Welcome back to Golf News Net’s weekly fantasy golf picks. Each week of the PGA Tour season, we’ll present our top picks for that week’s tournament and make recommendations for DraftKings’ one-week fantasy leagues.
Have you ever played one-week fantasy leagues? Give them a try with a free entry this week with your first deposit. (Be aware of the risks in playing daily fantasy sports tournaments.) You could take down our expert picks and win some big bucks.
Bubba Watson is a winner again at Riviera, taking the Northern Trust Open on Sunday for the second time in three years. He beat a great field, including Adam Scott and Dustin Johnson, some of the usual suspects.
The PGA Tour moves this week to Florida for the start of the swing through the Sunshine State (with a stop in Austin, Texas). The Honda Classic has another great field, headed by Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler, while Padraig Harrington is defending champion.
For GNN Plus subscribers, you can access our top-15 finish chart and season-long trends on DraftKings valuations. They’ll be available at your disposal as part of a growing set of tools to help in your research. Going forward, GNN Plus subscribers will also get access to the last five years of leaderboards for an event, namely the top 15 and ties from 2011-2015, the data that we use to define our horses for courses each week.
Now, on to the picks!
1. Rickie Fowler — Fowler almost won in Phoenix. He won in Abu Dhabi. He’s hot. Pick him for that and his two top-15s here in the last five years.
2. Rory McIlroy — A Sunday dud at Riviera shouldn’t be that discouraging. McIlroy is playing well anywhere right now, just hasn’t closed the deal on a win in 2016. Won here in 2012, holding off Tiger Woods.
3. Hideki Matsuyama — The Phoenix winner was pretty solid at Riviera, T-11. Nothing fancy here in his Honda record, but he’s such a good ballstriker.
4. Adam Scott — Joint runner-up at Riviera, which is yet another such finish for Scott this season. The putter can be a liability, but he’s clearly committed to improving and showed it at Riviera.
5. Phil Mickelson — Mickelson has showed signs that he’s ready to win. He came up short at Pebble and looked great in the Desert. Not a splendid record here but playing well.
6. Branden Grace — Grace is one of the hottest players on the planet right now. He won in Qatar, defending his title in very windy conditions, which should fare well here, too.
7. Patrick Reed — Reed was T-7 here last year. He’s not as hot as he was to end 2015, but he finished T-6 at Pebble and he’s a worthy choice.
8. Kevin Kisner — Kevin Kisner has been enjoying being a PGA Tour winner and having the liberty to pick his own schedule. Rust is a worry, but, if he shakes it off, he’ll be awesome.
9. Russell Knox — One of the rare players who routinely does extremely well at PGA National. Top-three finishes in each of the last two years.
10. Luke Donald — Donald has a great record at PGA National, including a T-7 last year. This is a home game for Donald, who’s on the path back.
My DraftKings team for this week:
1. Sergio Garcia – $9,300
2. Jimmy Walker – $9,000
3. Luke Donald – $8,600
4. Freddie Jacobson — $8,200
5. Russell Henley — $7,900
6. Brian Harman — $6,900
If you want to win at DraftKings daily fantasy golf, you have to figure out a way to find six golfers that play all 72 holes and earn roughly 85 points each.
You likely have to identify a couple of players in the top five, at least the top seven, and you’d ideally not have a player finish outside the top 20.
Doing that takes research, looking at a variety of factors, including:
- Finish trends, both in recent weeks on the PGA Tour and at that week’s event,
- Salary trends, deciphering which players are showing value based on their performance, and
- Statistical trends, identifying the common threads among winners in that week’s event
That’s what Golf News Net will deliver each week to GNN Plus members in this space, offering a complete research package which dives into these three areas to find the players that should be in your lineup for this week’s The Honda Classic.
To access this research hidden below and MANY more fantasy golf tools, sign up for GNN Plus to gain access to the analysis!
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We start by looking at the recent past, back at players who have finished inside the top 15 in the last five PGA Tour events — not their last five starts. Here are the players in The Honda Classic field with the most top-15 finishes in the last five PGA Tour events:
- Freddie Jacobson – 2 – T-4 Farmers Insurance Open, T-4 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am
- Hideki Matsuyama – 2 – WIN Waste Management Phoenix Open, T-11 Northern Trust Open
- Jimmy Walker – 2 – T-4 Farmers Insurance Open, T-11 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am
- John Huh – 2 – T-8 Farmers Insurance Open, T-6 Waste Management Phoenix Open
- Jonas Blixt – 2 – T-6 Farmers Insurance Open, 3rd AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am
- Martin Laird – 2 – T-8 Farmers Insurance Open, T-11 Northern Trust Open
- Shane Lowry – 2 – T-13 Farmers Insurance Open, T-6 Waste Management Phoenix Open
We’re also interested in the players in the field that have finished in the top 15 at The Honda Classic multiple times in the last five years:
Chris Stroud – 3
Graeme McDowell – 3
Keegan Bradley – 3
Luke Donald – 3
Brian Harman – 2
George McNeill – 2
Jeff Overton – 2
Justin Rose – 2
Lee Westwood – 2
Paul Casey – 2
Rickie Fowler – 2
Rory McIlroy – 2
Rory Sabbatini – 2
Russell Henley – 2
Russell Knox – 2
Stuart Appleby – 2
Ideally, we want to find players who are both playing well now and have a history of playing well at PGA National. Unfortunately, we have no crossover this week.
DraftKings salaries change from week to week, depending on field strength and size, as well a player’s recent record and their history on a course. It’s in looking at how a salary changes over time that we might get some clues as to players that could be a little overrated or underrated.
Here’s the list of players in the field playing $1,000 over their average salary this season: Jonas Blixt, Russell Knox, Brooks Koepka
Here are players with multiple top 15 finishes in their last five events that are playing less than $600 above their average salary for the season, with players with salaries BELOW average value notated:
- Hideki Matsuyama
- Jimmy Walker ($1320 BELOW)
- Martin Laird
- Shane Lowry
The Honda Classic is one of the most difficult tournaments to predict each year. That’s in part because of the unpredictable conditions. It’s often windy for at least a portion of each day at PGA National. So luck of the draw matters. It also matters to be a good wind player, comfortable in shifting conditions. There’s no really good stat for that, so there’s no dead giveaway this week.[/s2If]