I started getting really into DFS golf around 4 years ago when the first Milly Makers were becoming extremely popular on Draftkings.com. Those contests are still alive and well but are now called the Fantasy Golf Millionaire and first prize gets the winner a cool $1,000,0000. They are usually held for every major in Golf and for some select bigger tournaments. I think those contests are one of the big reasons fantasy golf took off like it did and the sport is right up there in popularity even surpassing sports like Hockey and Nascar.
Despite how fun it may be to play fantasy golf, you will find out quickly how hard it is to actually make a winning lineup that takes down 1st place in a Draftkings contest. Golf is a highly variant sport which makes it very hard to consistently produce winning results. You see in Golf predicting how many birdies Dustin Johnson is going to make week to week is as tough a task as any in daily fantasy sports. This is where golf differs greatly from a sport like Basketball which is far more predictable. For example, Lebron James is a safe bet to get 20 points a game almost 95% of the time. In fantasy golf there is no one you can predict to do anything at that success rate.
So we have established that Draftkings golf is hard to win at but it is impossible, heck no. In fact, if you establish some core fundamentals when building your lineups week to week I think you can build a nice bankroll over time. Here are my Top 5 tips to win at Draftkings Fantasy Golf:
1. Build Around The Studs
If you want to consistently win money week to week then make your core plays around the golfers who play the best week to week, month to month and year to year. I think golf can be a little misleading in that it may appear that every week is a crapshoot, and you might as well flip a coin with your lineups. Since Tiger Woods in his prime there hasn’t been a dominant golfer that you can say with confidence is the favourite to win every week. One week Dustin Johnson wins, the next Webb Simpson and then Jon Rahm and so on and so on. It’s true that seeing back to back winners on the PGA tour is a scene that is very rare nowadays but that doesn’t mean the best golfers are not consistent.
A typical top tier range of golfers on DraftKings may look like the one pictured here. Build your lineups around these players.
Making sure that you pick 1 to 2 guys from the highest tier in salary is likely one of the best strategies you can implement when drafting your DK lineups. A lot of people may fade the studs because they think golf is so random and they will be so highly owned that it is not worth it. The fact is the studs (usually the guys above $9000 in salary) are way more reliable then the field when it comes to making the cut and therefore are less likely to blowup your lineup. It is a fail sport so you are going to want to be diversified outside of your core plays but picking 1 to 3 guys in the top tier and building all your lineups around them is solid strategy to improve your ROI’s.
2. Use Lineup Construction Strategies
So my first tip about building around stars leads us right into the next piece of advice and that is to have a lineup building strategy. You see most casual players and even beginners tend to rely on their own personal biases when making a fantasy golf lineup and they might not even realize it. They take the 2 superstars at the top and then just start scrolling for either names they have heard of or who they have read is hot leading into the week. If they get a team of recognizable names to them that fits under the salary cap they are happy. That’s all well and fine but the lineups were built with zero strategy and all personal feel. Personal feel is fine when deciding between two studs or picking a low end guy that you feel may have a good week but it should not be used to build your whole lineup.
Learn these two types of Fantasy Golf lineup builds: The Stars and Scrubs Lineup and the All Average Lineup.
Stars and Scrubs Lineups
This type of lineup build consists of taking 3 high-priced studs and 3 low-end golfers. It is a common strategy used in large field GPP’s and I have found for DFS golf it is highly successful. The main reason being the low priced guys are so low owned that if you land on the right ones you usually will shoot up the leaderboard, of course your top end guys have to be playing well also.
So what is considered a stud player and a scrub player? Some of your own judgment will have to come into play each week when creating your tiers but generally speaking the studs on Draftkings will range from $8900 to over $10000 in salary. The scrubs will be somewhere around $7400 and below. Usually it can be very tight to fit 3 guys above $9000 into one lineup without selecting total bums at the low-end so what most guys do is pick 2 studs, 1 middle range to high-end ($8000 and up) and then 2 low-end golfers to round out the lineup.
Here’s a perfect example, this lineup won the Millionaire Maker contest for the Travelers Championship in June of 2020.
Let’s look at the lineup construction:
- DeChambeau ($11000) – High-Tier
- Cantlay ($9800) – High Tier
- Johnson ($9400) – High Tier
- Redman ($6700) – Low Tier
- Steele ($6600) – Low Tier
- Gordon ($6200) – Low Tier
A classic Stars and Scrubs lineup. Did they get lucky with an unknown Will Gordon at 0.5% ownership, absolutely. No one and I mean no one would pick him for a 3rd place finish that week but DFS is all about putting yourself in a position to get lucky. Remember those words – always put yourself in a position to get lucky with solid lineup builds and strategy.
All Average Lineups (Well Rounded)
I won’t elaborate too much on this type of lineup because it is quite self explanatory. The whole idea is to build a solid all around team not spending up to grab a bunch of high end guys and never diving to deep into the low end tier. Your core players are all going to come from the $7500 to $9000 range. You usually end up with one stud and 1 scrub in this lineup construction, the rest are all solid mid-range players.
Here is a an example, this lineup won the Millionaire Maker for the PGA Championship in 2020.
The lineup construction:
- DeChambeau ($10300) – High-Tier
- Johnson ($9000) – High/Mid Tier
- Morikawa ($8600) – Mid Tier
- Finau ($7900) – Mid Tier
- Scheffler ($7300) – Mid Tier
- Dahmen ($6900) – Low Tier
So the key takeaway is to have a plan before building your lineups on DraftKings, don’t just blindly go picking players. Focus on what kind of lineup you want to build and you are more likely to give yourself a chance at finishing high on the leaderboards.
3. Contest Selection Is Key
This is a crucial tip that often goes overlooked by many DFS players, pick the contests you play carefully. Maybe a better way to phrase this is know what you are up against in each fantasy golf contest. Most of us, myself included, get lured in by the large first place prize contests that are prominently featured in the DraftKings lobby. I mean how can you not chase the Millionaire contest every week? It is so damn tempting.
The Truth – the Millionaire Maker is by far the hardest contest to not only win but actually turn a profit in at all. It has long been a bankroll crusher to many newbie players and pro DFS players over the years.
Now I’m not saying avoid playing this contest at all costs, not at all. Just know what you are up against. The Millionaire Makers can have field sizes well over 100,000 entries and many of them with large bankrolls playing 150 lineups. Just keep that in mind when you are throwing in your 1 lineup every week. To win this contest you have to be different and get really, really lucky. I almost never play the projected highest owned golfer in this contest and always look to pivot in the to pend to the lowest end stud. You don’t want to hold hands with the field in these contests, be different and take risks. You have to look at the millionaire maker as a win or nothing contest.
It is so top heavy it is ridiculous, you can place in the top 100 and only win a measly $500 in some cases. I know $500 is nothing to sneeze about but remember you are up against over 100,000 people with a Million dollars to 1st and that is all you walk away with for finishing in the top like 1%. So if you are playing in these top heavy, large GPP fields that is my number one piece of advice for you – GO FOR THE WIN! Always keep that in mind and you will build more unique lineups that have a better chance at high finishes.
What Contests Should You Be Playing?
If you are a casual player or brand new to DraftKings and want to actually start building a bankroll and seeing positive ROI results, then no question play all the single entry tournaments and 3 max contests. You can search for them in the lobby by typing in “Single” or “3 Entry”. Play all these within your budget, they range from $1 to $100 usually. These are the perfect contests to play All Average builds and having a player miss the cut doesn’t always end your night like it would in a Millionaire Maker contest. You can play a little more safe and don’t necessarily have to find that low-end 1% guy to win.
Outside of those play the cheap contests for as long as you can, the 150 max entry $0.25 contest is perfect to practice multiple different lineup builds to see what works week to week. Don’t be fooled however, these contests are still extremely hard to win 1st place but overall they are much softer than the higher entry fees ones. Trust me you will cash far more lineups in the low entries contests by a longshot and you will see your bankroll stay in the positive as you chase a big win week to week.
4. Fade High Owned Golfers
Like I said earlier, golf is a fail sport. Golfers fail (don’t win) far more often than they have success, much like baseball. Mike Trout the best baseball player in the world can go 0 for 5 on any given night, that’s a fail sport. Golfers can go all year not winning anything and winning 2 to 3 events could be considered a successful season. It is a highly variant sport and very hard to predict week to week. So when I say fade the top owned golfers that is why. I don’t care how well a golfer’s course history is at a certain course or that he has won 2 out of 3 tournaments, you tell me he will be 30% owned and I’m fading every time. If you are only playing 1 to 5 lineups every week you should be fading these guys no question asked, especially if your 1 lineup is in the Milly Maker.
If Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson and Jon Rahm are all $10000 and I tell you Rory will be 30% owned would you take him? The answer should be no. Sure he may play really well on that course or he’s on fire this week but is he 30% more likely to win then the other top golfers in the world? No way, I’ll take my chances with all the other guys over Rory in this hypothetical scenario and you should too if your aiming for the 1st place prize.
An all too common result in fantasy golf where the top owned guys underperform.
Of course there can be circumstances where you can’t avoid taking a high owned guy, like in a weak tournament field where there is only one to two obvious studs that always perform well. Or Jordan Spieth in his prime at the Masters where he was almost guaranteed to finish Top 5. Just keep in mind if you select these guys then you must be very unique elsewhere in your lineup.
So a big key to success in DFS is to try and predict ownership. Now many of the Top DFS players use ownership projections from sites like Awesemo.com but these can be very costly. You can predict them yourself within a certain amount of accuracy, try using these tips:
- Use Vegas, chances are the lowest odds to win will also correlate to high owned golfers in DFS
- Usually the highest owned golfer comes from the Top 5 players in salary. Whomever has won most recent or has the best course history is likely to be the high owned guy that week
- Search historical results to find guys with great course history, we use Golfstats.com. You more then likely can predict the top owned mid to low-end guys by simply seeing who has played the best in each tournament in the past. It can be that simple sometimes because everyone has access to course history nowadays and tend to flock to the obvious course history plays.
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5. Stop Changing Your Strategy
I can’t tell you how many different ways I’ve heard to play in DFS, it seems endless. Limit your pool, go all in on a couple golfers, play everybody, cap all your golfers at 30% and so on. The truth is all different ways to play work and every week you can see a different lineup build win. That’s the highs and lows of DFS, one week your strategy gets you all the money and the next it wipes you clean. It can be very disheartening to lose week after week and you are going to want to change your strategy every time you lose, it’s human nature. You got to learn to control your emotions, in betting it would be like chasing a night game after getting destroyed in an earlier day game. It just never works out well most of the time. The same in DFS golf, if you are constantly changing the way you play then you will never find success. The best players in the game have a system to their lineup builds and they stick with it week after week win or lose. That’s the key, don’t blindly pick players you like or go with your hunch every week, that will get you nowhere. Establish a strategy, have confidence in it and go with it. Stop tinkering week to week trying some new formula or picking players based on a new stat. Golf is random, your results will vary greatly and once you get comfortable with that you will start thinking more clear.
Of course, if you constantly losing and never coming close to cashing lineups well then you certainly will want to pick apart your strategy after a period of time has passed. Remember the key words, put yourself in a position to get lucky. Did your sleeper pick miss the cut and cost you a high finish? Ok that is nothing to get down about, that’s the process eventually those sleeper picks hit. What you want to see is yourself constantly picking guys who make the cut. Consistently getting 5 for 5 or 4 for 5 in cuts made for your picks? Beautiful, that’s a solid process and the wins will come. It is extremely hard to pick all 5 five guys to make the cut week after week so if you do that above 70% of the time stick with your strategy, it’s working. If you are not winning much that is likely variance biting you in the ass, if you last it out the whole season more than likely your ROI will turn around.
On the flip side if you are picking lineups that consistently are only getting 3 for 5 through the cut or worse it’s time to analyze where you are going wrong. If this is the case here are some overall strategies that you can implement depending on which you prefer:
Building With A Core Group
Establish a core group of players and play them with no caps on exposure. If you are building only 1 to 5 lineups and you really like 3 to 4 guys don’t be scared to play them in all 5. If they hit all your lineups have the potential to cash. If you are building multiple lineups up to 150 then you core could be as high as 70 to 100% used depending on your risk tolerance. The positive of this strategy is that if your core group hits then all your lineups have the potential to smash. You only need to get lucky with a couple other spots in all your lineups to hit the board.
Remember that Stars and Scrubs lineup example I showed you above. That player played 26 lineups that week in the Millionaire Maker contest. He played Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Cantlay in all 26, 100% exposure. He played what I assume was his top sleeper picks Doc Redman in 18 of those lineups (70%), and Will Gordan in 16 lineups (61%). That my friends is a core group. His core smashed and now he only needed 2 guys out of the rest of his players to perform and fall into place. He put himself in a position to get lucky with a risky core group and became a Millionaire.
Capping Golfers and Spreading Exposure
An alternative method would be to spread out your exposures across the board. You can cap all your golfers at 30 to 50% for example and that way you have lineups that have a little piece of everyone. If you are only playing a few lineups then you likely would build each one different than the last with little overlap between golfers. The positive of this strategy in a fail sport like golf is that it gives you access to more golfers especially the low end guys who are extremely hard to predict. The downside is you have to have more luck on your side to hit that perfect winning combo as you are not establishing any core.
Fantasy golf is one of the best fantasy games out there and the money that can be won nowadays on DraftKings is nothing short of life changing. Don’t get frustrated if you don’t see results right away, learn the process and start implementing the fundamental strategies discussed in this article. People have managed to turn this so called “hobby” into careers but they did so with time and practice so don’t expect immediate results. That being said, if you do manage to hit the big one on DK then don’t forget to come back and tip your friendly DFS Golf author. Good luck!