The Players Championship DFS Preview: Rolling the Dice Against Scottie Scheffler

Welcome to my first article for Stokastic and thank you for tuning in for THE PLAYERS Championship DFS preview!

I’ll be taking a deep dive into the field sorted by tiers to let you know how I’ll be building my lineups, including fades, pivots and players I’m taking a stand on. It’s not always comfortable, but that’s the life of PGA DFS.

You can use this information how you’d like, including when you build your lineups in the Stokastic Sims.

Here are the players I’m focusing on as we head into Ponte Vedra Beach at TPC Sawgrass.

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THE PLAYERS Championship DFS Preview

Weather notes

Overall, the weather looks rather clean for whole tournament other than potential gusts and pop-up storms on Friday afternoon. Some of the DFS public may believe there is an edge to the PM/AM (Thursday/Friday) wave of tee times, but as we sit today, I am not adjusting my player pool due to tee times.

Top-Tier ($10,000 – $12,800)

  • Scottie Scheffler ($12,800) – What can we say about Scheffler? He’s the best ball-striker on the planet coming off of the best putting tournament he’s had since the 2022 Phoenix Open. He’s going to be around 35% in ownership in GPP contests and an absolute lock-button in cash game formats. Personally, I will be fading Scheffler in larger field GPP tournaments and 150-max contests. Yes, Scheffler has almost three times as much win equity in my model (12.62% or +692) than the next guy (Rory McIlroy), but I’m willing to roll the dice that the volatility of this course paired with the price/ownership of Scheffler warrants me going in a different direction. If Scheffler finishes inside the Top-5 (very likely), I’ll draw dead and I can make peace with that. I will not tell you to fade Scheffler, but I have no problem being transparent on how my lineups will be constructed.
  • Xander Schauffele ($11,300) – This is a bit of a mis-price (in terms of Schauffele being too expensive) but with that comes a discount in ownership. Schauffele  grades as the third-best golfer in my model and most of the sportsbooks out there seem to agree as he’s currently the third-shortest outright price in the betting market. He is going to land in that 10-15% ownership range and offer our lineups a significant boost in floor if we choose him up top as opposed to spending an extra $1,500 for Scheffler. Schauffele’s iron form is in fantastic shape overall and grades 4th in my model for expected Strokes Gained: Approach. In addition, he’s one of the better scramblers in the field which means the world to me at a course like TPC Sawgrass. He will likely be my first click in GPP contests, but I will spend the extra $1,500 to Scheffler in cash-games.

Honorable Mention: Justin Thomas
Fading: Rory McIlroy

On the Fence: Viktor Hovland, Patrick Cantlay

Upper-Tier ($8,500 – $9,900)

  • Tony Finau ($8,500) – Full disclosure, my modeling always loves Finau, Russell Henley, and Si Woo Kim. This week was a bit of a shocker as Finau graded second overall (behind Scheffler), first in expected strokes gained on approach and 5th in expected total strokes gained. Finau grades third overall on the PGA Tour this season in approach play and like Scheffler (without all of the media attention) made a significant putting change in his last event (no more toe-up at address on the putting green) that led to his second-best putting performance since July of 2023. At single-digit ownership and the current ball-striking form, I’ll take the bait my model is dangling at me once more on the pedigree of Finau.
  • Collin Morikawa ($9,400) – Morikawa is more of a price-grab for me this week. I rarely ever play the guy, but he’s coming in at a discount in both pricing and ownership as he’s had a very slow start to the 2024 season. He’s still a top-10 ball-striker on the PGA Tour and has an advantage over most of the field with his ability to hit fairways and greens at an elite clip. Historically, the scrambling has been a bit erratic, but my numbers spit out the highest expected strokes that they ever have for Morikawa.
  • Ludvig Aberg ($9,300) – I’m just a true believer in his skillset and confident the upside is going to come soon. Outside of the Arnold Palmer (where he still found a way to finish T25th), his iron play has been elite. There’s very few that drive the ball like Aberg, and he can take a different route to scoring with a bomb-and-gouge style of play at TPC Sawgrass, despite all of the penal possibilities that come if you miss the fairway. If he stays in the 7-10% ownership range, I’ll bet on the talent.
  • Max Homa ($9,600) – Great price for one of the most well-rounded players on Tour who has yet to truly find his full ball-striking potential this season. The iron play is on the rise and Homa is one of the best scramblers on the planet. He’s been knocking on the door at TPC Sawgrass with a T13 in 2022 and a T6 in 2023. If we can get a top-10 ball-striking performance, Homa has immense win equity at this type of course and some of the sharper bookmakers in the space seem to fear that with their short pricing of Homa in the outright market.
  • Tommy Fleetwood ($8,800) – Only listing him due to the fact the Strokes Gained metrics from last week is a little skewed (in my opinion) for all of the automated model-makers out there. Statistically speaking, Fleetwood lost five strokes on approach due to the Tin Cup blow-up he had on his way to missing the cut at the API. If he lands in the 4-8% ownership range, I have no problem rostering a lot of him at a course he seems to walk backwards into the Top-25 on an annual basis.

Honorable Mention: Sam Burns, Will Zalatoris, Russell Henley (great for cash games)
Fading: Wyndham Clark
On the Fence: Jordan Spieth, Hideki Matsuyama, Shane Lowry, Cameron Young

Mid-Tier ($7,000 – $8,400)

  • Corey Conners ($8,300) – More of a cash game play or a GPP lineup “filler” as he’s one of the best ball-strikers who happens to be in excellent form. If the putter can get hot like it did in 2021 at this event, a top-10 is certainly in play. The only reason I could use to support fading Conners at this price is hoping the volatile course gets the best of him on a hole or two and the lack of scrambling keeps him out of the mix. If ownership surpasses 15%, I’ll be out. If it closes around 7-10% like I see now, I’ll be extremely overweight on Conners exposure.
  • Byeong Hun An ($8,100) – Too cheap for one of the PGA’s hottest players coming into Ponte Vedra Beach with five top-25 finishes including three top-10s. The course history box is checked and the iron play is in fantastic form that should take some pressure off of his elite scrambling profile.
  • Si Woo Kim ($8,000) – I’m not sure chalky Kim ever works out, but he’s one of the best iron players and scramblers on Tour. He’s obviously won this event in the past and has a ton of comfort at one of the most volatile tracks in the game. Lock him in your cash game lineups, but be ready to get different elsewhere if you prioritize Kim in your GPP builds.
  • Min Woo Lee ($8,000) – As a pivot to a 16% or higher Kim, Lee is coming into form with his iron play for the first time in his short PGA Tour career. I’ll buy on the upside of the ball-striking form and elite scrambling ability at half the ownership of Kim in GPP contests.
  • Keegan Bradley ($7,900) – I liked what I saw from Bradley over the weekend in extremely tough conditions at Bay Hill. The whole industry seems to hate him this week despite quality ball-striking numbers and significant improvements in his around-the-green play. At the end of the day, I’m simply interested in a 5% owned Bradley at a track he’s finished inside the top-30 at in four of the past five attempts.
  • Keith Mitchell ($7,500) & Adam Hadwin ($7,500) – Following the trend here of ball-strikers who are in fantastic form. These are the highest expected strokes gained ball striking my model has produced for both Mitchell and Hadwin. The upside is limited, but they are priced like golfers who just need to get inside the top-35 to provide value for our PGA DFS lineups.
  • Emiliano Grillo ($7,400) – Grillo has some massive respect in the sportsbook world this week and my numbers seem to agree. Overall, Grillo ranks 21st in my rankings for TPC Sawgrass upside and I love the form coming into the event, but he certainly brings a ton of risk with the inability to scramble. In the 4-6% ownership range, I’ll bet on that upside in GPP lineups.
  • Cameron Davis ($7,000) – Full disclosure: I am a Davis truther. Like Grillo, there is both immense upside (22nd in my model) and risk. Proceed with caution, but he’s a well-rounded golfer with who can be one of the best iron players on Tour at any given moment. I love that he was able to navigate his way around this property for a solo sixth-place finish last year despite not having his ball-striking come along for the ride. If it all clicks, it would not surprise me to see someone like Davis win the event.

Honorable Mention: Alex Noren, Chris Kirk
Fading: Sungjae Im, Tom Hoge (okay for cash), Justin Rose, Nicolai Hojgaard, Rickie Fowler,
On the Fence: Jake Knapp, Brian Harman

Low-Tier ($5,800 – $6,900)

  • Austin Eckroat ($6,500) – It’s getting to the point that I don’t care about the ownership for Austin Eckroat and that worries me as a DFS player. Outside of the spotty putter, there really is nothing I don’t love about his game and form. He’s a debutant at THE PLAYERS if you’re looking for a reason to fade the low-tier chalk (which is usually a good idea in PGA DFS).
  • Aaron Rai ($6,400) – Both the market and the DFS community loves Mr. Fairways, Aaron Rai… which has me shaking my head, but I’ll notify it as a sign of respect to some of the bookmakers I trust. Having said that, guys like Eckroat, Rai, Andrew Novak will be chalk this week due to the Scottie Scheffler first click in 40% of the fields’ lineups. This is one of the main reasons I am being an idiot and fading Scheffler, but I just cannot stomach playing guys like Rai and Novak at less than 10% ownership. If you play one of these guys, I’d recommend not pairing them with another one of these value punt plays.
  • Andrew Putnam ($6,300) – One of my favorite pivots in the price range as none of the public wants to play a guy with the negative course history that Putnam brings. Putnam was a top-20 ball-striker and ranked fourth in strokes gained on approach last week at the Arnold Palmer. When he gets his swing going, everything else about his game will support him for a quality finish.
  • Ryo Hisatsune ($6,200) – The rookie from Japan is one of my favorite leverage plays of the week (1% ownership projection) and most certainly someone I will be boosting in the new PGA Sims tool. He honestly grades as a top-35 course fit for me with an even higher grade in upside. He missed the cut on the number at PGA National and will be nowhere on the radar for DFS players this week. He most certainly could miss the cut, but I’d sure as shit rather roster him in a GPP tournament over Rai or Novak at 10%+ ownership. If we can get anything out of the putter, the ball-striking and short game can run him up the leaderboard.

Take a look at some of the lineups that pop when I give an ROI boost to Eckroat, Hisatsune and Putnam in the Sims:


Honorable Mention: Nick Taylor, Matthieu Pavon, Lucas Glover, Chan Kim
Fading: Andrew Novak, Taylor Montgomery, Webb Simpson, Taylor Pendrith, Maverick McNealy, Brendon Todd, Doug Ghim
On the Fence: Ryan Fox, Denny McCarthy, Kurt Kitayama

Punt-Plays ($5,700 and Below)

*Due to the likelihood of the field using a combination of a punt-play range and mid-to-low $6,000 range player, I will be making a rule in my optimized lineups that no more than one player in that area of my player pool can be paired together. I’m a big advocate for using player “groups” and making rules around said players to leverage how the field is likely going to be playing.

  • Sam Ryder
  • Garrick Higgo
  • Greyson Sigg
  • Carson Young
  • Jimmy Stanger
  • Michael Kim
  • Ben Martin
  • JJ Spaun

Good luck to all this week in The PLAYERS Championship DFS contests and please do not hesitate to reach out to me on X @StixPicks.

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