There was a time several years back when Tiger Woods completely dominated the field. He won the Masters his first year on the pro circuit and never looked back. For awhile, he was practically unbeatable, finishing at the top of nearly every major PGA tour. If you were playing fantasy golf, you almost had to add Tiger to your roster just to stay competitive.
Times have changed. His performance has been shaky ever since his dalliance with Rachel Uchitel became tabloid fodder back in ’09. Plagued by injuries and personal issues, Tiger isn’t the sure bet he was pre-scandal. His tepid performance at Quicken Loans is a recent example.
Hello Yao, awesome day at Nike campus in Shanghai. pic.twitter.com/ufn4147z1s
— Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) April 24, 2015
He’s still a stud on the green, of course. He managed to lock down 5 majors during the 2013 PGA season, an impressive feat by any measure. But year by year and tour by tour, his performance lacks the consistency he built his reputation on.
Today, we’re going to talk about an issue that’s sure to come up every time you build a fantasy PGA roster: should you draft Tiger?
I’m not here to make the decision for you. Whether you add him or not is going to be based on a set of criteria that may differ from my own. Instead, I’m going to make the case for both sides of the equation. I’ll explain some of the reasons you SHOULD put Tiger in your lineup. Then, I’ll tell you why doing so might be a mistake.
Sound confusing? Stick with me and you’ll see how considering an array of conflicting factors will help you to make better draft decisions. That’s going to be the case whether we’re talking about Tiger or any other high-profile golfer.
A Few Reasons To Add Tiger To Your Fantasy Golf Roster
Despite what some talking heads are saying, Tiger is far from being washed up. He may be less consistent than his younger self and he might have a more injury-prone body, but he still has solid chops.
So when you’re researching players for an upcoming tournament, don’t dismiss him. There are a lot of reasons to like Tiger as a potential member of your squad.
Tiger’s A Great Asset When You Catch Him On An Upswing
Tiger’s streaky. Sometimes, he goes through major cold spells, when he can’t buy a win. Other times, he’s unstoppable.
If you catch him on a winning streak, you stand a good chance of earning a lot of fantasy points. You can expect Tiger to deliver a ton of birdies and eagles. If he’s really on fire, he might even deliver a double-eagle or two, each of which is worth 20 points at DraftKings.
Like a hot biotech stock that’s on an upward trajectory, it can pay off big to hop on and enjoy the ride.
Tiger Has Shown He Can Adjust His Golf Game When Needed
On the one hand, a golfer who decides to change his swing mid-career is a scary draft pick. The decision throws into question everything you might expect from him on the green.
On the other hand, Tiger is a different animal than most golfers. He has such a refined mental focus that he’s one of the few players who can successfully make the change. Need proof? Look no further than the fact that he’s done it before.
It’s worth noting that Tiger’s most recent decision to alter his swing stems from troubles he’s been having with his body. Case in point: earlier this year, he announced that he was going to pull out of the Bridgestone Invitational due to back pain. To that end, there is method to the madness.
Tiger Has Plenty Of Game Left In Him
At 39, Tiger’s no youngster. But he’s nowhere near the end of his career. He’s probably not going to win many tournaments by 10+ strokes like he regularly did a decade ago. But that doesn’t mean he won’t turn in a steady string of birdies and eagles, the currency of weekly fantasy golf leagues.
Thirty-nine is still in tournament-winning territory, especially for a golfer like Tiger. Keep in mind, Greg Norman won the NEC World Series of Golf at age 40. Jack “The Golden Bear” Nicklaus won The Masters at 46. Arnold Palmer won the Bob Hope Desert Classic way back in 1973 at 43 years of age.
The point is that 39 isn’t over-the-hill. Is Tiger as good a golfer as he was in 2000? No. But when he’s hot, he’s more than capable of beating the rest of the field.
Let’s now switch gears and talk about reasons to fade Tiger when building your fantasy golf lineups.
The Case Against Adding Tiger To Your Fantasy Golf Lineup
I’ll just say it plainly: Tiger Woods has seen his best years. You know it. I know it. I’m sure he knows it. Players like Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth are eating his lunch.
That doesn’t mean the reasons for putting Tiger on your squad (ref. above) are wrong. Those reasons are valid even if he’s unlikely to lead his field by 10+ points.
Having said that, it would be foolish to ignore his deficits. Tiger’s salary is usually in the upper stratosphere. If you’re going to shell out big money to draft him, it’s important to know what you’re buying for your money.
Tiger’s Back Pain Isn’t Going To Go Away
The back pain he’s been battling isn’t uncommon for golfers when they near 40 years of age. The worrisome part is that it’s unlikely to go away. It will continue to affect his game, and could prompt him to pull out of PGA tournaments.
A quick aside: whenever you build a fantasy golf lineup, you should always check for last minute scratches before the first tee off. If Tiger (or any other golfer) withdraws due to injury, you can quickly adjust your roster accordingly.
Tiger’s surgeons claim they can fix him. But back surgeons always claim they can resolve back problems. The truth is, they often can’t. To that end, here’s a good summary on Tiger’s back from a renowned chiropractic neurologist.
As Tiger ages, the issues he’s having with his back are almost certainly going to worsen. Some of the muscle mass he’s recently added may help delay the decline. But golf pundits have noted the muscle has played havoc with his swing, tightening him up and slowing him down.
That’s something to consider when deciding whether Tiger has a place on your roster.
Tiger Often Has A High Fantasy Golf Salary
Athlete salaries at DraftKings are based on four major factors:
1. recent performance (e.g. last few events)
2. past season’s performance
3. the athlete’s opponent
4. popularity (percentage of the field that drafts him)
There are probably a dozen smaller items that DraftKings also takes into account, but those four are the big ones. Now, consider that 4th factor in light of Tiger’s salary.
As noted earlier, his performance is a bit wonky these days. Sometimes, he’s on fire. Other times, he doesn’t even make the cut. Naturally, his salary fluctuates.
But Tiger is also a household name. He’s known to people who are not golf fans. Folks who would never tune in to see how Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth are performing do so just to watch Tiger.
How does that affect his salary? Tiger’s popularity exceeds his value as a golfer in daily fantasy. People focus on him because he’s a celebrity. A lot of fantasy players draft him, boosting his salary higher than it should be.
That’s not to say Tiger isn’t worth the money. Again, when he’s hot, he tends to be on fire. Just realize you may be overpaying if you put him in your lineup.
Tiger Is Less Consistent Than He Used To Be
One of the marvels of watching Tiger during his heyday was that you expected him to win. Watching him was like watching the Chicago Bulls during the early 90s. It was a major disappointment if he didn’t lock down first place.
Today’s Tiger is like the Bulls from 2011 to 2014. There are a lot of injuries and a lack of consistency.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing if you’re playing fantasy golf. You can benefit from Tiger’s lack of consistency by paying a lower salary when he’s going through a slump and exploiting his low-ownership across the field. If he turns in a great performance, you’ll earn points that others miss.
Consistency reduces risk. But experienced fantasy sports fans know that risk is what creates opportunity.
He is the quintessential “Fish Play”
His fan base is so huge and his coverage on TV is so vast that whenever he has an attractive feeling price on DK the fish are going to flock to him in schools.
Fading him against the field can pay off when he is off his game. Of course when he is on it backfires on you but such is daily fantasy golf.
Playing To Win Weekly Fantasy PGA Tournaments
I’ve used Tiger Woods as a proxy for choosing high-value golfers for your fantasy PGA roster. While it’s important to know whether your lineup has a spot for him, the larger issue is whether you know how to build a winning squad.
I love to hate daily fantasy golf. You will too. It is infuriating and enjoyable. The best part is that there is a major investment by the fantasy sites themselves to build out their PGA product. DraftKings has had multiple “Millionaire Maker” fantasy golf contests with $20 buy-in’s. I should know, I’ve played in and lost them every time.
Stay tuned for more actionable advice on how to win your fantasy PGA leagues at DraftKings. It’s not too late to crush weekly events that pay out hundreds, even thousands, of dollars in prize pool cash!
Keep On Reading