Is it possible that someone like Rory McIlroy could be bad for fantasy golf, the very sport that benefits from the rise of such a superstar? In as volatile a sport as golf, having as near a constant as McIlroy or Tiger Woods in his prime levels the playing field quite a bit between the lay person and the expert because, and this is especially true in non-salary based games, just about everyone will play him. Strategically, this is a problem. When every army has a nuke, no country wins. Skilled players could try to get fancy and justify benching him based on the very volatility that he normalizes, but then he wins, or drops a second place finish to a James Hahn, who's on no one's lineup. The trouble is this - start him and keep pace or bench him and risk losing ground. There is no clear way to gain an edge by making that play without taking significant risk.

That decision should come from where you stand in your league. If you're in front, start him because more often than not, the chalk will be there to keep you from landing hard on your backside. Are you already on your backside? Weigh the risk and the field to see who might upset and go for it. My apologies for going Sun Tzu for a moment, but I'd like to help anyone reading this win, so these considerations are significant. Metaphysically speaking, who is Rory McIlroy?


On a lighter note, I've found the meaning of life. Well, that's a lie, but this cheese sandwich is pretty good, so there's always that. I don't mean to recommend that as a source for all of your problems, but if you're hungry, its a good way to go.

My Power Rankings draw on statistics only, while Risk and Reward draws more on gut feel and intuition about players who missed my Top 15. In this column, you'll find "Lay-Up", "Going For It", and "Hazard". Look for more subjective analysis here, as opposed to the Power Rankings, where I rely strictly on data. If the idea of Lay-Up may contain players who, barring a Great Flood, will bank you some points. Going For It is where I'll have players that may have missed the Power Rankings or who I feel present an excellent opportunity to pick up a win, but carry some considerable risk. Lastly, Hazards, where I often find myself on any given Sunday, should be avoided.

Lay-Up


Dustin Johnson - TA: 48.5, CHG: (+5.8) - My arbitrary set of rules won't allow me to put someone in the Power Rankings until their Total Aggregate allows it. Batman has his no-kill rule, I have that. As a result, DJ is here again following his playoff loss to James "Al Bundy" Hahn. He hasn't fared well at PGA National, which is why he's outside the Top 15, but I'm banking on a renewed and recommitted Dustin Johnson putting on a show. As much as I like Rory McIlroy for the win, I'm thinking this could be a coming out party for DJ.

Rickie Fowler - TA: 32.78, CHG: (-10.6) - He's something of a sleeper this week given the depth of field and his current dull form. Much like I'm ignoring DJ's history, I'm leaning on Rickie's to outpace his poor play. He tied for 24th last year, 13th the year prior, and 7th prior to that. He's had some time since the Farmers Insurance Open to figure out his game, so look for him to be sharp and well-rested.

Daniel Berger - TA: 34.5, CHG: (+8.2) - A Florida native, so this is a little bit of a home game for him. The Web.com grad is making the most of his rookie season so far and it all but guaranteed to keep him card for next year. He's got two Top 10s and two Top 25s in his last five starts, so he's on form. Being a rookie, he hasn't played any of these tournaments as a pro, so lack of knowledge hasn't slowed him down yet, and I doubt it will this week.

Going-For-It


Freddie Jacobson - TA: 45.28, CHG: (+9.4) - Definition of horse for a course. Never missed the cut at PGA National and has never finished worse than a tie for 29th. In six tries. All he's missing here is a win, and after showing some decent form in his last two starts, he just might be able to do it. Sitting second in strokes-gained putting doesn't hurt his chances either.

Charles Howell III - TA: 42.61, CHG: (+7.8) - Like pizza, CH3 is always an option. Also like pizza, even when CH3 is bad, he still tends to be pretty good. His recent results have been somewhat mixed, with a few Top 10s topping an otherwise forgettable set of finishes. The upside is that he's never missed a cut here, with similar results to his current season, a few Top 10s mixed in with some mostly forgettable results.

Robert Streb - TA: 31.67, CHG: (-18.4) - For this first time this season, he's missed my Power Rankings. Also for the first time this season, he missed the cut at the Northern Trust Open. I'm not ready to sell him just yet, but I'm curious to see how he bounces back, since this is just his fifth missed cut in his last thirty starts. Placed 18th in his only start as a profession here.

Adam Hadwin - TA: 58.67, CHG: (+15.6) - The man from Moose Jaw seems to be rounding back into form after finding a tie for 22nd on a tough Riviera course. He's now three for his last four, with the last two coming on tough tracks. Another rookie, so he's got no course history, but expect his to be a real value in salary leagues.

Hazard


Fabian Gomez - TA: 70.33, CHG: (-19.4) - Seems to have lost the consistency he started the year with. Kicked off the year with five straight paychecks, but since has missed two of three with a T57 in between. There are better flyers out there right now, so search for someone more on form for a punt. Consistency is what you want out of low-price picks, and he doesn't have it right now.

Louis Oosthuizen - TA: 32.5, CHG: (+19.6) - On paper, he looks to be on form, but the former Open Champion hasn't made the cut here in three tries. Two of those tries resulted in withdrawals in the third round and he's only posted two rounds in the 60s in eight attempts. Always a potential WD due to a bad back, he's simply not worth chancing in such a deep field.


Jason Dufner - TA: 48.39, CHG: (-15.4) - The Duf has missed his last two cuts while dropping significant weight. He looks healthy and his neck seems to have completely healed, but Dufner isn't completely back yet. Two 51st place finishes and a 40th place finish in his last three starts here don't inspire confidence. Also, he's the third worst putter on Tour right now, not that he's ever been the best, but I don't think he's ever been this bad.


My Picks


PGA Tour - 22nd of 733 - PGATour.com Experts League - 5048 points
  • Rory McIlroy
  • Keegan Bradley
  • Brooks Koepka
  • Justin Rose 
Yahoo! - 2nd of 50 - Reddit/r/Golf League - 95th percentile, 3088th overall
  • Rory McIlroy (S)
  • Brooks Koepka
  • Justin Rose (S)
  • Graeme McDowell (S)
  • Lee Westwood
  • Nick Watney
  • Keegan Bradley (S)
  • Russell Henley
Golf Channel - 10th of 100 - Reddit/r/Golf League - 2840th overall
The Honda Classic
  • Rory McIlroy
  • Keegan Bradley
  • Freddie Jacobson
  • John Peterson
Honda LPGA Thailand
  • Stacy Lewis
  • Jessica Korda
  • Sun-Young Yoo
  • Mina Harigae

Thanks for reading!


Kyle Donovan