PGA TourJanuary 22, 2020

2020 Farmers Insurance Open DFS picks: Why one expert says to pick Jordan Spieth this week

Jordan Spieth
Keyur Khamar/PGA TourJordan Spieth watches his tee shot on the 12th hole during the first round of the 2019 Open Championship at Royal Portrush.

If the official start of spring to many is the Masters, then Torrey Pines and the Farmers Insurance Open might be the official start of the new golf year. Most would agree that the sights of beautiful La Jolla perched above the Pacific highlands signals a return to must-see tour events. And you're not wrong. The field is strong at this week's Farmers Insurance Open, obviously highlighted by Tiger Woods, winner of this event seven times in addition to his 2008 U.S. Open triumph at Torrey Pines, along with Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama and the other elite players at the top.

In turn, that are any number of compelling DFS stories to be following: Can Xander Schauffele shed the notion that he doesn't play well in his hometown event? Should we trust Tony Finau's hot form can bring another great finish at Torrey Pines? And yes, Jordan Spieth presents some intriguing value down lower in the pricing … do we actually consider that? We call in our DFS experts to answer these questions and many more in our DFS recap of the week.

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Here's who our panel likes for this week:

2020 Farmers Insurance Open, Under the Radar Picks of the Week

Pat Mayo, DraftKings: Cameron Davis ($8,500 on FanDuel; $7,000 on DraftKings) — From the trash heap, you can do a lot worse than Cam Davis. The Aussie has survived the cut in both appearances at Torrey Pines and started the 2020 in great form with T-29 and T-9 finishes the last two weeks. He’s improved his short game, and ranks 12th in this field in driving distance gained over the past 75 rounds.

Lee Alldrick, FanShare: Jordan Spieth ($10,100 on FanDuel; $8,500 on DraftKings) — The buzz is so extraordinarily negative on Jordan Spieth right now, we consider him having extreme value. As of now, according to our FanShare expert tags, which tracks all chatter amongst the fantasy community, Spieth has received just one expert tag. Just one! Other than this being his first week back playing since November, let me explain why there is a lot to like about the three-time major winner this week. For a start, the South Course, where they will play three of the four rounds, should absolutely play to his strengths. He ranks third in our course-suitability ranking this week, plus he ranks fourth in the field in strokes gained/putting on these fast greens. He also has three top-12 finishes in his last eight events, despite the negative buzz surrounding Spieth.

Brandon Gdula, FanDuel: Patrick Reed ($10,500 on FanDuel; $9,200 on DraftKings) — A key leverage point this week (and every week) will be finding golfers who come in with low ownership, and you can spend up to be contrarian. Reed almost guarantees to fit that criterion as people don’t typically love the guy, and he’s priced around a lot of fantasy-friendly names. Reed, though, has a very similar range of outcomes (in terms of win odds, top-20 odds and cut odds) as other golfers priced near him and can be had at a fraction of the ownership of Gary Woodland ($10,700), Tony Finau ($10,600) and two-time Torrey Pines winner Jason Day ($10,200).

2020 Farmers Insurance Open, Value Plays of the Week

Mayo: Hideki Matsuyama (FanDuel: $11,000; DraftKings: $9,900): With no finish worse than T-16 in any of his past five starts, Hideki is now firmly entrenched in his third year without a win on the PGA Tour. This is a good spot for him, though. After storming the leader board Sunday to produce a T-3 finish a year ago at Torrey Pines, he’s now made the cut three straight years at this event, going T-3/T-12/T-33. Matsuyama has the distance, long irons and short game to contend. He just needs to avoid his classic awful start, and he should be in the mix.

Gdula: Carlos Ortiz (FanDuel: $8,800; DraftKings: $6,900) — Ortiz’s cut odds are strong enough in my simulations to put him on the radar this week even when prioritizing ostensible safety. Ortiz ranks 42nd in driving distance gained over the past 50 rounds on the PGA Tour, via FantasyNational.com, and that’ll keep him in play at the lengthy South Course. Ortiz actually has played this event three times over the past five years, including an 11th way back in 2015.

Alldrick: Chesson Hadley (FanDuel: $7,800; DraftKings: $6,600) — Hadley is lower-priced due to some inconsistent results in the past year or so. But look deeper, and Hadley's results signal potential success at Torrey Pines. He ranks 20th in our course suitability metric for Torrey Pines South. And Hadley also ranks second in the field for Opportunities Gained over the last three months, according to FantasyNational.com. Hadley has also gained strokes on his approach shots in his past five events and has made five of his last six cuts, which includes three top-30 finishes.

RELATED: Why our experts love Justin Thomas' chances this week

2020 Farmers Insurance Open, Recommended Lineup Builds

Gdula: — FanDuel Strategy: This week, with a tough course on tap at Torrey Pines, I think maximizing cut odds is a priority as opposed to taking too many chances on long shots. That means a balanced build, likely starting with the worth-the-salary Rory McIlroy ($12,200) and rounding out the rest of the lineup with five golfers generally priced above $9,000. Lanto Griffin ($9,400), Jason Kokrak ($9,300), and Sebastian Munoz ($9,100) are possible options to fit that build.

GD Editors: — We had been on a nice run of cashing these recommended lineups, up until last week. Nate Lashley didn't do us any favors at the American Express.

We're willing to move on, especially because we really like this DraftKings lineup. It's a balanced build, starting with Tony Finau in the low $9,000s. Doing so allows you to get five near elite players in this field, and Pat Perez rounds out the lineup, someone who has two top-10s this fall and is back at the course he played as a teenager and has sentimental ties. Really like his chances of playing the weekend to give us a 6-of-6 through the cut.

Tony Finau: $9,300
Sungjae Im: $9,100
Collin Morikawa: $8,900
Lanto Griffin: $7,900
Byeong Hun An: $7,700
Pat Perez: $7,000

FanDuel: We don't hate this lineup with three studs at the top, rounded by two consistent players, Billy Horschel and Carlos Ortiz, and D.J. Trahan, who has played great recently and we'll bank on continuing to do so.

Jon Rahm: $12,000
Hideki Matsuyama: $11,000
Tony Finau: $10,600
Billy Horschel: $9,700
Carlos Ortiz: $8,800
D.J. Trahan: $7,800

Dr. Lou Riccio, Columbia University: Here are my lineups for this week:

DraftKings:

Justin Rose: $10,300
Rickie Fowler: $9,700
Jason Day: $9,000
Phil Mickelson: $7,500
Henrik Norlander: $6,500
D.J. Trahan: $6,500

FanDuel:

Jon Rahm: $12,000
Tiger Woods: $11,700 Justin Rose: $11,300
Jason Day: $10,200
D.J. Trahan: $7,800
Ryan Brehm: $7,000

Alldrick: — As it’s normally a quality player that wins this event, I want to try and get in as many players this week with win equity. I have gone for the four players above $8,000 I like that still allows me to get in Hadley and Kevin Tway. I like Tway as a low-owned long shot this week.

DraftKings:

Xander Schauffele: $10,100
Rickie Fowler: $9,700
Jordan Speith: $8,500
Brandt Snedeker: $8,400
Kevin Tway: $6,700
Chesson Hadley: $6,600

And for FanDuel: As with above I want to get as many big hitters in as I can this week. Matsuyama makes it into the FanDuel lineup, as his price is a bigger value on FanDuel. Noh is a very low priced play I like this week.

Xander Schauffele: $11,500
Hideki Matsuyama: $11,000 Rickie Fowler: $10,800
Brandt Snedeker: $10,000
Brendan Steele: $9,000
Seung Yul Noh: $7,000

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About our experts

Pat Mayo is known as one of the pre-eminent experts in daily-fantasy sports and golf handicapping specifically. Mayo is a 17-time fantasy sports-writers association finalist, the most of any writer this decade, and Mayo won the 2019 Fantasy Sports Writing Association Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year and Podcast of the Year awards, along with the Fantasy Sports Trade Association Best Video award. Mayo is on the board of governors at www.fantasynational.com. Here’s a link to watch his complete DraftKings preview of the 2019 Wyndham Championship.

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.

Dr. Lou Riccio, a PhD senior lecturer, teaches rational decision making at Columbia's Graduate School of Business and has served on the USGA's handicap research team for three decades. His predictive analysis and modeling helps him make expert picks for our column.