Playoff Picks: Should you back DJ or Spieth this week?

After a thrilling finish at last week’s Northern Trust event which featured a match play showdown between Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth, the road to the FedEx Cup trophy continues as the PGA Tour shifts to the Dell Technologies Championship held at TPC Boston.

There’s plenty of course history to work with this week given the tournament (formerly known as the Deutsche Bank Championship) has been on Tour for many years. It’s a golf course that plays long with several lengthy par 4s, but the fairways are relatively easy to hit. Approach stats will be used in this week’s model, though with a lesser weight applied to it.

Instead, I’m focused on targeting players with top-notch putting stats this week. In the previous five tournaments held at TPC Boston, the winner has never finished below 10th in strokes gained putting. The course is one of the easier layouts on the PGA Tour, so scores will be nearing 20-under par. With that said, birdie rate is an important stat to view, along with bogey avoidance to a lesser degree.

Here is where Dell Technologies Championship winners have finished in the following categories (sorted in descending order from 2016-2012):

Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green – 3rd, 6th, 11th, 2nd, 3rd
Strokes Gained: Putting – 7th, 2nd, 5th, 10th, 2nd
Birdie Rate – 1st, 7th, 18th, 2nd, 1st
Bogey Avoidance – 8th, 1st, 2nd, 5th, 13th
Strokes Gained: Approach – 11th, 2nd, 36th, 9th, 7th

Note: All stats courtesy of FantasyNational.com are based on the last 24 rounds.

The Favorites

Jordan Spieth (9-1)

SG: T2G – 1st
SG: P – 18th
Birdies – 1st
Bogey Avoid – 3rd
SG: APP – 4th

In fantasy golf games this week, I’m guessing the public is going to gravitate towards Johnson following his clutch win over Spieth. That’s fair, and it’s hard to argue. However, I prefer Spieth over DJ in Boston, despite last week’s winner having better course history than Spieth. But aside from his final round 69 which allowed DJ to catch him, nobody played better golf last week than Spieth. In terms of the statistical model I’ve made for the Dell Championship, Spieth ranks first thanks to his elite tee-to-green and birdie rate rankings.

However, I prefer Spieth over DJ in Boston, despite last week’s winner having better course history than Spieth. But aside from his final round 69 which allowed DJ to catch him, nobody played better golf last week than Spieth. In terms of the statistical model I’ve made for the Dell Championship, Spieth ranks first thanks to his elite tee-to-green and birdie rate rankings.

Rickie Fowler (14-1)

SG: T2G – 34th
SG: P – 2nd
Birdies – 2nd
Bogey Avoid – 4th
SG: APP – 44th

I mentioned targeting guys who excel on the green, so including the top putter on Tour seems like a wise strategy. In fact, Rickie Fowler is my pick to win this week. In addition to recent Dell Championship winners never finishing below 10th in strokes gained putting, two winners have finished first in strokes gained putting from 10-15 feet. One of those was Rory McIlroy in 2012. The other? Rickie Fowler in 2015. For the entire 2017 season, Fowler leads the PGA Tour in putting from that distance (43.2 percent).

Jason Day (14-1)

SG: T2G – 36th
SG: P – 7th
Birdies – 5th
Bogey Avoid – 14th
SG: APP – 72nd

I admit, I was a little hesitant to include Jason Day in this list given his stat model is a bit lower at 11th. But you can’t ignore his recent form and course history. He has quietly finished 9th and 7th over his last two starts, and hasn’t finished below 15th at TPC Boston over the last four years. Day also placed 2nd and 3rd, respectively, in 2010 and 2011. He’s been one of the top putters as of late, ranking 7th over the last 24 rounds played, so that another reason to like him this week.

The Sleepers

Paul Casey (25-1)

SG: T2G – 2nd
SG: P – 51st
Birdies – 13th
Bogey Avoid – 5th
SG: APP – 1st

I’m going to include Paul Casey until he wins. Casey was in contention AGAIN last week before shooting a 71 on Sunday and eventually placed 5th. Flashback to one year ago to this very event (2016 Deutsche Bank Championship) and the Englishman did the same exact thing. He made TPC Boston look easy last season, shooting three-straight rounds of

He made TPC Boston look easy last season, shooting three-straight rounds of 66, but plummeted on Sunday with a 73 which allowed McIlroy to swoop in and steal the win. If Casey puts together four solid rounds and improves his putting, he’ll compete for the trophy. It’s a big if, but I’m supporting him.

Patrick Reed (33-1)

SG: T2G – 33rd
SG: P – 3rd
Birdies – 7th
Bogey Avoid – 6th
SG: APP – 53rd

Reed was another player who was in contention entering the final round last week, but shot 75 on Sunday and dropped to 20th. He carded rounds of 70-67-66 before that collapse, so there’s reason to like a bounce-back performance. Staying with the putting theme, Reed ranks 3rd in strokes gained with the flat stick over the last 24 rounds and sits 6th for the entire season with a 37.6 percentage on putts between 10-15 feet.

Charley Hoffman (50-1)

SG: T2G – 15th
SG: P – 5th
Birdies – 4th
Bogey Avoid – 22nd
SG: APP – 32nd

Selecting an underdog player was easy this week given Hoffman came out 2nd overall in the stat model. His putting continues to be his biggest strength, and he’s a player who can go on a birdie run at any moment. Hoffman had a solid Northern Trust finish in 17th, and is a former winner in Boston (2010).