This week, in a lot of ways, will be a matter of survival. The Honda Classic annually plays as one of the toughest tests on tour. Last year's cut line was 3-over. The year before? 6-over. Bogey avoidance is a key stat. With water and trouble looming at every turn, pars are good scores around PGA National's Champion course. And when it comes to DFS picks for the Honda Classic, having a 6-for-6 lineup, even without the winner, will separate you more than most weeks.
The field strength is not great at PGA National, which explains why Tommy Fleetwood, who has no PGA Tour victories, is the favorite. Can he be trusted to get it done at such a high price, or should you go with proven winners like Brooks Koepka and Justin Rose? Of course, there's plenty of value to be found even further down the board, especially on a course where things can go off the rails rather quickly.
Here's who our panel likes at the Honda:
2020 Honda Classic, Under the Radar Picks of the Week
Pat Mayo, DraftKings: Doc Redman (FanDuel: $7,900; DraftKings: $7,000) — The Good Doctor has now gained strokes off the tee and through approach in each of his last five starts, placing him seventh in this field in SG: Ball Striking. Impressive. It really comes down to how poorly he’s going to putt. It’s not Ben An level bad, but it’s getting close. Fortunately, at a tough course like PGA National an uncooperative flat stick can still play since the majority of the strokes lost in this field will be by landing in the water. A few three-putts aren’t going to be as impactful as most weeks at the Honda Classic.
Lee Alldrick, FanShare: Ryan Palmer (FanDuel: $9,700; DraftKings: $8,600) — Palmer comes into this week with a lot to like. In his last 7 visits to PGA National, Palmer has made 6 cuts, recorded 5 top 26 place finishes and has 2 top 10’s. He also ranks 10th in the field this week for Opportunities Gained over the last 2 months. As you can imagine from his past performances here, the course suits Palmer’s game; we have him ranked 28th in our Course Suitability Ranking. Over his last 7 events on the PGA Tour, the World Number 81 has recorded 5 top 20 finishes which includes a 4th just 4 events back.
Brandon Gdula, FanDuel Joaquin Niemann (FanDuel: $10,100; DraftKings: $8,700) — Niemann has been cut, 49th, and 57th over his past three starts and was 59th here a year ago. Not a great profile. However, Niemann is an elite ball-striker who has gained strokes tee to green in five of his past seven measured starts. We can bank on the peripherals this week.
2020 WGC-Mexico Championship, Value Plays of the Week
Mayo: Brooks Koepka (FanDuel: $12,000; DraftKings: $11,200): Look, I know the knee isn’t 100 percent, but there's probably a 35 percent chance that Brooks could win in this field. The ball-striking was fine at Riviera, Koepka was just let down by a wonky flatstick. It happens. In most weeks, looking at this field, and seeing Brooks’ name not even at the top, would make him far and away the most popular pick on DraftKings. But he’s not. He’s actually the lowest projected owned of all four players over $10,000. Brooks is generally a solid play anytime people don’t believe in him.
Gdula, FanDuel: Brian Harman (FanDuel: $8,800; DraftKings: $7,300) — Harman is a really well-balanced golfer, and any time we get a tricky course that demands all three tee-to-green stats plus putting, value plays can be hard to find. However, over his past 50 rounds on the PGA Tour (via FantasyNational.com), Harman ranks 26h or better in all three strokes gained stats and is actually 27th in strokes gained: putting on Bermuda greens over a 100-round sample. We can’t ask for much more than that from a value play.
Alldrick, FanShare: Matthew NeSmith (FanDuel: $8,900; DraftKings: $7,200) — Despite it being just a small sample size, NeSmith ranks 6th in our Course Suitability Ranking this week thanks to his excellent putting on Bermuda and enters this event with a flaming green form arrow, meaning he ranks in the top 5% of the field for Average Draftkings Points Scored over the last 3 events. This is a combo that has worked particularly well this year. All 5 of NeSmith’s finishes this year have been top 32 place finishes culminating in a 6th last week at the Puerto Rico Open.
2020 Honda Classic, Recommended Lineup Builds
Mayo: — Here's who I'll be building my lineups around this week.
Brooks Koepka: $11,200 ; Sungjae Im: $9,300; Harris English: $7,800; Sam Burns: $7,100; Doc Redman: $7,000
Gdula: — PGA National plays tough, and we’ve seen long shot winners in three of the past six years, but with the cut rules reducing the field more than ever, the best way to build a lineup — statistically — is to elevate your lineup’s floor as much as possible. There are value plays worth targeting—like Brian Harman ($8,800) and Vaughn Taylor ($9,000)—but the core of my lineups will be build around the second-tier studs, such as Gary Woodland ($11,300), Byeong Hun An ($10,500), and Erik Van Rooyen ($10,200).
GD Editors: — Here's our DraftKings lineup for the Honda Classic:
Sungjae Im: $9,300; Billy Horschel: $9,200; Byeong Hun An: $8,800; Charl Schwartzel: $8,100; Brian Harman: $7,300; Sam Burns: $7,100
Alldrick: — Here’s a DraftKings lineup I love this week. It incorporates my favorite six plays of the week.
Gary Woodland: $10,300; Daniel Berger: $8,900; Ryan Palmer: $8,300; Luke List: $8,000; Harry Higgs: $7,300; Matthew NeSmith: $7,200
And for FanDuel: With Charles Howell III being 5-percent cheaper on FanDuel, at rock bottom price, he’s a must add this week. This also allows you to get a lot of stars this week.
Rickie Fowler: $11,700; Gary Woodland: $11,300; Daniel Berger: $10,600; Ryan Palmer: $9,700; Luke List: $9,600; Charles Howell III: $7,000
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 Honda Classic.
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.