GOLF

Daily Fantasy Golf Helper: 2021 Ryder Cup

With Team USA heavily favored in the 2021 Ryder Cup, can we simply pivot to Team Europe instead when building our FanDuel lineups?

The 2021 Ryder Cup is drawing close, and after an extra year of layoff, the anticipation is quite high. (It's not just me, is it?)

Anyway, we've got Team USA (-210 to win, via FanDuel Sportsbook) taking on Team Europe (+240) at Whistling Straits in Sheboygan, Wisconsin -- a course that demands distance.

Now, the daily fantasy offering for the Ryder Cup on FanDuel is going to be quite different than the typical golf offering we get on the site.

Instead of six golfers per lineup, you'll be rostering five golfers per lineup, including an MVP pick, and that MVP will have his fantasy points multiplied by 1.5.

Speaking of scoring, here's the breakdown.

Event FanDuel Points
Hole Draw 0.75
Hole Lost -0.75
Holes Not Played by Winner 1.6
No Holes Lost in a Match 7.5
Streak of 3 Consecutive Holes Won in Match
(Max 1 per Round)
5
Match Halved 2
Match Won 5
Hole Won 3


One thing to keep in mind is that we won't know matchups well in advance, so that'll benefit those of us who are tuned into the news. That's vital -- because opportunities are key to scoring FanDuel points.

Imagine it like having golfers who miss the cut or NBA players who are scratched but still having them in your lineup. We won't want that, so we'll need to keep our focus on the news so that we can anticipate pairings. We'll get clarity on Friday's pairings on Thursday.


As far as general strategy goes, I talked about how we can probably gain leverage on the European side on this week's Heat Check podcast, and as for predicting winners in matches, I Tweeted a lot of historical data to help us figure out when we can deviate and play lower-ranked golfers.

Here are some picks we can focus on each day.

Friday and Saturday Slate Options

Overview
Friday comprises a morning and afternoon wave of foursomes (alternate shot) and of fourball (better-ball), respectively. Europeans have had a big edge in foursomes, historically, so we could look to them for value.

Friday Foursomes Update:
Match 1: Jon Rahm ($15,000) and Sergio Garcia ($8,000) vs. Justin Thomas ($14,500) and Jordan Spieth ($14,000)
Match 2: Paul Casey ($9,000) and Viktor Hovland ($10,000) vs. Dustin Johnson ($13,500) and Collin Morikawa ($10,500)
Match 3: Lee Westwood ($6,000) and Matt Fitzpatrick ($6,500) vs. Brooks Koepka ($11,000) and Daniel Berger ($7,000)
Match 4: Rory McIlroy ($12,500) and Ian Poulter ($6,500) vs. Patrick Cantlay ($13,000) and Xander Schauffele ($11,500)

Picks to Target at MVP
Jon Rahm ($15,000), Team Europe - Rahm is the best golfer in the field over the past year with a true strokes gained average of 2.55 strokes, a full 0.43 strokes better than anyone else in the field. He should be expected to play as many matches as he can handle. He also would earn the same amount of points as his teammate, which very likely could be Sergio Garcia ($8,000).

Justin Thomas ($14,500) and Jordan Spieth ($14,000), Team USA - Thomas and Spieth are near locks to play all four team matches together, and their salaries could be worthwhile for guaranteed volume. They are 3-1-0 together in Ryder Cup matches. Thomas holds some of the best form in the field recently, and Spieth's putting can help cash in alongside an elite tee-to-green teammate.

Patrick Cantlay ($13,000) and Xander Schauffele ($11,500), Team USA - The other American duo that should get a crack at two matches both days would be Cantlay and Schauffele, who have virtually identical stats profiles. Both are Ryder Cup rookies but played together at the 2019 Presidents Cup as rookies. They went 0-2-0 in fourball but 2-0-0 in foursomes.

Rory McIlroy ($12,500), Team Europe - McIlroy comes in at a value salary and with some ostensible leverage coming from the European side. He's just 11th in strokes gained: tee to green over the past year but is 5th off the tee and should be crucial to Team Europe keeping pace with driving distance. He could be paired with Ian Poulter ($6,500) in foursomes, but Poulter probably won't get the nod for fourball.

Bryson DeChambeau ($12,000), Team USA - There's a lot of risk in going with Bryson, yet he also has an obvious path to upside with his distance helping any team separate from their opponents. One forgotten aspect of DeChambeau's game is that he's an elite putter (fifth among Ryder Cup players across the past year). The real question is whether or not he will play two matches in a day -- depending on how the vibe is going.

Viktor Hovland ($10,000), Team Europe - Hovland should definitely play all four matches on Friday and Saturday due to the skill and youth, and his demeanor should help make for a positive pairing with anyone. Vik also rates out as one of Europe's best chances to remain relevant off the tee, and we know the irons can help any European duo pick up a win.

Value Options
Tony Finau ($9,500), Team USA - Could be paired with anyone and has the distance to make the volume he sees matter.
Paul Casey ($9,000), Team Europe - Very likely in the big four for Team Europe alongside Rahm, McIlroy, and Hovland from a volume standpoint.
Sergio Garcia ($8,000), Team Europe - Should play with Rahm.
Daniel Berger ($7,000), Team USA - Could play twice one day if paired properly.
Ian Poulter ($6,500), Team Europe - Likely a one-match maximum option but Rory pairing is enticing.

Sunday Slate Options

Overview
Sunday will be 12 singles matches, and since 2012, non-halved singles matches have been won by the better golfer by year-long true strokes gained at a 68% rate at American setups. Sunday should get us back on a Team USA-heavy build, especially if Team Europe is getting out ahead through the team play portion.

Picks to Target at MVP
Patrick Cantlay ($14,500), Team USA - Cantlay has rookie designation at the Ryder Cup but did beat Joaquin Niemann (3 & 2) at the 2019 Presidents Cup, and he trails only Jon Rahm in true strokes gained over the past year.

Xander Schauffele ($14,000), Team USA - Schauffele also gets rookie designation for the Ryder Cup but picked up a 2019 Presidents Cup singles win over Adam Scott. He's third in the field in true strokes gained over the past year.

Dustin Johnson ($13,500), Team USA - The narrative on DJ is that he doesn't show up at Ryder Cups, but he's churned out three singles points in four matches. (He also has 5.5 points in 8 combined Cup matches if we include the Presidents Cup). He just struggles in team setups, historically.

Rory McIlroy ($12,500), Team Europe - We should envision sticking with Rory until we see that he's struggling mightily. He'll be one of the few Europeans who isn't at an automatic disadvantage from a driving distance angle.

Bryson DeChambeau ($12,000), Team USA - Bryson, at his peak, is hard to match, and his sheer distance advantage could be too much for others to overcome, depending on who he's facing. His poor Cup history should also get people worried, but without any teammates to worry about in this format, DeChambeau could hit his peak.

Value Options
Collin Morikawa ($10,500), Team USA - Could be limited on Friday and Saturday somewhat but should be overlooked due to his back injury that he says is in the past.
Tony Finau ($9,500), Team USA - Has a win in his only Ryder Cup singles match (demolishing Tommy Fleetwood 6 & 4) and halved with Hideki Matsuyama at the 2019 Presidents Cup) for 1.5 singles points in 2 matches.
Paul Casey ($9,000), Team Europe - Europe's third-best golfer over the past year and a top-nine overall option; a good chance for a singles win.
Daniel Berger ($7,000), Team USA - Way under-salaried for his skill level and form. Statistically the most consistent golfer in the field, too.
Ian Poulter ($6,500), Team Europe - Has 5.5 points in 6 Ryder Cup matches; could get overwhelmed at Whistling Straits but still a top-tier short game among the field.