Yahoo DFS Golf: THE PLAYERS Championship Picks and Strategy

Yahoo DFS Golf: THE PLAYERS Championship Picks and Strategy

THE PLAYERS Championship

Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida
TPC Sawgrass - Par 72 - 7,275 yards
Field - 144 entrants
Purse - $25M

The Preview

Much like we saw at Bay Hill last week, the water features and bunkers spread throughout TPC Sawgrass figure to bring bogeys or worse into play early and often. It's not uncommon to see a handful of household names near the top of the odds board fall completely short of simply advancing to the weekend, so THE PLAYERS Championship definitely presents an opportunity to lean into risk tolerance, which always makes for entertaining roster construction from a daily fantasy perspective.

Expect to see slightly longer rough in Ponte Vedra Beach this time of year, while bermuda remains dormant on the greens as extremely quick surfaces overseeded with poa trivialis invite plenty of three-putts. TPC Sawgrass is by no means a bomber's paradise with more of an emphasis on plotting from target to target and SG: Approach, but it's still key to take advantage of the four par-5s, especially for our DFS scoring purposes. Winds off the Atlantic typically add to the challenge, but precipitation appears unlikely outside of a chance Friday afternoon.

Recent Champions

2022 - Cameron Smith
2021 - Justin Thomas
2020 - None
2019 - Rory McIlroy
2018 - Webb Simpson
2017 - Si Woo Kim
2016 - Jason Day
2015 - Rickie Fowler
2014 - Martin Kaymer
2013 - Tiger Woods

Key Stats to Victory

SG: Approach
Proximity: 75-150 and 200-plus yards
Par-5 Scoring
Bogey Avoidance

Yahoo Value Picks

Based on $200 salary cap

Cream of the Crop

Jon Rahm - $50

Rahm posted the worst SG: Off-the-Tee performance of his entire career by 4.4 strokes last week at Bay Hill where his tee balls found the water several times on hole Nos. 6 and 11 throughout the tournament, but his salary actually increased by $3 for THE PLAYERS, which could help with rostership deflation if our competitors are scared off by the aforementioned SG: OTT outlier at a similar track with tons of trouble, thus shifting more attention to Rory McIlroy and Scottie Scheffler. Rahm is still the same No. 1 player in the world, and a little positive regression on the driving accuracy would go a long way after his pedestrian T39 in Orlando. The Spaniard has been absolutely torching par-5s and he's also first in Prox: 200-plus over his last 24 rounds.

Rory McIlroy - $47

McIlroy made a Sunday afternoon charge at Arnie's place before falling one shot shy of eventual champion Kurt Kitayama, as the former tied for second despite ranking just 40th among the Arnold Palmer Invitational field in SG: Putting. Not only does McIlroy sit second to none in SG: Tee-to-Green, Par-5 Efficiency and Opportunities Gained over his last 36 measured rounds, but he's also been awesome from 75-125 yards during this stretch. McIlroy's PLAYERS Championship resume includes four straight top-15s from 2013 to 2016 and a win here in 2019.

Xander Schauffele - $44

Reducing Schauffele's sample size to his last 12 rounds in order to get a little further away from when his back problems surfaced earlier this year, he ranks seventh in SG: Approach, second in Prox: 100-125, 10th in Opportunities Gained and 11th in Prox: 200-plus since the start of the WM Phoenix Open. He tied for second in his 2018 PLAYERS Championship debut, but three consecutive missed cuts since then could dishearten the casual gamer at this relatively expensive cost. Meanwhile, the experienced gamer won't like his ball-striking metrics from the API last week, making Schauffele a somewhat risky pivot candidate among the elites.

Glue Guys

Keegan Bradley - $37

Bradley is definitely a touch overpriced compared to consensus here at $37 on Yahoo, but that's important because his rostership would likely otherwise be through the roof, and potential chalk Shane Lowry ($37) could help limit Bradley's exposure as well. Bradley just tied for 10th at the Arnold Palmer Invitational despite carding a five-over 77 in Round 2, ultimately finishing the week ranked ninth in SG: OTT and third in putts per GIR en route to 19 total birdies and an eagle. Additionally, he's gained a cumulative 28.7 strokes from tee to green across his last four PLAYERS appearances, placing no worse than 29th along the way.

Tyrrell Hatton - $34

The Englishman came through for us last week with a T4 at the API where he finished T4 in driving accuracy and eighth in SG: Tee-to-Green, ascending into the No. 3 spot in my 12-round custom model for THE PLAYERS. Over his past three starts, Hatton ranks fourth in FIR percentage, fourth in SG: T2G, ninth in Par-5 Efficiency and eighth in SG: OTT. He tied for 13th at TPC Sawgrass last year when he racked up 20 total birdies and ranked sixth in putting average.

Jason Day - $33

It's like Day-ja vu seeing the Aussie appear in this section of the article again, but he joined Hatton inside the top-10 on the API leaderboard for his fourth straight top-10 since the Farmers Insurance Open. Day's putter remains en fuego, but he's also gained strokes off the tee in five consecutive events. You'll find him among the list of past champions here, and over his last 24 rounds, Day is No. 1 in bogey avoidance, second in SG: Putting and second in three-putt avoidance.

Bargain Bin

Davis Riley - $24

Riley rebounded from three consecutive missed cuts from the Farmers Insurance Open through the WM Phoenix Open by going T29-T8 to begin the Florida Swing. He fired the low round Sunday at Bay Hill with a six-under 66, closing the tournament with 16 birdies and a pair of eagles to boost his DFS production. It can be nerve-wracking to roster a TPC Sawgrass debutant, but Riley's long-iron play has been quite solid, even during the mini-slump.

Jhonattan Vegas - $22

Vegas owns two results of T7 or better through nine trips to THE PLAYERS Championship, and the hope here is that his driving prowess allows him to harness that power wherever it's applicable and score especially well on the par-5s. Over his last 24 measured rounds, Vegas is found inside the top-25 of SG: OTT, Par-5 Efficiency, Prox: 200-plus and Opportunities Gained.

Wyndham Clark - $20

I couldn't care less about Clark's back-to-back missed cuts at TPC Sawgrass the past two years. Those came when he was awful from a SG: APP perspective, but he's been great with his irons/wedges as of late, posting an average of 4.7 strokes gained on approach shots per event across his last four outings. He's simply playing too well to be chilling down here at the minimum salary and I'd reckon our competitors agree, potentially forcing a double-digit rostership percentage on Clark in both cash and GPP contests.

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