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PGA DFS: Vegas Report - The Northern Trust

Welcome back to the PGA DFS: Vegas Report. Brandt Snedeker captured his second career Wyndham Championship title, winning the tournament at 21-under par. The 37-year-old outlasted Webb Simpson and C.T. Pan by three strokes and was rewarded with his first tour win in almost two and a half years. Snedeker's first professional win came at the Wyndham Championship in 2007 and this year's victory gives him a huge amount of momentum as we head into the FedEx Cup Playoffs.

Snedeker's wire-to-wire victory is perhaps the most impressive performance we have seen on tour this season, partially because it featured history to go along with the triumph. After opening with a bogey on his first hole on Thursday and finding himself one-over par through three holes, the nine-time winner on tour put together one of the most memorable rounds in history. Snedeker played his final 15 holes at 12-under par and in the process fired an 11-under 59, becoming only the 10th player to shoot a sub-60 round in the history of the PGA Tour.

Our betting week was far less memorable than the one Snedeker had but is one that resulted in profit at the end of the day. Our head-to-head selection of Johnson Wagner -115 over Hudson Swafford won by seven strokes, but the victory did not come as smoothly as it may sound. Wagner and Swafford entered Sunday tied at seven-under par, but a four-under par for Wagner during his final round and a three-over par for Swafford changed the complexion of the bet entirely. The head-to-head selection was closer than I would have cared for it to be but it does fit the mold of what we are attempting to accomplish here at the "PGA DFS: Vegas Report." We are looking to pinpoint consistency on our matchup wagers and to pair that golfer against a more unstable selection. Our goal is always to get our player through the Friday cut and take it from there. That is hopefully good enough to get us an early victory, but even if it is not, we anticipate the quality of our selection to outweigh the volatility throughout four rounds. And luckily for us this week, that theory held true.

As far as outright bets are concerned, Rafa Cabrera Bello, our pick to win, finished in a share of 11th place and Ryan Armour, our bonus bomb 110/1 sleeper selection, closed the tournament in a share of eighth place. Armour was the most realistic chance we had this week of hitting our third winner in four weeks, but a third round that stalled during the back nine and a fourth round that had trouble getting into gear caused us to come up just short. However, our head-to-head picks are always what will decide a winning week, and as long as we can achieve that, our outright picks are just the cherry on top when they hit. With the first week of the FedExCup playoffs on tap, let's take a look at value plays we will be targeting.

For a full review of the DraftKings PGA Slate this weekend, check out Seth Finkelstein's column reviewing picks at every price point.

And for a more 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 Northern Trust - Ridgewood Country Club - 7,385 Yards - Par 71 - Poa Greens with Bentgrass blend.

The top 125 in the FedExCup standings are eligible for the Northern Trust, which begins Thursday at Ridgewood Country Club in Paramus, New Jersey. The top 100 in the standings will advance to next week's Dell Technologies Championship in Norton, Massachusetts. Players will start the first three events with the point totals they have earned throughout the season and continue to add to their totals. These events will pay out more points than usual, and any golfer that gets hot during this stretch will have a chance to make a run at the title.

At the Tour Championship, which is the fourth and final event of the season, the remaining 30 players will have their FedExCup points reset based on where they finish in the standings through the first three tournaments. This will allow all players that qualify for East Lake to have a mathematical chance to win the first place prize of 10 million dollars. But any player inside of the top five in points will automatically capture the FedExCup title with a win at the Tour Championship.

Confusing enough? We can continue to tackle these situations as they arise, but for DFS and betting purposes let's take things one week at a time. Ridgewood Country Club appears to be a course that will emphasize three main components. Fairways gained, greens in regulation gained and strokes gained-putting. Strokes gained around the green will also be relevant because of how small the targets will be for players on their approach shots.

Strokes gained putting is a statistic you will almost never see featured in the course breakdown section from me. It is impossible to predict week-to-week, but more so than trying to find who the best putters have been over the past 12 or 24 rounds, I think a long-term look at putting statistics could provide us our best chance to find players that might succeed this weekend.

Pick to Win

Jordan Spieth (22/1, DK Price $9,600, FD Price $11,700)

Jordan Spieth is not usually a golfer that finds his way onto my betting card, but with his odds still inflated and his game veering in the right direction, I think the American makes for an attractive outright selection at the Northern Trust. The eighth-ranked golfers putting woes have been widely discussed in 2018. He ranks 140th in strokes gained-putting on the season, which is slightly over 100 spots worse than where he finished in 2017. Spieth fits our narrative of finding someone with long-term success putting over the course of 100 or more rounds, but we would be naive to pick him solely based off of that, mostly when he is barely cracking the top 150 on the season. So what makes him pop up as our pick to win?

Just for reference sake since it was alluded to in the above section, Spieth ranks third in the field in strokes gained-putting over his last 100 rounds. Very encouraging long-term form but it doesn't necessarily take into account the difficulty he has had more recently, and that is supposed to be what keeps us off of him. But when you dig a little deeper into Spieth's more recent form, you realize the 25-year-old is skyrocketing in a positive direction. He hasn't lost strokes on the greens in his previous four trackable events and is ranked a respectable 27th over his past 24 rounds compared to the field in strokes gained-putting. If you condense the sample size even further, Spieth is ranked fifth over his previous eight rounds when comparing him to other Northern Trust participants.

The only thing that has been holding Spieth back this season has been his putter, but there's reason to believe that it should no longer be an issue. The rest of his game has been waiting for his putting to catch up, and now that we are finally here, his first win of the season could be on the horizon. He comes into the week ranked eighth on DraftKings, seventh on FanDuel and sixth in the betting market. Spieth will continue with his steady ownership reduction across the board because of the perception around his struggles, but I think he makes for an excellent GPP option and outright bet this weekend in New Jersey.


Jon Rahm (20/1, DK Price $9,700, FD Price $11,600)

Going with another golfer around 20/1 will significantly limit what we can do with the rest of our betting card, but the winner of this event will most likely be one of the top 25 golfers in the world, and I am fine having some extra exposure towards the top of the card. Players like Jason Day, Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas all provide high win equities this weekend, but there isn't enough value in their betting numbers to warrant a wager being placed on them, at least not in my opinion. I'd rather ransack my way down the odds and find golfers comparable in skill level but with a higher price.

Justin Rose and Francesco Molinari were options I considered, but both are going to be very popular DFS plays and have negative drawbacks attached to them. I can't get myself to play Molinari at 23/1 because of a hot summer, even if the course would appear to fit his game perfectly. That is a boat we have missed and one I'd rather wait on to settle into a more reasonable price tag. And believe me, it eventually will. Rose is more enticing at his 20/1 number, but he tends to be a better DFS play than outright bet in general, and I don't entirely trust the potential for back spasms to arise again.

And so that leaves us with Jon Rahm. Fairways gained and strokes gained-putting aren't the template for Rahm's game. I would describe him more as a volatile player that will go for broke on every swing. But Rahm is more than that as a competitor. He is a world-class ball-striker that hits a ton of greens in regulation, and he is an underrated putter that has excellent touch around the green. He may start each tee shot with brute strength and recklessness, but the 23-year-old knows how to methodically get around a course, as long as he is in the right mental frame to do so.

Rahm's number is closer to value than you might initially think. On the surface, it probably seems slightly shallow since Rahm only has two victories on the PGA Tour, but you have to remember that Rahm has only played 58 total events worldwide and has already achieved five wins and 21 additional top-10 performances. Rahm's two wins in the United States have taken place at the 2017 Farmers Insurance Open and this year's CareerBuilder Challenge. He is still waiting for his breakout victory in America in a significant event, but the Spaniard is beginning to heat up with three top-five finishes in his previous five tournaments. It will just be a matter of time before Rahm stamps a massive win onto his resume, and it may happen sometime during the FedExCup playoffs.

Tyrrell Hatton (66/1, DK Price $8,100, FD Price, $9,100)

Tyrrell Hatton, who primarily plays in Europe, enters the yearly FedExCup standings ranked 92nd and will need a solid performance to get himself to the next round. But despite the low FedExCup ranking, Hatton arrives in New Jersey exhibiting quality form and has produced three top-10 showings in his previous six tournaments, which includes a share of sixth place at the U.S. Open and a share of 10th place at the PGA Championship.

The one drawback to Hatton is his volatile attitude, which rivals Rahm's combustibility level at times, but the 26-year-old is beginning to mature mentally and comes into the Northern Trust not only carrying good form but appearing like he is ready to breakthrough. When Hatton is mentally all there, he is one of the best putters in the world. In his last 100 rounds compared to the field, he ranks 15th in strokes gained-putting. That, however, includes a lot of lapses and implosions, and I'd argue that he is even better than that when he is locked in mentally. The three-time European Tour winner is ranked 23rd in the world, but because of a lack of name recognition and failure to see him weekly on tour, Hatton experiences a balloon in price that allows him to reach 66/1. He is the 21st highest priced player on DraftKings, 22nd in the betting market but a nice, juicy 36th overall on FanDuel. He should come in as one of the lower owned players in the $8,000 to $9,000 range on DraftKings and makes for an excellent contrarian GPP option across the board at Ridgewood Country Club.

Alex Noren (75/1, DK Price $7,900, FD Price $9,800)

I have made this example in one of my previous articles, which may be a controversial take, but Alex Noren and Tommy Fleetwood are identical players as far as their talent level is concerned. Both are exceptional talents that will eventually get their first win on tour, but there is no reason for Noren to come in at over double the odds of Fleetwood most weeks.

Noren enters the final stretch of the FedExCup playoffs ranked 39th and will need to make a move if he wants to get himself into the Tour Championship. The Swede has had a couple of close calls this season as far as capturing his maiden victory on the PGA Tour is concerned. He finished second at the Farmers Insurance Open, losing in a playoff to Jason Day and collapsed at the Honda Classic and Dell Technologies Match Play, with both resulting in third place finishes. Noren is ranked fifth on tour this season in strokes gained-putting and has a genuine shot to capture the title if he gets hot with his putter. The 13th-ranked player in the world is the 23rd highest priced player on DraftKings, 25th on FanDuel and 28th in the betting market. At only a five percent projected ownership on DraftKings, Noren provides enormous GPP upside.

Bonus Bomb

Keegan Bradley (125/1, DK Price $7,000, FD Price $9,200)

The first four players stuck to the theme of pinpointing top 25 players in the world that were overpriced. Because of that, I considered 21st-ranked Bryson DeChambeau as my "bonus bomb" selection to round off the card. And while I think DeChambeau is worth some consideration at 80/1, and I wouldn't talk anyone out of playing him, I think Keegan Bradley makes for better value at 125/1 given DeChambeau's recent inconsistency.

Bradley is third on tour this season in strokes gained approach and eighth in ball striking. He also ranks ninth in his previous 100 rounds in fairways gained. The American fits most of the major components we are trying to focus in on this week and only comes up short when it comes to putting. In fairness, the 32-year-old is one of the worst putters on tour so it may be asking too much for a miraculous turnaround to happen, but when you are dealing with longshots in a stacked field, excluding putting as a whole and figuring out who grades out best for you in everything else is usually the way to go. If someone this far down the board is going to win, it is going to be a player that fits all other criteria and has an atypical week on the greens compared to what they are used to experiencing. Bradley is probably a better top-20 wager, but I think he is worth a swing for the fence.

Head-to-Head Play of the Week

Joel Dahmen -105 over Kevin Tway -115
Joel Dahmen $6,800 price tag on DraftKings vs. Kevin Tway $7,100 price tag
Joel Dahmen 14.8 percent projected ownership vs. Kevin Tway 2.8 percent projected ownership

Joel Dahmen -105 over Kevin Tway -115 is an unusual matchup given to us from the sportsbooks. Both players have made six consecutive cuts in a row, and each has thrown in a couple of top-25 results into the mix. However, Dahmen seems like he will have more sustainable success statistically than Tway, at least when it comes to the way Ridgewood Country Club is designed.

Over the span of the previous six tournaments for each golfer, Dahmen is ranked first in strokes gained approach, second in ball striking, 19th in greens in regulation gained, 30th in par-four scoring and 35th in fairways gained. Tway in those exact statistics ranks 113th in strokes gained approach, 108th in ball striking, 102nd in greens in regulation gained, 69th in par-four scoring and 120th in fairways gained. The disparity difference is astounding for two golfers coming in with top-notch results.

When you break down Tway's recent form even further, you realize that he is gaining an abnormal amount of strokes both on the greens and around the greens. On the season, the 30-year-old ranks 103rd in strokes gained around the green and 109th in strokes gained-putting. But when you break down Tway's six-tournament stretch of success compared to the field, he ranks 19th in strokes gained around the green and 12th in putting. The around the green success is more likely to be sustainable, but the 130th-ranked player has had an aberrational putting run that is bound to come to an end here shortly.

Dahmen coming in with almost 15 percent projected ownership as a player under $7,000 is terrifying, but we aren't expecting a victory out of him, and any made cut might be good enough to get the job done. Tway is due for some statistical regression on the greens, and if he doesn't improve in other categories to account for it, this could be a short weekend in New Jersey. As an interesting side note, I think Tway also has more pressure being ranked 85th in the FedExCup standings compared to Dahmen at 65th. The bubble is closing in on Tway fast, and he could find himself eliminated this weekend.


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