The Cheat Sheet provides DraftKings fantasy golf players with course info, player history and the most noteworthy trends of the week to help them with their roster selections.
This week, the field has been pared down again, as only the top 70 players in the FedEx Cup Playoffs have advanced. Notable players who WILL NOT be playing this week include Tyrell Hatton, Matthew Wolff and Matthew Fitzpatrick. After the BMW Championship is complete, the top 30 players in the FedEx Cup standings will be allowed to tee it up one more time in two weeks at East Lake for a chance at some serious cash. As of now the top five in the FedEx Cup standings are: Tony Finau, Jon Rahm, Cameron Smith, Patrick Cantlay and Justin Thomas.
The seeding going into the last leg of the playoffs is very important given the new structure of the event, where top players start at better scores than those beneath them. Expect to see a lot of jockeying for position on the weekend in what is always a fun and exciting final round. The 70-man field this week makes this a no-cut event, so all six golfers you play here will get in four rounds, as long as they’re not disqualified or withdraw.
Caves Valley Golf Club—Owings Mills, Maryland
Par 72, 7,547 yards
After visiting Olympia Fields last year, the BMW Championship will again be at a new venue this year: Caves Valley Golf Club in Owings Mills, Maryland. Caves Valley is a Tom Fazio designed venue and will play as a longer Par 72 at just over 7,500 yards. Fazio has designed numerous other golf courses on the PGA rotation, including Congaree (Palmetto Championship), Quail Hollow (redesign-Wells Fargo) and Firestone CC (home of the now defunct Bridgestone WGC event).
The course is relative new (created in 1991), but they have added heightened rough, a couple of new bunkers and tee boxes to increase the length of the course for this week’s event. Like many of Fazio’s other designs, this venue is sprawling, where good drivers of the ball should grab an advantage. Length may not be the only factor in play here, though, as the rough will likely play up, making finding fairways more optimal than normal.
The back nine of the venue (which will play as the front nine this week) rolls through areas heavily decorated with trees and contains a couple of slight doglegs. The front nine (which will play as the back nine) features water on five holes, but has a more open parkland setting — and should encourage more driver usage and aggressive play. Like many of Fazio’s other setups, Caves Valley looks like a “driver-friendly” venue, so players who can dominate off the tee with accuracy and length should get a bump. Six of the Par 4’s here play over 450 yards in length, so driving efficiency and efficiency on Par 4’s between 450-500 yards are a couple of stats to consider.
The greens are pure Bentgrass and many of the green complexes look like they’ll play fast and offer up a decent defense as long as we don’t get a ton of wet weather (again). Ultimately, while the advantage may swing more to big hitters, strong tee-to-green games will be the decider, as the four Par 5’s and a couple of the shorter Par 4’s will also require good short games to capitalize with birdies.
2021 Outlook: Unlike last week, where Hurricane Henry forced a Monday conclusion to the event, the weather for the BMW doesn’t look like it will play much of a factor. Temperatures for the first two days are set to be hot with highs in the low 90’s. The warmer weather should dry out the greens, giving a better chance of seeing less birdies and more US Open style scoring. Also, winds will almost be non-existent throughout the week, so that could help the players some. Rain and possible thunderstorms could roll-in on Saturday, but things clear up Saturday afternoon, so only a small delay looks possible. Overall, expect a fast golf course with a lot of greens in regulation among the field if the hot forecast holds.
Last Five Winners**
2020—Jon Rahm -4 (over Dustin Johnson playoff)
2019—Justin Thomas -25 (over Patrick Cantlay -22)
2018—Keegan Bradley -20 (over Justin Rose playoff)
2017—Marc Leishman -23 (over Rickie Fowler -18)
2016—Dustin Johnson -22 (over Paul Casey -19)
**This year will be the first time this event is played at Caves Valley
- The past nine winners of the BMW Championship have all had at least one top 12 finish in their last four starts on the PGA TOUR.
- None of the past 11 winners of the BMW Championship had missed the cut in their previous start.
- Of the last six winners, only one finished worse than T12 in the FedEx Cup playoff event the week prior (Keegan Bradley T49 in 2018).
Winners Stats and Course Overview
2020 Winner (played at Olympia Fields): John Rahm
Lead-in form (T6-T13-T52-win-T27)
SG: OTT— +3.0
SG: APP— +3.0
SG: TTG— +7.4
SG: ATG— +1.4
SG: PUTT— +3.9
- As you can see by Rahm’s lead-in form, he was in stellar condition heading into this playoff event. Not only had he won a couple months earlier, but he also posted a top 20 at the August PGA Championship.
- Like many of the recent winners, Rahm not only performed well at the most recent major, but also at the first playoff event (T6).
- Rahm’s stats don’t have any crossover to this season given the course change, but a similar setup in terms of toughness this week could be expected. A good all-around performance (he gained over +3.0 strokes in four of the five SG categories) will likely be needed at Caves Valley.
Finding Values (DraftKings Sportsbook)
Odds to win are one factor to think about when picking players (but not the only thing, so be careful putting too much weight on them). This section is going to detail a few of the players who have the best fantasy value comparative to their DraftKings Sportsbook odds of winning this week.
- Kevin Na +6000 and $7,600
- Sam Burns +6000 and $8,300
- SungJae Im +6500 and $8,000
- Webb Simpson +4000 and $8,500
- Abraham Ancer +3500 and $8,700
- Harris English +3500 and $8,400
All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.
1. Jon Rahm ($11,700; 3rd-T3): Rahm picked up right where he left off last week, after returning to action following a layoff. He was in the thick of it on the back nine at the NTO, but got beat out by a great final round. He looks like the man to beat here.
2. Cameron Smith ($9,500; 2nd-T5): Smith lost in a playoff last week to Tony Finau. The Aussie has looked in great form of late, though, landing a T33 at the Open, a T5 in Memphis and a solo second place. Another win looks likely for the Aussie sometime soon.
3. Kevin Na ($7,600; T8-T2): Na has heated up at the right time of year. He’s now landed two runner-up finishes in his last four starts and was T8 last week, despite losing strokes to the field on his approaches.
4. Shane Lowry ($7,900; T11-T23): Lowry has been Mr. Consistent of late, landing five top 10 finishes over his last 11 PGA TOUR starts. He ranked third in SG: Approach stats at the NTO and finished T11 despite losing strokes putting.
5. Tony Finau ($9,800; win-T34-T28): After a middling summer, Finau (finally) grabbed his second-career PGA TOUR win last week at the Northern Trust. He finished second in SG: Tee to Green stats and gained nearly 4.0 strokes putting to best the field.
DraftKings DFS Strategy
Cash Games: Don’t fade the Rahm momentum
Jon Rahm ($11,700) returned to action after a long layoff last week and looked every bit the best player in the world. He led the field in SG: Tee to Green stats and likely will be looking for revenge this week after allowing the win to slip late at Liberty. Similarly, Bryson DeChambeau ($9,300) at under $9.5K looks like a near must play. He’s made 49 birdies over his last two events and is locked in from an opportunity perspective. Both Paul Casey ($8,200) and Shane Lowry ($7,900) also look like solid plays based on salary and recent form. A couple other names to consider for this format include Kevin Streelman ($7,200), Charley Hoffman ($7,000) and Aaron Wise ($6,300).
Tournaments: Bet on a Koepka bounce-back
Brooks Koepka ($10,200) ended last week at just T31, but the American was having a solid event before turning in an ugly final round. It’s possible the rain and full-day delay was to blame. He struck the ball well off the tee and that could help on this longer course. Much like Bryson, Sam Burns ($8,300) is making a boatload of birdies every week and looks like a nice value that likely won’t be too popular at just $8.3K. Cameron Champ ($7,300) is another birdie-maker who should benefit from the longer, driver-heavy venue this week with four Par 5’s. Champ made three eagles last week and continues to score well for DraftKings purposes, making him a good DFS commodity in no-cut events. Other potential targets here include Cameron Davis ($6,900), Max Homa ($6,400), and K.H. Lee ($6,000).
MY PICK: Shane Lowry ($7,900)
Lowry has had a very underrated season so far, posting eight top 25 finishes over his last 11 PGA TOUR starts — which includes five top 10’s. The Irishman has been uber consistent tee-to-green and comes into this week ranked 17th in SG: Tee to Green stats over the last 50 rounds. His approach game last week was also off the charts, as he gained over 7.0 strokes on approach alone and was third in Tee to Green stats for the week.
Lowry is still searching for a follow-up win to his 2019 Open Championship triumph and this week looks like a solid venue for him to potentially breakthrough. He won his first PGA TOUR event back in 2015 on a Tom Fazio design at Firestone CC and, by all accounts, Caves Valley should setup somewhat similar with some longer Par 4’s that challenge players off the tee. From a strategy and trend perspective, we don’t want to stray too far down the leaderboard form last week and Lowry put in a strong a T11 finish at the Northern Trust, yet remains very fairly priced below $8K. Looking to him as a core DFS play makes sense to me, and at +4500 on the DraftKings Sportsbook, he also makes sense as a potential outright play, too.
MY SLEEPER: Max Homa ($6,400)
Homa is a player who will find himself right on the proverbial bubble this week in terms of making the top 30 for East Lake and the Tour Championship (he enters ranked 30th). A winner at Riviera earlier this season, he’s been inconsistent of late, but showed some encouraging signs last week as he fought to make the cut after an opening round 74. Homa ranked 21st in SG: Approach stats last week and also gained strokes around the greens — a part of his game which can be his Achilles heel. Last week’s event marked the fourth start in a row where Homa gained on approach, while he still ranks out well in Birdie or Better percentage, ranking 17th over the last 50 rounds in Birdie Opportunities in this elite field.
From a setup perspective, a longer, classic design should favour a player like Homa, who is a solid all-around player. His two wins have come at Riviera and Quail Hollow (also a Fazio design), two longer courses that also challenge players with tough tee shots. Considering the fight he showed last week, I wouldn’t be shocked if we see Homa pick up his game again on a course which should play to his strengths. He’s a solid bargain play priced below $6.5K in large-field GPPs.
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