Each week, including this week’s 2018 CareerBuilder Challenge, daily fantasy (DFS) golf players check the DraftKings lobby to see that week’s PGA Tour games, scrutinize the pricing model and try to predict lineups which will perform best in both guaranteed prize pool (GPP) events and cash games.
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2018 CareerBuilder Challenge preview
The PGA Tour is in the mainland United States for the first time in 2018 this week, as the three-course rotation in the California desert plays host to the CareerBuilder Challenge (or, as I’m pushing for, The Lefty). While the host PGA West Stadium Course is a difficult test, the other two courses in the rotation — La Quinta Country Club and PGA West’s Nicklaus Tournament Course — are pretty easy. You need to get to 20 under or better to win, preferably in the 25-under total range.
None of the courses are long by PGA Tour standards (all 7,300 yards or less), so distance isn’t as big of a factor playing this tournament. That’s why you see so many varied champions, and they’re typically sharp-shooter guys who just need a week where the card is under 7,400. The ball rolls nicely, the greens are perfect, and the weather is typically super. As Rich Lerner has called this in the past, this is golf under a dome.
That said, this format is a bit of a grind. Three courses, three days. Lots of variables there. Weather can change. The two amateurs you’re with each day could be miserable in more ways than one. The rounds are long. There are a lot of things you can’t account for this week.
2018 CareerBuilder Challenge DraftKings picks
Each week, we’ll offer players in 3-5 buckets of pricing so as to offer some mix-and-matching with your lineups based on our recommendations.
Recent PGA Tour Trends
We start by looking at the recent past, back at players who have finished inside the top 15 in the last five individual PGA Tour events.
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Event Finish History
Here are the players who finished in the top 15 at this event multiple times in the last five years:
- Adam Hadwin – 2
- Ben Crane – 2
- Bill Haas – 3
- Brendan Steele – 2
- Brian Harman – 2
- Brian Stuard – 2
- Brian Gay – 2
- Charles Howell III – 3
- David Lingmerth – 2
- Jason Dufner – 2
- Kevin Streelman – 2
- Martin Laird – 3
- Patrick Reed – 2
- Ryan Palmer – 3
- Scott Stallings – 2
- Zach Johnson – 2
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 at least $1,000 over their 2016-17 average salary for the final 10 events (ranked least to most over average salary):
- James Hahn
- Patton Kizzire
- Jon Rahm
- Patrick Reed
- Jason Dufner
- Brian Harman
Here are the players playing this week with multiple top-15 finishes in the last five PGA Tour events that are playing AT OR BELOW their average salary from the final 10 events of the 2016-17 season:
- UPDATING SHORTLY
2018 CareerBuilder Challenge DraftKings recommendations
$10,000 and up
We have five players in this group, and they’re all great picks for one reason or another. My only fear here is to stay away from Patrick Reed. He’s gaming new equipment, and we don’t know what that is or how it will impact him. Brian Harman is on fire this season, but is he really an $11,500 player? I don’t think so. Phil Mickelson at $10,000 may be your best value, but I would recommend steering clear of this range.
We have 16 players in this group, and the high end here is Webb Simpson and Jason Dufner. If you want to pack up these guys together, I think that’s a worthwhile look. Zach Johnson at $9,400 is a good anchor.
Brendan Steele, Bud Cauley and Chris Kirk all seem like good picks for the value. Charles Howell III is reliable and likes the course. J.J. Spaun wasn’t great at Sony, but he did find a way to make the cut and do alright.
DraftKings basically breaks the rest of the field in half at the $7,000 mark.
I’m high on Nicholas Lindheim, as he’s figuring out how to cash checks with some good finishes sprinkled in there. At $7,200, he’s priced well as a cut-maker.
Wesley Bryan took driver out of his hands at the Sony and yielded a pretty good result. He can do that again here and be OK.
Stewart Cink, Ryan Armour and Brian Stuard are plays I like a lot. Brandt Snedeker is a well-priced risk at $7,700 with a lot of potential upside.
We’re looking for bargains in this range with a threat to top-10.
Brian Gay seems a worthwhile nod, given his record here and he’s made four cuts in a row.
Mac Hughes intrigues me as a great putter, but his game is just not there right now.
Ben Silverman has a lot of upside, I think, because he has two top-10 finishes this season.