Welcome to the tenth edition of the DraftKings Fantasy PGA Sleepers column. We took last week off to watch the PGA’s version of May Madness. I’m back to offer a few picks for this week’s PGA slate. As always, I will try to weave in players from a few pricing tiers – this won’t be a column on the five cheapest guys each week and why they have a 1% chance of making the cut.
A balanced lineup in Daily Fantasy Golf is important so I want to offer you opportunities to construct lineups with sleepers at a variety of price points. As always, suggestions are appreciated to help improve the column and so we can better meet your DFS needs.
This week we head tee it up for the THE PLAYERS Championship at The Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra, Florida just outside of Jacksonville. The Stadium Course is a 7,215 yard par 72 course with the shortest hole (the 17th at 137 yards) being the most intriguing on the entire course with its Island Green.
The course was built in 1980 with the idea this would be the permanent home of THE PLAYERS Championship. The tournament switched to the May date (from March) after the 2007 renovation so any stats prior to 2007 aren’t useful.
The weather looks solid for the week with some wind on Thursday (a little worse in the morning) and some showers on Friday afternoon. Keep tabs on the wind as we might avoid early morning tee times on Thursday completely with the rain affecting those players on Friday afternoon as well.
This is a tough course with no discernible weakness and as a result we won’t be able to pick on a certain type of player. The all-around player will be king this week and with the depth of the field, there will be many options.
Greens in Regulation (GIR) – You need to stay out of trouble here. Driving distance isn’t important this week, but getting the greens keeps you in the hunt. When you see names like KJ Choi and Fred Funk in the winner’s circle you know you can win here without length.
Scrambling – You are going to get in trouble somewhere on the course and you’ll need to get out. Four of the top five players in scrambling in 2014 finished in the top 6.
Par 5 Scoring – Even though I’m going to downplay driving distance this week, I still want players who can score on par 5s. These are the holes where the players will need to pick up birdies (eagles are tough to come by with all par 5s playing 523 yards or longer and the leader in eagles for the tournament is generally someone who can put up two in the four rounds.
Ball striking – The stat that combines total driving and GIR is another quick check to make this week.
Players just need to hold serve on the par 3s and par4s to have a shot this weekend.
Martin Kaymer won last year finishing 19th in driving distance, T39 in driving accuracy, but third in GIR and fourth in scrambling. When Tiger won in 2013 he was T3 in GIR and sixth in scrambling while finishing T22 in driving distance.
These aren’t high end prices, but we’re looking for premium players at a discount rate.
Hideki Matsuyama ($8,800): Matsuyama is another statistical maven and ranks the best in my own combined state of ScramblingGIR (patent pending). He is 11th in GIR and 17th in scrambling. In his inaugural trip to the tourney last year he finished T23. He lost in to Rory McIlroy in the round of 16 at the Match Play, but he’s coming off a solo fifth at the Masters and a run of four straight top 25 finishes.
The Soft Middle
Looking for some soft pricing in the lower tiers.
Zach Johnson ($8,200): Johnson’s record here is nearly unparalleled with nine cuts made in 10 trips. His worst finish in the last five years was 2014’s T26. He has three top 15s during that period. He missed the cut at the RBC, but had three straight top 20s prior to that stumble.
Daniel Berger ($7,400): Berger is back again in this column, but makes his debut here. And those who play this course for the first time generally don’t perform well. However, he’s got the bonafides to make it work – he’s 10th in ball striking, 26th in GIR, 40th in scrambling and 27th in bogey avoidance. Trust in the young man!
El Cheapo Guapo
They won’t cost you much, but they have real upside. And they sure are handsome.
Brendon de Jonge ($6,500): De Jonge is 44 spots lower in salary than his odds say he should be. De Jonge put up back to back 15th place finishes in 2012 and 2013. He made the weekend last year, but struggled to a solo 70th place finish. He is tied for 35th in GIR and T27 in ball striking. He’s been in the top 25 in his last three tour stops.
Daniel Summerhays ($6,500): Summerhays has played here the last two years and put up T26 and T23 finishes those two years. He’s played well lately with seven made cuts in a row and three top 20 finishes in that run.
Each week, I’ll throw one player out there who has one thing working for him. He’s probably got a less than 10% chance of making the cut, but if you want gamble in larger GPPs you need a unicorn on your side.
Spencer Levin ($5,900): Levin played here three straight years from 2010 to 2012 and hasn’t played since. Though, during that three year stretch he made the cut all three years and put up two top 15 finishes. He is currently 32nd in ball striking, 50th in GIR, 48th in bogey avoidance and a decent 95th in scrambling. He fits the profile of someone who can succeed here.