Ambush DFS Preview: The Players Championship


Is The Players Championship the 5th major? Who cares! We have backwards-hat Tiger, Jason Day is back from The Magic Kingdom, and the field is so stacked that they couldn’t even fit D.J. into a featured group. Major or not, this is going to be a wild week of golf with so many great players chasing that weird new trophy that’s got all the past winners’ faces built into it (and the money isn’t too bad either). As usual for stacked fields and “majors”, pricing in DFS is soft, and you can easily build lineups with a handful of solid golfers paired with some cheap guys. Let’s get to it!


Sure Play: Justin Thomas (DK 11,100 / FD 12,100)

JT checks all the boxes here, and although he hasn’t won the event, he’s had relative success in the last 4 years, logging three top-25 finishes. If not for a 3rd round 79 in 2017, he’d likely have been in the mix that year too. Strokes Gained Approach and Par 5 scoring are a couple of key  stats this week, both of which JT is 1st in this year. Worried about that 17th island green from 137 yards? JT is 7th in GIR% from 125-150 and 1st in Approaches from 125-150, I think he’ll be okay.


Hit or Miss: Jason Day (DK 9,200 / FD 11,200)

Jason is an obvious pick in this category just because of his back “injury” alone, but it actually spans a little farther than that in this event. When he’s hot, he’s near impossible to beat as one of the best putters on tour. As we saw last week, when he’s not in it, it could be splash-ball city in route to another early trip to Disney World. His finishes in this event are hit and miss too. In his last 8 tries, he’s got a win, 5th, 6th, and 19th, but he also has 3 missed cuts and a 60th. He could lose some ownership this week because of the injury uncertainty, but definitely worth a shot in GPPs. Also worth noting, he’s one of 8 guys that hold the course record here.


Player to go Overlooked: Patrick Cantlay (DK 8,700 / FD 10,000)

Cantlay has quietly racked up five top-10s since October and two more in the top-20. Although not typically mentioned with all the big names, he does just about everything (except putting) really well and usually finds himself in the mix every week. On DraftKings specifically, he’s sandwiched between guys like Fleetwood, Molinari, and Webb, who will be much more sought after this week (especially Molinari after his win last week). Since he’s likely not going to pop on anyone’s statistics-based models compared to those priced around him, you should be able to get him at low ownership and it could end up being the difference maker in your lineups.


Value Plays: Ryan Palmer (DK 6,600 / FD 8,800), Harold Varner (DK 6,500 / FD 8,300)

Palmer: He’s 10th in Strokes Gained Approach this year and is coming in off a fourth place at the Honda Classic after he fired off a final round 63. He’s got a handful of missed cuts here, but also finished 23rd last year and has another 23rd and a 5th place finish, so he has the potential to make the cut and finish decently, which is pretty much all you ask for at his price.

Varner: He’s not coming in with super great form, but he’s much better than the prices DraftKings and Fanduel are tagging him with. He has a bunch of finishes in the top-20 this season already, plus he’s 3/3 in made cuts the last 3 years here. It is worth taking a shot at a guy who has had success this year and in this event at that low of a price. If he can make the cut, anything can happen on the weekend and he just might be the guy to help you fly up the leaderboard on the weekend.


Fades: Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Webb Simpson

Rory: He’s flaming hot coming into The Players, but I think the hot streak comes to an end this week. Long hitters typically are not able to use that to their advantage as much here and I think that will hurt Rory this week. He has been inconsistent with his irons and that could put him in a lot of trouble with water all over, especially on the closing holes. He missed the cut last year and has a handful of other missed cuts at this event as well. Not a guy I want to play, especially with potentially higher ownership because of his recent play.

DJ: Another long hitter whose power likely won’t be as big of an advantage this week. The last eight times he’s played here, his best finish is 12th and his average finish is 44th. As the highest priced golfer on both sites, you’re assuming he’s going to contend, and his past performance here says that’s unlikely to happen.

Webb: Past winners typically drive ownership percentages up in DFS. Being last year’s champion and coming in at a price where you can fit other studs around him, I figure he’s going to be a popular pick this week. The fade is easy for me though, he’s missed the cut four times in his last nine tries, and two other finishes in the high 60’s. I think his struggles are the norm here, and I trust guys like  Tommy Fleetwood,  Francesco Molinari, and Patrick Cantlay around the same price much more than him.


Good Luck and Go Tiger!


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