Even the most contrarian of contrarian fantasy golf players will have trouble fading Rory McIlroy this week. His recent form is off the charts, and his course history is really impressive. The key to this week will be building around Rory if you’re going to cash a lineup. Differentiating your remaining players, or again, going totally contrarian and fading Rory but finding success, will give you the best chance at a big payday.
Our experts (including Pat Mayo of DraftKings; Brandon Gdula of FanDuel; Dr. Lou Riccio of Columbia University and Lee Alldrick of FanShare Sports) have pinpointed some players they're liking to build around Rory this week. Our panel is the hottest in golf—predicting eight of the 18 tournament winners so far in the 2019-'20 season, netting followers placing a $10 bet on every outright bet a result of $1,770.
Here's who our panel likes for this week:
2020 Sentry Tournament of Champions, Under the Radar Picks of the Week
Pat Mayo, DraftKings: Harry Higgs (FanDuel: $7,900; DraftKings: $6,700) — You’d think Higgs would eventually turn into a pumpkin based on his currently play. But it just keeps going. He’s gained off the tee in 12 of his 13 PGA starts this season, playing the weekend in eight of his past nine. While the irons are are inconsistent, when he’s dialed in, he tends to gain in bunches. In his past seven starts, Higgs has only gained on approach three times, but gained over three strokes in each of the events where he found the positives. At $6,700 you’re not looking for a winner, you’re looking for a cut maker who can pop into a top 20 finish with some solid DraftKings scoring. That’s Higgs this week
Lee Alldrick, FanShare: Rafa Cabrera Bello (FanDuel: $9,600; DraftKings: $7,600) — Thanks to his straight and long driving, RCB ranks second in our course-suitability ranking this week and showed this when finishing 3rd here last year on his first attempt. The Spaniard putts well on Bermuda greens and ranks 38th in the field this week for Shots Gained Putting on Bermuda. Two top-20 finishes in a row in his past two times out gives us confidence that his game is in a good place right now.
Brandon Gdula, FanDuel Joaquin Niemann (FanDuel: $9,400; DraftKings: $7,500) — Niemann should certainly come at low ownership, as he has missed two straight cuts. The positive? He’s priced down and has gained strokes with his approach play in 11 straight events and has a 46th to his name at Bay Hill to give him some course history. He’s 11th in the field in strokes gained/approach over the past 50 rounds, and we should bank on that, overlooking the cuts. There’s risk, but there’s also reward.
2020 Sentry Tournament of Champions, Value Plays of the Week
Mayo: Xander Schauffele (FanDuel: $11,500; DraftKings: $10,000): His stats couldn’t be better suited for this course unless his name was Rory McIlroy. Against this field, over the past 24 rounds, per FantasyNational.com, he’s the best in strokes gained/approach and proximity from beyond 200 yards. He’s also top 10 in strokes gained/par 5s scoring, par-3s from 200-225 yards and strokes gained on par 4s. Despite the disappointing finish in Mexico a few weeks back, he was the best player in the field with his irons, over a stroke better than Hideki. The putter is worrisome, as Bermuda grass has given him fits, but he looks too good on paper to pass on. Additionally, he’s surrounded by some names that are bound to be popular at his price point, so it’s conceivable many just overlook him.
Gdula, FanDuel: Sebastian Munoz (FanDuel: $8,600; DraftKings: $6,900) — Munoz is a really balanced golfer and ranks top-50 in the field in all four strokes gained stats over the past 50 rounds on the PGA Tour, according to FantasyNational.com. Munoz is 24th in strokes gained/approach, and if we can nitpick a value profile, it’s that he has a glaring lack of course form at Bay Hill.
Alldrick, FanShare: Maverick McNealy (FanDuel: $8,800; DraftKings: $7,400) — McNealy ranks 18th in the field this week for Shots Gained Tee 2 Green over the last 2 months and 4th for Opportunities Gained over the same period. He has now made 11 cuts in a row and posted 3 top 15 finishes in his last 4 events. Tee to green, Bay Hill should suit him fine. His putting on Bermuda is very fair to middling but with him likely to be creating a lot of opportunities an average putting display this week should be more than enough to return value.
2020 Sentry Tournament of Champions, Recommended Lineup Builds
Mayo: — Here's who I'll be building most of my lineups around this week: Xander Schauffele (FanDuel: $11,500; DraftKings: $10,000); Henrik Stenson (FanDuel: $10,500; DraftKings: $8,800); Christiaan Bezuidenhout (FanDuel: $8,300; DraftKings: $7,100); Lanto Griffin (FanDuel: $8,400; DraftKings: $6,800); Harry Higgs (FanDuel: $7,900; DraftKings: $6,700).
Gdula: — Rory McIlroy (FanDuel: $12,200) is the most expensive golfer in the field, but he’s worth it and is going to be locked into a lot of my lineups. From there, we’ll need to balance out our builds, possibly even glossing over some of the other elite golfers in this field. Byeong Hun-An ($10,300) and Collin Morikawa ($10,100) are a bit cheap because of the loaded field, and both are elite ball-strikers. Even with the 120-golfer field, I want to keep things balanced at Bay Hill, so that means not diving too deep. Carlos Ortiz ($8,700) and Sebastian Munoz ($8,600) are prime value plays.
Alldrick: — Here’s a DraftKings lineup I like this week. I have no problem going down very low for Hoffman.
Rory McIlroy - $11,800 Marc Leishman - $8,600 Tyrrell Hatton - $8,100 Rafa Cabrera Bello - $7,600 Maverick McNealy - $7,400 Charley Hoffman - $6,500
The FanDuel pricing this week allows for a much more balanced lineup.
Rory McIlroy - $12,200
Marc Leishman - $10,400
Tyrrell Hatton - $9,900
Rafa Cabrera Bello- $9,600
Maverick McNealy - $8,800 Sebastian Munoz - $8,600
GD Editors: This week, we’re rolling with Rory ($11,800), even though he’ll probably be in every lineup on the planet. But he’s just too good right now to pass up. A guy not playing as well but also too good to pass up is Jason Day ($9,100), a former winner at Bay Hill who just needs to clean up his approach game to start contending regularly. Then I’ll take a pair of Euros, Henrik Stenson ($8,800) and Ian Poulter ($7,600), who have both played well here in the past. Finally, we’ll round it out with Denny McCarthy ($6,500), who has made 11 of 12 cuts this year, and Kevin Chappell ($6,200).
Here's a look at who's buzzing this week, according to FanShare Sports:
Dr. Lou Riccio, Columbia professor: Here are my lineup builds for this week:
Rory McIlroy: $11,800 Rickie Fowler: $9,300 Justin Rose: $9,000 Kevin Na: $7,300 Sam Ryder: $6,400 Kevin Tway: $6,200
Rory McIlroy: $12,200
Justin Rose: $10,800 Rickie Fowler: $10,600 Kevin Na: $9,200 Francesco Molinari: $9,000 Sam Ryder: $7,700
About our experts
Pat Mayo is an award-winning video host and producer of long and short-form content, and the host of The Pat Mayo Experience daily talk show. (Subscribe for video or audio). Mayo (@ThePME) won the 2020 Fantasy Sports Writing Association Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year and Golf Writer of the Year awards, along with the Fantasy Sports Trade Association Best Sports Betting Analyst award, and was finalist for four FSWA Awards in 2020 (Best Podcast, Best Video, Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year). His 21 FSWA nominations lead all writers this decade and are third-most all-time. Mayo is on the board of governors at www.fantasynational.com.
Brandon Gdula, a senior editor and analyst for NumberFire, a FanDuel daily-fantasy analysis company, recently won the 2018 fantasy sports-writers association Golf Writer of the Year (congrats, Brandon!). Gdula also co-hosts the DFS Heat Check podcast.
Stephen Hennessey and Christopher Powers are Golf Digest's main gambling writers. Listen to this week's Golf Digest podcast, where they break down their favorite bets for the Sony Open, as well as major winners and season-long predictions.
Lee Alldrick of FanShare Sports started out writing an article highlighting the best bargain plays for fantasy golf under his twitter handle @DKGolfBargains. His success at this prompted FanShare Sports to enlist him as a guest writer, which evolved into him writing the weekly Under The Radar article. As a U.K.-based expert, Alldrick’s insight into European Tour regulars and low priced, low owned plays has provided an invaluable edge for readers when it comes to DFS GPPs.