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.
Last week, you couldn’t have asked for a better leaderboard at the WGC-Cadillac Championship, and we had the top two players for your in our top two. Hopefully that made you some money in your fantasy leagues!
This week, the Florida Swing shifts to near Tampa for the Valspar Championship, as Jordan Spieth defends the first of five titles he won in 2015.
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. Jordan Spieth — The defending champion is in a minor slump, but he showed some signs of progress at Doral, which isn’t really a course built for his strengths. Never finished outside the top 20 here.
2. Henrik Stenson — Among the best ballstrikers on the planet, so he should be able to score well on par 5s. He was fourth here in his debut last year.
3. Danny Willett — Willett is overpriced in daily fantasy this week, primarily because he’s on the radar of so few people. He should be on your radar. He’s a top-10 player in the world right now.
4. Harris English — English is playing sneaky well of late, one of only three players in the field with multiple top 15s in the last five weeks. He’s also the only player with those creds AND multiple top-15s here in the last five years.
5. Jason Dufner — We could have put Dufner as high as third this week. He likes this course, with multiple top-15s in the last five years, and he’s playing really well.
6. Kevin Na — Na has fizzled since his hot start to the season to end 2015, but he also typically does very well at Innisbrook.
7. Ryan Moore — Ryan Moore is playing really good golf at the one-third pole of the PGA Tour season. He’s not gotten a lot of credit for it. He was the 54-hole leader here last year.
8. Charles Howell III — Another Chucky Three Sticks Special. He loves Innisbrook and makes a ton of money here even though he doesn’t win. Reliable money.
9. Patrick Reed — Reed is in a mini-slump after he closed 2015 with such flare and a demonstrable maturation of his game. However, quality ballstriker with the Clutch Gene earns him some love here.
10. K.J. Choi — If you’re playing daily fantasy, a LOT of people will pick Choi this week. He’s the all-time leading money winner here. It’s not a bad idea to pick him. He’s playing really well right now, too.
My DraftKings team for this week:
1. Harris English — $9,600
2. Ryan Moore — $9,300
3. K.J. Choi — $8,800
4. Charles Howell III — $7,900
5. Sung Kang — $7,700
6. Stewart Cink — $6,700
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 Valspar Championship.
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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 Valspar Championship field with the most top-15 finishes in the last five PGA Tour events:
- Harris English – 2 – 3rd Waste Management Phoenix Open, 10th WGC-Cadillac Championship
- Ryan Moore – 2 – T-11 Waste Management Phoenix Open, 10th Northern Trust Open
- Sung Kang – 2 – T-8 Northern Trust Open, T-10 The Honda Classic
We’re also interested in the players in the field that have finished in the top 15 at the Valspar Championship multiple times in the last five years:
Charles Howell III – 3
Luke Donald – 3
Gary Woodland – 2
Harris English – 2
Jason Dufner – 2
Jason Kokrak – 2
Jordan Spieth – 2
Kevin Na – 2
Kevin Streelman – 2
Matt Kuchar – 2
Stewart Cink – 2
Webb Simpson – 2
Ideally, we want to find players who are both playing well now and have a history of playing well at the Copperhead Course, and we have just one of those this week: Harris English.
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:
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:
Believe it or not, there are none, primarily because the three players with multiple top-15 finishes aren’t highly ranked overall.
The big thing around Innisbrook isn’t distance. Though the course is about 7,350 yards, the ball flies pretty well in Tampa. Rather, this event comes down to putting — namely, converting mid-range putts to make birdies and getting the ball in the hole inside of 10 feet to save pars on newly grassed greens that could prove tough to hit.
So, this week, we look toward the best in putting from 15-20 feet, then parenthetically look at inside of 10 feet.
1. Jordan Spieth (163,which is still 86%)
3. Morgan Hoffmann (155)
4. Francesco Molinari (T-136)
5. Adam Hadwin (T-52)
T-8. David Hearn (180)
T-8. Steve Stricker (T-110)
14. Jon Curran (T-19)