SHELL HOUSTON OPEN – DRAFTKINGS PREVIEW

GENERAL COURSE INFORMATION:
PAR 72 COURSE
TOTAL DISTANCE = 7,441 YARDS
SIMILAR COURSE TO AUGUSTA

STATS TO FAVOR:
DRIVING DISTANCE (Long Course)
GIR (Easy to hit greens)
PAR 5 SCORING (All four of the par 5’s rank in the top 5 easiest holes)

TOURNAMENT PREVIEW:
After a week in which the DFS universe was only able to play in leagues featuring golfers most of us have never heard of, this week brings one of the strongest fields we will see in a non-major all year. The reason for this is because this course was designed to closely mimic the Masters and get everyone ready for Augusta.

Jordan Spieth ($12,900) enters the week as the heavy favorite to win, and his DraftKings price-tag reflects that. After a slow start to the season, Spieth has started to show promise and is definitely seeking revenge after losing to J.B. Holmes in a playoff here last year.

This star-studded field also features Rickie Fowler, Henrik Stenson, Dustin Johnson, and Phil Mickelson. This is a tournament in which the stars usually shine. Don’t be surprised if every one of these guys finish near the top of the leaderboard. Everyone mentioned is currently in excellent form right now and we should be in for a very exciting weekend of golf!

MY GENERAL PGA DFS THOUGHT PROCESS:
Many PGA DFS players will heavily weigh final placement of past tournaments when looking for players to select in their lineups. While this is definitely important, in my opinion it is secondary to the amount of birdies and eagles players score per round.

For example, a player who finishes in 11th -15th place will receive a 6 point bonus on DraftKings. While this may seem like a significant number, a player also receives 6 points for simply recording two birdies. In the grand scheme of things, that final bonus is a fraction of the total points we can expect each golfer to score. A player such as Jim Furyk who is known for consistently shooting pars may finish in the top 10 and be outscored (in DraftKings points) by more sporadic player such as Matt Jones who finishes in 40th-50th place. For this reason, I always prefer to pick players based on their hole-to-hole scoring history rather than their course placement history.

Just to clarify, first and foremost, I will ONLY pick players in my cash lineup if I am very confident in their ability to make the cut. The amount of birdies a player scores means nothing if they have twice as many bogeys and miss the cut. The difference between playing 2 rounds of golf and 4 rounds is monumental. In order to finish in the money in cash leagues, you generally need at least 5/6 of your golfers to make the cut. On rare occasions it can be done with 4/6, but more often than not you need 5 of your players to make it.

EXPLAINING THE STATS / GLOSSARY:

All of the following data you will see is based on the course history over the last 10 years. Important numbers:
Average winning score: -16
Average # of golfers to make the cut: 78
Average amount of DK points per player per round played: 14.04 (does not include bonuses)

DK Pts Gained Above Average Per Round – I created this stat to give us a better alternative to the popular “Strokes gained” stat. While strokes gained is a very important stat when evaluating a golfer’s skill level, it does not help DFS players all that much. This stat is more oriented towards DFS scoring. If the average score for one round is 14.04 DraftKings Points, and Player X scores 18 points in his round, his DK Pts Gained Above Average will equal (18 – 14.04) = 3.96. To give you a frame of reference, a score over 2.00 would be considered very good. A score over 4.00 is considered elite.

There are two different versions of this stat. One will be based on all tournaments played this season (PGA Tour and European Tour). The other will be based solely on that player’s history on this course.

S-Rank & O-Rank – For each player, I will rank them based on their salary (S-Rank), and also by their Vegas Odds (O-Rank). I’ve seen other sites do something similar, but they only use the Vegas Odds to win. I use a collection of many different websites with odds to win, odds to finish in top 5, top 10, and top 20. Using all of those odds, I assign numerical values to each golfer to represent where I predict they will finish in the standings. This helps find “value” golfers who may be underpriced on DraftKings.

PLAYERS TO WATCH:

HENRIK STENSON – $10,800

S-Rank: 3 / O-Rank: 2
DK Pts Gained (2016 Season) = 4.71
DK Pts Gained (S.H.O. History) = 3.49

Course History:
2014 – T54
2013 – T2
2012 – T21
2009 – T3

Recent Form:
3/17 – T3 at Arnold Palmer
3/10 – T11 at Valspar Championship
3/3 – T28 at WGC Cadillac
2/4 – T6 at Omega Dubai
1/21 – T3 at Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship

There is not a more consistent player on tour than Henrik Stenson. Whenever he is in the field, he is always one of my favorite cash plays. The Swede has not missed a cut in over a year, and is currently in arguably the best form of his entire career. He has excellent course history to match, and I expect him to be in contention all weekend. I have Stenson ranked as the best golfer this week, even over Spieth who is $2,100 more expensive. I will gladly take Stenson and spend the leftover money to upgrade elsewhere.

PHIL MICKELSON – $10,500

S-Rank: 5 / O-Rank: 5
DK Pts Gained (2016 Season) = 4.40
DK Pts Gained (S.H.O. History) = 4.03

Course History:
2015 – T17
2014 – T12
2013 – T16
2012 – T4
2011 – 1
2010 – T35
2009 – MC
2008 – T23

Recent Form:
3/3 – 5 at WGC Cadillac
2/25 – T37 at Honda Classic
2/11 – 2 at Pebble Beach
2/4 – T11 at Phoenix Open
1/21 – MC at Farmers Insurance

Knowing that this course is similar to Augusta, it is no surprise to find Lefty on this list. He has finished in the top 20 in each of his last 5 appearances here, including a victory in 2011. Phil is also in tremendous form, as you can see by his extremely high rating of 4.40 DK Pts Gained this season. He is a safe play in all formats this week and is my second favorite play behind Henrik Stenson.

RAFA CABRERA-BELLO – $8,500

S-Rank: 15 / O-Rank: 14
DK Pts Gained (2016 Season) = 4.19
DK Pts Gained (S.H.O. History) = N/A

Course History:
N/A – Never played here before

Recent Form:
3/3 – T11 at WGC Cadillac
2/18 – T36 at Maybank Championship Malaysia
2/4 – T2 at Omega Dubai
1/28 – T2 at Qatar Masters
1/21 – T14 at Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship

If you are unfamiliar with this name, get to know him! Many DFS players will look elsewhere when they see that he has no course history and has only played in one event this season (One event that was scored on DraftKings). Don’t be one of those people! This guy is one of the best golfers in the world and has been incredible for all of 2016. He is currently ranked #36 in the world on the Official World Golf Rankings. Getting a golfer of that caliber for only $8,500 is an absolute steal. For comparison sake, Graham DeLaet is $8,700 and ranked #133 in the world. Charles Howell III is $8,900 and ranked #102. On top of all of this, last week Rafa finished in 3rd place in the WGC Match Play which features the best in the world. Moral of the story – This guy is just TOO CHEAP. Fire him up in all formats. He is by far my favorite dollar for dollar play in this tournament.

CAMERON TRINGALE – $8,000

S-Rank: 21 / O-Rank: 24
DK Pts Gained (2016 Season) = 4.19
DK Pts Gained (S.H.O. History) = – 0.04

Course History:
2015 – T5
2014 – 4
2013 – T16
2012 – T8
2011 – T73

Recent Form:
3/17 – T27 at Arnold Palmer Invitational
3/10 – MC at Valspar Championship
2/25 – MC at Honda Classic
2/18 – T68 at Northern Trust
2/4 – MC at Phoenix Open

Cameron Tringale is the definition of a course horse, and that is the only reason he is priced this high. He has finished in the top 20 here each of the last 4 seasons. I am going to put more weight though on the fact that he has not been in great form this year. He has missed the cut in 3 of his last 6 tournaments. For his price, I would much rather pick a more consistent golfer that I am confident will make the cut. If Tringale was priced around $7,000, I would be much more inclined to take a chance on him, but at $8,000 I will likely be looking elsewhere. Based on his course history, he was worthy of a mention… and I also expect his ownership to be fairly high. Pick with caution.

STEVE STRICKER – $7,700

S-Rank: 27 / O-Rank: 17
DK Pts Gained (2016 Season) = 1.37
DK Pts Gained (S.H.O. History) = 3.76

Course History:
2014 – T24
2013 – T38
2012 – T36
2011 – T4
2009 – MC
2008 – T11
2007 – T9
2006 – 3

Recent Form:
3/10 – T7 at Valspar Championship
2/18 – T11 at Northern Trust
2/11 – MC at Pebble Beach
2/4 – MC at Phoenix Open
1/21 – MC at Career Builder

The 49-year old veteran has seemingly been sipping from the fountain of youth the last few weeks with a T7 and T11 finish respectively in his last two starts. Prior to that, however, he did miss three consecutive cuts which worries me a little bit. You can’t dismiss his course history either as he has finished in the top 25 five times in his last 8 appearances here. Vegas also loves him as he is the 17th ranked player according to the odds, but only the 27th most expensive player on DraftKings. His 1.37 DK Pts Gained per round this season show me that even though he hasn’t had the best results, he is still significantly outperforming the average player…. And his 3.76 DK Pts Gained in his career on this course in phenomenal. Stricker likely won’t be coming home with a trophy this weekend, but I think he is one of the safest cash plays on the board.

RUSSELL HENLEY – $7,000

S-Rank: 42 / O-Rank: 35
DK Pts Gained (2016 Season) = – 1.14
DK Pts Gained (S.H.O. History) = 3.81

Course History:
2015 – 4
2014 – T7
2013 – T45

Recent Form:
3/17 – MC at Arnold Palmer
3/10 – MC at Valspar Championship
2/25 – MC at Honda Classic
2/11 – MC at Pebble Beach
2/4 – MC at Phoenix Open

Russell Henley is very interesting. His Vegas odds to win are greater than his salary which leads me to believe he’s underpriced. He also has tremendous course history finishing in 4th place last year and T7 in 2014. His DK Pts Gained in his history at this course is fantastic, but overall this year he is losing over one DK point per round to the field. He has been terrible overall this year as you can see by the missed cut in each of his last 5 tournaments. A lot of people will be picking Henley this week because of his course history, but I wouldn’t go all in on him. He is a solid GPP option, but I wouldn’t trust him in cash due to his current form.

SUPER VALUE PLAYS:

PADRAIG HARRINGTON – $5,900

S-Rank: 74 / O-Rank: 62
DK Pts Gained (2016 Season) = 1.06
DK Pts Gained (S.H.O. History) = 2.57

Course History:
2015 – T67
2014 – MC
2012 – T71
2011 – T8
2010 – T40
2009 – T26
2008 – T26
2007 – T24
2006 – T32

Recent Form:
3/10 – T33 at Valspar Championship
2/25 – T43 at Honda Classic
2/18 – T45 at Northern Trust
2/11 – T21 at Pebble Beach
2/4 – MC at Phoenix Open

Paddy Harrington comes into this tournament in excellent form, making his last 4 cuts. He also has great course history as he has made the cut 8 of the last 9 times he has played here. Priced at $5,900, that is all that we are asking of him. I feel very comfortable taking Paddy in cash leagues this week because at that price, it frees up enough money for you to take two or three of the top golfers in the field. Do I think he will finish in the top 10? No… But I think he is the safest bet to make the cut out of any sub-$6000 golfer in the field this week.

VAUGHN TAYLOR – $5,700

S-Rank: 85 / O-Rank: 48
DK Pts Gained (2016 Season) = 1.70
DK Pts Gained (S.H.O. History) = 2.23

Course History:
2012 – T21
2011 – T30
2010 – 2
2009 – T49
2008 – MC
2007 – T27
2006 – MC

Recent Form:
3/17 – MC at Arnold Palmer
3/10 – MC at Valspar Championship
2/18 – MC at Northern Trust
2/11 – 1 at Pebble Beach

We all remember Vaughn from his win at Pebble Beach a few weeks ago, but unfortunately it has been all downhill for him since then as he has missed his last 3 cuts. Out of all of the players in the field, Vaughn’s Vegas odds jumped off the screen when I looked at them. He is the 85th most expensive player in the field, but Vegas ranks him 48th. That is a tremendous difference and definitely worth noting. Although he hasn’t played here since 2012, he does have decent course history, making 5/7 cuts including a 2nd place finish in 2010. Based on his recent form, I am not sure if I will trust him in cash, but he is definitely in play in GPP’s. He has shown in the past and present that he is capable of putting it all together on any given week, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up near the top of this leaderboard.

Top Performers at this Course in DK Points Above Average Per Round – This stat will help you see who has the best course history here. (Min. 3 Appearances):

Keegan Bradley ($8,300) – 4.54 DK Pts AA/Rd – (5 Appearances)
Phil Mickelson ($10,500) – 4.03 DK Pts AA/Rd – (8 Appearances)
Russell Henley ($7,000) – 3.81 DK Pts AA/Rd – (3 Appearances)
Steve Stricker ($7,700) – 3.76 DK Pts AA/Rd – (8 Appearances)
Cameron Tringale ($8,000) – 3.67 DK Pts AA/Rd – (5 Appearances)
Henrik Stenson ($10,800) – 3.49 DK Pts AA/Rd – (4 Appearances)
Lee Westwood ($7,000) – 3.00 DK Pts AA/Rd – (8 Appearances)
Charley Hoffman ($8,400) – 2.74 DK Pts AA/Rd – (9 Appearances)
Sergio Garcia ($9,900) – 2.66 DK Pts AA/Rd – (3 Appearances)
Louis Oosthuizen ($10,200) – 2.62 DK Pts AA/Rd – (6 Appearances)

Top Performers this Season in DK Points Above Average Per Round – This stat will help you see which players are in the best form. (Min. 5 Tournaments Played):

Henrik Stenson ($10,800) – 4.71 DK Pts AA/Rd – (5 Tournaments)
Rickie Fowler ($11,000) – 4.49 DK Pts AA/Rd – (6 Tournaments)
Phil Mickelson ($10,500) – 4.40 DK Pts AA/Rd – (6 Tournaments)
Rafa Cabrera-Bello ($8,500) – 4.19 DK Pts AA/Rd – (5 Tournaments)
Jimmy Walker ($9,200) – 3.32 DK Pts AA/Rd – (7 Tournaments)
Brooks Koepka ($9,300) – 3.30 DK Pts AA/Rd – (5 Tournaments)
Jordan Spieth ($12,900) – 3.19 DK Pts AA/Rd – (6 Tournaments)
Dustin Johnson ($10,700) – 3.08 DK Pts AA/Rd – (5 Tournaments)
Louis Oosthuizen ($10,200) – 3.06 DK Pts AA/Rd – (6 Tournaments)
Ryan Palmer ($8,200) – 2.63 DK Pts AA/Rd – (7 Tournaments)

Honorable Mention – Charl Schwartzel – Has only played in 4 tournaments this year but ranks the highest in this category at 5.62. He has won 2 of the 4 tournaments which skews his number, but there is no denying his great form to start the year. (Note – One of his wins was at the Tshwane Open and had a very weak field, which is why I chose not to include him on this list)

OVERALL POWER RANKINGS FOR THE SHELL HOUSTON OPEN:

1.) HENRIK STENSON
2.) JORDAN SPIETH
3.) PHIL MICKELSON
4.) RICKIE FOWLER
5.) LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN
6.) RAFA CABRERA-BELLO
7.) DUSTIN JOHNSON
8.) SERGIO GARCIA
9.) CHARL SCHWARTZEL
10.) BROOKS KOEPKA
11.) J.B. HOLMES
12.) PATRICK REED
13.) STEVE STRICKER
14.) JIMMY WALKER
15.) GRAHAM DELAET
16.) CHARLEY HOFFMAN
17.) KEEGAN BRADLEY
18.) CHARLES HOWELL III
19.) RYAN PALMER
20.) CAMERON TRINGALE

Author: Michael Tamburri – DraftKings: mtamburri922 – Twitter: @mtamburri922

About the Author

Comments

  • BIF

    Good article – I like your writing style – lots of info/stats – a nice addition to weekly articles.

    I personally think Henley is a terrible pick despite good course history; my understanding is that he is dealing (not well) with a swing change and am not sure he is even worth a GPP shot.

    While I agree with everything you said about him, I’m fading Cabrera-Bello this week as I’m concerned about whether he is all-there mentally in Houston having just been invited to the Masters (he probably got the last spot in unless the winner this week is not already in).

  • JimKronlund

    Solid article, Good insights but no real surprises (except disagree about Henley) but that’s the field and not you. The one stat I always ignore completely, is anything to do with a golfer over 2 years old. Not only has the golfer changed significantly but so has the field that played against him. One other point on stats. Every first quarter season of golf has a wide spread of variances that changes or is more normalized after the Masters. This year to date has had an exceptionally large variance. It has been an anomaly after anomaly. From tournaments with no cuts, to courses ( I forget which one but the one they could not putt on.), to storms (Northern), to players winning (Vaughn Taylor), and players missing cuts (Kutcher and many other unlikelies), and fields where we barely know a lot of them. Those are just examples of the abnormally high anomalies this year so far and why I am having my own strategy to use the least amount of statistical formulas as possible. All are just my opinion.

  • mtamburri922

    • Blogger of the Month

    @BIF – Appreciate the kind words… Also, your thought process on Rafa is honestly another reason why I love him this week. I expect many people to agree with you and am hoping his ownership is low. The main reason I’m so high on him is because of his price. He is currently playing at an elite level, while being priced with the mid-tier players. We shall see what happens, but I have high expectations for him this week.

    @JimKronlund – I agree with everything you said about this year being an anomaly. It has been incredibly hard to build successful GPP lineups because of this. However, through all of the bad weather, stars missing cuts, etc., one thing has remained the same…. Henrik Stenson’s consistency. You can count on him to finish in the top 25 in just about every tournament he plays. And that dates back to well over a year. You can’t say that about any other golfer on tour, which is why I continue to lock him in cash lineups until he proves me wrong. Hopefully that is not this week, because I will be all in on Henrik once again.

    Good luck to both of you guys this week!

  • JimKronlund

    Your article made me change my position on Rafa. Even though I respect Bif’s opinion. I am rolling the dice and giving him good positions. Bif and I play different contests so differences of opinions can reflect that. Whatever happens now is solely my own decision and hold no one responsible but myself.
    I do thank you for shedding light to some of these names I overlook because of unfamiliarity.
    In future blogs if you could keep that in mind because I would be grateful for more information on these players that are not mainstream names here.
    Edit: So there was surprises as well in the article. My mistake.

  • mtamburri922

    • Blogger of the Month

    @JimKronlund – Sounds good.. I will be rooting for Rafa with you! And I appreciate your feedback and will certainly take that into consideration when writing my articles in the future.

  • DoubleTime

    • 2016 King of Summer: August

    Great article, I like the different stats, put together well so it is easy to read. I’ll be keeping an eye out for this in the future, keep up the good work!

  • JimKronlund

    Henley is T3 Sat am.
    No matter where he ends up. Great call on him. You were bang on.
    My only other comment though is players whose salaries are above $8200 are one thing.
    Players under $7200 is another and is the real difference between making real $.
    My 2nd most owned (41% Field 3%) with 200 LU’s in 200k Birdie is Nick Taylor. Those are the hardest ones to select and commit to.
    So more researching that end of the scale would be appreciated because it is the difference for those of us that play large line ups.

  • mtamburri922

    • Blogger of the Month

    @Doubletime – Thank you. Look for my preview of the Masters within the next few days.

  • mtamburri922

    • Blogger of the Month

    @JimKronlund – Henley really has been great. I have a few lineups with him doing well, but wish I played him in a few more.

    Totally understand your comment about the guys

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