Hello, friends! Welcome to the 2021 Masters. We’re in for a treat this year. Augusta National is playing firm and fast, and should make for exciting viewing.
What does a player need to contend for a green jacket? Well, if history tells us anything, an elite iron game is a start. It’s pretty simple: those striking their irons well leave themselves a lot of makeable birdie putts; those striking their irons less than precisely face a lot of difficult two-putts and near-impossible up-and-downs.
So for your fantasy leagues this week’s Masters, focus on players who have been flushing it lately.
In order to differentiate your lineup in DraftKings’ large-field tournaments, you need to hunt for a few lower-priced players with upside. Here are two:
Joaquín Niemann $7,400
Niemann has gained strokes off the tee in 22 of his past 23 events, quietly rising to fifth in driving distance and sixth in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee. He is also top 20 in birdies, putting, and approach. He has been especially strong with his irons, gaining strokes on approach in eight of his past nine events. Finally, Niemann brings an unusual level of consistency for a 22-year-old player: he hasn’t missed a cut in the 15 events he’s played since August.
Corey Conners $6,900
Conners has really blossomed lately, ranking in the top 10 off the tee, on approach, and in birdies. In all but one event in the past 13 months, he has gained strokes in ball-striking (SG: Off-the-Tee plus SG: Approach). His game has been trending the right direction recently, as he has finished third, seventh, and 14th in his last three stroke-play events. At the Masters specifically, he has finished 10th and 46th in his two career professional starts.
If you want to go chalky this week, Spieth is your play. Not sure you’ve heard, but he won last week, and he likes the Masters. He has made all seven of his cuts at Augusta National and finished in the top three four times, winning in 2015. In this week’s field, Spieth is seventh in SG: Approach, gaining at least four strokes in this category in five of his past six events. Surprisingly, in four of his past five events, he also has gained strokes off the tee, a first for him since he hit his well-documented slump in 2018. So if we combine Spieth’s current ball-striking form, his always-excellent short game, his love of Augusta National, and his sky-high confidence, the Golden Boy looks like an obvious play.
Thomas’s Masters finishes of fourth, 12th, 17th, 22nd, and 39th may not jump off the page, but if you dig deeper into those performances, you’ll see that he has struck the ball beautifully at Augusta National but struggled with the putter. So let’s focus on what JT does well: he ranks first in the field on approach, the most important skill of the week. Also, he’s first in birdies and fifth around the green. After capturing the Players Championship last month, he comes into the Masters with a lot of confidence. Still, Thomas will be a bit of a contrarian pick in many leagues this week, as DJ, Spieth, Rahm, and Bryson will probably be the hot commodities.