Masters Week is Here!
It was the night of January 1st. Alabama had just stretched their lead against Clemson to what seemed like an insurmountable amount. As the game went to commercial, my focus went elsewhere, but was quickly brought back in. “First and second round coverage of The Masters, on ESPN”. The first Masters commercial of the year is always glorious, and though it comes 4 months before the honorary opening tee shots, it always blows my mind how quickly this week arrives.
Last Week Recap
For a refresher on my model(s), see last week’s article here: https://fantasyteamadvice.com/march-29th-houston-open-picks/. The picks went pretty well, with Reavie and Griffin being the only MCs, though Kokrak’s MDF didn’t help. Spieth over Fowler worked quite well despite Rickie’s great first couple days, however, and Finau’s top 25 was formidable. All in all, it was a good lead in for this week. With that, let’s get into the picks that really count! I will focus mainly on GPP this week due to the Millionaire Maker, although if I played cash my picks would be very similar.
What a field, and what a loaded group of top tiered players. Interestingly, I think our first great chance to grab a guy at lower ownership than he deserves is the only player over 11k: Dustin Johnson. DJ blows away the competition in the model, projected for nearly double the earnings of anyone else. He’s gained over a stroke per round off the tee (insane), and is significantly positive in every SG category this year. A weak showing at the WGC match play and lack of a win since Hawaii (plus the enormous amount of buzz below him) should keep his ownership down. I’ll be attacking DJ.
Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth are in similar positions this week. While Jordan hasn’t won or contended as regularly as JT this year, he has dominated ball striking just as much. Spieth, despite his reputation for being loose off the tee at times, has gained .58 strokes per round driving and has shot up to .845 per round approaching the green. Both guys are hot in the right categories and will find their way into some of my lines (I’d love to stack them together, hoping they get paired on the weekend and feed off their competitiveness with one another), but there does seem to be better value in the tiers below.
It breaks my heart to say this, but Tiger Woods will not be a target of mine. His ownership will almost assuredly be higher than warranted due to his massive following, especially in large tournaments where you find more casual fans just wanting some action in the tournament. Plus, he is projected for fewer earnings than nearly every single player I will have in my player pool this week, though that’s in large part due to how loose the pricing is. While he has shown great form this year, driving has been his weakness. Hence, the model is lukewarm on him. For some context, he is still projected above: Phil, Bubba, Day, Oosthuizen, Leishman, and Hatton to name a few.
It’s weird to find Rory McIlroy and Jason Day in the second tier, but it’s where they belong now. Both will be full fades for me. Rory hasn’t been the same golfer this year, and I’m hoping his win at Bay Hill will drive up his ownership. He was so dominant tee to green the previous two years (especially 2016) that the model still suggests he’s fairly priced if you want him. He certainly has the upside. On the other hand, Day’s incredible putting (+1.386 per round!) can’t keep covering up for his poor iron play (-.516 per round), resulting in low projected earnings for his price tag.
Phil Mickelson has lost strokes off the tee, gained over a stroke per round approaching the green, and gained over a stroke per round putting. The latter two seem unsustainable, and the poor performance off the tee means the model doesn’t like him. Like last week, Rickie Fowler is surrounded by guys the model likes more. He will therefore be a full fade for me for a second straight week.
Justin Rose has a good chance of being one of, if not the highest, owned players. The model suggests he is definitely underpriced and a great cash pick. He was scorching hot earlier this year, but has maybe cooled off a bit. More importantly, he’s gained more strokes putting than in other category this year. His SGAPP is lower than it was in either of the previous two years, as well. I’ll be hoping to leverage his high ownership with a risky full fade, in favor of the model’s second highest projected player, Jon Rahm. Rahm is the only other player to have gained over a stroke per round off the tee. His iron play has left a bit to be desired, but it has been a strength of his in years past.
This tier is absolutely loaded with underpriced players, which makes me wonder why Thomas Pieters is here. According to the model, he is easily the most overpriced player. Bubba Watson makes for an exciting pick given his dominant WGC Match Play win and his win at Riviera. That was his third win at Riviera and he’ll be trying to make it three at Augusta, as well. The horse for the course narrative seems to fit Bubba, but the model suggests looking elsewhere. This isn’t a knock on Bubba, however, and I certainly won’t argue against playing him… The model simply loves the surrounding players.
Sergio Garcia, Paul Casey, and Tommy Fleetwood would be locks at these prices any other week. Even this week, I want as much of them as possible. They are 3rd, 4th, and 6th in the model, respectively, for both earnings and odds to make the cut. Sergio is lapping the field so far this year with his iron play while also gaining over .7 strokes per round off the tee. Casey has been his usual rock steady self, gaining most of his strokes in the ball striking categories. Fleetwood has been nearly as good as DJ and Rahm off the tee.
Alex Noren is underpriced, but the model prefers the guys above and a few just below…
Adam Scott has been a fixture in my lineups this year and while he won’t be a high priority this week, I’ll have plenty of him once again. 8k is way too cheap for one of the best ball strikers in the world. Hopefully being at Augusta helps him gain a little confidence on the greens.
Speaking of one of the best ball strikers in the world, why is Henrik Stenson under 8k? He’ll be a fixture in my lines. This price is absurd.
Ian Poulter dazzled last week to get here. Unfortunately for him, the model doesn’t forget how bad he was before the past two events.
Matt Kuchar doesn’t miss cuts. He hasn’t missed one in literally a year; he missed the cut at the Shell Houston Open the week before last year’s Masters. I said last week that he may be the exception to the rule that you can’t sustain excellent putting, and sure enough he had another good finish. However, I will be fading him again, targeting two guys in this range that the model loves. Even more excitingly, I think they’ll be really low owned. Patrick Cantlay is FIFTH in odds to make the cut and Tony Finau’s price has dropped all the way to 7.4k. Finau has been predictably great off the tee this year, but he’s been even better with his irons. Cantlay has been excellent off the tee and solid all across the board.
Xander Schauffelle also projects well and could go under the radar. He is a par 5 scoring machine.
Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Matt Fitzpatrick (especially) seem overpriced and may be somewhat chalky for this price range? Either way, I’ll pass on both.
I like Gary Woodland and Charley Hoffman here, but I love Francesco Molinari and Kevin Chappell. Moli will find his way into a lot of my lines, especially where I’m stacking Spieth and JT or fitting DJ in. Chappell will be a focal point and one of my highest owned players. Chappell is the 15th highest projected player, but near the 45th most expensive. Both players have been dominant off the tee. In fact, Chappell and Moli round out the top 5 this season in SGOTT along with DJ, Rahm, and Fleetwood.
Bryson DeChambeau was 2nd at Bay Hill and had an impressive Masters debut so I’m sure he’ll have some ownership. If I need the extra $100 from Molinari, I’ll use him, but I won’t hedge off Chappell with him.
Kyle Stanley and Johnny Vegas are the only guys I can see as viable, but with the loose pricing I don’t see the need.
I can’t wait for Thursday. Thank you for reading, and give FantasyTeamAdvice a look if you’re not already a subscriber. Excellent, knowledgable people who find new ways to make DFS fun every day. Good luck this week!