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Man + Machine: Baseball and Golf Results

Neil Parker

A loyal Leafs, Cubs and Cowboys fan for decades, Neil has contributed to RotoWire since 2014. He previously worked for USA Today Fantasy Sports and founded

The PGA's FedEx Cup playoffs begin this weekend with The Barclays. It is a star-studded field in what projects as a low-scoring shootout. Sunday should be fun.

Last week, I made a late-swap Thursday morning that ruined my lineup at Fantasy Aces. I consulted the optimizer and decided upon a five-man core of Brandt Snedeker, Bill Hass, Vaughn Taylor, Scott Langley and Austin Cook. The optimizer liked Martin Kaymer to fill it out, but I swapped in Billy Horschel late.

Horschel missed the cut and finished 47 fantasy points behind Kaymer.

Horschel is my favorite golfer, and he has been a key cog on a number of daily and seasonal teams in the past. And at that time Thursday morning, the potential enjoyment of rooting for Horschel on Sunday far outweighed my loyalty to Kaymer and the machine.

Also, as a frequent Horschel owner in daily and season-long formats, I knew it had the potential to be an excellent talking point for this column regardless of whether things went right or wrong.

Throw a tally under the machine's column.

Wyndham Values Results

GolferSalaryResultsFantasy Points
Cameron Smith $7,400 T18 (-11) 89.0
George McNeill $7,000 T31 (-9) 82.0
Jason Kokrak $6,800 WD 13
Vaughn Taylor $6,700 T47 (-6) 73
Boo Weekley $6,600 MC 31

Fantasy Aces
GolferSalaryResultsFantasy Points
Ollie Schniederjans $4,450 MC 42.5
Chad Campbell $4,500 T31 (-9) 93.5
Byeong-Hun An $3,750 T18 (-11) 97.5
Bryce Molder $4,050 T59 (-3) 83
Stewart Cink $4,050 MC 40

I hand picked the values which appeared last week, but they were all among the highest rated. The optimizer did well, as six of the 10 players made the cut. Jason Kokrak withdrew due to illness after shooting an opening round 69 at the par-70 trek, so it could have been 7-of-10.

Byeong-Hun An was a huge breakthrough, and Cameron Smith also finish tied for 18th. Chad Campbell played the weekend 1-over par, too, after beginning the weekend in the second-to-last paring.

Add weekend play for Vaughn Taylor and Bryce Molder and it was a solid weekend for the machine.

Barclays Leans

Personally, I really like Luke Donald, who has made seven consecutive cuts and plays well around the greens. And while he has underachieved with his driving accuracy and putting this season, Donald hit 76.79 percent of fairways last week and 77.78 percent of the greens in regulation. His salary presents profit room on both sites, and the optimizer likes him this weekend, too.

Justin Rose is the third most expensive player in the field, but with three consecutive top-five finishes and a sterling run dating back to April, he is also one of the safest plays. The optimizer is also spitting him out as the lineup building block.

A true low-risk, high-upside play the optimizer likes is Patrick Reed, who has made 21-of-23 cuts this season with 13 appearances in the top 25. He is a great putter and averages over four birdies per round.

On the Diamond

I've continued to play daily baseball, but I'm also spending extra time on a few seasonal teams, and there is only so much energy and time to devote to one sport before the fun starts to wear thin.

Competing in yearly leagues is tough to begin with, but it becomes harder at this point of the season when you're trying to climb or maintain. I'm not looking forward to the rosters expanding and increasing the player pool, either.

Back to the grind, Tuesday night I loved the Twins as an upset enough to put four units on them. Unfortunately, I paired Ervin Santana with Stephen Strasburg for my DraftKings lineup.

I leaned on the optimizer for the rest, and the group finished with 80.7 fantasy points. It called for Troy Tulowitzki and Josh Donaldson, so it was a case of Donaldson missing when all the hitters around him came through. I also stayed loyal to Enrique Hernandez despite him hitting eighth and against my personal judgement, which was another fail.

So, had I paired Todd Fraizer -- who the optimizer loved -- with a decent pitcher and pivoted from Hernandez, the lineup would have been fine. Obviously, it is no fun losing, but this article is all about trying out strategies and tinkering with the optimizer. It has been a blast in that regard.

Also, last week I highlighted how successful the optimizer is projecting top pitchers. So, going with an arm near the bottom of the rankings had all the makings of a disaster.

What's Next?

NFL Week 1 is right around the corner, and I'm absolutely stoked to look at the optimizer for daily football. It should provide a number of new things to consider, dabble with and track.

Also, a few more trips around the course with the PGA through the playoffs will carry us into the heart of the NFL season and beginning of the NBA and NHL.

I've used the optimizer to build a few PGA lineups for us to look at next week.

Parting Shot

For the past two NFL seasons, my brother and I have participated in a set-the-spread weekly pick'em contest. It has always been a chance to talk a few times a week about football and we've always done reasonably well.

This season we're each entering our own team, though. Obviously, we would disagree on particular games and spreads and go back and forth. It was a weekly game of picking your battles and digging your heels in the sand.

Almost always, the games where either of us gave in, the outcome ended up wrong, but when we each stood firm in our selected spread or game, we usually sent in the right pick.

For baseball, I've found the optimizer most useful as a tool to fill out lineups or help develop your value plays. It is reassuring when a target checks out well with the machine, but you should be willing to dig your heels in the sand with your building blocks.
The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. Neil Parker plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: FanDuel: naparker77, DraftKings: naparker77.