Who wants to be a millionaire? I am not one, but I would like to be, so I pick my moments each year to give it a go at Draft Kings’ Millionaire Maker GPPs. Masters week is always one of those rare opportunities I lean in and go for it.
So I want to be clear from the jump that I, like 99.9% of Draft Kings players, have never taken down a Milly Maker before, but I understand the framework in strategy it takes to give yourself a shot. Think of me like your Milly Maker caddy. I may not have the gifts to go out there on the course and go low, but I know what success looks like and how to set yourself up for it.
Game Selection & Setting Expectations
First things first, know what you’re signing yourself up for when you enter a Milly Maker GPP. Draft Kings will be handing out $1M to three different players this week, with the following contests:
- $10 Entry | 150 Max Entries | 473,000 Player Pool
- $100 Entry | 150 Max Entries | 28,000 Player Pool
- $4,444 Entry | 16 Max Entries | 630 Player Pool
Let’s call it what it is, shipping a Milly Maker entry is the equivalent of buying a lottery ticket. The more money you’re willing to buck up, the better chance you’ll have to win, and depending on which contest you choose, it’s you versus 473,000, 28,000, or 630 other lineups, each vying for $1 Million Dollars. The $10 Entry is of course the most popular contest this week, but with that popularity comes competition. You can finish in the Top 0.16% this week (751st place) and only win $100. If you’re just looking to 10x your $10 entry, there are far better contests out there for you, so shop around before you commit to a contest.
Because of how top-heavy the payout structure is, you should be abandoning any conservative “cut-maker” thought processes and assembling 6 players you believe with finish in the Top 10, because that’s what it’s going to take to finish in first place. You’ll also need to take contrarian stances in your lineup to differentiate from common builds, and that requires a baseline understanding of ownership projections.
Ownership projections will never be exact, that’s why they’re projections. But if you pool players into certain groups of popularity, it becomes easier to compartmentalize the best players to attack and avoid. I put together the below chart, which uses Fantasy National’s ownership projections as a baseline, and then has been manually adjusted up and down by yours truly to reflect where I ultimately think ownership will lie. This is the holy grail of this article, which I’ll be referencing for all my leverage picks.
So in the chart below, I’ve broken out the 89-man field into 4 ownership categories; the left side features Chalk, Mid-High, and Mid-Low, while the right side features Leverage plays for your lineup. If you have any of the Leverage players on the right side of the chart in your lineup and they finish T5, you’re going to have a massive leg up on the field. Conversely, if you roster one of the Chalk players and they finish worse than T20, you’re effectively eliminated from GPP contention.
Identify the chalk, take a stance, and be different. That’s as simple as you can put it for a Milly Maker lineup construction strategy. From the above ownership projections, we have 6 players in the “Chalk” range: Jordan Spieth, Paul Casey, Justin Thomas, Corey Conners, Jon Rahm, and Bryson DeChambeau. It’s easy to fit 2-3 of these guys in your lineup, a lot of people are going to roster a few of them, and you should not if you’re trying to forge a path to beat hundreds of thousands of other lineups.
I’ve said all week that I hate where Draft Kings priced Paul Casey, because he should have been in the $9K range and now everyone will be playing him at his $7,800 price. I firmly believe Paul Casey will win The Masters this year, so his gaudy ownership projection at 25% isn’t going to stop me from playing him, but it will make me rethink who I pair him with. Instead of playing Casey with Spieth or Rahm who I also like this week, the smart move is to pivot to Xander Schauffele or Rory McIlroy in the same price range, who project in the Mid-Low range, in order to still differentiate your lineups with a Chalk player.
Generally speaking, it’s best to only play one Chalk player and, at most, two players from the Mid-High + Chalk range to build an optimally differentiated GPP lineup. Likewise, the more risk you take on in the Leverage range, the less resistance you’ll face rising up the leaderboard if these less-heralded players perform well.
The last step to differentiating your lineups is to leave some salary on the table. Most lineups are going to spend their entire $50,000 salary in full, and yet the optimal lineup will never be exactly $50,000. If you’re fortunate enough to find yourself with a Sunday sweat at the top of the leaderboard, you’ll notice everyone around you has the same 3-4 core players, so leaving $100-500 in salary on the table is a great way to ensure you’re not duplicating with other lineups around you.
Okay so now that we’ve laid out the strategic groundwork, let’s talk about my favorite GPP plays on the board who I expect to contend for at least a T10, while coming in at contrarian ownership.
Sergio Garcia (12.7% Projected Ownership, $7,900)
While I’m personally suffering the consequences of a miss-priced $7,800 Paul Casey, Sergio Garcia seems to be reaping the benefits just $100 higher, projecting in at half the ownership. The 2017 Masters champion has turned a corner recently and is starting to show signs of his vintage self. Over his last 10 events, he has a win at Sanderson Farms, a T11 at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, a T9 at THE PLAYERS, and an impressive run to the Elite 8 of the WGC Dell Match Play last we saw him in Austin. Sergio comes into Augusta ranking 10th in the Field SG: T2G, 5th SG: OTT, and 13th SG: ARG, which is the profile you like to see from a Masters contender. He also finished 8th in the Field T2G at the Memorial last summer, which I’m eying closely as a proxy for success on Firm & Fast greens conditions. He’s a volatile player, considering he’s MC’d in back to back trips to the Masters and ranks 85th out of 89 contestants in SG: P, but the upside is certainly worth the risk in a Milly Maker GPP.
Tony Finau (12.4% Projected Ownership, $9,200)
I say this every single time I write up Tony Finau. Is he going to win this golf tournament? Probably not. But this is DFS, not outrights, and at $9,200, you can easily fit in whoever you think will actually win the tournament above Tony’s price and still complement that with a T5 finish from Top 5 Tony.
This is a really great buy low spot for Finau, as he’s fizzled out in recent showings at the Valero, WGC Dell Match Play, and THE PLAYERS. A long course that favors experience, a strong all-around game, and premiums on Approach and Short Game should suit Finau well, who boasts two T10s in his 3 career trips here. If you look at the top finishers at The Farmers, (Reed, Finau, Hovland, and Xander), Finau emerges as the lowest priced and projected ownership this time around. Since Augusta and Torrey Pines share the same aforementioned key stat premiums, I’m looking to go back to Tony again for The Masters at this price and ownership discount.
Matt Kuchar (7.4% Projected Ownership, $6,800)
I don’t like putting Matt Kuchar in my lineups, I assume I’m not alone in that regard, and that’s why we see him here sub-8% owned despite the gross miss-price. Kuch has been bad for awhile now, having not registered a T20 since the Northern Trust last August prior to last week. But the brief Texas swing seems to have breathed new life into the veteran, with a 3rd place finish at the WGC Dell Match Play followed by a T12 at the Valero Texas Open. Now he rides the newfound form into Augusta, where he’s never missed a cut (in April) and has 5 T12-or-better finishes in 12 career trips.
Tommy Fleetwood (4.6% Projected Ownership, $8,000)
I tend to fade Tommy Fleetwood, because he’s the type of player that typically commands higher ownership based on his name and brand than the form deserves. But this week the numbers say Fleetwood is finally being overlooked for a change, as he is the only $8K player to fall within the <5% Leverage range. Despite the lack of strong recent results, Fleetwood’s game is very much trending in the right direction. He’s gained strokes on Approach in all 7 of his starts since the Masters last November, which is notable considering he had lost strokes on Approach in 6 consecutive events coming into the last Masters. The course history is pretty good with two T20s in his last 3 trips, so at this projected ownership, it’s definitely worth a gamble that his recent form continues to improve upon his T19 finish here last year.
Matt Jones (4.2% Projected Ownership, $6,300)
I think this is a miss-price for Matt Jones, and I’m even more surprised to see the ownership projections aren’t jumping on that. Jones is riding off of an easy win at the Honda Classic in his last start, albeit against a weak field, and his effortless display of Distance OTT, Bogey Avoidance, and 3-Putt Avoidance are exactly what I’m looking for in a value player to push for a T10-T20 finish. Over the last 36 rounds, Jones ranks 14th SG: P on Bent, 9th SG: ARG, 13th Bogeys Avoided, 3rd 3-Putts Avoided, and 19th Driving Distance. I don’t expect him to win, but of everyone else in his company down in this price range, I definitely like his chances the best to finish T20.