Welcome to the third 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 in the biz. With that, let’s dig into this week’s Honda Classic.
The WGC–Mexico Championship is the first of the four annual World Golf Championships. For the first eight years, the event was played at different locations both in the U.S. and Europe, then from 2007-16 it was staged at Doral’s Blue Monster in Miami. This was big President Donald Trump, who loves the game and was able to stage a big event at his course. But on June 1, 2016, the Tour announced that it would relocate the event, due in part to controversial comments Trump made on the campaign trail.
And so the event is now played at the Club de Golf Chapultepec in Naucalpan, just northwest of Mexico City. It’s the first of three no-cut 72-hole events. For fantasy purposes, we don’t have to worry about golfers playing the weekend, unless they withdraw. This is its second year in Mexico, so data is limited.
Average Winning Score: -14
Average Cut: N/A
Yardage: 7,300 yards (will play closer to 6500 with the elevation change)
Green Surface: Poa annua
Skills emphasized: Since the course plays so short with the elevation changes, a drastic emphasis on golfers with a good approach game from under 150 yards and they must also have a good “Total Driving” stat.
Top-5 finishers last year:
Phil Mickelson (Hit some wild tee shots but got several lucky bounces.)
Standout performers over last five years:
A recap of last week’s picks
A tale of two cities last week, as Rickie Fowler was a very surprising MC, but Luke List turned out to be a nice pick. Owned by just 3% of the people on Draft Kings this weekend and priced at $7,400, List was able to secure a runner-up finish. A huge value! On to this week’s picks.
1. Dustin Johnson (FanDuel $12,800, DraftKings, $11,900) The No. 1-ranked player in the world might relinquish that honor this week as Jon Rahm, also in the field, could eclipse him. DJ won this event last year with a winning score of 14-under and stormed into Augusta as the odds-on favorite, only to be derailed when he tumbled down a set of stairs in his rental house the night before the tournament began. Johnson’s year has been uneven so far. Thursday at Riviera was an uncharacteristically poor round, but even beyond that at times his iron play at been spotty. He is the best player in the world though, and if he can tighten his approach shots, he’ll be right back in the winner’s circle. A quick statistical check: DJ is ranked third on tour in strokes gained tee-to-green and 63rd in approaches.
Going Streaking: Players entering this week in great form
2. Tommy Fleetwood (FanDuel $11,300, DraftKings $10,000)
We highlighted this young emerging star from England two weeks back and if you stuck with him last week you were rewarded, as he finished fourth. Fleetwood plays his third week in a row this week in Mexico where he finished second only to DJ last year. Stats back up the performances, as he’s looked superb tee-to-green, with a nice uptick in putting last week. He’s gaining over two strokes tee-to-green and just about a stroke with his approaches. We saw how comfortable he was last year on this course, and I don’t’ see any reason why that won’t be repeated this week.
3. Tony Finau ($10,700 FanDuel, $8,500 DraftKings) Fresh off a breakthrough 2017 season when he qualified for his first career Tour Championship, the big hitter has refined the other parts of his game and achieved tremendous consistency. He was able to nab a runner-up two weeks ago to Bubba Watson at the Genesis Open. When we check the stats, its not surprising to see Tony gaining strokes tee-to-green over the last six weeks while submitting Tour-average putting stats— an encouraging sign.
4. Patrick Cantlay ($10,000 FanDuel, $8,700 DraftKings) If you follow me on twitter you know I’m a fan. I first learned of Cantlay last year, when he regained his form after a few lost seasons with injuries. I then followed him Monday-Wednesday at the 2017 Valspar Championship and fell in love with his game. One of the purest ball strikers I had seen in a while, he was also fearless on the greens, in the mold of a Speith, Fleetwood or Woods. Since that Valspar he hasn’t missed a cut, going 18-for-18 with nine top 25s, four top 5s and a win. Not even Spieth or Fleetwood have that type of consistency over the past year. Cantlay had struggled a bit with his putter over his first two starts of the season, but quickly regained form at Riv. Statistically over the last six weeks he’s gaining about a shot and a half tee-to-green with more than half of that coming on approach shots. The aforementioned poor putting has resulted in about a half-shot loss over the last six weeks in strokes gained-putting. This will be his first start at the WGC-Mexico.
5. Dylan Frittelli ($8,800 FanDuel, $8,200 DraftKings) This South African was Spieth’s collegiate teammate and part of the 2012 NCAA National Championship team. Since then he’s finally worked his way up to 44th in the world. He has nine top 20s in his last 10 worldwide events, including a win at the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open. He made his PGA Tour season debut last week at the Honda and finished 11th. The stats indicate he’s a well-rounded player. This will be his first start at the WGC-Mexico.
6. Chris Paisley ($7,200 FanDuel, $7,200 DraftKings) Rarely is a golfer priced the same on both sites, so he could be a value on FanDuel, since it has the higher salary cap. If you aren’t attuned to the European Tour this may be the first you’ve heard of him, but it probably won’t be the last. The 31-year-old the United Kingdom has risen to 84th in the world after a blazing start the year, where he won the season-opener and backed it up with back-to-back fifth-place finishes in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. He’s statistically one of the best putters in the world, which plays well anywhere. This will be his first start at the WGC-Mexico.
Mulligans: Players who need a reset and expect to play well this week
Jordan Spieth ($11,900 FanDuel, $10,600 DraftKings) It’s not often Spieth needs a mulligan, but as with Cantlay I am a huge fan and regularly pull for him. He lands here this week because his putting has been atrocious this year, ranking 164th on Tour in strokes gained. He didn’t play all that well here last year, outside the 8-under 63 he shot on Saturday, so again, nothing to be to over-excited about. But if you roster him over DJ, you are getting a pretty big savings on the salary invested, and if his putter finally wakes up the upside is undeniable.
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. $44 Buy-in contest called the “Medium Mexico Classic.” It has a top prize of $100,000 and a guaranteed prize pool of $500,000.
2. $4 Buy-in contest called the “Mini Mexico Classic,” it has a top prize of $25,000 and a guaranteed prize pool of $325,000. The top 22% get paid.
3. $444 Buy-in contest called the “Mexico Classic,” with a top prize of $150,000 and a guaranteed prize pool of $400,000. The top 22% get paid.
4. $5 Buy-in contest called the “Massive double up” where 50% of the lineups get paid, and you earn 2x your buy-in. These are often referred to as “cash games.” (Buy-ins for the 50/50 levels range from .25 all the way up to 10,000)
5. The big one is back! DraftKings on Monday announced the return of the “Millionaire Maker.” This contest has a grand prize of $1 million 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 satellite events that cost anywhere between 25 cents 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 $15,000 and a guaranteed prize pool of $70,000.
2. A $1 buy-in contest called the “Flopshot,” with a top prize of $900 and a guaranteed prize pool of $9,000.
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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 @dfsgolfer23 or by email at [email protected]