2020 Sony Open DFS picks: Why there's value in the first full-field event of the year
(Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
With football winding down, it's time to start sweating DFS golf lineups on a weekly basis. This week is the perfect time to get back into it with football wrapping up (yes, we know conference semis are this weekend), and the treat of prime-time coverage to enjoy again at the 2020 Sony Open, kicking off in Waialae Country Club (the course in Nintendo 64 video game with the 'W' in the trees) in Honolulu this weekend.
It's the first full-field event (144 players) of the season, and in all honesty, there might be a handful of names you've straight up never heard before. Yes, some of them are worth your attention in DFS lineups, and betting, too. And to be honest, playing these lesser-known players with great stats will give you leverage over public DFS players who stick with more conventional names.
Our experts have marked the below players as values and under-the-radar plays for Sony Open DFS lineups.
Here's who our panel likes for this week:
2020 Sentry Tournament of Champions, Under the Radar Picks of the Week
Pat Mayo, DraftKings: Scott Harrington ($6,400, DraftKings) — Per my data modeling from FantasyNational.com, he rates out 12th in this field in the key stats, and in every weighted event during the swing season gained strokes off the tee and through approach. Additionally, he has only missed one cut in seven starts. At that cheap of a price, you might even be able to include Justin Thomas in your builds.
Brandon Gdula, FanDuel__Corey Conners ($10,500, FanDuel) — Conners is priced a little awkwardly, and if you start lineups with Thomas and either Patrick Reed ($11,700), Webb Simpson ($11,500), or Matt Kuchar ($11,100), Conners is pretty much out of play. Conners, though, leads the field in strokes gained/off the tee and is 11th in approach — all while displaying driving accuracy. He just generally struggles on the green.
__Lee Alldrick, FanShare: Kyle Stanley ($7,000, DraftKings) — Stanley ranks high in our course suitability metric despite not putting well on Bermuda. This suitability can be seen in the fact that he has made every cut here in his last 6 attempts, which includes 4 top 25 place finishes. The Canadian also ranks 1st in the field this week for Opportunities Gained over the past three months. A good week with the putter this week and Stanley could cruise to a top 10 finish.
2020 Sentry Tournament of Champions, Value Plays of the Week
Mayo, DraftKings: J.T. Poston ($8,100, DraftKings) - Poston is slightly a hunch play for me this week, not just trusting my modeling. But it is results-based. Poston has been carried by his putter in his past two starts (T-11/T-14), and now he gets a course perfectly suited to his skills, so if he gets back to his baseline of ball-striking, he'll be dangerous.
Gdula, FanDuel: Ryan Armour ($8,700, FanDuel) - Armour is first in the field in fairways gained over the past 50 rounds, according to Fantasy National. He is 141st in distance in that sample. This gives him a huge boost this week. He has finished 22nd and 39th here the past two years and should be priced in the $9,500 range, making him a source of value.
Alldrick, FanShare: Marc Leishman ($10,600, FanDuel) — Leishman is a massive fan of this course having made the cut in all 10 events here. It’s not surprising then to see him rank inside the top 10 in our course suitability metric. 2 top 10 finishes in his last 4 events shows that he is playing well enough to compliment his course fit. He is also a very good putter on Bermuda greens.
2020 Sentry Tournament of Champions, Recommended Lineup Builds
Mayo: — You should always worry about Conners on and around the greens, but the ball-striking has just been so good, it’s made him under his upside value this week in the upper $8,000s. Morikawa and Poston are prime targets for me at this setup, but jamming them all in means you need to save else. Lanto Griffin is fresh off a T-13 at Kapalua after gaining 3.5 strokes on approach. As long as he gets back to his baseline with the flat stick, he should improve on that result.
Collin Morikawa ($10,300) Corey Conners ($8,900) JT Poston ($8,100) Lanto Griffin ($7,500)
Gdula: — Justin Thomas ($12,300) is an anchor play this week, as he is the stud in the field and rates out well. While I’m fading him as an outright winner, I’m locking him into cash games and a lot of tournament lineups. Webb Simpson ($11,500) also deserves attention near the top for his course fit. Strong values are hard to find this week, so that points to accuracy mavens Vaughn Taylor ($9,100), Kyle Stanley ($8,800) and Ryan Armour ($8,700).
GD Editors: — We could really see building lineups around Justin Thomas. If you find values like Scott Harrington ($6,400, DraftKings), it's definitely doable. But you can build a slightly more consistent lineup if you opt to start at the top with Webb Simpson, who's playing probably the best golf of his career at a course that he likes.
Here's our favorite build with Webb:
Webb Simpson – $11,100 Sungjae Im – $9,600 Rory Sabbatini – $7,600 Lanto Griffin – $7,500 Joel Dahmen – $7,100 Russell Henley – $7,100
Alldrick: — Here's a DraftKings lineup I really like this week. My pick to win the tournament is Webb Simpson, so I'm building most of my lineups over him, getting the discount of $900 on DraftKings over Justin Thomas.
Webb Simpson – $11,100 Marc Leishman - $9,200 Cam Smith – $8,500 Ryan Armour – $7,000 Kyle Stanley – $7,000 Keith Mitchell – $6,800
Webb Simpson - $11,500 Sungjae Im - $10,700 Marc Leishman - $10,600 Cam Smith - $9,900 Ryan Armour - $8,700 Keith Mitchell - $8,500
Dr. Lou Riccio, Columbia professor, predictive modeling:
Justin Thomas - $12,300 Webb Simpson - $11,500 Joaquin Niemann - $10,800 Zach Johnson - $9,100 Keegan Bradley - $9,000 Jamie Lovemark - $7,200
Justin Thomas - $12,000 Joaquin Niemann - $9,400 Aaron Wise - $7,800 Zach Johnson - $7,400 Keegan Bradley - $7,200 Jamie Lovemark - $6,200
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.