GOLF

Daily Fantasy Golf Helper: The Masters

Jordan Spieth is heating up. How does he compare to the rest of the field this week on FanDuel?

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 Masters
at Augusta National
Strokes Gained: Approach
Strokes Gained: Off the Tee
Driving Distance
Strokes Gained: Putting on Bentgrass
Course History at Augusta


The cream rises to the top at Augusta far more often than not. That's what happens when you pile in all of the world's best golfers and give them a tough test.

Driving distance, approach play, around-the-green play, and putting all rate out more important here than your average PGA Tour course, via datagolf. That leaves just driving accuracy (among five primary stats) as less important than usual this week.

So, ball-striking (strokes gained: off the tee and approach) and distance make a ton of sense to prioritize.

It's common knowledge that first-timers don't fare particularly well at Augusta, and so this is one of the few weeks where actual course history is treated as a key stat for me and gets legitimate weight in my modeling.

Historical Optimal Lineup Analysis

Because the Masters is a bit of a unique field -- it's not a no-cut event, but the field is limited and has a lot of non-competitors at the bottom -- it's worth digging into past optimal lineups to see if anything stands out. (Prior to 2018, the FanDuel roster construction was different.)

2020 Optimal
Masters Lineup
FanDuel
Salary
FanDuel
Points
Draft
Percentage
Dustin Johnson$11,800 151.5 31.09%
Justin Thomas$11,600 112.9 24.30%
Webb Simpson $10,800 95.8 12.45%
Sungjae Im $9,500 126.6 5.44%
Cameron Smith $8,700 127.7 19.33%
Dylan Frittelli $7,600 106.4 1.60%


2019 Optimal
Masters Lineup
FanDuel
Salary
FanDuel
Points
Draft
Percentage
Brooks Koepka $11,500 122.1 7.33%
Tiger Woods $11,100 126.8 26.04%
Xander Schauffele $10,300 123.6 10.01%
Webb Simpson $9,500 96.8 5.36%
Matthew Fitzpatrick $9,300 83.2 4.14%
Justin Harding $8,200 96.3 0.35%


2018 Optimal
Masters Lineup
FanDuel
Salary
FanDuel
Points
Draft
Percentage
Jon Rahm $11,300 110.6 9.12%
Rickie Fowler $10,800 108.9 14.73%
Bubba Watson $10,300 93.3 28.80%
Patrick Reed $10,000 128.6 5.73%
Russell Henley $8,900 83.8 5.78%
Cameron Smith $8,700 86.7 4.67%


A chalky Dustin Johnson won in November here as the most popular golfer. We typically see golfers max out at around 34.0%, down from around 40.9% at overall events.

It's definitely worth noting that only one of these 18 golfers had a salary below $8,000, Dylan Frittelli this past November. That naturally puts more of a slant toward a somewhat balanced lineup, but that does include golfers in the $8,000 range despite the difficulty here.

Ultimately what stands out, though, is that across these three lineups, two of them spent all $60,000, and one spent $59,900.

Daily Fantasy Golfer Picks for The Masters

All stats cited below come from FantasyNational. Strokes gained data includes stats from the past calendar year 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

Dustin Johnson (FanDuel Salary: $12,100 | FanDuel Sportsbook Win Odds: +800) - Johnson has a lot going for him. He won here in November, he's the world's top-ranked golfer, and he has the best recency-and-field-adjusted strokes gained mark in the field (and on the planet) by a pretty comfortable margin. Johnson's long-term adjusted strokes gained: approach numbers put him in the 97th percentile in this field, and he is in the 96th percentile in driving distance gained over the past 100 rounds. Johnson has positive putting splits on bentgrass greens, ranking in the 58th percentile over his past 100 rounds on the surface. You're really nitpicking in a field like this between Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau ($11,900), and Justin Thomas ($11,800). You can't go wrong with any of them. It's easy to make a case for any of them. But as a matter of consistency, DJ is my pick of the three.

Xander Schauffele ($11,300 | +2000) - Even with Brooks Koepka ($11,600) recovering from knee surgery, there is no shortage of options at the top. Rory McIlroy at $11,400 could be forgotten in favor of recent winners Patrick Cantlay ($11,100) and Collin Morikawa ($11,000), and then there's the Jordan Spieth train at $10,900 that certainly won't be slowing down any time soon. Easily lost in the shuffle is Schauffele, who failed to convert on a ton of close calls over the past few months. Schauffele's past-year adjusted strokes gained data is on the same level as JT's and Bryson's, per my database, and it's not just my data that sees it that way. One of the keys to daily fantasy lineups during majors is to find easy ways to differentiate, and Schauffele is just that. He has been T17 or better in two straight appearances at Augusta (runner-up in 2019), as well.

Jordan Spieth ($10,900 | +1100) - Spieth is heating up something fierce, and there are reasons to believe that the resurgence is legitimate. He suffered a bone chip in his left hand in 2018, which coincided with a huge downswing in his ball-striking data. Spieth's irons are clicking and that -- plus, yes, the putting -- is why he was so good at his peak. Spieth has a win and three more top-three finishes at Augusta in his career. He's also now coming off a win at the Valero Texas Open.

Tony Finau ($10,700 | +2700) - Finau entered November's Masters with two consecutive top-10 finishes at Augusta but wound up 38th a few months ago by shooting 69-75-71-72. Finau ranks in the 91st percentile in adjusted tee-to-green data in this field and is a plus putter on bentgrass greens in his past 100 rounds. There's not much to worry about at this salary for Finau.

Daniel Berger ($10,300 | +3300) - Berger didn't qualify for the 2020 Masters and hasn't played here since 2018 but has 12 full rounds under his belt with finishes of 10th, 27th, and 32nd. He is substantially better now than he was entering any of those events. He ranks in the 91st percentile in adjusted strokes gained: approach and in the 81st percentile off the tee while also owning positive bentgrass putting splits (albeit slightly positive at +0.09 per round).

Mid-Range Picks

Scottie Scheffler ($10,000 | +4100) - Scheffler bucked the first-timer trend at Augusta by finishing 19th and shot a consistent 71-68-72-71 in doing so. He enters with 80th-percentile adjusted strokes gained: tee to green data and 86th-percentile driving distance. He is not a good bentgrass putter long-term but is trending up in that department.

Paul Casey ($9,900 | + 4100) - Casey has plenty of experience at Augusta and owns eight top-20 finishes here in 14 tries and is coming in with 78th-percentile tee-to-green data. The irons have been on lately in particular, getting him up to the 87th percentile in adjusted strokes gained: approach over the past year when weighted for recency. He won in Dubai in late January and has finished top-12 in six straight stroke play events.

Cameron Smith ($9,900 | +3700) - Smith -- after a runner-up here in November -- has made all four cuts at Augusta and has two top-five results. His other made cuts have actually placed him outside the top 50, though. But Smith's at a career-best level and has finished top-20 in three straight events (the Genesis, the WGC-Workday, and THE PLAYERS). Smith offers above-field-average irons (64th percentile) and 75th-percentile-or-better short game stats (strokes gained: around the green and putting).

Joaquin Niemann ($9,600 | +5000) - I think Niemann could get overlooked because of a lack of good data at Augusta: just a missed cut in 2018 when he was an amateur. The reason for that is that he had to withdraw from November's event due to a positive COVID-19 test. You can't really compare Niemann as an amateur to Niemann in 2021. He currently is in the 84th percentile in long-term adjusted strokes gained: tee to green data and is 92nd percentile in strokes gained: off the tee and approach, specifically. His long-term putting is also on the upswing.

Louis Oosthuizen ($9,300 | +6500) - Oosthuizen has a lot of Augusta experience of his own but does have just one finish better than 10th (though six top-25s in 12 tries). He's been lingering a bit lately with an 11th at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, a 6th at the WGC-Workday, and a 41st at THE PLAYERS. Oosthuizen is a positive bengtrass putter and should gain distance on the field, a good recipe for another top-25.

Low-Salaried Picks

Abraham Ancer ($9,000 | +6500) - Ancer should be relieved to get back on bentgrass after a string of bermudagrass and poa courses that have led to a loss in strokes gained: putting in five straight starts. Though he's not long off the tee, he overcame that to finish 13th at the Masters in November. He's a good ball-striker if you don't penalize him too much for a lack of distance, and he's a better player than the salary suggests.

Corey Conners ($8,900 | + 6500) - Conners' hot streak won't go overlooked at this value salary, I'm sure, but that doesn't mean we have to fade him. He's sitting in the 88th percentile in adjusted strokes gained: off the tee and the 93rd percentile in adjusted strokes gained: approach. He is coming off two straight top-10s in tough fields (the Arnold Palmer Invitational and THE PLAYERS) and was 10th here in November (in his third start at Augusta).

Jason Kokrak ($8,600 | +9000) - Kokrak struggled mightily at Augusta in November, missing the cut while shooting 71-77. So the course knowledge isn't extensive, yet a lot lines up for him: he's long (89th percentile) and a good ball-striker overall. He has been top-10 in three straight events due to strong tee-to-green performances, which is just what you want from a value golfer.

Billy Horschel ($8,200 | +8000) - Horschel lacks distance (38th percentile) but is a 92nd-percentile bentgrass putter. That hasn't translated into success at Augusta (four made cuts in six starts with just one top-30 finish). He has had some high-end finishes lately, though, including a seventh at the Sony Open, a second at the WGC-Workday, and a win at the WGC-Match Play.

Ryan Palmer ($8,000 | +15000) - Palmer's history at Augusta has been a bit dispersed (two missed cuts, two finishes worse than 30th, and a to-10) in five tries, but he hasn't played since 2015. Other than 2015, he's in significantly better form now than entering any of those other Masters, and that should matter when we look at past results at Augusta. Palmer's 86th-percentile irons and 67th-percentile distance should help him find success at a value salary.