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Joaquin Niemann
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
DFS Dish

DFS Dish: Valspar Championship

by Josh Culp
Updated On: March 19, 2019, 9:11 am ET

Heading to Innisbrook Resort this week, a field of 144 golfers will test their skills on the Copperhead Course. 

The course has hosted since the inaugural edition so there is plenty of course experience to lean on this week, if that's your go-to move. 

For DFS purposes, we have one of the lowest scoring environments we'll see all year. This course doesn't yield many eagles and birdies are also rare, relative to a normal TOUR event. It's a week where finishing position will reign supreme in DFS formats. 

Let's take a look at the weather, look at DRAFT.com, then look at what golfers might enjoy the course forcing them to club down off the tee. 


Weather Update

Thursday (R1): Mostly sunny with a high of 71 degrees. Winds at 9-to-15 MPH. Precip % less than 10. 

Friday (R2): Sunny with a high of 70 degrees. Winds at 9-to-13 MPH. Precip % less than 10. 

The tee-time draw looks pretty even on day one and two. Winds are relatively calm, considering we are in Florida in March. Weather doesn't look to be a concer, at all. 



The best part about season-long leagues is the draft. You don't get that same rush with normal DFS contests but there is hope still. DRAFT has come along to fill that void and I'm having a lot of fun playing in their weekly golf drafts. 

The first place to start is to build your pre-draft rankings for the week. I will point out a few golfers I think are overvalued in the raw rankings and a few that are undervalued in the raw rankings. 


Zach Johnson (65.35 Projected Pts): He just missed the cut on a course where he was previously 14-for-15. He lost 5.5 strokes off-the-tee and another 4.3 strokes putting (in just 2 rounds). It's nice to see his approach play look alright but if I'm paying for ZJ in this range, I want some more complete results leading into the week. ZJ's 6-for-9 at the Valspar but his best finish is just T14 (2007). With a good week he may find a top 25 but I don't think he's someone that burns you by fading him. 

Beau Hossler (63.40 Projected Pts): I'm a big fan of his long-term potential but he's just not clicking yet in 2019. The best part of his game is putting but then it's off-the-tee play. The Copperhead Course will restrict some of that off-the-tee upside. From there, his irons have been well below TOUR average. Not ideal for this venue. There is always the chance for him to have one of his red-hot putting weeks but personally I'd like to see some improvement with the irons before I invest on a course that demands good approach play. 


Jim Furyk (53.54 Projected Pts): The pricing for the pre-draft rankings weigh last year's performance quite a bit. That helps explain why Furyk sits so low on the board. This won't be a sneaky pick for anyone that has been watching a lot of golf this season but you can catch people napping if they are just drafting based on the preset rankings. Furyk has top 15s in five of his last eight starts, dating back to last season. He's talked about how he's playing injury-free for the first time in three years. A healthy Furyk is a steady cut-maker with top-20 upside week in and week out. He's also 9-for-10 here with a win and three other top 10s on his Valspar resume. 

Sergio Garcia (56.87 Projected Pts): The Spaniard has finished T16 or better in each of his last four visits to Innisbrook. That includes a solo fourth last year. Looking at his recent form he's finished T24 or better in 11 of his last 13 worldwide starts. A stellar combo of form and  history. 


Course Fit

The Copperhead Course is restrictive off the tee. It forces golfers to hit into the same landing areas on a lot of holes. A lot fewer drivers needed, versus a regular TOUR stop. A less-than-driver course. 

Looking at sample-adjusted performance on less-than-driver courses since the start of 2014, the top 15 performers on a per-round basis looks like this: 

Dustin Johnson
Jason Day
Henrik Stenson
Sergio Garcia
Paul Casey
Rafa Cabrera Bello
Webb Simpson
Jon Rahm
Kevin Na
Patrick Reed
Branden Grace
Tyrrell Hatton
Zach Johnson
Ryan Moore
Joaquin Niemann

Other than raw performance, we can also look at who shows the biggest improvement on LT Driver Courses (versus their baseline). Using that as the criteria, the following names pop:  

Joaquin Niemann
Ted Potter, Jr.
Roger Sloan
Jason Dufner
D.A. Points
Julian Etulain
Michael Kim
Mackenzie Hughes
Tyler Duncan
Kevin Na
Branden Grace
Ryan Armour
Rafa Cabrera Bello
Chris Kirk
Kelly Kraft

Recommendation: Looking for golfers that crack both lists we find Rafa Cabrera Bello, Kevin Na, Branden Grace, and Joaquin Niemann

Niemann is intriguing here because he's been off the radar for a while and his results haven't really been too impressive in early 2019. Perhaps this is a good week to kickstart his season. 



Value Spotlight

Joaquin Niemann: He's posted eight straight finishes outside the top 40 so expectations should be kept realistic here. However, there are enough hints that suggest he could pop back into the mix this week in Tampa. First, he's gained strokes on approach in 18-of-22 career ShotLink starts. Even during his slump, his irons haven't abandoned him. After that, his around-the-green play was brutal during 2018 but more recently he's gained ARG in three straight starts. That combination should keep his floor at a good level and then his upside gets triggered by how well he puts. If he stays cold with the flat stick then we probably see him settle for another finish in the 40th range. However, if he even putts just field average, then a top 25 is in the cards. 


Best of luck in all your contests this week! 

Josh Culp

Josh Culp joined NBC Sports Edge in 2014. The DFS enthusiast from Iowa State can be found on Twitter @futureoffantasy.