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PGA DFS: Vegas Report - RSM Classic

Welcome back to the PGA DFS: Vegas Report. After six top-10 finishes in the first five events of the year, including three top-three finishes in the past four weeks, Matt Kuchar brings us our first outright winner of the 2019 season at odds of 66/1! Kuchar was brilliant at the Mayakoba Classic, shooting a 22-under par to outlast Danny Lee by one stroke. The American did sputter down the stretch and only played the final five holes in two-over par, but it was to be somewhat expected after Kuchar went 1,666 days in between his last win in 2014 and now. With the victory, the 40-year-old has captured eight PGA Tour titles, but his triumph in Mexico was probably the most important to him because of his kids being of an age to recognize his accomplishment.

Along with hitting Kuchar as an outright bet, we were also able to connect on Kevin Chappell +100 over Charley Hoffman -120. We mentioned in our last article how we thought the number was about 20 points off of where it should have been, and it appeared that the disparity was at least that large with Hoffman shooting a two-over par to miss the cut by six strokes and Chappell concluding the event in a share of 41st place.

While we have found ourselves on a nice little heater to begin 2019, it is vital that we stay structured in our approach. Gambling is all about bankroll management, and we need to continue doing things as they should be done, or the funds will quickly dissipate as fast as they were received. With the RSM Classic on tap, let's look into some value plays we will be targeting for the week.

For an in-depth breakdown of the top DraftKings and Fanduel plays, check out Joe Nicely's weekly "Horse For The Course" column that highlights the best fits for the week's course.

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. 

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2018 RSM Classic - Sea Island Resort - 7,005 Yards - Par 70 - Greens Bermuda.

Unlike most fall events, 156 golfers will tee it up this week at Seaside Island Golf Club. The first two rounds will have the players take their turn with one round at the Seaside course and one round on the Plantation course. The Plantation course plays as a short 7,058 Par 72, but golfers will only get one of their days to score here over the four rounds. The other three days will take place at the 7,005 yard Par 70, which features both weekend rounds.

The greens at Seaside are larger than PGA Tour average, and that is usually needed with the venue being exposed to the elements. Scoring will be easy if the winds remain calm, but scrambling is highly essential if gusts pick up. Distance off the tee isn't required, and it is all about finding fairways. On average, the field connects on 80 percent of their greens in regulation when hitting their approach shots from the fairway. That's right up there with the highest greens in regulation percentage on tour.

All in all, we are looking at a birdie venue that will reward ball striking, short game and par-four scoring between 400 to 450 yards. There are a shocking nine holes that fit this distance, and they range between some of the friendliest holes to the most complex scoring you will find at Seaside.

Pick to Win

Zach Johnson (40/1, DK Price $9,000, FD Price $10,700)

There is no other way to say this; the RSM Classic is a weak field. Webb Simpson is the deserving favorite, but it is one of those weeks that we are going to have to lose to him if he can pull off the victory at odds of 10/1.

Golfers like Cameron Champ, J.J. Spaun, Lucas Glover and C.T. Pan are fine DraftKings selections, but they are being overpriced due to the recent form they have been displaying. Most of the time when a player has already moved as drastically as they have, we have already missed the boat on their value. With all that in mind, I like gravitating towards the 40/1 range this week where it gives us some of the better golfers in the field at a price that is higher than it should be based on their current form.

Zach Johnson at 40/1 is the perfect example of being inflated in a weak field. The American lives in St. Simons Island, Georgia, which is minutes away from Sea Island Resort. Johnson has failed to post a top-30 result in his previous four tournaments and has even missed two cuts during that time frame. However, none of this worries me for the 63rd-ranked golfer in the world, who should feel right at home on his home course.

Johnson has provided some scattered history at the event but was able to produce a share of eighth place during last year's contest. Most of the apprehension around the 42-year-old comes from the perception that he would be better suited for a challenging course, but 11 of his 12 victories have been won by a score of 12-under par or better, including nine of the events eclipsing 15-under par or better.

Matt Kuchar is one of Johnson's best friends on tour, and his victory last week might light a fire for the 12-time PGA Tour winner. Sybi Kuchar, who is Matt Kuchar's wife, even filled in as Johnson's caddie at the Mayakoba Classic during the back-nine on Thursday when Johnson's main caddie, Damon Green, was struggling with the heat.

The two-time major winner hasn't been able to find the winner's circle since his victory at the 2015 Open Championship, but he hasn't lacked consistent production. During the 2018 calendar year, Johnson produced 10 top-25 finishes in 22 events. The softer tournament gives Johnson one of the best opportunities he has had in a while, and his short, plodding-style appears to be a perfect fit for Sea Island. I would fire the American up in all DFS formats, and I think he makes an excellent selection at odds of 40/1.

Kevin Kisner (40/1, DK Price $9,300, FD Price $10,000)

The 2015 champion of the RSM Classic comes in as our second play at odds of 40/1. Kisner, who has Georgia ties himself, attended college at the University of Georgia and has dominated Sea Island throughout his career. The American has posted four top-20 finishes in the past five years, including three top-four results since 2014, making him the tournament's all-time earnings leader. Kisner's six-shot pulverization of the field during the 2015 RSM Classic is the largest margin of victory during the event's history, and he holds the scoring record at Sea Island with an aggregate score of 260.

Kisner has never been shy to hide his affection towards Bermuda greens, stating during a 2017 interview at Bay Hill, "I love getting here to get on the Bermuda grass, it’s what I grew up on, I feel like I can read the greens very well here, and I use it to my advantage. I just try to get through that West Coast and get over here to start making some money." In Kisner's last 50 rounds compared to the field on Bermuda grass, he ranks second in strokes gained-putting, fourth in strokes gained with his entire short game and 11th in birdies or better gained.

Aside from the grass, Kisner's game is ideally suited for Sea Island. His lack of distance off the tee isn't an issue, and he has finished the last four seasons ranked inside the top 35 in driving accuracy on the PGA Tour. Kisner's current form does draw some slight concern, but it is why we can get an elevated price on him in the first place. Despite his consistent form at the RSM Classic, I would avoid him in cash-games this weekend due to his recent volatility, but I am happy to take him in large-field GPP events at 11 percent projected ownership on DraftKings and 40/1 odds in the betting market.

Russell Henley (35/1, DK Price $9,500, FD Price $11,200)

Russell Henley is causing me extreme trepidation this week. For starters, I don't think this is a good price on the 29-year-old, and his ownership of 17 percent on DraftKings is going to make him one of the chalkier plays, yet I can't shake this persistent feeling that Henley is going to win the tournament.

I was brutal in my assessment of Henley's current form just two events ago at the Shriners Open, but his Friday rally to barely miss the cut in Las Vegas mixed with his top-five ranking in fairways and greens in regulation hit at the Mayakoba Classic last week have me singing a different turn entering the RSM Classic.

Sticking with the Georgia trend, Henley is a former University of Georgia Bulldog who has excelled at Seaside during his career. The American has recorded a top-10 finish in each of his past three appearances and has the third highest strokes gained total since 2013 at the event, behind only Kevin Kisner and Chris Kirk.

I ran a model at that took the last 50 rounds of every player in the field and put emphasis on easy scoring venues and courses under 7,200 yards. And Henley ranked fourth overall, coming in with a top-15 ranking in strokes gained-putting, par-four scoring between 400 to 450 yards, proximity from 150 to 175 yards, birdies or better gained and strokes gained with his total short game. The only category he didn't rank inside the top-15 in was ball striking, a statistic he graded out 37th.

I am tempted to fade Henley in large-field GPP events because of his ownership and play him in cash-games and as an outright bet. That is a weird combination since you usually want the volatility to coincide with a GPP and outright wager, but I think Henley's price tag and high ownership make him an extremely difficult player to roster. I have no reason to believe he won't perform, but a top-seven price tag mixed with a top-three ownership percentage puts Henley in a spot that he needs to win the tournament to warrant playing him. Instead, I will bite the bullet on him as an outright wager and be more than content if he is able to find the winner's circle on Sunday.

Ollie Schniederjans (125/1, DK Price $7,100, FD Price $8,300)

I will admit it; Ollie Schniederjans is like a sickness I can't shake. No matter how many times I watch the hatless wonder explode, I find myself back on him shortly after. It truly is an ailment that has no cure.

And if that exemplary sales pitch didn't get you excited to bet him, let me explain why the 25-year-old might actually find his way to the top of the leaderboard at the RSM Classic.

Schniederjans is a Bermuda specialist that excels at shorter courses. Already getting excited, aren't you? In fact, the former No.1 amateur in the world has seen the most significant strokes gained disparity on Bermuda greens than any player in the field, gaining a total of 0.57 more strokes on Bermuda than his expected production.

I realize Schniderjans' form has been awful, failing to record a top-50 result in his past eight events, but most people have forgotten just how close he was to breaking through around this time last season. While I tend to think the trend will be bucked this year of only Kevin Kisner winning the RSM Classic at odds of under 50/1, Schniederjans has the perfect type of game to excel at Seaside if you are looking for a longshot. He is a birdie-making machine that will be able to use his short game prowess to exploit the expanded greens. The 155th-ranked player in the world is too erratic off the tee with a driver in his hands, but the ability to club down should be able to provide a higher percentage of fairways hit, leading to less volatility. At odds of 125/1 and a 2.8 percent projected ownership on DraftKings, Schniederjans is the perfect flier to take for those looking for a capricious selection that possesses upside.

Head-to-Head Play of the Week

Patrick Rodgers -105 over Bronson Burgoon -115
Patrick Rodgers $7,900 price tag on DraftKings vs. Bronson Burgoon $7,700 price tag on DraftKings
Patrick Rodgers 3.4 percent projected ownership vs. Bronson Burgoon 6.4 percent projected ownership

Patrick Rodgers -105 over Bronson Burgoon -115 is a wager that features an extremely inconsistent golfer that is being listed as the favorite. I like Burgoon's game and think he has displayed a lot of similar qualities to Luke List, but head-to-head wagers are all about consistency, and Burgoon is far from that at this stage of his career.

Both Rodgers and Burgoon ranked inside the top-50 last season in driving distance, but at a venue where length off the tee won't come into play, we are going to have to look at other mitigating factors to decipher why this is indeed a wager worth making.

Let's start with the aforementioned consistency issue. During the 2018 calendar year, Burgoon has only been able to make 11 of 23 cuts. Six of those made cuts have resulted in a top-25 finish, but a golfers upside isn't something we need to worry about in a matchup bet. Rodgers, on the other hand, has made 19 of 28 cuts on the year. This provides an advantage to Rodgers but doesn't solely make him a wager because of steadier production.

Burgoon does most of his damage off the tee, which then sets up his approach game, but strokes gained off the tee are one of the least essential qualities a player will need to possess at Seaside Resort. The ability to scramble around the green will be critical, and the 31-year-old has lost nearly one stroke per tournament around the green in his previous 20 events. Rodgers hasn't been phenomenal himself, but he is gaining almost two-tenths of a stroke during the same duration of time and has been lights out with his putter.

One of the effective ways I like to break down a matchup is by looking at the previous 24 rounds for each player in the statistics I am using for the week. Compared to the field, Burgoon ranks 68th in putting, 92nd in strokes gained with his short game, 94th in par-four scoring between 400 to 450 yards and 118th in proximity from 150 to 175 yards. Rodgers in those exact statistics ranks eighth in putting, 24th in strokes gained with his short game, 17th in par-four scoring between 400 to 450 yards and 53rd in proximity between 150 to 175 yards.

Regardless of how I break this down, the matchup continuously points to the wrong man being listed as the favorite. Erraticness is one thing but having inconsistent tendencies get further highlighted at a venue that doesn't suit your game is another. I will be shocked if Rodgers doesn't inevitably close Thursday morning as the favorite in this matchup, so I would bet it before the line climbs up past the point of being untouchable. Good luck this week to everyone wagering on the RSM Classic, and let's hope to hit continue our winning ways!

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