Heading down the Caribbean to take on Corales Golf Club, a field of 132 golfers will set their eyes on this par 72, coastal track.
With most of the stars playing in Austin, Texas, this week, we are left with quite a thin strength of field here in the Dominican Republic. Digging through the stats could provide a big edge this week since most of these golfers won't pop off the page based on name recognition alone.
Every week in DFS is a new puzzle so let's see if we can piece some things together...
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Checking in on the weather for this week's event on the Eastern coast of the Dominican Republic:
Thursday: Partly Cloudy with a high of 84 degrees. Winds at 10 to 15 MPH.
Friday: Potential Pop-up Showers/Storms with a high of 83 degrees. Winds at 8 to 14 MPH.
Weekend: Highs in the low 80s. More chances for pop-up storms. HEAVY WINDS expected in the 15 to 20 MPH range with GUSTS reaching 25 MPH.
With the potential for some storms on three of the four tournament days, a delay or two is not out of the question this week. There doesn't appear to be an obvious tee-time advantage on Thursday or Friday but golfers will need to hold onto their hats over the weekend.
If you're anything like me then you have fallen in love with Daily Fantasy Sports but probably came from a season-long background. The one thing I miss about season-long leagues is the snake drafts. DRAFT has come along to fill that void and I'm having a lot of fun playing in their weekly golf drafts.
The first place to start is to build your pre-draft rankings for the week. I will point out a few golfers I think are overvalued in the raw rankings and a few that are undervalued in the raw rankings.
Nate Lashley (29.95 Projected Pts): Lashley won't impress you with his cuts-made ratio on the PGA TOUR so far (3-for-10 this season). However, when we realize he is top 50 on TOUR in bogey avoidance, we can assume a correction is in order. This week is the perfect week to start as Lashley won on this course just last year (Web.com Tour event). Sticking to his profile of a bogey avoider, he swallowed just TWO bogeys the entire week during that victory. He shouldn't be one of the first 6 golfers drafted but he definitely shouldn't go undrafted in 6 or 8-player leagues this week.
Patrick Rodgers (43.84 Projected Pts): The Stanford product is outside the top 30 in the raw pre-draft rankings. In reality, I think it's a mistake if he falls outside the top 6 drafted golfers this week. Rodgers has posted birdie rates better than the field in four of his last five starts and also avoided bogeys at a higher rate than the field in six straight starts. He is TRENDING toward the winner's circle.
Jim Furyk (44.67 Projected Pts): They say class is permanent but Furyk still finds himself outside the top 25 in the raw pre-draft rankings. He's playing out of the Past Champions category this season, allowing himself plenty of time to play his way back into old Furyk form. He showed signs of that in his last start, posting a top 10 at the Valspar. Jimmy is definitely a golfer you'll want to manually boost up your rankings.
Ryan Brehm (51.16 Projected Pts): Was a college coach at Michigan State before earning his TOUR card in 2017. He went 17-for-25 but landed just two finishes inside the top 30. In 2018 he is 3-for-4 on the Web.com Tour but again lacks the upside, finding nothing better than a T46 so far. If you don't manually adjust or remove Brehm from you'll rankings, you'll end up picking him as one of the top 15 golfers this week.
Kevin Tway (55.15 Projected Pts): The big hitter checks in at #3 on the raw pre-draft rankings. That is a lofty projection for someone that hasn't finished inside the top 25 all season. You'll notice in the section below that he's solid in the wind and he did rack up three eagles in his last start, but this is still a very early slot to take Tway. Even with those three eagles he finishes outside the top 55 at the Valspar. Tway is swallowing too many bogeys this year, posting more bogeys per round compared to the field in 8 of his last 9 starts. That is not someone I'd want to trust with my third pick or even a top 15 picks. Tway is someone I will manually adjust down my draft board.
Harold Varner III (51.08 Projected Pts): At the start of the season this probably would have been a spot to circle HV3 since it's a long, par 72 which gives him four good chances per round to rack up birdies and eagles. However, he arrives with -31.1 strokes gained total in his last eight starts. One thing you can usually rely on with Varner is a heap of birdies but those have gone missing as well. He's posted a lower birdie rate than the field in 8 of his last 10 starts. With a weaker field, I suppose the potential is there, but he is not someone I want to rely on with a top-15 pick this week.
Back in 2016, Drew Weaver had this to say during his time at Corales GC, "The wind is the biggest factor out here because this is a generous golf course. Making sure you know where the wind is critical."
Looking at performance during rounds with winds over 14 MPH since the start of 2014, the top 15 performers on a per-round basis looks like this:
Other than raw performance, we can also look at who shows the biggest improvement in the wind (versus their baseline). Using that as the criteria, the following names pop:
Recommendation: A few names that pop on both lists are: Kelly Kraft, Kevin Tway, George McNeill, J.T. Poston, Graeme McDowell, and Scott Piercy. You shouldn't blindly back these golfers but they all deserve a deeper dive this week with the winds expected to play a big role at Corales GC.
Michael Kim: The Cal Bear grew up with Torrey Pines as his home course. Playing by the coast is second nature for him. During college he won the Jack Nicklaus Award and the Fred Haskins Award. There is no lack of pedigree here. The knock on Kim is his length which prevents him from lapping the field at the PGA TOUR level. However, with a resort course on hand, Kim should be able to hold his own from tee-to-green and his short game is what separates him from there. With a career cuts-made ratio of 65.3 percent, Kim is one of the safest picks to play all four rounds. With an easy tee-to-green test he also provides top-10 upside this week.
Best of luck in all your contests this week!