DANE’S DARTS: THE PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP
The 5th Major! The Players Championship is always one of the strongest fields in professional golf. This week we will see who is able to tame TPC Sawgrass. We have some massive prize pools for DFS this week and hopefully we can take advantage. This has always been an event that produces carnage (see Si Woo Kim’s win a few years ago). I am very excited for this week and can’t wait to track all of the action on the new Every Shot Live through PGA Tour Live. We will be able to see every player’s shots this week as a trial run for something that hopefully becomes more widespread in years to come.
As always, be sure to check out the RotoPros PGA Preview Show that Chris and I record on Monday evenings. You can find the video version on YouTube via the RotoPros channel and the audio version on the SoundCloud app on the RotoPros page. There we discuss the course and a general overview of our strategy for the week. If you subscribe to the RotoPros channel on YouTube or SoundCloud you will be notified each time a new episode is posted!
As mentioned, my goal for this article is to break down each price range from a strategy/lineup construction standpoint. Once I do that, I will list a couple of my favorite plays in the range. I really want to help you by talking through how we can be different through construction and not necessarily just taking 3-4 < 5% owned players. That is one way I have really improved in DFS golf, understanding that you only must be different to a point. I usually focus on lower entry max GPPs (single entry, 3 maxes, and 5 maxes) but will speak to certain plays that are better in larger fields and cash games.
I build my models and do a lot of my early week research over at Gup’s Corner. If you haven’t heard of them, I would highly recommend checking out their products. New this year Gup and the crew released golf tools that include a research center. The research center is where I build my models and where I will reference stat info in each of my articles. Check them out! www.gupscorner.com
COURSE & KEY STATS
TPC Sawgrass is a course that was built to be a complete test of a golfer’s game. There are drivable par 4s, reachable par 5s, long and tough par 4s and a variance of par 3 yardages. There will be no keying in on a certain proximity range this week as you better be in control of every club in your bag if you want to do well. The greens here are a bit smaller than average and they play very fast with a lot of undulations.
With that being said I am going to be focusing on great approach players this week. Over the years, approach play has been a major cog in deciding a winner here with the exception of Webb Simpson in 2018. Below are my key stats in my stat model this week.
- SG: Approach (35%)
- SG: Ball Striking (20%)
- Par 4 Scoring (15%)
- SG: Around the Green (10%)
- DK Points (10%)
- Bogey Avoidance (10%)
Currently, it doesn’t look like there is going to be much wind early in the week. This is a major defense for a Florida course, which we saw the last couple weeks. I expect scoring to be pretty good as long as the winds stay low.
Last year the tournament moved back to March after being played in May since the early 2000s. This added a few things to the mix. At this time of year the course doesn’t play as firm and fast as it does in May. This, in addition to the rain that came through leading up to the 2019 version of The Players, made the course be a little more receptive than usual. Golfers were hitting more drivers off the tee as opposed to driving irons/woods. This year I think it will play a bit firmer than last year due to the lack of rain in the area.
I mentioned on the pod that I really don’t mind either lineup build this week. Stars and scrubs are made a bit easier due to the value guys we have down the $7K range but with how strong the field is through the mid range I could see myself going a touch more balanced. Because I like the value guys, some of my lineups may jam some of the $8K and $9K golfers in to produce kind of a hybrid lineup. Still use the scrubs, but use a lot of the mid range players. I am definitely not opposed to going up top which I will get to in the next section. I don’t think we will see the same type of ownership as we did last week on Rory mainly due to the field.
I am favoring recent form a bit as opposed to course history due to the fact that I want my golfers to be in complete control of their game this week. With all of this being said let’s jump into some of my favorite plays in each price range.
$10K + RANGE
I can’t fault anyone for wanting to play the defending champion Rory McIlory this week. I will be interested to see what the ownership projections are for this range come Wednesday night. I have a feeling a decent amount are going to play the guys at the top and bottom, Rory and DJ. I will not be able to get there on DJ regardless. I just don’t like his form and with water lurking everywhere I will go in a different direction this week. I hope he gets popular.
- Rory McIlroy ($11,700) – He is definitely the best player in the world right now, no doubt about it. I won’t regurgitate all the stats but like I always say, it’s not is he a good play it’s can you get up to him. I think you can with all the value down low. We talked about it in the Slack yesterday, I can’t believe this guy doesn’t win more than he does. The defending champ is my favorite play if paying up this week.
- Justin Thomas ($10,800) – It has been an up and down year for JT. He has a win, 3rd and 6th place finish but has 2 missed cuts sandwiched in between. He probably should have won his last tournament out in Mexico but wasn’t able to get it done on Sunday. He ranks near the top in all stats this week and actually ranks 1st in my stat model over the long term (50 and 100 rounds). I like JT as a pivot to Rory for GPPs this week.
This is where we really start to find the goods this week. I am in love with a lot of this range and can see myself starting a lot of lineups here. Some will be popular but I plan to get different with how I build my lineups. Most that go balanced won’t drop very far down the list to round out their lineups. As you will see below. I don’t mind that this week.
- Bryson DeChambeau ($9,100) – One of my favorite plays on the board. I really like his form with a 5th, 2nd and 4th in his last 3. He has made the cut in both appearances at Sawgrass with a 37th in 2018 and a 20th last year. He is a golfer that I like to play the more he comes back to one course because I believe he figures them out more and more each year. Love how he finished last week and he will for sure be a staple in my lineups this week, whether it be cash or GPPs.
- Tommy Fleetwood ($9,000) – This place is a great fit for Tommy. He is a magnificent ball striker and can grind with the best of them (see his US Open history). He missed the cut last week after a very tough ending to his week at the Honda Classic. I think having the weekend off will help him. You can tell by his history here that he really fits, 3 made cuts in 3 tries, including a 7th and a 5th the last 2 years.
Notables – Xander Schauffele
Another strong range and this is where you can really start to see the strength of the field. A lot of these guys are always in the $9Ks. You can play them in a lot of different lineup builds.
- Gary Woodland ($8,300) – Love Gary this week due to a lot of reasons. His recent form has been spectacular with a 12th and an 8th his last 2 times out. He gained 7.6 strokes on approach at the Honda Classic. This is exactly what we need this week. Gary doesn’t have the best history here but he has been a different player over the last year. He looks closer to the player that we saw at Pebble Beach last year and I want to be onboard. Love the price of $8,300 for cash and GPPs.
- Hideki Matsuyama ($8,800) – Hideki grades out really well for me this week and is 2nd in my overall model. He lost 6 strokes putting in his first event in Florida this year so if his 2nd straight week on Bermuda is any better than he should have a strong week. The rest of his game has been on fire.
Notables: Sungjae Im, Patrick Reed
Lots of good value in this range. Some will be extra chalky, so I’ll be watching these bottom 2 ranges closely come Wednesday night.
- Collin Morikawa ($7,900) – Once again won’t be getting off Morikawa. I really like how he lines up for TPC Sawgrass. Great iron player and can score in bunches on the par 5s. This will be his debut here. This price may make him a little popular but I still want to have exposure to him at a bit of a discount because I think he can still compete in a loaded field. Gained 10.6 strokes on approach last week and that may sound like an outlier but he also had over 6 SG:APP at both the Genesis and the Waste Management.
- Erik Van Rooyen ($7,200) – This is a GPP only play for me but as he showed in Mexico, he has massive upside. When he is on he is good in every area we want this week. A terrific ball striker and with a decent week on the greens we could see him pop here.
- Tyrell Hatton ($7,400) – What a week it was for Hatton breaking through for the first time on the PGA Tour. He could be a complete disaster after partying all week. Also, he might get pretty popular as well. This is the guy I will be watching ownership with the most come tomorrow night. If he is chalk I’ll be off, if not then I will definitely play him. I love how he has been playing coming off injury and at average ownership I’ll be on him again.
Notables: Daniel Berger, Abraham Ancer, Matt Wallace
There are 3 guys I really like down here. Again, my decision could come down to ownership tomorrow night. I will be sure to update you all in the Slack tomorrow night if my order here changes at all.
- Harold Varner III ($6,900) – Really like HV3 this week. He has made 3 of 4 cuts here and that includes a 7th place finish in 2018. This course suits his game. He has been great on approach and can score on these par 5s. I don’t think his ownership will be super high so fire him up this week.
- Max Homa ($6,600) – Absolutely love his form. He has been on fire to start the year. His last 5 tournament form reads 9th, 6th, 14th, 5th and 24th. He gained 6.3 strokes on approach last week at Bay Hill and I think he can go well on his debut at Sawgrass. The other guy I like down here is Joel Dahmen. Currently, I think that Dahmen will be a decent amount higher owned than Homa, so I lean Homa for GPPs. Will update if this changes tomorrow night. As Chris mentioned on the show, you could pair 2 of these guys together to really open up the rest of your lineup.
Notables: Joel Dahmen
If you guys have any questions please let me know in the Slack! Be sure to watch or listen to this week’s RotoPros PGA Preview Show where Chris and I break down the course, weather and some of our favorite plays. Also, please join us tomorrow night in the chat for a live “pre lock” type chat. We will talk about the current weather forecast (if changed) and any updated plays we like! See you then!