The PGA Tour’s lengthy offseason has finally come to a close after one week, and the 2021-22 season is officially underway this week in Napa, California. The Fortinet Championship at Silverado Country Club will serve as the first event of the season, and there will be plenty of names in the field competing for the $7 million purse.
Defending champion Stewart Cink unfortunately will not be in attendance because one of his children is getting married, but there’s a full (and interesting) field creating plenty of storylines just ahead of the fall’s main event next week at the Ryder Cup. Who’s going to win and what will it mean for the remainder of the 2021-22 season?
Let’s take a closer look at this week’s contest with odds provided via Caesars Sportsbook.
Event: Fortinet Championship | Dates: Sept. 16-19
Location: Silverado Country Club — Napa, California
Par: 72 | Purse: $7 million
Before you set your PGA DFS lineups on sites like DraftKings and FanDuel for the 2021 Fortinet Championship, you NEED to see what Mike McClure has to say. McClure is a DFS pro with nearly $2 million in career winnings, and he’s been red-hot on his PGA DFS picks.
Two weeks ago at the Tour Championship, McClure included Viktor Hovland among his top PGA DFS picks. The result: Hovland returned 78 points on DraftKings and 102.2 points on FanDuel. Anybody who had him in their lineup was well on the way to a profitable weekend.
We can tell you one of McClure’s top PGA DFS picks for the Fortinet Championship 2021 is Emiliano Grillo at $8,900 on DraftKings and $10,300 on FanDuel. McClure’s optimal PGA DFS strategy also includes rostering Jon Rahm ($12,100 on DraftKings, $12,500 on FanDuel), who’s finished T-3 or better in four of his last five starts on the PGA Tour.
Yesterday, I put together the small-field GPP strategy and plays for this week at Silverado Resort. Now we will dive into the big GPPs on DraftKings, which this week is the $25 Fresh Start contest offering $200,000 to first, which makes up one-third of the $600,000 total prize pool.
As is often the case in these tournaments, it is a very top-heavy payout structure, so we are building lineups with the upside to win and, in many cases sacrificing some of the safety that other players may offer.
We are ramping things up for the new season here at Fantasy Labs, and we have a ton of resources and articles to get you ready for the week. Matt Vincenzi kicks things off with his course fit and stats article, which also highlights some GPP options. Landon Silinsky provides his cash game plays here. Justin Bailey has pulled out our top plays and highlighted them through this article, but you can also dive directly into those Player Models as well and use the Lineup Builder to create everything you are looking for this week.
Hideki Matsuyama $11,000
Let’s make a splash right from the start. It is pretty clear that the highest rostered player on the slate will be Jon Rahm. I expect that when the dust settles at lock time on Thursday, we are going to see his ownership north of 30%. I highlighted in the small-field article yesterday that he is the starting point at extremely short odds not only to win but also -165 to finish in the top 5.
Most people won’t start their lineups with the top two players on the board, and understandably so with that leaving just $6,725 per player from there, which has Hideki as the odd man out in the five-figure range this week.
We may see him sub 10% on Thursday, which is a big reason for my play in large-field GPPs. Is Rahm really three times more likely to finish higher than Matsuyama this week? We are talking about the Masters Champion and a guy that has had success at this course.
Many people will only see his missed cut from 2019 at this event, but if you look further back, his prior three trips to Napa resulted in 17th, 3rd, and 3rd. Sure, he didn’t play great at the TOUR Championship, but he actually bounced back decently from a horrible opening round 77 to shoot -6 across the next three rounds.
If you want to get different, and you will need to at points in these larger fields, you could do worse than starting with the lowest rostered top-end player in Hideki Matsuyama.
Maverick McNealy $8,600
The ownership this week is condensed in very specific spots leading to a suspected build popularity of Rahm then Harold Varner before dropping into the high $7,000s, leaving a lot of the $8,000 under-rostered. Maverick McNealy could be one of the players that slides under the radar a bit and is a good fit regardless of who you start with up top.
He has shown a preference for these shorter, west coast courses like Silverado and really closed the season in solid form. He made the cut in all of his final seven events last season and earned his way into the top 70 for the BMW Championship. I expect McNealy to be in contention for a breakthrough win this season, and this stop would make a lot of sense for that.
We may capture ownership in the low teens at worst, making him a nice core play for GPPs this week.
Pat Perez $7,900
When we get down below $8,000, the ownership will spike a bit this week. As I mentioned, the common build will have people spreading out in this range to find pairings with Rahm. I am torn between Doug Ghim and Pat Perez in this range, but it seems like Ghim is going to be more popular.
Perez may get squeezed out a bit as the popular Mito Pereira is above them and looking like he may fall in more than 20% of lineups. To me, the three are fairly equal in the long run, any of them could out perform the other two in a given week, and Perez has plenty to like coming into the week.
He closed out the year with back-to-back top-20 finishes at the 3M and the Northern Trust, where he gained 5.7 shots on approach against that elite field. Perez is also a west coast guy who will feel comfortable on this course, as he showed in his ninth-place finish at this event last year.
I’ll happily take the discount against the other two in larger fields, though all three are likely to be in my mix this week.
Brendan Steele $7,400
I tend to believe in course history, especially for someone who has established themselves on TOUR over time and continues to go back to a certain venue. Steele is that guy this week with back-to-back wins at this event in 2016 and 2017, as well as no missed cuts in his last six trips. He is from the area, lives nearby, and clearly loves this track. We really don’t need to say much more here at this price.
Hank Lebioda $7,100
If you follow me on Twitter, you know I had some strong opinions against Lebioda over the summer as his price went through the $8,000 threshold, and he was still getting 25%+ ownership. Now, many seem to have forgotten that time as he is barely above the bottom tier and is only looking at low double digits this week.
This is a spot I’ll be really happy to jump in as there is no denying the skillset of Lebioda, and his game certainly fits this type of course. He’s appropriately priced but also seems to be getting a bit overlooked, which makes him a solid play for a great combination of safety and really high upside.
Sam Ryder $6,800
I am going back to the Sam Ryder well, and it appears I am on an island with this play, which is fine by me. In further evaluating things, Ryder is more of a large-field GPP fit than he is for the small field I discussed yesterday. He has a lot of risk to him, which I can tolerate at both levels, but he can be a difference-maker across the larger-field tournaments.
Ryder is a good mix of long enough and accurate off-the-tee but also has been sharp with his approach game in the ranges we want this week. The part that really makes him a GPP play is he has shown an ability to navigate this course tee-to-green, and the time he also had a hot putter, he jumped up to a top-five finish.
Ryder closed last season, gaining nearly nine strokes on the greens across his last three tournaments, including three strokes gained at the 3M. He is historically a volatile putter, but if we get the hot week and his game stays sharp ball-striking, he can be a difference-maker at sub-5% rostered.
Mark Hubbard $6,500
Since we already highlighted our highest-rated low-end play in Nick Hardy yesterday, I’ll go to another that rates out well this week in Mark Hubbard. He closed out last season with just one missed cut across his final 10 events. Making it to the weekend will go a long way at this price point. Hubbard also has some upside as he posed three top 20s in his final six events, along with a 13th-place finish at this event from 2019.