The Masters picks, sleepers for daily fantasy golf contests

The time is finally here! The 2018 Masters is upon us, and with it also comes the biggest week of the year in daily fantasy golf. The Masters is always the pinnacle of the golfing world, but this year feels even bigger than any other Masters in recent memory. Almost every elite player has either won this season or is playing great golf right now, making it feel like the green jacket is truly anyone’s to win. Oh yeah, there is also the return of the greatest golfer of this generation and four-time Masters Champion Tiger Woods, which makes this year's Masters one of the most anticipated golf tournaments of the past 20 years. Fortunately, there are plenty of potential picks and sleepers for your PGA DFS contests.

The Masters picks, sleepers for daily fantasy golf contests

The Masters picks, sleepers for daily fantasy golf contests

Augusta National is a long layout at 7,435 yards, which will play longer than its listed yardage. What makes Augusta National a truly special layout is that it tests every single aspect of a player’s game. There isn’t a flat hole on the course, and huge changes in elevation are standard. I’ve seen a big deal being made about strokes gained: off-the-tee going into the week, but I’m personally going to be using strokes gained: approach as the most important statistic this week. The fairways at Augusta are very forgiving, the rough is basically non-existent, and even if someone does get loose off the tee, playing out of the pine straw is by no means a death sentence.

However, missing your spot on the greens can be a scorecard wrecker at Augusta given both the speed and massive undulations that litter the greens. I also don’t mind giving a bump to players who are long off the tee due to the lack of real danger off the fairway besides the brutally deep fairway bunkers. With the being said, I won’t be eliminating short hitters by any means if their approach and short games are up to snuff.

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Course management is crucial at Augusta National, so perhaps the most important thing to look for when picking golfers this week is their Masters histories. The atmosphere, layout, and pressure of playing in the Masters is unlike anything else in golf, so don’t be afraid to ride players who have played well over and over again at Augusta National even at high ownership.

Another aspect to note is the small field at The Masters. We will only see 86 players in the field this week, with the top 50 and ties or anyone within 10 shots of the lead making the cut. Unless we get some bad-weather carnage, we should see a ton of 6/6 lineups, and you may need multiple high finishers -- as well as getting everyone through the cut -- just to cash in cash games and min-cash in tournaments.

All in all, you do not simply want cut-makers this week. I can't emphasize this enough. Shoot for upside, and if you can’t envision someone finishing within the top 10 or top 15, then don’t even consider him for your player pool in tournaments.

Before we get into the picks, I urge you to give RotoQL’s DFS tools a try. You'll find all the stats you need to put together winning lineups, and our RotoQL PGA Lineup Optimizer is as good as it gets when constructing DFS rosters, regardless of contest size or preferred site.

Check me out on Twitter (DFSBenj) for much more PGA, MLB, NBA, and NFL daily fantasy content.

Key Stats:

Strokes Gained: Approach
Scrambling
Driving Distance
Par 5 Scoring
Bogey Avoidance


The Masters picks (Daily Fantasy Golf)


$10,000-plus Players to Target

Justin Thomas - $10,800

This was such a hard decision between Thomas and Jordan Spieth -- in full disclosure, I’ll be playing both in my lineups -- but if I had to take one top guy to lean on in GPPs, it would be JT. Thomas enters in basically the exact same situation that Dustin Johnson came in to Augusta last year. He won his first major last season at the PGA, just like DJ at Oakmont, he dominated through the early season with multiple wins, just like DJ, and he played excellent his last time out at the Matchplay, just like DJ. Everyone was dying to play Johnson last year at likely upwards of 30-percent ownership, but this year JT is likely to go well under 20-percent owned in the Millionaire Maker. Thomas is the best player in the world right now, and his game is a fit for Augusta despite a short track record (only two previous starts).

Tiger Woods - $10,000

Tiger is likely to be the one of the highest owned players in the field with the public dying to jump in on him. I don’t care if he’s 40-percent owned, I’m still playing Tiger for the simple fact that I believe he has one of the highest win equities in the field. He finally is healthy and knows how to get around Augusta National better than anyone else in the world, period. His issues with the driver have been well documented, but the forgiveness of Augusta National off the tee should help ease some of those issues and no one knows how to get up and down around the tricky greens better than Eldrick. I’ll gladly fade some mediocre player or a player that doesn’t have high win equity at high ownership, but fading a healthy, in-form Tiger Woods at Augusta National is madness.

$9,000-$9,900 Players to Target

Phil Mickelson - $9,500

Dropping below $10,000 there’s again plenty of good options who can win. While I like Rory McIlroy here, the guy I’m going to be loading up on more in tournaments is Mickelson. Phil’s been playing the best golf he’s played in the past three or four years right now, and he seems have to have finally made a breakthrough with his driver. Only Tiger Woods has a better Masters pedigree in the field, and I would not be surprised at all to see Phil roll back the clock and win his fourth green jacket.

Justin Rose - $9,200

Rose has been so close at Augusta a few times and will likely be among the highest, if not the highest, owned player in the field. However, it does feel like Rose has to win here eventually in his career, and he should be seen as the top overall cash game play. Rose has shown remarkable consistency at Augusta, posting five top-10 finishes at The Masters in the past 10 years. His game is on point, and if he maintains his approach game form then he should be a near lock for a top 15.

$8,000-$8,900 Players to Target

Sergio Garcia - $8,600

The $8,000-range is likely to be the most popular this week, and guys like Paul Casey and Bubba Watson should garner a ton of attention. While those guys are fine plays, I’ll be loading up on defending champion Garcia at likely lower ownership than both. Sergio has a solid history at Augusta and is in the best place he’s has been in in his entire career. He has baby swag going, he named his daughter Azalea after the famous 13th at Augusta National which was a turning point in his 2017 win, and his game is looking great. DFS players tend to avoid the last season's event champion and the guy who won the previous week, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see Garcia be one of the lower-owned players in this price group.

Hideki Matsuyama - $8,400

Here we are, my pick to win the 2018 Masters is Matsuyama. Every year the media, especially the Japanese media, hypes up Hideki, asking if this is the time the best Japanese golfer ever wins his first major. However, a wrist injury and lack of wins in 2018 has really cooled the hype, which I actually believe really helps him. While he didn’t make it out of pool play in the Matchplay, make no mistake his game looked great (he was -7 in his first match). His price point is $1,000 too cheap in my opinion, and when situations like that occur I’m going all-in every single time. He has posted finishes of T-11, T-7, and T-5 in his past three appearances at Augusta and finished within the top 15 in every major last season, so the floor is among the highest of any player in the $8,000 range.

Adam Scott - $8,000

I’ll admit that riding with Scott is terrifying, but I’m going to trust the ball striking, as well as his elite Masters history, and just pray that he can sink some putts. Scott’s ball striking has been elite all season, and he should be able to find the proper areas on the greens with his approach shots to set up plenty of birdie opportunities. Projecting Scott’s ownership is tough, but I can’t see him being too highly owned with so many other top players in this price range.

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$7,000-$7,900 Players to Targets

Matt Kuchar - $7,600

Kuchar has a lifetime free pass from me for his hole-in-one on Sunday at The Masters last year, and I’ll be looking to go back to him heavily at this price point. Kuchar has been ultra consistent at Augusta National, not missing the cut as a pro and posting four top-10 finishes since 2012. We’ve seen players who “can’t win”, like Paul Casey earlier this year and Sergio Garcia at Augusta last year, break through, and it feels like it could be Kuch’s time. If we get any reports of the course playing tough and scoring being at a premium, then Kuchar will jump up even more for me and become an all-in type play like Matsuyama.

Daniel Berger - $7,500

The $7,000 range is likely where GPPs are going to be won or lost, so finding the low-owned guys here will be crucial. The guy I’m planting my tournament flag on is Berger. Berger has had a steady 2018 but is still flying way under the radar due to no top-10 finishes. He has posted finishes of T-10 and T-27 in his only two Masters appearances, so its clear he knows how to play Augusta. Berger and Spieth tend to pop at similar courses and with Spieth being an Augusta National course horse, a Berger/Spieth stack looks like an appealing low-owned option.

Adam Hadwin - $7,200

I wish the talk surrounding Hadwin was a little more muted going into this week, but regardless of his likely lack of sneakiness, I’ll still be looking to play tons of Hadwin at $7,200. His approach game has been on point all season long, and if he can correct some of his short-term putting struggles he could legitimately contend for a top-10 or top-five finish. While he may not have the same win equity as some other guys in this range, his game is in the better shape than anyone in the sub-$7,500 price point.

Under-$7,000 Players to Target

Kevin Chappell - $6,900

I was really locked into playing a ton of Chappell at $6,900 when prices first came out, but then be withdrew from the Matchplay with a back injury. Now he was already guaranteed to not advance to the knockout round and was losing his match to Ian Poulter, so it’s unclear if the injury was serious or if he was just looking to get out of there. If his back is alright then I have no concerns going with him. His ball striking has been great for the past year, and he posted a T-7 in his first professional showing here last year.

Bryson DeChambeau - $6,900

While I really don’t want to dip below $7,000 in too many lineups, for the ones where I do drop down I’ll be looking to DeChambeau for my tournament lineups. He played great here as an amateur in 2016, posting a T-21 and his elite Par-5 scoring should help him score enough to outpace others in this price range. As a final note, I highly recommend against playing guys below $6,800. Sure, Freddy Couples and some of the other old guys are appealing if you want to jam in two or three studs in your lineup, but they won’t help you win a million dollars when they miss the cut or finish T-55 shooting 84 on Sunday.

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