The 2015 PGA Tour FedEx Cup Playoffs kick off this week at Plainfield Country Club in Edison, New Jersey. This is the ninth installment of the FedEx Cup Playoffs which brings together the Top 125 points-ranked golfers from the regular season for a four tournament, elimination style showdown that awards the winner with a $10M bonus. Jordan Spieth comes into the Playoffs as the top ranked golfer with more than 4,160 FedEx Cup points to his credit; 1,500+ more than second place Jason Day. After The Barclays this week, the playoff field will be trimmed down to 100 players for the second leg.
Plainfield Country Club played host to The Barclays back in 2011. Dustin Johnson took home the title in a rain-shortened, 3 round shootout by posting scores of 66-63-65. Much like last week at Sedgefield, Plainfield is a rather short course for these pros measuring just over 7,000 yards as a par 70. The greens are one of this courses only forms of defense as they feature lots of undulation and several knobs that players will have to successfully navigate to give themselves the best possible looks for birdie. From my memory of the tournament in 2011, I recall the greens being guarded by several false fronts which made approach shots quite deceptive on some holes. However, with all of this being said, I still don’t believe any 7,000 yard course has the ability to keep these guys in check for 4 rounds as they are just that good.
This week, we’re going to key on some stats that we familiarized ourselves with last week. First off, on a short course with smallish greens that are quite undulated we will need to focus our attention on Proximity to the Hole. Secondly, Bounce Back will be huge for us again this week as I expect scoring to be much the same as it was at the Wyndham. Strokes Gained Putting will carry a lot of weight again as we’re looking to distance ourselves from the competition on the greens. As always, Recent Form is important in our player selection as we want guys who are in a groove. And last but not least, Tournament History (not to be confused with Course History) will be on the radar this week. The reason we’re transitioning to Tournament History rather than Course History is due to the fact that the rain-shortened 2011 tournament would not generate true stats as the course played like a mere pitch and putt.
High End Targets ($9,000+)
• Matt Kuchar
Kuch comes to New Jersey riding a string a scorching hot play. He’s made 9/10 cuts of late with his only miss coming at The PLAYERS all the way back in May. Kuch has a history with this tournament that is hard to beat. Since 2010, he has finished no higher than 38th with a win in 2010 and a second place finish here at the rain-shorted, 2011 version. He most recently teed it up at the PGA Championship and poured in 19 birdies and one eagle through four days to finish in a tie for 7th at -12 all the while accumulating 95.0 DK points. Although Kuch’s Proximity to the Hole stats don’t jump off the page as he’s ranked T162, his 29th in Stroked Gained Putting and 21st in Bounce Back certainly make up for it. All together, between the tournament success and recent fine play, Kuchar is a top option this week.
• Jordan Spieth
A rather obvious addition to this list is the World #1 himself, Jordan Spieth. Spieth has placed himself in contention in seemingly every single tournament he’s played this year and I certainly do not expect that to change this week. Fresh off the heels of his fourth Top 4 finish in a Major this season, Jordan comes to New Jersey looking to get off on the right foot in the FedEx Cup Playoffs. Finishing no higher than T30 in his last 9 made cuts, Spieth is the utmost of elite fantasy options week in and week out. The young Texan is absolutely dominant in every key category we have listed this week as he ranks T25 in Proximity to the Hole, solo 6th in SGP and solo 3rd in Bounce Back. As a result, and rightfully so, I’m expecting Spieth to be one of the top 3 owned players this week.
• Jason Day
The fan favorite Aussie comes into this week having finished no higher than T12 in his last five PGA Tour events. Within those five tournament he’s recorded a T9 at the US Open where he actually led going into the final round but was derailed by a mad bout of Vertigo. After taking a full month off to recover, Day then finished T4 at the Open Championship missing out on a playoff by a single stroke. The very next week he took his strong play to our National Open and won with a final round 68 that included a 21-foot bomb for birdie on 18 to secure the title over Bubba Watson. He “stumbled” a bit the week after that finishing T12 at the WGC Bridgestone before rebounding to win the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits by setting a Major tournament record at 20 under par. Ranking #1 on Tour in Bounce Back and 9th in Stroked Gained Putting, Day is in a fantastic spot this week. To top it all off, he’s 7/7 in cuts made at this event with 2 Top 5s, 2 Top 10s and 6 Top 25s overall. Through 27 rounds at various Barclays venues, he holds a scoring average of 69.37.
• Rickie Fowler
Folwer chimes in at Vegas’ sixth best odd to win this week, currently at 25:1. He’s appropriately priced on DK as the 6th most expensive golfer in the field. His last two trips to The Barclays in 2013 & 2014 have seen him finish in 9th both times. Rickie has made his last four cuts which include the Open Championship and PGA Championship where he finished T30 at both events. He sprinkled in a solo 2nd at the Quickens Loans National and a T10 at the WGC Bridgestone so he’s certainly displaying some strong form of late. His tournament history is quite strong as he’s made 5/5 cuts with 2 Top 10s and 3 Top 25s overall to his credit. Through 19 rounds at this event, hes maintained a scoring average of 69.58. Rickie sits in a very respectable solo 66th for SGP while he improves to solo 36th in Bounce Back. With his strong wedge play and good tournament history, I can see why Rickie is a top dog this week.
Mid Range Targets ($8,900 – $7,000)
• Paul Casey
After treating us so well last week, we should be all over Paul Casey this week. With a strong stretch of play to his name, Casey presents himself as the top mid range target this week for me. Cruising to a T3 last week which included some bonus DK points for firing all 4 rounds in the 60s, Paul is a strong bet to continue rolling this week. Ranking T15 in Proximity to the Hole, 99th in SGP and solo 12th in Bounce Back, the numbers and form are certainly there. In a limited yet impressive Tournament History, Casey is 3/3 in cuts made with one Top 10 and a 69.5 scoring average. There’s no need nor reason to overthink this one, he’s a hot player whose played well here before.
• David Lingmerth
Cementing himself as one of the hottest players on Tour right now, Lingmerth is a top fantasy option this week at his price tag. Having not missed a cut since the Byron Nelson in May, Lingmerth has found himself in the Top 12 five times in his last seven events. His 69.57 final round scoring average over that stretch (which has actually been inflated due to a 77 at The Open) is most impressive to me. If he places himself in contention through three rounds I have great confidence in knowing that he can push even further up the board to grab us those valuable points. Lingmerth has been so solid in our three key statistical categories as he ranks T44 in Proximity to the Hole, 56th in SGP and 77th in Bounce Back. Lingmerth should be rostered with full confidence this week.
• Robert Streb
Looking at Streb’s DK game log, you’ll notice something right away and that is the fact that he’s made 10 out of his last 10 cuts. More importantly, of those 10 straight cuts, his highest finish was a T42 at the US Open. Streb mindbogglingly continues to go under priced week after week on DK and we need to keep capitalizing on it. He comes into the week ranking 22nd in Strokes Gained Putting and T51 in Bounce Back. As mentioned above, his form is nothing short of incredible and he has to be included in your team(s) this week.
• Russell Henley
Flying fully under the radar, Henley has made his last four cuts since the US Open. Russell has enjoyed a fine stretch of play that saw him come off some poor golf at the US Open and translate it into mighty fine golf at the Greenbrier where he finished solo 5th on the heels of a final round 63. Since then, hes finished T20, T17 and T12 while pouring in an average of 16 birdies per tournament. Russell surely knows how to roll the rock and this can be seen in his 7th place ranking on Tour in the Strokes Gained Putting category. He’s quite akin to bouncing back as well as he ranks solo 65th in that category. All in all, I think Russell is a great play for his price this week.
• Carl Pettersson
Carl continues to roll and we should continue to roster him. Although his Tournament History isn’t nearly as good this week as it was last week, it’s still quite respectable. Having made 6/10 cuts at this event lifetime with just a single Top 25 finish we’re relying more on Carl’s statistical rankings and recent form this week. A respectable T93 in Proximity to the Hole, solo 30th in Strokes Gained Putting and T17 in Bounce Back, I think we’re onto something here. Fresh off a T6 at the Wyndham last week, I think we’re in for more of the same here at Plainfield CC.
Mid Range Reach Plays
• Phil Mickelson
Lefty has strung together 7 consecutive cuts on Tour which include 4 Top 20 finishes. He finished 6th at The Barclays back in 2013 and looks to better that number this year. His overall Tournament History is quite good as hes made 11/13 cuts and has 2 Top 10s to go along with 7 Top 25s overall. Through 46 rounds at The Barclays, hes boasting a scoring average of 70.59. Phil is ranked solo 46th on Tour in SGP so hopefully he can find the flatstick this week and make a charge for the title. As we all know how errant lefty can be, it’s comforting to see he’s ahead of the Tour average in Bounce Back at solo 76th by following up a bogey with a birdie 21.79% of the time.
• Charl Schwartzel
The sweet-swinging South African had a very strong showing at the Wydham last week as he finished in a tie for 3rd after firing four consecutive sub-70 rounds. Charl comes into this week having made every cut since Memorial but only has two Top 10s to show for it. His Achilles Heel has always been his putter so if he can find it for the 4 days this week we could be in for a treat. Although Charl has only played this tournament 3 times, he’s 3/3 in cuts made and has two Top 25s to his name. With his strong play and good putting last weekend, we should be confident rostering Schwartzel this week. He’s well above Tour average in Bounce Back at solo 35th so any trouble he runs into should be handled well on the next hole.
Low End Targets (<$7,000)
• Jonas Blixt
Blixt is a very strong value play this week as he comes in having made his last 4 consecutive cuts with all of them being Top 30 performances and the last two being Top 15s. If it were not for a very up and down even par 70 last Sunday at the Wyndham, we could be going into this week with much more hype surrounding Blixt. The Swede held a share of the lead for the majority of his back 9 until he ran into some shaky play that ultimately saw him finish in a tie for 10th at -13. Blixt isn’t a stats persons dream but he’s quite solid in all categories. He ranks T110 in Proximity to the Hole, T79 in SGP and T48 in Bounce Back. Riding a hot hand and having gotten a taste of the Sunday lead last week, I love Blixt in this spot.
• Harris English
Coming in extremely under priced at a mere $6,800 this week is one Harris English. English has made 9 of his last 10 cuts on Tour with his worst finish being a T72 at the John Deere Classic. Coincidentally, that week was the only one out of his last 9 that he has finished a tournament over par so he’s clearly been putting himself in a good spot to win week after week. English is an extremely solid player from tee to green and his stats indicate that. He’s ranked T71 in Proximity to the Hole and 24th in Strokes Gained Putting. I expect his strong play to continue this week and he’s a superb option in this price range.
Fillers & Fliers
If you’re planning on rostering a few of the top dogs this week you may find yourself in need of a filler or flier at a very cheap price point. Here are a couple quick options:
• Gary Woodland
Woodland has been absent from competition for the last few weeks as he’s been battling a neck injury. It’s something that has been bothering him all season long and thus his results aren’t quite there. However, if you find yourself in need of a player in his price range, he’s certainly a solid option as he’s got some respectable stats and solid Tournament History. Although these numbers need to be taken with a grain of salt as hes been out of competition for a few weeks, Woodland ranks a very respectable T96 on Tour in SGP and finds himself solo 45th in Bounce Back. Couple this with his 3/3 in cuts made at this event and a 68.27 scoring average through 11 rounds and we’ve got ourselves a great flier here.
• William McGirt
Dirt McGirt has made 4 consecutive cuts on Tour and has actually played quite well through that entire stretch. Although he doesn’t have any flashy Top 10s to speak of, he did finish T14 at last weeks Wyndham Championship. You may be shocked by his statistical rankings in our three key categories as they’re all extremely good. McGirt ranks solo 32 in Proximity to the Hole, T88 in SGP and T48 in Bounce Back. There’s no question that McGirt can play, it’s just a matter of if he’s going to show up or not. At The Barclays he totes a 13 round scoring average of 69.23 having made the cut 3 out of 4 tries. Although I’m fading McGirt on any lengthy track, I’d have no problem taking him as a flier on these shorter courses.
Best of luck to all DFS players this weekend and if it’s not me winning all the money, I surely hope it’s one of you!