2:39 | Tour & News
Expert Picks: Valspar Championship
Sean Zak and Ryan Asselta offer their fantasy golf  picks  for this week's Valspar Championship.
By Jason Rouslin
Monday, March 05, 2018

Welcome to this week’s edition of the Fantasy Six Pack, where we highlight six golfers to use in two popular fantasy golf platforms, DraftKings and FanDuel. On each, you must select six golfers for your lineup under a specific salary cap. (DraftKings $50,000, FanDuel $60,000). As a reminder, I'm a golf nut with a 1.3 handicap and a nose for analytics — according to Rotogrinders, I'm one of the top-10 daily fantasy golf players. Before we dig into the Valspar Championship, I’d like to make everyone aware that this is my home event! I’ll be onsite all week analyzing the golfers during their practice time rounds at the Cooperhead course in Palm Harbor (Tampa) Florida.

The Tournament

Average Winning Score: -10
Average Cut: Even
Yardage: 7,340 yards
Par: 71
Green Surface: Bermuda
Fairway/Rough: Bermuda
Skills emphasized: It’s a rather long and difficult course, so we want to take a look at a mixture of driving distance and accuracy as well as strokes gained on approaches and around the green. The Copperhead course is unlike most other Florida courses in that it sports tree-lined fairways that require players to work the ball both ways.

Top 5 finishers last year:
Adam Hadwin
Dominic Bozzelli
Tony Finau
Charl Schwartzel

Standout performers over last five years:
Charles Howell III
Charl Schwartzel
Luke Donald
Henrik Stenson
Jordan Spieth

A recap of last week's picks

A very similar week as my Honda picks two weeks ago. In Mexico DJ, Spieth and Fleetwood had decent weeks, but outside those three only Chris Paisley made any noise. Finau had a very rough Sunday and plummeted out of the top 25. But now, onto the Valspar Championship!

Spieth continues to be one of the best ballstrikers on Tour, but his putting has held him back in 2018.

Getty Images

The Favorite:

Jordan Spieth (DraftKings $11,800, FanDuel $12,000) It took one strong weekend for Spieth to get back on track. Oddmakers love him, making him the favorite at 8.5-to-1 to win, and he commands the highest DraftKings salary. Since the TOC in Kapalua, his finishes are: 9, 18, MC, 20, 9, 14. That’s a great stretch for many players, but not Spieth. I thought his putting improved a tick last week, but he was still was one of the worst-ranked golfers in strokes gained-putting. But I love his game off the tee. He’s ranked 22nd in good drive percentage and 29th in strokes gained off-the-tee for the year. His approach game is also strong, as he’s 22nd on Tour in strokes gained approaches, 6th in GIR+Finge & 13th in proximity to the hole. Those numbers should translate well this week. Finally, he has one of the best, around-the-green games on tour, where he’s ranked 4th in strokes gained around the green and second in scrambling. He’s made every cut in this event in four tries, with four top 20s including a win. If that putter heats up just a little, look out.

Going Streaking: Players entering this week in great form

1. Sergio Garcia (DraftKings $10,900, FanDuel $12,000) The soon-to-be dad, (his wife Angela is due later this month) enters an important stretch in route to defend his green jacket. He hasn’t played here since 2013 where he finished seventh. This will be his third start in a row, placing 33rd at the Honda and seventh last week in Mexico. Over those two starts he’s averaging just over 1.4 strokes gained from tee-to-green and 1.3 strokes on his approach shots. Copperhead is primarily a second-shot course, so those stats should bode well. Look for Sergio on the leaderboard come Sunday, unless of course his wife goes in to labor early…

2. Cameron Smith (DraftKings $8,000, FanDuel $9,400) The young man from Australia is off to the best start of his career, making five-of-five cuts with four top 20s. Smith’s game is really an all around game, gaining strokes on the field in all strokes gained categories (off the tee, tee-to-green, putting, approach, around the green, putting). His approach shots have been particularly strong recently, and he’s fourth on Tour in scrambling. And how’s this for motivation? He’s on the Top 50 World Ranking bubble (53rd), and if can climb three spots he’ll qualify for the Masters.

3. Adam Hadwin (DraftKings $8,800 FanDuel $10,200) The defending champion of this event enters in good form once again. It’s hard to defend a title, but both Brendan Steele and Daniel Berger have repeated at tournaments in the last year. Hadwin hasn’t fired a 59 this year, as he did early in his ’17 season, but his form would indicate he’s ready to win again. He hasn’t missed a cut in 2018 and has three top 10s in the last seven weeks.

4. Kevin Streelman (DraftKings $7,500, FanDuel $8,800) Yet another player off great start this season, Streelman is a perfect five-for-five in cuts made with three top 30s. He also picked up his one of his two career victories at the then-Tampa Bay Championship in 2013, so obviously the course is a fit. Streelman is ranked first on Tour in scrambling, which obviously helps him avoid bogeys. He’s also ranked sixth in good drive percentage, first in greens or fringe in regulation, and has gained over a stroke from tee-to-green over his last six starts.

Mulligans: Players who need a reset and expect to play well this week

Talor Gooch (DraftKings $7,100, FanDuel $7,600) The 26-year-old from Oklahoma earned his Tour card through the Web.com tour last year. Two weeks ago, he shot a 70 in the opening round at the Honda and was right in it. But he faded with 77 on Friday and missed the cut by two shots. Had he just made a par, instead of double, on 17, he would have made the cut on the number, and then you never know. Gooch’s strong suit, at least statistically, is scrambling, where he ranks 16th. Over the last six weeks Gooch has gained about a third of a stroke on both approach shots and around-the-green. He’s made four of six cuts this year with two top 20s. This will be his first start at Innisbrook.

Tiger Woods is fresh off a 12th-place finish two weeks ago at the Honda Classic.

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And finally, a check on Tiger

Tiger Woods (DraftKings $9,500, FanDuel $9,700) As a reminder, Woods led the field in proximity to the hole at the Honda classic -- by two feet! That’s the type of #TigerStat we saw in his prime. If the bogey avoidance of the past returns, Tiger could win again very soon.

Where to play this fantasy Golf this week

DraftKings: Normally home to the biggest prize pools, the buy-ins for each contest range from free all the way up to $5,300. Here is what they are featuring this week:

1. $33 Buy-in contest called the “Dogleg.” It has a top prize of $100,000 and a guaranteed prize pool of $500,000.
2. $4 Buy-in contest called the “Birdie” it has a top prize of $15,000 and a guaranteed prize pool of $225,000. The top 22% get paid.
4. $444 Buy-in contest called the “Pressure Putt” with a top prize of $100,000 and a guaranteed prize pool of $400,0000 The top 22% get paid.
5. $5 Buy-in contest called the “Massive double up” where 50% of the lineups get paid, and you earn 2X your buy-in. *Often referred to as “cash games” (buy ins for the 50/50 levels range from .25 all the way up to 10,000)
6. THE BIG ONE IS BACK! DraftKings just yesterday announced the return of the MILLIONAIRE MAKER. This contest has a first place of 1 million dollars, and a guaranteed prize pool of 3.5 million. This contest will run for “The Masters” but you can start earning tickets to the contest this week through satellites. Satellite entries cost anywhere between .25 and $5.

FanDuel: Growing in popularity, FanDuel isn't quite as big as DraftKings, but still offers some great contests and a variety of scoring methods to differentiate from DK. This week's highlights include:

1. A $5.55 buy-in contest called the “Eagle,” with a top prize of $25,000 and a guaranteed prize pool of $120,000.
2. A $1 buy-in contest called the “Flopshot,” with a top prize of $1000 and a guaranteed prize pool of $12,000.

Want to learn more about daily fantasy golf? Check out tourlevelfantasy.com for more information. Want to learn more about betting on golf? We cover that as well!

Jason Rouslin is founder of tourlevelfantasy.com. He has been playing golf for the last 20 years, betting on golf for the last five and writing about golf for the last two. Connect with him via Twitter or by email at Tourlevelfantasy@gmail.com.

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