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.
The new PGA Tour season is here, with the 2016 Safeway Open (formerly the Frys.com Open) returning to the Silverado Resort in Napa, Calif. Emiliano Grillo is the defending champion here, leading a field with stars like Phil Mickelson, Paul Casey and Matt Kuchar vying to get off to a great start on this part of the wraparound schedule.
For GNN Plus subscribers, you can access our NEW searchable database of PGA Tour results from 2011-present, 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.
2016 Safeway Open top 10 picks
1. Phil Mickelson — Alright, this might sound a little nutty, but Mickelson was brilliant at the Ryder Cup, and he’s now got nothing to worry about in terms of playing with Tiger Woods. Take the young’uns to the woodshed.
2. Paul Casey — Casey had a brilliant finish to his season, and he’s a guy who can keep the ball in play just long enough to make Silverado play short for him.
3. Emiliano Grillo — The defending champion took a win in this event last year all the way to the Tour Championship. Clearly has an affinity for Silverado.
4. Justin Thomas — J.T. was third here last year, and he finished a shot out of the Emiliano Grillo-Kevin Na playoff. A solid T-6 to end the season in East Lake after a strong playoffs.
5. Matt Kuchar — Kuchar crapped the bed on Singles Sunday at the Ryder Cup, but he was otherwise pretty effective at Hazeltine National.
6. Kevin Na — Na lost in a sloppy playoff last year, the start of a terrific open (albeit without a win) to his season last year. Played well in three of his last five PGA Tour events to end the season.
7. Grayson Murray — Murray would typically be ranked lower than some names that follow him, but he was excellent in the Web.com Tour Finals, including a win what turned out to be the third and final event.
8. Jon Rahm — In concept, a 7,200-yard course with four par 5s should be right up Rahm’s alley. He’s long and keeps the ball in play.
9. Wesley Bryan — Bryan had to sit out since the end of the PGA Tour regular season, but that doesn’t mean we should expect his excellent putting stroke to have gone sour in his time off.
10. Patrick Rodgers — Rodgers had a good start to his season here last year, and Northern California is his stomping grounds. Will have plenty of scoring chances with his high GIR rate.
My DraftKings team for this week:
1. Justin Thomas – $10,400
2. Jon Rahm – $10,200
3. Wesley Bryan – $7,900
4. Grayson Murray – $7,500
5. Patrick Rodgers – $7,400
6. Tyrone Van Aswegen – $6,500
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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.
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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. Here are the players in this week’s field with the most top-15 finishes in the last five PGA Tour events:
- Emiliano Grillo – 2 – 2nd The Barclays, T-10 Tour Championship
- Jason Kokrak – 2 – T-7 The Barclays, T-8 Deutsche Bank Championship
- Justin Thomas – 2 – T-10 The Barclays, T-6 Tour Championship
- Matt Kuchar – 2 – T-4 BMW Championship, T-15 Tour Championship
- Paul Casey – 3 – 2nd Deutsche Bank Championship, 2nd BMW Championship, 4th Tour Championship
We’re also interested in the players in the field that have finished in the top 15 at the Safeway Open multiple times in the last five years:
- Bryce Molder – 3
- Jason Kokrak – 2
- Kevin Na – 3
- Spencer Levin – 2
Curiously, we don’t have a single player with top-15 finishes in both times this event has been played at Silverado.
Ideally, we want to find players who are both playing well now and have a history of playing well in this championship. Our guys: Jason Kokrak
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 $2,000 over their average salary from the final five events of last season:
- Smylie Kaufman
- Brendan Steele
- Phil Mickelson
- Kevin Na
- Justin Thomas
- Emiliano Grillo
- Roberto Castro
- Matt Kuchar
- Paul Casey
Here are the players with multiple top 15 finishes in their last five events that are playing this week LESS THAN $1,000 ABOVE their average salary from the final five events of last season: