Fantasy Insider: Fortinet Championship

Fantasy Insider: Fortinet Championship

Hey, gang! Welcome and welcome back.

There’s only one week in between the last PGA TOUR season and the new one that begins with this week’s Fortinet Championship on Thursday, but it’s the best time to reset mentally because, just like the PGA TOUR members, we also start tied for first place with zero points. The holiday hiatus is important, of course, but if you don’t take a breath now, you might wish you did by Thanksgiving.

It’s also easier to turn the page because PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf has received a new paint job. And, as promised in the Fantasy Insider for the Olympics, it’s also had some work done under the hood.

First, to briefly review what hasn’t changed, you’re still starting up to four and benching up to two golfers in every tournament contributing to the game. You’re also limited to three starts per golfer for each of four Segments.

How you build your lineup should require pause to determine how you want to play in the short- and long-term.

The only measurement of fantasy scoring during all tournaments is hole-by-hole scoring by your starters. ShotLink no longer is used to generate fantasy scores.

Fantasy scoring is identical to Modified Stableford scoring:

Albatross = 8 points
Eagle = 5 points
Birdie = 2 points
Par = 0 points
Bogey = minus-1 point
Double bogey or worse = minus-3 points

Before I address expectations and strategy, bonus points for your starters in the final round will remain one-tenth FedExCup points earned. (Customarily, if any of your starters are non-members, the equivalent of bonus points will be added manually at some point after at the conclusion of the tournament.)

I was granted a test drive of the new format during the first round of the TOUR Championship. At the end of the day, the total of my four starters was 35 points, which was good enough to lead about a dozen gamers. (I used the same lineup that I was using for the old version.)

The simple correlation to understanding how you should perform is the Barracuda Championship, which also uses Modified Stableford scoring. In his four rounds, which is akin to one round in PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf with four starters, Erik van Rooyen prevailed with a tournament-record 50 points. The equals at Barracuda to my lone round of four starters worth 35 points at the TOUR Championship were Lee Hodges and Bo Van Pelt, who tied for 11th place.

In the old version, even when only one golfer scored 35 points in a single round, he was underperforming in most tournaments. This is to say that fantasy scoring will be WAY down in 2021-22. As I state that, I know that you might grumble about it, and that’s fine. Just remember that we’re all in the same boat and all of us will be adjusting to the new norm, and that’s fine, too.

Because fantasy scoring will drop, aggressive strategies should rise. It’ll be easier to swallow zeroes for missed cuts, and I love that component of it. With the old game, cuts made had priority over leaderboard finish. Now, it’s the reverse because a second-place finish will reward 30 bonus points, which itself would be a good team total for a single round.

As much as taking chances is encouraged, do it in doses.

Actual scoring this week at Silverado will be low, so there will be some initial separation among the ranks as fantasy scoring will be elevated. Meanwhile, when a difficult course is the test, like Southern Hills for the U.S. Open next year, fantasy scoring will be seriously low. Note that a negative total is possible, too, but it’s all relative to others. But before you consider that sitting out a tough test could result in gaining ground on your competition, remember that you’d be forfeiting the potential of bonus points. That’s the best example to illustrate the extremes of the new format. Bonus points always will be at stake to reduce and eliminate deficits much faster than putting four rounds together used to be, and this is in direct response to the massive interest in final leaderboards.

The navigation for constructing a roster reintroduces click-and-drag technology, but the overall experience is a little different than the most recent functionality. Most importantly, it’s intuitive. Over time, other bells and whistles, like roster comparisons, will fall into place from a visual and interactive standpoint.

Emails have been distributed to everyone who was registered last season and since the platform launched in the last couple of days. Commissioners of leagues have been provided instruction for how to invite former league members who haven’t rejoined.

The PGA TOUR Experts League returns. Anyone can participate in it because it’s a public league. It’s identified as “PGA TOUR Experts” and you’ll find it as the “FEATURED” league on the LEAGUES page.

As noted in the link to Expert Picks below, my plan to swing around Ben at East Lake paid off, so I’m once again wearing the honor, er, target of being the defending champion. While it feels great, of course, it’s more of a sense of relief that I prevailed. After all, given what I (get to) do for a living, I better!

One of the enhancements planned for the fantasy platform is for all of the lineups for those of us featured in Expert Picks will be made visible. This could be up and running in time for the Sanderson Farms Championship in two weeks.

Of course, PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf is but one of the fantasy formats on the landscape. Loyal readers have an understanding of how I’ll advise on just about everything presented. It’s one of the reasons why I compile the full-membership fantasy ranking. Aside from last year, which is explained in the intro, it’s been a staple since I was hired in 2010.

An apology is in order for confusion over the omission of Jimmy Walker, who you’ll find in Notable WDs below. He has one more season remaining on his multi-year exemption for winning the 2016 PGA Championship. The only reason why he’s not included in the full-membership ranking is human error. However, had I not overlooked him, he’d slot in the 175-200 range.

Another relevant note not included in the intro is that, as of this moment, 26-year-old Si Woo Kim is not yet scheduled to fulfill his military conscription in his native South Korea. He must do so by the age of 28. The 2024 Olympics in Paris are scheduled when he’s 29, so it stands to reason that he won’t have another opportunity to win a medal and exempt out of the national obligation. Fellow South Korean, Sungjae Im, is only 23, so he’ll have another chance if he doesn’t register for his conscription first. All of that is to say that both are free to own in full-season formats this season.

All of the staples that I update weekly also have turned over for the 2021-22 season. You’ll find Reshuffle, Medical Extensions, Qualifiers and Rookie Ranking by navigating the FANTASY page or by using the MENU→Fantasy slide-out at the top.

Should you want to connect with me personally, visit my Twitter page where you can use Direct Messaging if you wish. While it’s private, it’s also a better space because there’s no limitation on the length of text.


RELATED: Power Rankings | PGATOUR.COM Expert Picks


PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf

My roster for the Fortinet Championship (in alphabetical order):
Stephan Jaeger
Taylor Moore
Kevin Na
Jon Rahm
Harold Varner III
Will Zalatoris

You’ll find my starters in Expert Picks.

POWER RANKINGS WILD CARD
Cameron Champ (+4000) … This has all the makings to be the start of a special season for the 26-year-old. He sat out his title defense here last year to rest for the U.S. Open, but his recent uptick of form that included victory at the 3M Open inside two months ago is reason enough to get back on board. This includes in DFS.

DRAWS
Emiliano Grillo (+5000) … That he missed cuts in multiple shootouts over the summer is curious, but the 2015 Fortinet champ has fanned only once in six trips to Silverado. He ranked third on TOUR in GIR and T1 in proximity last season. Keep visiting his well.

Harry Higgs
Lee Hodges
Marc Leishman
Ryan Moore
Doc Redman
Justin Suh


Odds sourced on Tuesday, September 14 at 5 a.m. ET. For live odds visit betmgm.


FADES
Brendan Steele (+10000) … Course-history buffs can’t take their eyes off the guy, but those who subscribe to recent bias are wary. The thing is, the new format for PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf almost begs to play him. You don’t have as much to lose and a guy with as much as success as the two-time winner (2017, 2018) is worth the light risk. However, since Wells Fargo in May, he’s 4-for-8 with only one top-65 finish (T37, Memorial), so don’t go into this expecting to leave with a wheelbarrow of bonus points. Consider that a 36th-place finish yields two bonus points, which is the equivalent to one birdie.

Joseph Bramlett (+8000) … Brings all the mojo as the winner of the KFT Championship, so again, it’s sensible why you’d want to bite, but the conservative in me prefers for him to prove it on this stage. After all, there was a reason he was back at the KFT Finals in the first place. If you want momentum without as much pressure, my Power Rankings and my fantasy roster is loaded with it.

Dylan Frittelli
Adam Hadwin
Charles Howell III
Patton Kizzire
Matt Kuchar
Phil Mickelson

RETURNING TO COMPETITION
J.B. Holmes (+25000) … Hasn’t played since exiting the John Deere Classic during the second round with an injured back. It bothered him at Muirfield Village a month before that and probably every time he gave it a go in between. It was a lost season in general but the 39-year-old remains fully exempt through 2021-22 via his victory at Riviera in 2019. In two tries at Silverado, he finished ninth in 2018 and T46 last year, but don’t let that persuade you into an investment this week.

Kevin Chappell (+20000) … The NorCal native is making his ninth appearance in the tournament and his fifth at Silverado. He arrives with eight starts remaining on his Major Medical Extension and all but a lock to collect 128.577 FedExCup points and retain status for the remainder of the season. However, he hasn’t competed since pulling out of the Rocket Mortgage Classic with a sore back before the opening round on July 1. Proper only for fractional use in DFS this week.

Chris Stroud (+50000) … Opened last season 0-for-3, and then shut it down in October due to a back injury. He hinted that a return over the summer may have been possible, but it’s better this way because he didn’t exhaust any starts in advance on a medical extension that he was granted. The 39-year-old has 19 starts to find the full boatload of 440.355 for the in-season promotion from the graduate reshuffle to the Major Medical category.

Vaughn Taylor (+25000) … Battled a sore rib near the end of the season and settled at 149th in the FedExCup. So, he has conditional status. The better news is that he’s feeling well enough to return at Silverado where he’s 3-for-4 with a T14 in 2016. Depending on how much he wants to play, he could be a nice piece in weekly situations, but he needs to show us that he’s healthy.

NOTABLE WDs
Jimmy Walker … Someone has to be the first early withdrawal of the season, but it’s not often a former champion of the same event. OK, he was the last winner at CordeValle in 2013 and he hasn’t appeared at Silverado since his title defense the following year, so it’s not surprising. Hasn’t pegged it anywhere since a T11 at the 3M Open in late July. Fully exempt this season despite finishing well outside the top 125 in the FedExCup in each of the last three.

POWER RANKINGS RECAP – TOUR CHAMPIONSHIP
Power Ranking  Golfer  Result
1  Jon Rahm  2nd
2  Bryson DeChambeau  7th
3  Tony Finau  T11
4  Justin Thomas  4th
5  Patrick Cantlay  Win
6  Rory McIlroy  T14
7  Dustin Johnson  8th
8  Xander Schauffele  T5
9  Brooks Koepka  WD
10  Jordan Spieth  T20
11  Sungjae Im  T20
12  Sam Burns  T18
13  Abraham Ancer  T9
14  Viktor Hovland  T5
15  Scottie Scheffler  T22
16  Corey Conners  T22
17  Cameron Smith  T14
18  Daniel Berger  T11
19  Jason Kokrak  T11
20  Louis Oosthuizen  T14
21  Harris English  T18
22  Sergio Garcia  T14
23  Hideki Matsuyama  T26
24  Collin Morikawa  T26
25  Erik van Rooyen  T22
26  Billy Horschel  T9
27  Joaquin Niemann  29th
28  Stewart Cink  T26
29  Kevin Na  3rd
30  Patrick Reed  25th

POWER RANKINGS RECAP – FEDEXCUP PLAYOFFS
Power Ranking  Golfer  Result
1  Jordan Spieth  T20
2  Jon Rahm  2nd
3  Xander Schauffele  T5
4  Dustin Johnson  8th
5  Brooks Koepka  30th
6  Patrick Cantlay  1st
7  Collin Morikawa  T26
8  Daniel Berger  T11
9  Patrick Reed  25th
10  Justin Thomas  4th
11  Scottie Scheffler  T22
12  Harris English  T18
13  Viktor Hovland  T5
14  Cameron Smith  T14
15  Hideki Matsuyama  T26
16  Abraham Ancer  T9
17  Bryson DeChambeau  7th
18  Paul Casey  52nd
19  Corey Conners  T22
20  Rory McIlroy  T14
21  Kevin Kisner  38th
22  Sam Burns  T18
23  Jason Kokrak  T11
24  Tony Finau  T11
25  Joaquin Niemann  29th
26  Webb Simpson  40th
27  Russell Henley  56th
28  Louis Oosthuizen  T14
29  Billy Horschel  T9
30  Stewart Cink  T26

BIRTHDAYS AMONG ACTIVE MEMBERS OF THE PGA TOUR
September 14 … Tony Finau (32); Emiliano Grillo (29)
September 15 … Kevin Na (38)
September 16 … Bryson DeChambeau (28)
September 17 … none
September 18 … Viktor Hovland (24)
September 19 … Ryan Palmer (45); Michael Gligic (32); Paul Barjon (29)
September 20 … Chad Collins (43)


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