John Deere Classic 2021 DFS picks: Our expert's favorite plays (and fades) in each price range
When the data points to a particular skill set, it’s always a confident week for sharp DFS players. This week? That’s accurate drivers. Per the RickRunGood.com course model, driving accuracy is the stat that has most closely aligned with success at the John Deere Classic. There are only six courses on tour where driving accuracy has been more important.
TPC Deere Run has hosted the John Deere Classic since 2000 (with exception to last year, of course, due to COVID-19). So we can build an easy conclusion using past stats and observations this week. You’ll notice the elevation changes on plenty of shots around this course and a plethora of birdies to be found. And with the four-inch rough expected here, we know that accuracy is paramount to finding those birdies.
And one more advantage we have: With such a weak field (just five of the top-50 players will be playing here), there’s a big opportunity for well-researched DFS players who can identify the lesser-known players most suited to success at TPC Deere Run.
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Here are my favorite plays (and fades) in each price range for this week’s John Deere Classic.
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Price range: $9,000 and above
High Upside: Kevin Streelman ($9,700 DraftKings | $11,300 FanDuel)
There’s plenty to like about Streelman’s game right now, despite the missed cut at the Travelers Championship. He’s earned four top-20 finishes in his past five starts. He has continued to hit the ball well, gaining strokes on approach in eight of his past nine starts. Even more important, he’s started to find success with his putter. He has gained strokes putting in five of his past six events, per the RickRunGood.com golf database, something he hasn’t done since the start of 2020.
Safest Option: Sungjae Im ($10,700 DraftKings | $11,600 FanDuel)
Im is showing signs of returning to his 2020 form, when he gained a ton of strokes on approach. He has now gained strokes on approach in three straight starts and finished T-8 last week in Detroit. TPC Deere Run will require golfers to be accurate off the tee and roll in enough birdie putts to contend. Im ranks 13th in accuracy and 42nd in putting this season, so this should be a great fit for him.
Most Likely To Disappoint: Cam Davis ($10,100 DraftKings | $11,100 FanDuel)
Let’s soak in that victory from Davis last week. We certainly wouldn’t hold it against him to have a letdown after his first career PGA Tour victory. This is, by far, the most expensive Davis has ever been on DraftKings, per the RickRunGood.com golf database. He was previously $9,300 at the Puerto Rico Open in 2020 where he finished 27th. At this price, we are basically asking him to win again.
Pick To Win: Brian Harman ($10,400 DraftKings | $11,700 FanDuel)
One thing has been clear over the years at TPC Deere Run: Accurate drivers and good putters have a ton of success. That’s a great sign for Harman, who ranks 35th on tour this season in driving accuracy and 13th in strokes gained/putting. His past nine events have produced eight (!!) top-20 finishes. He’s done everything but win, which changes this week.
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$8,000 to $9,000
High Upside: Patton Kizzire ($8,900 DraftKings | $10,200 FanDuel)
Kizzire fired the low round of the day (64) on Sunday last week in Detroit, en route to his T-25 finish. Diving deeper into that round, Kizzire gained 2.19 strokes on approach, the fifth-best mark of the day. That’s a really encouraging sign for Kizzire, who has legitimate top-10 upside. He’s played this event twice, finishing T-30 and T-25.
Safest Option: Seamus Power ($9,000 DraftKings | $10,800 FanDuel)
This is a scary sentence to type: Power is the safest option in the $9,000 range … what a time to be alive! With plenty of motivation to earn his PGA Tour card, Power has earned four consecutive top-20 finishes. In each of those events, he has gained strokes on approach—and has gained in that category for six consecutive measured events. He currently sits 140th in the FedEx Cup standings, so he’s looking at a huge opportunity to solidify his chances at the playoffs in a weak field.
Most Likely To Disappoint: Troy Merritt ($8,700 DraftKings | $10,500 FanDuel)
Merritt found the double whammy last week, playing well enough to get a big price increase ($7,100 to $8,700), but not having a victory to show for it. He also gained 7.24 strokes/putting, the third-best week of his career. That’s unlikely to happen again, and I don’t want to pay the premium.
Pick To Win: Lucas Glover ($8,600 DraftKings | $10,000 FanDuel)
Since The Players Championship, Glover has been the sixth-best player in this field (+0.99 strokes gained total), but there are 14 golfers more expensive than him. The real encouragement comes from his flat stick. In his past 10 starts, he has gained strokes putting in eight of them. That’s nearly unheard of for Glover. If he can marry that improved putting with his long-term ball-striking ability, he can make plenty of noise.
$7,000 to $8,000
High Upside: Satoshi Kodaira ($7,000 DraftKings |$8,300 FanDuel)
Forget the missed cut, it’s time to get back on the Kodaira train. Over the past 16 rounds, Kodaira has gained 1.25 per round/putting. That’s the second-best mark in this field behind Troy Merritt. He’s 10th on tour in driving accuracy, so this should be a perfect setup for him.
Safest Option: Scott Stallings ($7,400 DraftKings | $9,100 FanDuel)
Stallings is coming off a T-25 last week in Detroit and has made the cut in five of his past seven starts. When you consider his recent results at TPC Deere Run, he becomes more difficult to overlook. In his last four trips to Silvis, he’s earned three top-20 finishes, highlighted by a T-5 in 2017.
Most Likely To Disappoint: Brandon Hagy ($7,200 DraftKings | $8,400 FanDuel)
There seems to always be a rush to roster the guy who earned a top 10 last week, which certainly means that Hagy’s T-6 in Detroit won’t go unnoticed. Unfortunately, that’s only his second top 10 dating back to the summer of 2017. His “bomb and gouge” approach hasn’t historically been a path to success at TPC Deere Run.
Pick To Win: Kramer Hickok ($7,700 DraftKings | $9,000 FanDuel)
Two weeks ago Hickok went to an emotional eight-hole playoff with Harris English before falling short. To even make the cut last week, I was impressed! Now he gets to battle TPC Deere Run as the 19th-most accurate driver on tour with a run of decent results. Hickok is knocking on the door, and it might be about to open.
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$6,900 and below
High Upside: Adam Long ($6,500 DraftKings | $7,800 FanDuel)
The two things that TPC Deere Run requires—accuracy and putting—are the two things that Long does best. He’s 30th in driving accuracy and 79th in SG/putting. Those numbers get much better when you only apply this field. He’s a known popper with a PGA Tour win under his belt.
Safest Option: Adam Schenk ($6,900 DraftKings | $7,700 FanDuel)
Schenk is cemented into this spot until he proves otherwise OR gets a price increase. After his T-41 last week, he’s now made four of his past five cuts. He’s playing in a very sustainable way by gaining strokes in the ball-striking categories and embracing the volatility of his short game. That’s an excellent combination to find him playing a lot of weekends.
Most Likely To Disappoint: Andrew Landry ($6,800 DraftKings | $7,700 FanDuel)
On paper, there might be reasons to consider rostering Landry. He’s incredibly accurate off the tee and has two top-eight finishes at this event in his past three trips. However, you have to remember, those top 8s came in 2019 and 2016—and we are a long way removed from that. Landry has only gained strokes on approach once in 2021. His recent form offers little potential for this week.
Pick To Win: Roger Sloan ($6,900 DraftKings | $8,700 FanDuel)
Jared C. Tilton
Sloan is creating some solid results right now, making the cut in four of his past five starts and finishing T-21 last week in Detroit. Over his past 11 starts, Sloan has earned four top-25 finishes, which is a rate that few of his peers in this range can boast.
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Rick Gehman, founder of RickRunGood.com and the RickRunGood YouTube Channel, is one of the industry’s leading experts on golf DFS and gambling. Gehman is co-host of the First Cut Podcast and appears regularly on the Pat Mayo Experience golf podcasts. Follow him on Twitter: @RickRunGood.