Blood Sweat and Tiers The Masters

The Masters 2021 Blood, Sweat, and Tiers: A Full Breakdown of the Best DFS and Betting Plays in Each Pricing Tier This Week

Welcome to the first ever edition of Blood, Sweat, and Tiers! In this article I’ve broken down the entire 89-man field into 5 tiers as dictated to us by the good people at Draft Kings and their DFS pricing. Within each tier, I’ve selected my Favorite Bet (based on win equity for this tournament, ignoring DFS ownership), best DFS value (the players I expect to most exceed their DFS price value), Dark Horse (DFS leverage plays I expect to go over-looked and under-owned), and Fades (players I will not have exposure to in DFS). There’s a lot of meat to get into here so let’s get started!

Tier 1: $10K+

Jon Rahm is the biggest name to change golf club deals during break

Players: Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm, Bryson DeChambeau, Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele

Best Bet to Win: Jon Rahm

I love Jon Rahm to win this week, which is troubling because I’m not going to bet him at 11/1. That’s not a knock on Jon Rahm, and it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t bet him, I just tend not to bet this range.

There are some reasons not to love Rahm this week; he hasn’t made a serious push to win since converting to the new Callaway bag in 2021, you can speculate that he may be coming to Augusta distracted or with less practice reps following the birth of his first born child on Sunday, and everyone else around him on the betting board (DJ, Bryson, Spieth, JT) have won recently. But none of these factors are substantial enough for me to get off of the former world #1 Spaniard who has 5 T10s in his last 7 starts since The Masters in November. He’s finished T10 in each of his last 3 trips to Augusta, with his best finish coming in 2018 where he placed T4.

I ran a custom model this week this week emphasizing this week’s key stats of T2G, APP, ARG, GIRs Gained, Course History, and Scoring in Difficult Conditions. Surprise, surprise, Jon Rahm rated out #1, thanks to him being 1st in GIRs, 2nd in Difficult Scoring, 3rd T2G, and 6th APP. Rahm would have made for a great leverage play if the Baby-induced WD equity were still on the table, but now he’ll be a popular DFS play that may be best suited to keep on your betting cards if ownership gets out of hand.

Best DFS Value: Justin Thomas

We really should not put any stock behind Match Play performance, good or bad, given the volatility of the format, but seeing JT priced $900 lower than Dustin Johnson suggests to me that Draft Kings has knocked off some of JT’s value for his first round exit within the Group of Death at the WGC Dell Match Play two weeks ago. Instead, we get the defending PLAYERS champion at $10,600 in a week where it will be very easy to fit that salary in your lineups.

If there were ever a knock on JT’s game, it’s the erratic Driver, which he’s lost strokes OTT with in 3 of his last 5 starts. But last we saw him at TPC Sawgrass, he flipped that into a strength, gaining 3.5 strokes OTT. It seems at this price, Draft Kings expects Thomas’ OTT game to regress, but looking at his Masters history, we should only expect positive trends. JT has trended to a better finish with each trip he’s taken to Augusta since 2016: T39 -> T22 -> T17 -> T12 -> T4.

Dark Horse: Rory McIlroy

Last we saw Rory, he was fishing his golf ball out of a neighbors pool in Austin whilst getting waxed by Ian Poulter in Match Play. That doesn’t leave a great taste in the mouths of us DFS players looking around this range of sure fire contenders, and it’s likely to make Rory go overlooked as a nice ownership leverage play in DFS. It’s strange to head into another Masters and not be inundated with Rory Career Grand Slam press fodder, but with all the other storylines this week from Spieth’s resurgence to Brooks’ health, Rory is sure to go over looked.

Since his T5 at last November’s Masters, Rory has 3 other T10s in his next 7 events. Coming into this event, Rory ranks #1 Driving Distance, #4 in Course History, and #4 in difficult scoring conditions. In the end, Rory will go as far as his putter takes him, but with 6 T10s at the Masters in his last 7 trips, it’s safe to say he’ll feel comfortable coming back to the greens at Augusta.

Fade: Dustin Johnson

Pricing for The Masters is always soft, as Draft Kings wants casual sports fans to get excited about jamming in multiple top players into their lineups. That means despite the prohibitive $11,500 price tag, DJ will still be a popular play as the defending champion and world #1 golfer.

Of course, we know DJ is capable of beating anyone on Tour with his A game and he can turn that on at a moment’s notice. But with 3 straight disappointing showings at the WGC Dell Match Play, THE PLAYERS, and the WGC Workday, there’s plenty other players at a lower price I’d feel better about in terms of recent form.

Tier 2: $9K

Packed schedule to blame for lack of big names at Pebble Beach – Patrick  Cantlay - Golf365

Players: Patrick Cantlay, Collin Morikawa, Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed, Brooks Koepke, Tony Finau, Webb Simpson

Best Bet to Win: Patrick Cantlay

I have one open spot left on my Masters betting card and I’m giving Patrick Cantlay a serious look with it. Prior to his MC at THE PLAYERS, which is known to be one of the most volatile events for top players to make it through the cut at, Cantlay had not finished outside the Top 20 since the CJ Cup last October. In that span, Cantlay has a win at the Zozo against an equally strong field to what we’ll see this week, along with a T2 at The AmEx and T3 at the AT&T Pro-Am, each of which featured course record-breaking rounds. His Masters resume isn’t perfect, but it does feature a T9 in 2019, and his all around form coming in this week should prime him for another strong showing.

Best DFS Value: Jordan Spieth

Operative word here is value, as Jordan Spieth’s ownership at this price may force him to be unplayable in certain DFS formats. Pricing was released prior to Spieth’s win at Valero, and while you can play him at $9,400, it’s clear that number would be at least $1K higher if pricing were reset today, and that’s further represented by his standing as the 2nd or 3rd favorite to win depending on which book you’re using.

Spieth has flipped a switch since the WMPO in February, with 4 T4s in his last 6 starts. Couple that with his stellar Masters history, which includes a win in 2016, two other runners ups, and a T3, and you’ve got a pretty solid foundation for success this week.

Dark Horse: Tony Finau

Nobody is playing Tony Finau in this star-studded range, and anyone who is, is not feeling great about it. Tony has scorned the fantasy industry with recent MCs at THE PLAYERS and Valero. He also had a premature exit at the WGC Dell Match Play in-between those showings. Some may say he’s forgotten how to play golf over the last 3 weeks, but I’m of the mindset that this is still the same Tony Finau who fired off a T4, T2, T2, and 2 in four consecutive events January through February. Finau also has very good history at Augusta with two T10s in his three career trips, so this may be the spot for him to right the ship again.

Fade: Brooks Koepke

There’s a lot of good players in this range, and with most of the field expected to make it through the cut, I don’t see the value on risking a WD with Brooks for a guy who clearly is far from 100% health-wise. If his odds continue to drop, I think he’ll be an interesting bet, but Brooks’ name alone will command popularity in a Major, so I’ll be pivoting elsewhere until he proves he’s recovered from his recent surgeries.

Tier 3: $8K

Sungjae Im wins The Honda Classic for first PGA TOUR title

Players: Tyrrell Hatton, Lee Westwood, Viktor Hovland, Sungjae Im, Daniel Berger, Scottie Scheffler, Hideki Matsuyama, Cam Smith, Matt Fitzpatrick, Tommy Fleetwood

Best Bet to Win: Sungjae Im

There are a lot of guys I like to win in this range, and I actually already have bets on Viktor Hovland and Matt Fitzpatrick from past futures (is that an oxymoron?). But if you ask me today, Sungjae Im at 40/1 is the best bet on the board from this group. Sungjae is on an unconscious stretch of putting right now where he’s gained 2.8 or more strokes putting in 7 consecutive events. That is flat out ridiculous, and it makes him the #1 Putter overall and on Bent grass in this field coming in. And it’s no wonder Sungjae recently became a Georgia homeowner after his T2 finish at last year’s Masters. The man clearly has a flair for this region of the US, with 5 of his 7 career T5s coming in the Florida/Georgia area. Sungjae just needs his irons to return to form, but if he can do that, he’s going to be a dangerous match for the rest of the field.

Best DFS Value: Viktor Hovland

Viktor Hovland is currently on the same trajectory as Tony Finau, in that they were each T5 stalwarts at the start of the year, but have recently fizzled back to normal since March. After winning the Mayakoba Classic in December, Hovland followed that up with a T5, T5, and T2 at the Farmers, Genesis, and WGC Workday in 3 of his next 4 starts. He has never had the most deft of Around the Green games, which is very important at Augusta, but he’s proven to hold his own here in the past when he became the low-amateur at the 2019 Masters, finishing T32 in his only appearance. Hovland has shown steady flashes of greatness recently, and the sputtering last couple weeks make for a nice buy-low spot on Vik.

Dark Horse: Matt Fitzpatrick

Nobody, and I mean nobody, gets excited to play Rat Fitzpatrick, and with Fairway Jesus sitting $100 cheaper, I think he’s in a good ownership leverage spot here, despite the stats overwhelmingly backing him up as a great play. Fitz was a winner on the Euro Tour at the DP World Tour Championship last December, and is currently riding a streak of 5 consecutive T20s. He’s been leaning heavily on his Short Game in this current stretch, which is the formula you want to see from a Masters contender, but he’s been equally impressive OTT, gaining strokes in his last 4 straight events. His Masters history is not fantastic, but he has made the cut here 5 straight years now, with a career best finish of T7 in 2016.

Fade: Daniel Berger

Similar to Brooks Koepke, I’m just not jumping to play a guy like Daniel Berger who rides in just a couple weeks removed from a rib injury that forced him to WD from the Honda Classic. Berger has not played in The Masters since 2018 where he finished T32, and prior to that finished T27 in 2017 and T10 in 2016. Rib injury aside, I would want some exposure to Berger, but his upside is not worth the risk to me, relative to the rest of this range.

Tier 4: $7K

Paul Casey Ready to Cash In at The American Express

Players: Sergio Garcia, Bubba Watson, Paul Casey, Adam Scott, Jason Day, Louis Oosthuizen, Joaquin Niemann, Abraham Ancer, Will Zalatoris, Harris English, Justin Rose, Billy Horschel, Matthew Wolff, Max Homa, Francesco Molinari, Victor Perez, Shane Lowry

Best Bet to Win: Paul Casey

I wrote up my whole love affair for Paul Casey in the Tournament Preview article. He has great course history, his game is on fire recently with a Euro Tour win two months ago, and his short game is better now than it’s arguably ever been in his career. At $7,800, Paul Casey is undoubtedly the most under-priced player on Draft Kings, and should have been priced in the low $9Ks ahead of Webb Simpson and Tyrrell Hatton. I’d go as far as to say he’s a better value than Spieth at this price, but he is my conviction pick to win the 2021 Masters, so I’ll slot him here.

Best DFS Value: Francesco Molinari

The $7K range always offers plenty of value, especially when Draft Kings releases soft pricing a week early. Honorable mentions for best value also include Sergio Garcia, Abraham Ancer, and Max Homa, but I have to lean Francesco Molinari for the top value honors laying at a flat $7,000. The Florida Swing did not treat Molinari kindly, as he MC’d at both the API and THE PLAYERS. But before that, he delivered a stretch of 3 T10s over 4 weeks at the Genesis, Farmers, and The AmEx. Francesco was in a tailspin when he MC’d at Augusta in 2020, but with several recent glimmers of vintage form for the past Major winner, 2021 should be a true run of redemption at the 2019 Green Jacket that got away.

Dark Horse: Will Zalatoris

Will Zalatoris, despite being a debutant, ranked in the Top 5 of my models this week, which certainly caught my attention. He’s there by way of ranking 2nd in GIRs, 4th in APP, and 6th T2G. With so many other players around him with proven Masters pedigree, Zalatoris possesses the potential to go low with low ownership if he can piece the short game altogether. He finished T6 in his first ever Major appearance at the US Open last year, so don’t expect him to be afraid of the moment on his first trip down Magnolia Lane.

Fade: Justin Rose

This is starting to become a theme. I want to back players who are trending up at the Masters, and that includes their health. The best ability is availability after all. Justin Rose withdrew with a back injury from the API and has not tee’d it up since. He does have a T2 on the Euro Tour back in February, but apart from that, has not finished in the Top 20 since we were last at The Masters in 2020. This range is loaded with talent, and if Justin Rose’s name alone continues to command ownership, I have no problem pivoting to another option in better recent form.

Tier 5: $6K

Canadian Corey Conners wins in Texas, earns invitation to Masters -  CityNews Toronto

Players: Corey Conners, Jason Kokrak, Marc Leishman, Brian Harman, Matt Kuchar, Ian Poulter, Gary Woodland, Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Kevin Kisner, Dylan Frittelli, Si Woo Kim, Sebastian Munoz, Phil Mickelson, Danny Willet, Cameron Champ, Carlos Ortiz, Ryan Palmer, Robert MacIntyre, Kevin Na, Matt Wallace, Bernd Wiesberger, CT Pan, Lanto Griffin, Matt Jones, Zach Johnson, Martin Laird, Mackenzie Hughes, Charl Schwartzel, Hudson Swafford, Brendon Todd, Tyler Strafaci, Brian Gay, Jimmy Walker, Henrik Stenson, Michael Thompson, Bernhard Langer, Fred Couples, Vijay Singh, Stewart Cink, Ollie Osborne, Mike Weir, Jim Herman, J. Olazabal, Robert Streb, Joe Long, Larry Mize, Angel Cabrera, Trevor Immelman, Sandy Lyle

Best Bet to Win: Corey Conners

I should preface by saying I don’t think there’s a player in this range that can win The Masters this year, and anyone considering betting this range would be best to fire a T5 or T10 placing bet. But if we’re looking for a bomb, I like Corey Conners here who’s currently sitting at 150/1. Over the last 36 rounds, Conners ranks #2 in the field SG: TOT, and #6 SG: BS. He looked especially strong here last November where a posted a solid T10 finish. Short Game is by no means Conners’ strength, and he’ll need to bring his A-game around the greens if he’s going to make any noise here, but it’s comforting to know that you can find the #2 SG: TOT player in this range.

Best DFS Value: Stewart Cink

You’d be hard pressed to find somebody overpriced in this range, so I really could’ve gone with anyone here, but seeing Cink’s company at $6,100 and below, he sticks out like a sore thumb. Cink was a winner at the Safeway last September to qualify for this tournament, and since then has delivered a T12 at the Sanderson Farms, T4 at the Bermuda, T19 at the Sony, and T19 at the Honda Classic. What all of those finishes have in common is they are not nearly the caliber of fields we’ll be seeing this week, but at near-minimum price, it’s nice to see the potential for strong recent finishes are there. Cink also brings a ton of experience, with 6 T20s in his 12 career trips to Augusta.

Dark Horse: Matt Jones

Can you be a dark horse if you’re coming off a victory in your previous event? In most cases no, but given how cluttered this price range is, I think Matt Jones goes very under-owned on Draft Kings this week. While most people had never heard of Matt Jones before his win at The Honda, we should have, as he’d been knocking on the door with one of the best combinations of Driving Distance and Short Game on Tour. That same combination is exactly what we’re looking for at The Masters, especially if the greens are as firm and fast as they say, which sets up for a dream spot for Jones to follow up his last victory.

Fade: Phil Mickelson

Take your pick in this range because I’ll be fading 90% of these guys. But a player I expect to fail miserably and still command ownership is Phil Mickelson. As the Tour loves to run him out in the Featured Groups every week, I’ve gotten very familiar with all of the holes in his ball striking game right now, and to put it nicely, he just isn’t close to getting his game back together right now. And while the short game is always needed for success here, it’s concerning how poor the flat stick has been for Phil, having lost strokes putting in 4 of his last 6 events.