I’m not going to recap last week because we have a lot of the same players in this field, so the recap will happen naturally. Don’t be surprised if your lines look similar this week to last’s.
TPC Deere Run
Using DataGolf’s historic event data feature (as I always do – check it out), we see that TPC Deere Run’s breakdown of which strokes gained statistics drive the variation in scores is right in line with tour average.
Using Fantasy National GC’s course breakdown, it’s no surprise to see that fairways and greens are hit at a significantly elevated rate here; scores are always low at TPC Deere Run. We can take a little something else from this: since fairways and greens are easy to hit here, it’s unlikely that inaccuracy off the tee is as penalizing as usual. Therefore, driving distance must be playing a slightly larger role since SG:OTT is just as impactful as usual. I wouldn’t consider this a major point of emphasis, but it’s something to keep in mind if you’re torn between two players and one of them has a clear edge in distance.
John Deere Classic Draftkings Picks
There are only five players above $10k and three above $11k. Among the top three, Zach Johnson does not belong. He is a fine golfer, but he ranks 12th in my models even in a weaker field. He is severely overpriced and I suggest avoiding him completely.
Another reason ZJ should be faded is that he’s surrounded by excellent plays, both above and below.
Bryson DeChambeau and Francesco Molinari are sizzling right now and having excellent years. However, I have a clear preference between the two: Bryson. I speak often about taking advantage of the variance in putting performance. Usually, that means targeting players who have struggled on the greens. Molinari was the perfect example last week. On the season, he had lost well over half a stroke per round putting, but in his dominant Quicken Loans win, he gained over three strokes putting total. Thus, this week the variance of putting suggests we lay off Molinari, hoping the public will chase his win. Bryson has been every bit as impressive with his ball striking as Molinari and slightly outpaces him in my models.
Joaquin Niemann is my highest priority. He is the highest rated player in my models and comes at a $1,000 discount to Moli and Bryson. The sample with Niemann is still a little small, but the wiry 19 year old is gaining a remarkable .756 and 1.028 strokes per round off the tee and approaching the green, respectively. It’s a small sample, but those numbers don’t happen by accident.
I owe Ryan Moore an apology. I’ve called him overrated a few times this year relative to his strokes gained profile, but suddenly those stats look quite impressive. He’s gained strokes off the tee in every event since the Honda (February), and his iron play has been even more impressive. For the 2018 season, he’s now gaining around half a stroke per round in each ball striking category. He’s been bad on the green, keeping him from contention, so hopefully that also keeps his ownership suppressed. I won’t play him over Niemann, but I may try to fit both.
Steve Stricker, Chesson Hadley, and Kyle Stanley are all projected to be highly owned. Of the three, Stanley is projected to be the least chalky, and rates the best in my models. Hadley actually rates similarly to him in projected earnings, but Stanley’s cut odds are ten percentage points higher. Consequently, I strongly prefer Stanley to the other two.
Chris Kirk is projected to be chalky as well. While he is in great form, I’ll take to contrarian Austin Cook as a slightly more expensive pivot. Kirk is the 20th rated player in my model, while Cook is 7th. Cook was excellent for us last week at very low ownership. Kirk would be rated higher than 20th if only 2018’s stats were considered, but wouldn’t surpass Cook.
Wesley Bryan has an insane strokes gained profile this season. From left to right, here are his SG:OTT, SG:APP, SG:ATG, and SG:P numbers.
The three positive stats give him upside. The awful performance off the tee screams to fade him, especially since he’s projected for decent ownership.
Kevin Streelman actually played well last week. He had a freak triple bogey on day 1, then missed a two footer for birdie the hole after. Otherwise, he makes the cut easily. In the two days he played, he gained 2 strokes off the tee and 2.9 approaching the greens. He rates very well in my models, as usual. His projected ownership suggests people are going to overreact to his missed cut.
Aaron Wise is gaining almost half a stroke per round off the tee and while he’s missed four consecutive cuts, his ball striking returned to form last week.
Keith Mitchell looks like a better play each time I review his stats. He’s consistently dominated off the tee, but the more intriguing thing is the fact that his -.29 SG:APP on the year is wildly misleading. This is crazy: In the 11 events he played from 2017’s Valspar through April’s RBC Heritage, Mitchell lost strokes with his irons nine times, averaging over three strokes lost per event. Since then, he’s gained over a stroke per event with his irons.
Kevin Tway is a good play, but he’ll be chalkier than Mitchell so I’ll gladly take Mitchell and the inherent leverage bonus. Tway’s ball striking is also trending downwards.
Once again, the 7k range is quite crowded so let’s break it up into chalk and contrarian sections.
Chez Reavie leads the way in my models for this tier. There could be reason to fade him, however. His form isn’t great, as he’s missed three of his last four cuts, and his ball striking has contributed to those misses. Furthermore, this tier is loaded so you should have no trouble finding similar value at lower ownership.
Andrew Putnam is once again projected to be chalky and I just don’t understand it. He’s losing strokes off the tee in 2018 and his iron play isn’t making up for it. He’s lost strokes with his irons in three of his last five, though he is still gaining slightly on the year. At the very least, he’s not worth his ownership.
Brandon Harkins came through for us last week and I like him again this week. He makes a ton of birdies for someone in this price range, with a birdie or better percentage over 23%. He’s gaining in both ball striking stats this season and is in great form, especially with the driver.
Fantasy National and FantasyLabs are split on their ownership projections for Joel Dahmen and Bronson Burgoon. Burgoon was excellent at 4% ownership (and 1% in Saturday’s showdown where he flew up the leaderboard). He’s been better that Dahmen off the tee, but both are in great ball striking form and shooting up my model rankings each week. My guess is they will both carry ownership around 10%.
Corey Conners is my favorite play in the 7k range. He’s projected for the lowest ownership of the guys I’ve mentioned, and may be the best play anyway. He’s gaining just over .4 strokes per round driving and just under that mark with his irons. Like Dahmen and Burgoon, both of those numbers are trending up. In fact, last week at The Greenbrier he finished 30th despite losing 7.6 strokes on the green during the week. He gained 4.2 strokes in both ball striking categories. Fire him up!
Dylan Meyer comes with a bit of an extra discount in price and expected ownership. He has two top 20s and a missed cut in his first three professional events. He gained 4 strokes off the tee and 2.1 with his irons for the week at The Quicken Loans. I will have plenty of Meyer and Conners.
There’s honestly no one I’m even okay with here. I’m avoiding this tier completely and suggest you do the same.
Good luck all, and I’ll be getting an early start on The Open research so you can expect my article for it to come out Tuesday (Tuesdays for majors, Wednesdays otherwise).
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