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PGA DFS: Horse For The Course - Wells Fargo Championship


Ok...how bad did last week suck?!? No offense to the Zurich Classic, but a week in April without PGA DFS feels like it lasts a month. The struggle is real for those of us that eat, sleep, and breathe this game. The unlikely duo of Jon Rahm and Ryan Palmer took down the Zurich, and it was really cool to see how much the win meant to the veteran Palmer. While the PGA schedule punished us last week, we are cranking things back up with a strong tournament...the Wells Fargo Championship!

I think a lot of folks (including me) expected Tiger Woods to play this event, but the 2019 Masters champion decided to rest this week. Though we're not getting any Tiger, this tournament is loaded at the top. Defending Wells Fargo champion Jason Day will be joined by Rory McIlory, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, and Tony Finau.

While this field has some juicy names, it is rather top-heavy. Things get dicey pretty quickly as we move down the salary scale this week. Due to that fact, I find myself leaning towards high-upside, high-volatility DFS plays. I'm also drawn to a couple of bounceback plays this week, which is always a scary route to take. All in all, I think you might find some of this week's highlighted players to be a little out of your comfort zone.

Editor's Note: Our friends at Fantasy National have built some incredible DFS Golf lineup tools including a Lineup Optimizer, Stat Engine, Ownership Projections and Course Breakdowns. They are by far the best daily fantasy Golf tools in the industry. Seriously. You can read all about them here and see screenshots.  Sign Up Now!

I would argue that one of the biggest stars of this event is actually the golf course. Quail Hollow hosted the 2017 PGA Championship and is one of the best courses you will see on the PGA Tour schedule this year outside of the majors. In addition to being a quality track, Quail Hollow has shown some teeth since its makeover prior to hosting the '17 PGA and should once again play pretty darn difficult this week. Jason Day won last year's edition at 12-under par, but the majority of the players in the top-10 were single-digits under par, so this will not be your standard birdie-fest.

I try to make HFTC more than just a "picks" column (though you can certainly use it that way if you are in a hurry) by digging deep into each highlighted player. Obviously, our weekly jumping off point is a player's course history, but there isn't a firm set of rules when it comes to who is featured in this article. My goal is to help you succeed as a PGA DFS player. Period. I will touch on different GPP and cash-game strategies throughout the column each week and hopefully have some useful info for both beginners and experienced DFS players. Thanks for joining me here at RotoBaller, let's tee it up!

You can also find out who the smart money is on by checking out Spencer Aguiar's PGA DFS: Vegas Report every week.

Editor's Note: Our friends at Fantasy National have built some incredible DFS Golf lineup tools including a Lineup Optimizer, Stat Engine, Ownership Projections and Course Breakdowns. They are by far the best daily fantasy Golf tools in the industry. Seriously. You can read all about them here and see screenshots. 

Sign Up Now!

 

The Course: Quail Hollow Club

Par 71 - 7,553 Yards, Greens: Bermuda

Originally designed by George Cobb in 1961, Quail Hollow has always presented players with the daunting closing stretch dubbed the "Green Mile", but a Tom Fazio upgrade prior to hosting the 2017 PGA Championship put the North Carolina layout in the conversation for one of the tougher tests on the Tour schedule.

The first thing that jumps out is Quail Hollow's length. At almost 7,600 yards, a golfer's distance will play an important factor this week. We have an almost polar opposite situation to what we saw at Harbour Town a couple of weeks ago...where players were almost never forced to hit drivers off the tee.

At Quail Hollow, players will be using the big dog often, which makes me very interested in a player's prowess off the tee. Ball striking will be important, as it seemingly is every week. We must also consider scrambling ability and bogey avoidance on this tough layout.

It must be noted that the 2017 regular-season edition of this tournament was played at a different course, so when you're doing course-history research ignore '17, unless you want to look at the PGA Championship from that year.

 

The Horse

Rory McIlroy (DK - $11,800 & FD - $12,500)

Notable Course History: T16 (2018), T22 *PGA Championship ('17), T4 ('16), Win ('15), Win ('10)
Recent Form: T21 (Masters), Win (The Players), T6 (API), 2nd (WGC-Mexico), T4 (Genesis)

Remember this guy? You know, the guy that was supposed to win the Masters. Rory McIlroy bore the brunt of the hype machine in the lead-up to the Masters, but was never a factor at Augusta National. We'll never know if the pressure got to him or if it was just an off week, but it's safe to say that McIlroy disappointed a lot of people with his performance. That disappointment is part of why I'm really interested in hopping back on the Rory train. While his ineffectiveness at Augusta might have some folks reluctant to pay the freight on him, Quail Hollow shapes up as the mother of all bounceback spots for McIlroy.

Rory is the only man that has ever logged two victories at Quail Hollow, with wins in 2010 and 2015. He holds both the 18-hole (a third-round 61 in 2015) and 72-hole (267 in '15) scoring records at this course. Using the amazing tools available at Fantasy National, we also find that McIlroy ranks second in this field in Strokes Gained: Total in this tournament over the last five years with 2017 excluded.

You want stats? My man Rory has got them all in spades. He leads the Wells Fargo field in SG: Tee to Green over both long term (50 rounds) and recent (24 rounds) measurements. You probably don't need me to tell you that he's a tremendous driver of the ball, but I'll remind you that he's first in the field in both SG: Off the Tee and Fantasy National's Good Drives Gained metric over the last 24 rounds.

McIlroy's T21 at the Masters was his first tournament finish outside of the top six in 2019. The question is...will DFS players want to roster him after his disappointing outing at Augusta? The answer isn't crystal clear as I write this. He will of course garner some ownership just because he's Rory McIlroy, but if his projections are low to reasonable, I'll definitely be going overweight on him in this spot.

 

The Ponies

Paul Casey (DK - $9,500 & FD - $11,300)

Notable Course History: T5 ('18), T13 *PGA Championship ('17)
Recent Form: M/C (Masters), Win (Valspar), M/C (The Players), T3 (WGC-Mexico), T25 (Genesis)

We go from a player in Rory McIlroy that was merely disappointing at the Masters, to a guy that literally sunk a lot of DFS lineups in the year's first major championship. Paul Casey was one of the last guys in the Masters field that we would expect to suffer a massive meltdown-type round, but that's exactly what we saw from the Englishman with an opening-round 81 at Augusta National. I'm always willing to be honest here, and I have to admit that I totally missed on Casey at the Masters. He was a core building block for me and I really expected him to play well. So while I always try to keep my emotions out of DFS, Casey and I have some unfinished business.

One of my favorite strategies in DFS is attempting to use recency bias to my advantage. What better way is there to attack those biases than by going back to a player that set a lot of people's money on fire less than a month ago? Casey's recent game log looks downright weird, as he has a win at the Valspar sandwiched between two horrible and head-scratching performances at the Masters and Players. So...while I find the Englishman to be very intriguing from a game-theory standpoint, he doesn't come without risk.

If it makes things slightly more palatable for you, Casey has fared well in his previous trips to Quail Hollow; logging a T13 in the 2017 PGA and a strong T5 in last season's Wells Fargo. His game is a natural fit here, as he's strong both with his driver and irons. Casey stands ninth in this field in SG: OTT and 13th in SG: Approach over his last 24 rounds, as well as ranking third in Good Drives Gained over that the same number of rounds. The Englishman has been absolutely SMASHING Par-5's, which has historically been a crucial factor at Quail Hollow, and is first in the field in SG: Par 5 over his last 24 rounds.

Yes, it makes me a little queasy to go back to Paul Casey, but I also feel like it makes tons of sense. Sure, he had an absolutely terrible outing at the Masters, but that doesn't mean the guy forgot how to play golf. He's a GPP-only play for me due to his recent volatility, but I love his upside at this golf course.

 

Phil Mickelson (DK - $9,100 & FD - $11,200)

Notable Course History: T5 ('18), M/C *PGA Championship ('17), T4 ('16), T4 ('15)
Recent Form: T18 (Masters), M/C (The Players), M/C (API), T39 (WGC-Mexico), Win (AT&T)

You know how earlier I said that Rory McIlroy was second in this field in Strokes Gained: Total for this tournament? Well, Mr. Mickelson stands atop the rankings at Quail Hollow over the last five years. The 48-year-old has done about everything except win on this course. In 16 Wells Fargo starts, 'Lefty' has 12 top-12 finishes, including a T5 in last year's edition.

Mickelson has experienced some highs and lows in 2019, mixing an early win at the AT&T Pebble Beach with a couple of missed cuts during the 'Florida Swing'. He played well in the Masters and was in contention before fading over the weekend. Basically, we've learned that despite his age, Mickelson can still play really well in spurts, specifically at courses that suit him.

Mickelson's stats aren't going to blow anybody away, but he profiles more as a pure 'course horse' play than anything else. Over his last three starts, his DK GPP ownership has averaged a shade under 5%. If his ownership is trending in that ballpark again this week, 'Lefty' will offer tons of leverage in large-field tournaments. Yes, he's erratic...but he brings top-five upside to the table at reduced ownership. I'm firing him up in GPPs.

 

Aaron Wise (DK - $8,100 & FD - $8,500)

Notable Course History: T2 ('18)
Recent Form: T17 (Masters) M/C (Players), T40 (API), T19 (WGC-Mexico)

I think you'll see a lot of folks around the DFS industry talking about the 'Stat God' Luke List at this price point this week, but I'm really interested in pivoting to Aaron Wise in this spot. The 22-year-old has experienced some growing pains in 2019 after a breakout win at the Byron Nelson last season. Wise has struggled to find his footing this year, but I'm really encouraged by his play in the Masters on the way to a 17th-place finish at Augusta.

His Quail Hollow resume consists of just one start, but it was an impressive T2 in last year's Wells Fargo. I've tried to stress the importance of length and off-the-tee ability this week, and Wise is a true prodigy with the driver. He ranks eighth in this field in SG: OTT over his last 24 rounds. We've seen him struggle a bit with his irons and putter this year, but he appeared to have some things starting to click at Augusta National.

While there are plenty of options in this price range that look better than Wise on paper, my reasoning behind him is three-fold: 1.) He's great off the tee, which makes him a natural fit at Quail Hollow as evidenced by his T2 last year. 2.) He showed some improving form at Augusta National and this is about the time of year that his game kicked into high gear last season. 3.) He is a juicy contrarian option on DK and is practically free on Fan Duel.

 

Keith Mitchell (DK - $7,800 & FD - $9,600)

Notable Course History: T34 ('18)
Recent Form: M/C (RBC Heritage), T43 (Masters), T47 (Players), T6 (API), Win (Honda)

Things start getting interesting as we get below $8k this week. As we dip our toes in the $7k's, I'm looking for upside and I like what 'Tha Killa' can do. After endearing himself to PGA degens last year with his legendary first-round leader prowess, Keith Mitchell has had a true breakthrough season in 2019. After struggling during the early portion of the schedule, he kicked things into high gear once he reached Florida and his beloved Bermuda greens.

Mitchell came up huge at the Honda Classic for the first win of his career and followed that victory up with a strong T6 at the Arnold Palmer. He's been quiet since, but we have to consider what tournaments he's played...The Players, Masters, and RBC Heritage. The Players and Heritage are both terrible course fits for his game, and he was making his first career start at the Masters...never an easy task.

The bomber's game should fare much better at Quail Hollow. Mitchell logged a T34 in his lone appearance last year and has the ability off the tee required to compete here. He ranks sixth in the field in SG: OTT and 16th in Driving Distance over his last 24 rounds. Mitchell has what it takes to score at Quail Hollow, standing ninth in SG: Par 5's and 13th in Birdies or Better.

As I mentioned earlier, I'm targeting upside in this price range, because their frankly isn't a lot of options that I consider "safe plays". Mitchell's recent finishes aren't very pretty, but he does possess all the tools needed to make a run on this golf course.

 

Sam Burns (DK - $7,200 & FD - $8,500)

Notable Course History: T55 ('18)
Recent Form: 9th (RBC Heritage), T23 (Valero), T12 (Corales), T30 (Valspar)

Sam Burns is just 22-years-old and in his first full season on the PGA Tour. This kid has tons of talent and is starting to show it over his recent outings. He logged his first top-10 finish of 2019 a couple of weeks ago at the Heritage, his first since a T3 at Sanderson Farms during the swing season, and he's ran off five consecutive made cuts.

Burns has actually been doing a lot of his damage with the putter, but he has the length to attack Quail Hollow. His driving distance average this season is 306 yards - good for 18th on the PGA Tour - and he ranks 19th in the Wells Fargo field in SG: Par 5's over his last 24 rounds. Burns has exhibited a complete tee-to-green game by gaining strokes across the board in his last two tournament starts.

Sure, there are guys in this price range that are more accomplished than Burns and that have more extensive history at Quail Hollow (Adam Hadwin specifically), but as I mentioned when discussing Keith Mitchell, I'm willing to take on some volatility risks this week in exchange for upside. The LSU alum is a very talented player that's still finding his way on the Tour, but Burns has the type of game to win tournaments when he puts everything together. His recent form indicates that he's getting close and I really like him in GPP formats this week.

Golf DFS News and Player Outlooks

 

Premium DFS Golf Tools and Lineup Optimizer

Our friends at Fantasy National have created some game-changing DFS Golf tools, and you can read all about them here. They are hands-down the best daily fantasy Golf tools in the industry.

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Fantasy National Golf Club

Fantasy National Golf Club


Premium DFS Golf Tools and Lineup Optimizer

Our friends at Fantasy National have created some game-changing DFS Golf tools, and you can read all about them here. They are hands-down the best daily fantasy Golf tools in the industry.

Fantasy National Golf Club

Fantasy National Golf Club Sign Up Now!

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