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DFS Dish

DFS Dish: THE PLAYERS Championship

by Josh Culp
Updated On: March 12, 2019, 11:31 am ET

The PGA TOUR hangs around in Florida for leg three of the Florida Swing. 

It's the first huge event of the season. THE PLAYERS Championship. The first event of the new year with an emphasis on capitalization. That is really how you know it's a big deal.

A field of 144 elite golfers will take on TPC Sawgrass this week with the top 70 and ties advancing on to play the weekend. 

The course features water hazards around every corner. Combine that with roughly 50% of the field getting through the cut and it becomes a very difficult task to make 6-of-6 lineups in DFS this week. 

This Pete Dye Design is known for throwing a wrench in gamers' plans. Just look at last year when Webb Simpson entered as the 42nd-highest priced golfer on DraftKings but he left Ponte Vedra Beach with nearly 30 more DraftKings than his closest competitor. 


Weather Update

Thursday (R1): Sunny with a high of 75 degrees. Winds at 12 to 16 MPH. 

Friday (R2): Partly cloudy with a high of 78 degrees. Winds at 9 to 15 MPH. 

Winds look to make things interesting this week but overall a good week of weather. The weekend currently brings a small chance of showers on both Saturday and Sunday. 



The best part about season-long leagues is the draft. You don't get that same rush with normal DFS contests but there is hope still. DRAFT has come along to fill that void and I'm having a lot of fun playing in their weekly golf drafts. 

The first place to start is to build your pre-draft rankings for the week. I will point out a few golfers I think are overvalued in the raw rankings and a few that are undervalued in the raw rankings. 


Jason Day (80.27 Projected Pts): He's a past champ here (2016) and also has two other top 6s in eight tries. On the flip side, he's missed the cut in three of his eight trips and also threw a T60 onto his resume in 2017. He's boom or bust here at TPC Sawgrass (like so many) but what really makes him risky is his back injury. Day pulled out of Arnie's Invite after just six holes. He's dealing with some serious back issues and if they act up in any way then Day could find himself adding another mid-tourney WD to his career record. Not worth the risk, in my opinion. 

Charles Howell III (69.14 Projected Pts): It's sometimes hard to find "good course history" for CH3 because he's so steady at making cuts wherever he tees it up. That's just not the case for him and TPC Sawgrass. He's missed the cut in 9-of-17 starts here, finishing outside the top 50 in 14 of those 16 visits. Ouch. 


Adam Scott (64.40 Projected Pts): This Aussie will be glad to see the change of schedule this year as he won this event back in 2004, when it was played in March. He's had no problems in May, either, as he has gained 2+ strokes over the field in 17 of his last 40 rounds played here at TPC Sawgrass. That is the highest amount of "boom rounds" of anyone over the last 10 years. Well, actually it's tied with the man below. 

Sergio Garcia (56.84 Projected Pts): We are still getting a pre-draft discount due to his rough 2018 results on the PGA TOUR. He's proven to put that slump behind him and it all started around the Ryder Cup. The Spaniard now has top 10s in nine of his last 11 worldwide starts. As I mentioned above, he's also tamed Sawgrass with 17 of his last 36 rounds here going for 2 or more strokes gained over the field. 


Course Fit

The TOUR hangs around in bermuda territory for a while longer but this week we have overseeded bermuda on hand. That will change things slightly on the greens here at TPC Sawgrass but one thing remains steady. SPEED. The greens will targeting 12.6 feet on the stimpmeter which is lightning fast. 

This generally puts a larger emphasis on approach play because you don't want to be scrambling often on speedy greens. 

Looking at sample-adjusted performance onfast greens since the start of 2014, the top 15 performers on a per-round basis looks like this: 

Dustin Johnson
Rory McIlroy
Justin Thomas
Justin Rose
Paul Casey
Jordan Spieth
Jason Day
Rickie Fowler
Hideki Matsuyama
Jon Rahm
Matt Kuchar
Patrick Cantlay
Brooks Koepka
Adam Scott
Marc Leishman

Other than raw performance, we can also look at who shows the biggest improvement on Fast Greens (versus their baseline). Using that as the criteria, the following names pop:  

Michael Thompson
Kyle Stanley
Sung Kang
Bronson Burgoon
Peter Uihlein
Bryson DeChambeau
Abraham Ancer
Chesson Hadley
Luke List
Aaron Wise
Ian Poulter
Justin Thomas
Grayson Murray
Harold Varner III
Marc Leishman

Recommendation: Looking for golfers that crack both lists we find Justin Thomas and Marc Leishman. Consider giving both of them a slight boost or use these lists as a tiebreaker if needed. 



Value Spotlight

Zach Johnson: Sometimes golfers talk about being really close but not putting everything together. That seems to be the case here for ZJ. He enters on the heels of three straight finishes in the 39-to-60 range. However, if we were able to pick key components from each start then we could build a Strokes Gained monster that looked like this: +3.7 SG Off-the-Tee (Honda), +5 SG Approach (Phoenix), +2.9 SG Around-the-Green (Honda), and +4 SG Putting (API). Obviously, that is not how the game of golf works but ZJ is closer than the scoresheet makes it look right now. Adding to his appeal, he is 13-for-14 here at TPC Sawgrass. It's extremely rare to find a cuts-made ratio that high on such a penalizing course. You have to believe it fits his grind-it-out, fairways-and-greens style of golf which makes him a good value option across the industry this week. 


Best of luck in all your contests this week! 

Josh Culp

Josh Culp joined NBC Sports Edge in 2014. The DFS enthusiast from Iowa State can be found on Twitter @futureoffantasy.