The U.S. Open kicks off on Thursday in Southampton, New York. For PGA fans, this is one of the biggest events of the year since it is one of the four Major Championships that the PGA sees each year. Because of this, it’s also one of the most competitive fields that will be seen all year. That goes for both the professional golfers entered, and the people entering into daily fantasy sports contests.
More than likely, you are probably in that latter group and you’re looking to put together the best team of golfers possible so that you can have the chances of winning your league. If that’s the case, then you are in the right place. Here, we’ve put together some value analysis to help you draft the best possible roster going into Thursday.
Traditionally, one of the strongest methods of drafting a six-man daily fantasy golf roster like what DraftKings and FanDuel use is to break your roster down into three tiers. There’s no clear science for doing this, but the process can easily work by taking the list of available golfers and divide it into thirds. If there are 100 entrants, then it breaks into 33 golfers in each category, with one extra in the bottom. With this strategy, you want two golfers in the top tier, two in the middle, and two in the bottom. If you have left over salary cash, then you start trading up. You might find you have three top tier golfers, two mid-tier, and one bottom. That works perfectly fine if you have the cash to do it and your team has no holes in it.
With this in mind, it’s important to start with your top tier since this is where most of the strength lies. In practice, it’s often helpful to draft two top tier golfers, two mid-tier, and then go back and re-think the top tier again before finishing off your roster.
At both FanDuel and DraftKings, Dustin Johnson is listed as the number one overall choice. He is a great golfer and he’s having a good season, but his price tag is too expensive in both of these leagues. Drafting expensive at the top has a certain appeal to it, but it also hurts you as you go down your roster. At $11,700 (DraftKings), Johnson is just too expensive to worry about.
Justin Rose presents a strong option at DraftKings. His salary of $9,900 makes him very approachable, since he’s only the 7th most expensive player. However, because he has the second highest total when it comes to average fantasy points scored per tournament (95.4), he suddenly becomes a strong value pick. He has made 15 out of 15 cuts this season, has three wins, and seems to be at the peak of his game. He did finish T12 at The Masters, but he’s also racked up a win and a T6 between then and now.
Mid-tier golfers tend to get a bit of media recognition now and then but will not have the same star status as top tier golfers. When they do have any sort of celebrity, you should be asking yourself why they are so cheap. They might be fighting off an injury, they might be struggling, or it could just be that you’ve found yourself a great value deal.
Branden Grace has all of the markings of a successful tier two choice this weekend. He has made 18 out of 18 cuts over the course of the season so far, which is quite impressive. His average fantasy point total per tournament is a little higher than we would normally expect from a mid-tier golfer, which is a good indicator. This number currently stands at 83.9, which is a lot better than some of the top tier golfers have been performing at. Ideally, a top 25 finish is strong from a tier two golfer, and Grace finished T24 at The Masters back in April. He even has a win to his credit so far this season. His salary of $8,400 gives him a lot of versatility here.
Henrik Stenson is another strong mid-tier guy. He’s arguably a top tier golfer most of the time, but because this is such a strong field, he’s not ranked as highly as he normally would be. His salary of $8,800 puts him right at the bottom of the top tier, and right at the top of the mid-tier. Stenson has made 12 of 13 cuts this season, which is strong, and has an average fantasy point total of 79.1 per tournament. He’s not a favorite to win, but he’s a strong enough golfer that it’s always a possibility, especially if some of the favorites do not play as well as they are expected to. Stenson is a clear top 20 favorite, though.
The bottom tier is where you find the greatest value. However, this is often tough to do since these are the golfers that don’t receive much media attention. It’s also where leagues are won or lost because a deeper analysis of the data is needed in order for a manager to be successful. A strong cuts made ratio is helpful here, as is a low average stroke per round number. Aphibarnrat fits this description well. He is averaging 69.8 strokes per round and has been consistent with 17 out of 19 cuts made. He’s also averaging 77.1 fantasy points per tourney, although this number isn’t quite as reliable for our analysis because of the weaker competition that he has faced so far this season. Still, a strong stroke number under 70 tells us that he can take on the toughest competition as it gives him a shot at finishing in the top 25.
Another strong value pick from the bottom tier is Dylan Frittelli. He’s made 16 out of 21 cuts and has a stroke count under 70 at 69.8. He even has a win so far this season. His 5 top ten finishes tell us that he can handle pressure and has an outside shot of surprising some people this weekend.