping into a snake draft and selecting your team against your competition.
What FanDuel went ahead and did was ask the million-dollar question: ¿Por qué no los dos?
With snake draft PGA contests, we've got the best of both worlds. How, though, can we find an edge over the competition?
If you've never played DFS golf, you should brush up on the key advanced stats to get familiar with. At numberFire, we'll break down the course and field each week, but knowing which golfers are golfing best -- and how to determine that -- will undoubtedly make for better picks.
The easy checklist is to study a golfer's betting odds (on FanDuel Sportsbook each week), his strokes gained: tee to green numbers (primarily approach, which is more important than off-the-tee and around-the-green play combined most weeks), and his recent form to see how well he's been playing.
That's how to find good golfers in a nutshell (and, again, we'll have content each week identifying the best golfers), but which specific strategies do we need for a snake draft?
Snake Draft Strategies
Avoid Chasing Long Shots in Small Drafts
It's pretty intuitive, but the biggest difference between drafting a typical FanDuel roster with a salary cap and drafting head-to-head against someone (or against 3 or even 11 people) is that salaries don't matter.
Often, a low-salaried golfer who has fared well at a particular course in the past or who is coming in hot will generate a lot of buzz before the tournament.
That golfer isn't necessarily a better snake draft pick than the more established golfer who has been going steady or even a struggling star.
Let's put that into context. In a two-person draft, only 12 golfers will be drafted. You don't need to chase long shots in a small draft with two or three total competitors. Fade that hype.
Find Golfers Who Make the Cut (and How to Do It)
This one is about as obvious as we can get, but golfers who make the cut score more fantasy points than those who don't. We're looking at the difference of 4 rounds versus 2 and the difference between 72 holes and 36 holes in almost every event played on the PGA Tour.
Using data from the 2019-20 PGA Tour season, we can see pretty easily how cuts and scoring position impact FanDuel points over the field average in a given week.
|Result||Average FanDuel Points
|2nd Through 10th||48.83|
|11th Through 25th||27.75|
|Outside Top 25||10.30|
So, finishing 30th or so won't result in a huge win at around the field average fantasy points, but you're losing more than 20 points to the average golfer in the field by rostering a golfer who misses the cut. Yes, hitting the winner can offset missed cuts, but a six-for-six lineup will be tough to beat. That's especially true in a head-to-head if the winner doesn't come from either of the 12 drafted golfers.
Let's envision a draft that snakes through the odds board (meaning a head-to-head draft just sticks to the 12 golfers with the best betting odds to win, so Team 2 wouldn't get the number one favorite but would have two and three). Using an actual PGA Tour event's odds, this is what we see:
|Estimated Win Odds by Pick||Team 1||Team 2|
Either team is going to have roughly a 20.0% shot to hit the winner. That's not that great. So instead of embracing volatile golfers in small drafts, play it safer.
Prioritize Tee-to-Green Play
I've been breaking down golf events for a while now, and there's no secret recipe for rostering golfers who make the cut. The betting favorites can and do miss the cut. It happens.
But when seeking made cuts, we can do more than just shrug and hope for the best. Tee-to-green performance can help us. Here's the correlation between a golfer's strokes gained stats across all four levels and their made cut percentage from the 2018-2019 PGA Tour season. (The closer a correlation to 1.00 a stat is, the more strongly it's tied to making cuts.)
Stats (2018-19 Season)
Made Cut Percentage
While strokes gained: putting has a decent correlation with made cut percentage among golfers in the sample, it's not nearly as good as it is for tee-to-green strokes gained -- specifically approach play. (That's something we already discussed.) Even around-the-green performance matters more than putting and -- surprisingly -- off-the-tee play. Perhaps that speaks to saving pars and making cuts, but that's not what we're here for.
What matters is this: target golfers with strong strokes gained: tee to green and strokes gained: approach numbers in order to elevate your odds of making the cut.
Take a Risk in a Larger Draft
If you pop into a six-person draft, you should change your strategy a tad. You can get a little more risky because you may have to.
Let's revisit the win odds scenario. A six-person draft will see 36 golfers selected, and they'll be some combination of, say, all golfers inside the top 50 to win that week (based on the betting odds). Nobody is going to need to roster a 300/1 long shot just to make a lineup work. There's no salary cap!
||Team 2||Team 3||Team 4||Team 5||Team 6|
Here, everyone's chances of hitting a winner is roughly cut in half from what we saw in a head-to-head format. However, there's about a 64.5% chance that one of these teams picks the winner (assuming the weekly odds are remotely close to accurate).
It's hard to replicate the fantasy points that a winner brings, so you'll need to be more willing to embrace a higher-variance golfer than you normally would in a two- or three-person draft. This is where the hot sleeper pick has more appeal.
Of course, if none of these teams drafts the winner, a six-for-six lineup with golfers making the cut can lead to a victory, but assume you're one of these teams. There's around a 50.0% chance one of your opponents has the winner.
There are a few key ideas to keep in mind for selecting a PGA snake draft team on FanDuel:
- Trust tee-to-green studs no matter the contest size.
- You'll rarely have to dig too deep into the field, so avoid the weekly hyped-up long shots who get overdrafted.
- Trust golfers with longer track records of stellar tee-to-green play and cut making odds.
- Know your league size and draft accordingly by seeking cut makers in a small draft and taking chances for winners in larger drafts.