GOLF

Daily Fantasy Golf Helper: Waste Management Phoenix Open

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's daily fantasy golf offering.

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. It's a great balance between time to research and time spent tracking your team.

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 Waste Management Phoenix Open
at TPC Scottsdale
Strokes Gained: Off the Tee
Strokes Gained: Approach
Driving Distance
Strokes Gained: Putting


The info at datagolf shows a few clear trends: primarily that strokes gained: off the tee, driving distance, and driving accuracy are more important at TPC Scottsdale than your usual PGA Tour stop. That means good drivers all over are at an advantage this week. I chose distance over accuracy for a simple reason: you can't fake distance, but you can club down and hit a fairway when needed. Just keep in mind that Webb Simpson won last year; distance isn't a must, but it's easier to rely on than accuracy.

But what this boils down to is that ball-striking (strokes gained: off the tee and strokes gained: approach) are vital, and so is putting. Greens here are TifEagle bermudagrass overseeded with Poa Trivialis and perennial ryegrass, so I'll just be looking at long-term putting.

Of note, the average winning score over the past 10 years is 17.5 under par, and only one of the past 10 winners was better than 18 under (Phil Mickelson won at -28 in 2012). Removing that from the data, the average winning score in the nine-year sample is -16.3. It's not super scorable, and this course has ranked around 20th in average FanDuel points the past three years. It's a little less about birdies and more about finishing well again this week.

For a more detailed breakdown on the course, check out our course primer from Mike Rodden.

All stats cited below come from FantasyNational. Strokes gained data includes stats from the start of 2020 and is adjusted based on my field strength adjustments. Putting surface splits also come from FantasyNational and include the past 100 rounds when possible, unless noted. All ranks and percentile ranks are among the field.

Best of the Best

Jon Rahm (FanDuel Salary: $12,000 | FanDuel Sportsbook Win Odds: +650) - I mean, Rahm, Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy, and Xander Schauffele are all good plays to start your lineup, so it's really hard to nitpick the top. If I can pick only one, it's going to be Rahm for a lot of reasons. Rahm is just really good at TPC Scottsdale and has finished top-16 in four straight years at this event, and he's just so good at everything that we need here: distance (91st percentile), off-the-tee (99th), approach (91st), and putting (91st). Assuming Rahm is so chalky that we get leverage off of him, I'd rank the others in the top four as Thomas, Schauffele, and McIlroy.

Daniel Berger ($11,100 | +2000) - Berger really rates out well statistically and is available at a reasonable salary discount from the top four (and last year's winner, Webb Simpson). Berger is actually the second-best statistical play in my stats-only model and ranks in the top-five in win probability, per my win simulations. Berger is in the 91st percentile or better in both ball-striking stats and is in the 70th-percentile in distance, which is workable. He has quietly thrived here: 7th, 11th, cut, and 9th the past four years.

Others to Consider:
Harris English ($10,900 | +2700) - Still flushing it despite a missed cut at the Farmers (from terrible chipping); 3rd and 16th in the past five years here.
Bubba Watson ($10,400 | +4200) - Two straight top-fives here and floundered in bad conditions last week; fits the course well with ball-striking.
Ryan Palmer ($10,100 | +4500) - Pretty long (76th percentile) and 88th percentile or better in both ball-striking stats; form is there, and best when putting on bermuda.

Mid-Range Picks

Russell Henley ($9,700 | +5000) - My model loves Henley this week despite the fact that he's in the 18th percentile in distance. He's in the 87th percentile in accuracy and ultimately rates out in the 57th-percentile in adjusted strokes gained: off the tee. That's paired with the best adjusted iron play in the field. He's alternated good finishes in Phoenix: cut, 16th, cut, 15th, cut. While I'll avoid the pattern joke here, just know that Henley's current form is on another level than anything we can compare him to in the past.

Corey Conners ($9,500 | +7000) - Conners has played the weekend in six straight events that had a cut, and he has gained at least 4.4 strokes tee to green in five of his past six measured events. That's elite, and the putting has gotten a lot better. He's lost no more than 0.8 strokes from putting in any of those. He has only once gained more than 0.2 in that span, but if he's put the huge negatives behind him (-7.8, -4.0, -2.3, -2.6 in starts since July), then we've got ourselves a high-floor, high-ceiling play. He finished 45th here last year in his first start while tying for 17th in strokes gained: tee to green.

Others to Consider:
Sam Burns ($9,700 | +6500) - Has the length and Bermuda splits if we look to those this week but 0-for-2 on cuts at Phoenix. Form then doesn't compare to form now, though.
Brendan Steele ($9,300 | +6500) - Showing life and struck the irons well the past two events (4th and 21st); has seven top-26 finishes in 10 tries here.
Talor Gooch ($9,100 | +10000) - Just good all-around and has top-25 potential; 88th-percentile putter and (marginally) above-average everywhere else.

Low-Salaried Picks

Henrik Norlander ($8,900 | +8000) - So, Norlander could be a popular pick, but he's a fascinating play this week. He had missed four straight cuts between November and mid-January before finishing 12th at the American Express and 2nd at the Farmers the past two starts. He did that by gaining 5.2 and 9.5 strokes tee to green. Norlander hasn't played here before, but the long-term form actually makes him a solid play, as he is in the 74th percentile or better in both adjusted ball-striking stats.

Ryan Moore ($8,800 | +12000) - Moore's form here is bad with three straight missed cuts, and he actually has missed three straight cuts dating back to August on the PGA Tour. Moore's two missed cuts the past two weeks have come on the number, and he has shot 70-71 and 70-74. It's not abysmal. He's actually gained strokes tee to green in them. We can probably take advantage of that for this week. Moore is one of only five golfers with a salary of $9,000 or below who rates in the 50th percentile or better in adjusted strokes gained: off the tee, approach, and putting.

Others to Consider:
Martin Laird ($8,400 | +15000) -
Lengthy history here (9 made cuts out of 11), but the irons are terrible recently. Longer form is better.
Sepp Straka ($8,600 | +12000) - Has length (85th percentile), irons (57th), and putting (77th). Cut here last year in only start.
Joel Dahmen ($8,200 | +15000) - Two straight missed cuts without terrible tee-to-green data; long-term form is good for this range.