FanDuel Focus: Arnie's InviteWednesday, March 15, 2017
Welcome to the inaugural edition of Culp's Corner!
This is where I will go every Wednesday to provide some strategy talk for the upcoming week. A wise sommelier might say this would pair nicely with Sully's Snapshot.
As you may have heard, FanDuel launched their golf product this week, and it's a bit different than most formats PGA DFSers are used to. The FanDuel format will require you to pick four golfers for Rounds 1 & 2 and then four separate golfers for Rounds 3 & 4. Right from the start, I like the fact that we have to pick more golfers (8) than other DFS platforms where it's just six. That helps add some more skill to the game. However, much of that skill is taken out when you are forced to pick which rounds your golfers will excel. Overall, I'm willing to give it a try before I bash it or praise it.
The topic I want to discuss today is pre-cut or post-cut stacking. Should you load up on studs in Rounds 1 and 2 or place them in the post-cut slot? Everything I've heard around the industry seems to be saying, "obviously you put your studs in the Rounds 3-4 slot, because they have a higher chance of making the cut." While common sense leads us to that logical conclusion, I'm ready to talk about the reasons why that might not be the correct route.
The first part of this equation comes down to a simple DFS concept, going contrarian. This is when you try to avoid the herd. Think outside the box. Zig when others are zagging. If we assume Henrik Stenson will be very popular this week and the majority of gamers are loading him up on the back end, we might expect something like 10% ownership in the R1-2 slot but closer to 33% for the R3-4 slots. These are just guesses but a much higher ownership should be expected in R3-4 for all of the expensive golfers (studs).
For simplicity sakes, let's assume Stenson posts identical pre-cut and post-cut scores this week. Gamers that "risked" him in R1-2 would gain an edge over more of the field if he performs well, since he's lower owned in the pre-cut roster spots. Score 1 for front-loading studs.
The second part of the equation is the field size, and percentage of the field that will make it through the cut. This week, we have an Invitational, so the field is just 120 golfers, with Top 70 and ties playing the weekend. That means at least 58 percent of the field will play all four rounds.
A higher cut-made probability increases the likelihood that your lesser-priced fliers will be earning points on the weekend. Score another one for front-loading studs.
The next piece of the pie (shout out to Pi Day yesterday) we are looking at is how golfers have performed here in the past. Let's find out which rounds the scoring typically occurs.
Field Average FanDuel Points per Round (excluding bonuses):
Round 1: 10.9 points
Round 2: 11.9 points
Round 3: 12.2 points
Round 4: 10.5 points
FanDuel Points per Round of Top-10 Finishers (excluding bonuses):
Round 1: 16.8 points
Round 2: 17.7 points
Round 3: 16.1 points
Round 4: 15.4 points
As you can see in the Bay Hill data since 2003, the majority of the field scores on Moving Day (Saturday). However, when we isolate it to only top-10 finishers, we see they typically fire out of the gates and then cruise to the finishline.
Overall, the golfers that have finished inside the top 10 have posted an average of 34.5 FanDuel points before the cut and then 31.5 FanDuel points after the cut. This is another point in favor of loading up studs in Rounds 1 and 2.
So far we've talked about three factors that support the idea of playing studs on the front end, but there is still the common sense factor that tells otherwise.
While the lower field size helps a little bit in terms of your "scrubs" making it through the cut, these scrubs still have a lower chance to make the weekend when compared to the "studs". That could potentially give you a roster spot of ZERO on the back end which is obviously not good. The risk involved in these missed cuts support the idea of playing studs on the back end.
My overall recommendation is to play studs on the front end this week, which will differ from most of the field this week. My only exception would be in contests that pay out 50% of the field. In this format, you likely want to avoid any added risk, making the preferred route being Studs on the back end.
If you are entering multiple lineups into Guaranteed Prize Pool contests then I would suggest playing a variety of roster strategies and track your lineups over the next few months to see what works best for you. Best of luck to all as we embark on this new adventure!