In this series, I’ll highlight six guys that my PGA models identify as high-upside players who are projected for low ownership. Note: these will not always be my core plays. For my core, find me in FTA+ chat each week!
Finally, here’s a breakdown of my model. You’ll find I refer to the top 10/3/1 percentages a lot. In my mind, Cut Odds is a floor projection, Earnings is a median/average projection, and the probabilities of a top 10/3/1 finish are akin to a ceiling projection.
Let’s get to it.
Course Breakdown – Bethpage Black
I hate course history. The sample size for each player is too small to get a reliable sense of how a player fits at the course, or whether that fit even matters. However, what if we could see how numerous players perform at a given course in order to dramatically increase the sample size? Thanks to DataGolf’s Historic Event Data, we can.
To begin, I take the top 25 and bottom 25 golfers in CH Index (DG defines CH Index as “the average (adj. for field strength) strokes-gained at the course”). Next, I regress the CH Index of each player on their strokes gained profiles, bogey avoidance, and birdie or better percentage to find out which stats best translate into success at the course of interest. This strategy makes the model predictive, whereas most course breakdowns are inherently more descriptive. The difference is simple; predictive tells us what will happen while descriptive tells us what did happen. DFS is all about the former. Put another way, what use does knowing iron play plays a key role if you can’t predict whose irons will be on that week? The CF Model combines what will be important with what we can best predict.
This week, I used DataGolf’s true strokes gained at Bethpage Black for all of the players in their database. The model of best fit uses the players’ SGOTT, SGAPP, and SGP. This is the first time SGATG is left out of the model, and one of only several weeks where SGP is significant. As you’ve been hearing all week, performance off the tee is crucial here. SGOTT leads the way in the CF Model.
CF Model Favorites
The players whose CF Model Rank stands out to me the most for their price are (note – these are not my ranks. My ranks combine the CF Model with a recent form model and “true talent” projections like earnings per event, made cut odds, and top ten odds):
- DJ – #1
- Rose – #2
- Fowler – #4
- Kokrak – #5
- Cantlay – #6
- RCB – #19
- Charley Hoffman – #22
- Piercy – #24
- CH3 – #25
Rory McIlroy – Core Play
For as long as I’ve been writing golf articles, one thing has held true: If DJ is in the field, he’s the best projected player and it’s not close. However, that is no longer the case. Rory’s earnings projection, made cut odds, and top 10% have caught DJ’s thanks to an insane display of ball striking so far in 2019. Rory is gaining a massive 1.33 strokes per round off the tee and .95 per round with his irons. The crazy thing is these are probably low-balling him because of the typical field strength he plays in. DataGolf adjusts for strength of schedule with a True Strokes Gained measure, that pinpoints Rory at 1.5 strokes per round off the tee and 1.13 with his irons. Like I said, insane. To top things off, he’s $200 cheaper than DJ and is projected for under 14% ownership, among the lowest projections for the top tiers.
Truth be told, I don’t know how much Bryson I’ll end up with because as you’ll soon see, my favorite value plays differentiate my lines enough. That said, Bryson being projected for under 10% ownership means I absolutely must discuss him here. At the surface, nothing jumps out about his projections: 13th in Course Fit, 32nd in Rec Form. However, he’s tailor-made for GPPs considering the fact that he’s 12th in top ten odds, 9th in earnings projection, and just 23rd in made cut odds. It gets better. Bryson is 8th in odds for a top three finish and 4th in odds to win. One reason for the skew in his projections towards winning is his high-variance nature of play. Bryson’s 15.76% bogey avoidance is highest among all golfers priced $8200 and up. He counters this with an elite 23.62% birdie or better percentage. Obviously, this style of play is quite conducive to DK Scoring, as well.
We’ve been all over Sungjae this season, but the return hasn’t been the same of late. Fortunately, his poor play has resulted in an ownership projection under 5% for a player who still rates out well across the board. As a popular play all season for FTA, I knew he’d be discussed at length, so I broke him down a bit for our subscribers. If you’re not a sub yet, here’s the kind of thing you’re routinely missing out on in chat:
For Sungjae, the key will be whether or not he can regain the ball-striking form he had all season up until the last several weeks. In his first 17 events with SG data, he lost strokes in either ball striking category just five times, and never once lost strokes in both.
Because of his recent struggles, his CF Model Rank is just 33rd (fair for his price, but doesn’t pop). His season long SG profile suggests he should be an excellent fit for the test that is Bethpage Black.
Rafa Cabrera Bello – Core Play
Rafa!! As noted, RCB really stands out in the CF Model. Plus, like Rory, his SG profile is actually underselling him. No matter the time frame you look at, his true SG metrics are all about a tenth higher than his listed SG metrics on the PGATour website. As such, he should probably be even higher than 19th in the CF Model, yet is priced at just $7300.
Let’s take this a step further. RCB is the 42nd most expensive player in the PGA Championship on DK. Here are his ranks in each model:
- CF Model – 19th
- Rec Form Model – 29th
- Top Ten Odds – 38th
- Earnings Projection – 34th
- Made Cut Odds – 30th
Rafa is too cheap at his floor, median, and ceiling and is projected for ~8% ownership.
Charles Howell III
This one puzzles me. CH3 was quite chalky at the Masters, delivered, is now cheaper relative to other value options he was priced around at Augusta, and yet is currently projected for under 5% ownership. Why are people abandoning him?
Two things really stand out to me about Howell: first, he’s 25th in the CF Model. Second, he’s 16th (!) in odds to make the cut at 82.8%. Howell gains in every SG category, but his biggest strength is off the tee. Finally, he has an elite 13.47% bogey avoidance rate. While his low variance style of play seemingly caps his upside (is there anyone in golf who “should win more often than he does/has”? – this is likely the reason), we’ll certainly take a made cut and solid weekend play at $7k.
PS – for more on the concept of bogey avoidance relating to style of play and how more variance is often better, check out the original model breakdown article this year here.
Fade – Scott Piercy
Piercy is truly playing the best golf of his life. However, he is 154th on tour in driving distance this season. 154th! Bethpage Black is long and difficult, and it’s effective length will only be enhanced by softer conditions. Another red flag is Piercy’s 60th made cut odds rank. There’s roughly a 30% chance he will miss the cut, which is simply too high for me to recommend playing him at or above 10% ownership. There are so many great value plays this week at half the ownership or less. Ditch the extra salary discount in favor of ownership discounts. You’ll end up with a better player anyway.
Good luck this week and find me on Twitter at @alexblickle1!Fantasy Golf