Shell Houston Open Picks, plus a look back at The Valero Texas Open

by thesanction1

Again – time is short. Last week was a good week in terms of predictions, the Machine accurately predicted 2 of the top 5 fantasy golfers. Last week the axe swung the other direction in terms of externalities; Phil was on many of my rosters that were looking as if they would cash before his exit. Such is life. I took 15 minutes to check into the discrepancy between the RMSE and Cut% performance and I think I’ve identified a cause: the Machine often times treats new players,  champions tour players, or players with very little recent history too generously – they are sneaking inside the cut-line. User be warned – don’t just blindly set your rosters, these anomalies and others (i.e. injuries) must be manually taken into consideration. Ok, let’s get on with it…

Look back at The Valero Texas Open

The same caveats as always apply to this analysis.  

As usual the comparison picks are from Notorious at, a very well respected name in the daily fantasy sports industry. If you don’t know what these graphs are showing (and you care) then just go to first fantasy golf post that’s hyperlinked above – it contains all the explanations of the relevant concepts used in this analysis. 

Below is a grid showing Notorious’ draft street points projections (DSP), the rescaled draft street points projections (RescaledDSP), the machine’s RescaleDSP and the actual RescaleDSP’s:

Picks_Valero Texas Open_2014_MFP_Grid

Looking at the RMSE, this week the Machine again dominated. This isn’t surprising at this point; the method is designed to make accurate predictions and it appears to be doing just that. The key tweak that must be made is to adjust for the low-data-quality cases of and/or Champions tour players, which with any luck will up the Cut% figures dramatically. Here’s the RMSE comparison:

Picks_Valero Texas Open_2014_RMSE_Grid

One of the errors I found in my short investigation was cutting out some part of the field unnecessarily. I’ve corrected for it and added it back, which makes crushing the RMSE more difficult (since there are more points to project). The optimal blending figure after this correction is roughly 10%, which is more commensurate with the history of this comparison:

Picks_Valero Texas Open_2014_Blending_Plot


The farther left you are on this line, the more of the machine’s projections you are using, the farther right here represents Notorious. So last week the *best* projections would have been a 90-10 blend of Notorious and the Machine.

Here’s the cut percentage for both of us:

Picks_Valero Texas Open_2014_Made_Cut_Grid


As well as the machine did at RMSE reduction, it was ousted by Notorious in the percentage of golfers correctly projected to make the cut. So the interpretation again here is that Notorious’ method did a better job of predicting the rank order in terms of fantasy performance, while the Machine did a better job at predicting the actual performances. The thing to note: Notorious doesn’t even bother projecting those ‘low-data-quality’ cases, each week the projection list of his method cuts off 10-15 extremely marginal or totally unknown golfers. Usually this turns out to be a wise decision, although there is high upside to finding a golfer with 500/1 odds who is, in fact, very likely to make the cut. Tough to do, but if you can do it repeatedly there’s plenty of money to be made.

Finally for those less mathematically inclined an idea of how many of the ‘top-n’ players were predicted correctly in each method.  Keep in mind all the caveats around who gets included in this analysis… If I get the comment ‘But, so-and-so didn’t finish in the top 10!’ I’m going to be very disappointed, dear reader.


Picks_Valero Texas Open_2014_TopN_Grid

I’d say we both had an pretty good predictive outing based on this chart – now that the data issue I mentioned is corrected it makes a lot more sense. To pick 2 of the top 5 fantasy golfers is excellent – especially considering one of my top 5 withdrew from the tournament (Phil… sometimes I hate you so much…Please don’t kill me). The winner-picking was a bust this week – but I did have outstanding 1$ wagers on Kuchar, Kevin Na, Jim Furyk and Pat Perez; picking 4 of the top 14 isn’t too bad and I have to consider last week encouraging despite the loss.

At this point everything is leading up the to Masters, where DraftStreet has already announced the first ever $100K guaranteed tournament for fantasy golf.  DraftKings answered the call with their $300K Spring Golf Classic, maintaining their spot in my mind as the premier golf offering in the DFS space.

There are indeed great things to come, but right now we’ve got ourselves an Arnold Palmer Invitational to dominate!

Picks for the Shell Houston Open

Here they are:

Picks_Shell Houston Open_2014


The red line here represents the cut, based off of these projections (the cut being returned to its normal 70 count). Keep in mind the caveats about injuries and player histories – perhaps Stricker is getting more credit than he’s worth from his performances in the back-half of last season? I’ll still be trusting the pick (he’s a timeless sage of a golfer).

Good luck everyone in your contests.  Talk to you next week.