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Fantasy Preview: 2018 FedEx St. Jude Classic

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Measuring just over 7,200 yards, TPC Southwind is a course that doesn’t favor just one type of player. Length as always is an advantage at the FedEx St. Jude Classic, however, narrow fairways alleviate that advantage somewhat. More important than length off the tee, approach play is the main key to success in Memphis, as small greens make approach shots very tricky. There are also 94 bunkers and 10 water hazards in play that players will need to avoid.

As well as approach play, ball striking has always been a key statistic to focus on when it comes to TPC Southwind, and par-4 scoring is another area that I believe will be significant this week. Last year, Daniel Berger made it back-to-back victories at the St. Jude, firing two rounds of 66 over the weekend to post 10-under par and take the title by one stroke.

Selected Tournament Odds (via Bet365)

  • Dustin Johnson 13/2
  • Brooks Koepka 9/1
  • Henrik Stenson 14/1
  • Phil Mickelson 14/1
  • Tony Finau 20/1
  • Charl Schwartzel 25/1
  • Daniel Berger 25/1

Going quietly about his business, Henrik Stenson (16/1, DK Price $10,400) has now recorded five-consecutive top-25 finishes on the PGA Tour. The Swede’s iron play has been particularly impressive in this period and that should bode very well for him this week. Over his previous 12 rounds, Stenson ranks first in Strokes Gained-Approaching the Green, second in Ball Striking, and third in Strokes-Gained Total.

Stenson hasn’t played the course since 2012 when he finished T-13, but it should fit his game perfectly. Stenson’s par-4 scoring is an area where he has seen a lot of success this season. He ranks first for Scoring Average on Par 4’s with an average of 3.9 strokes, and with par-4 scoring likely to be crucial this week, the signs are good for the Swede. At a best price 16/1 and a lower DraftKings salary than the likes of Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, and Phil Mickelson, Stenson looks to offer the best value from the top of the board this week.

Another man who the market seems out of favor with lately is Luke List (40/1, DK Price $8,300). Since the Farmers Insurance Open in late January, List has recorded six top-20 finishes and missed just two cuts. Steve Stricker, Russell Knox, and Peter Uihlein can’t boast statistics as impressive as these, yet this week List is the cheapest option in the group. Of List’s six top-20 finishes, four of them have been top-10s. Knox, Uilhein, and Stricker have three top-10 finishes between them in 2018.

Over his last 24 rounds, List ranks first in Ball Striking, first in Strokes Gained-Tee to Green and fourth in Strokes Gained-Total. List also ranks eighth for Par-4 Performance over the same period. In what is a very weak field, List deserves more respect in the market, and he’s a better alternative for DraftKings lineups than others in his same price range.

With a weak field, value down the board can be greater than most weeks, and searching for players with trending form can often pay off.  Ben Crane (80/1, DK Price $7,400) is one of those players trending in the right direction. Crane has now made six consecutive cuts, and in his last outing, he recorded a top-10 finish at the Fort Worth Invitational. Over his previous 12 rounds, Crane ranks 23rd in this field for Strokes Gained-Total and should be buoyed by his excellent course form at this event. Crane has made his last five cuts at the St. Jude and has recorded three top-20 finishes in that period, one of which was a victory back in 2014. At $7,400 on DraftKings, he looks to offer nice value this week.

Going even lower in the market, Joel Dahmen (100/1, DK Price $7,100) is a very interesting prospect at $7,100. Dahmen has now made seven-consecutive cuts on Tour, and he has finished in the top-20 in his last three outings. Over his previous 12 rounds, Dahmen ranks 10th in Strokes Gained-Approaching the Green, 10th in Ball Striking and seventh in Strokes Gained-Total. His approach play is trending in the right direction each week, and he looks to be a little undervalued.

Recommended Plays

  • Henrik Stenson 16/1, DK Price $10,400
  • Luke List 40/1, DK Price $8,300
  • Ben Crane 80/1, DK Price $7,400
  • Joel Dahmen 100/1, DK Price $7,100
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Gianni is a freelance writer. He holds a Bachelor of Arts as well as a Diploma in Sports Journalism. He can be contacted at gmagliocco@outlook.com. Follow him on Twitter @giancarlomag

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