DFS Dish: Be wary of a top-heavy lineup strategy at high-variance John Deere Classic

The John Deere Classic at TPC Deere Run is known for its unpredictability when it comes to the winners. It has seen a mix of long hitters, short hitters, great putters, and not-so-great putters lift the trophy on Sunday evening. The course's wide fairways, receptive bent grass greens, and manageable yardage of 7,100 yards allow players of all types to score low.

In recent years, the average GIR (Green in Regulation) percentage has consistently been above 70%, indicating that ball-striking isn't the primary factor in success at this event. Instead, minimizing bogeys, hitting approach shots close to the pin, and sinking putts are the keys to a good score. It's worth noting that driving distance has increased over the years, with the average distance reaching 295 yards in the previous edition of the tournament.

In terms of DFS (Daily Fantasy Sports) scoring, the high-priced players ($10K range) have not provided value in the last two years. The optimal lineups in 2021 and 2022 mostly consisted of players priced under $8,900. This suggests that there are no guaranteed "free squares" in DFS lineups at the John Deere Classic. Given the overall variance in golf and the competitive field, constructing a balanced lineup seems to be a favorable approach.

When building a lineup, it may be wise to consider cheaper options to accommodate three players in the $9K range. One such player is Justin Lower, priced at $7,000. Lower has shown strong putting skills, ranking 11th in Strokes Gained: Putting over the last 50 rounds. He has a knack for going low on courses that don't necessarily require immense driving distance.

Another player to consider is Chez Reavie, who was surprisingly under 6% owned in DFS contests for the Rocket Mortgage Classic. Despite a solid performance in ball-striking and putting, Reavie had a subpar week with his putter. However, at TPC Deere Run, where accuracy and short game proficiency are valued, Reavie has a chance to excel. With a history of gaining strokes off the tee at this event, Reavie has proven his potential for success.

Although Reavie may have low ownership again in DFS contests at $7,700, he possesses the upside to contend for victory. It's worth taking a shot on him, considering his track record at TPC Deere Run and his recent strong performances when gaining strokes off the tee.

In conclusion, the John Deere Classic demands a cautious approach to DFS lineups due to its high variance. Considering a balanced lineup construction and incorporating players like Justin Lower and Chez Reavie could provide an edge in navigating the challenges of this tournament.