Fantasy Focus: Gentlemen’s Club Challenge

A look at value plays, deep sleepers, and optimal lineups as the fantasy season begins

With his 1027-rating and big tournament experience, Matt Orum comprises a lot of our lineups this week. Photo: Latitude 64

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Welcome to our first Fantasy Focus article of the 2017 season. We’ll use this space to highlight some strategies for building your fantasy lineups each week, as well as to point out some value plays and optimal rosters that we like best.

A quick note on scoring: Each player in the Open division is awarded one point for every person they beat, so the player who finishes in first can earn 188 points. For Open Women, points are multipled by four, so you can’t just punt on the lower registration numbers and stack your men’s roster.

Pro tip: Double check the PDGA registration list for the Gentlemen’s Club Challenge to make sure the players you picked are signed up for the event. As of now, Skipace has a full list of the top pros, but they aren’t filtered by event. It’d be a shame to have K.J. Nybo in your lineup, for example, when he isn’t showing up to the States until the Memorial Championship. You’ve got until midnight to set your lineup, so get on it.

For our purposes, we’ll be working with a 6,000 ratings point salary cap, so all of our advice will be built off of that system unless otherwise noted. We will give a couple lineups we like for the standard 6,025 point leagues over at Skipace, too.

Gentlemen’s Club Challenge Outlook

This week, we don’t need to tell you to play Ricky Wysocki or Paul McBeth. At this point, their ratings are two points apart, and you’re going to have a stud in your lineup no matter which one you choose. Similarly, we know there are going to be some popular plays in the 1020-range – Eagle McMahon, Jeremy Koling, and Nikko Locastro, for example – who will build the backbone of many lineups.

With that in mind, our goal here is to highlight some players who fall into a similarly-priced range, but can perhaps provide a little more value and differentiation in your lineup. Because, let’s face it: If everyone picks McBeth and McMahon, and they both finish well, you’ve essentially canceled out everyone else with those picks. It’s going to be the rest of your lineup that will make the difference, and we’re here to help.

Lineup Building Strategies

There are a few ways we’ve been playing with to construct an optimal lineup for the Gentlemen’s Club Challenge. All of these offer strong plays, with some being a bit more unconventional than others.

1) Ladies First

With Open Women only comprising two slots, it’s often been easier to start by filling their roster spots, then working up toward the men.

Similar to the Open division, you’ve got an elite top pair – Catrina Allen (966) and Paige Pierce (958) – and then a handful of other strong contenders. Picking one of the top two, and then pairing with one of the following players, should yield strong value:

Eveliina Salonen (929) – The Finnish national champion is making her U.S. debut at the GCC. And while that might cause for some nerves, her potential is tremendous: In 26 tournament rounds in 2016, she shot above her rating in 16 of them – almost 62 percent – with a high round of 996 at the Tali Open.

Madison Walker (918) – Walker is a good bet to play above her rating. She came on strong in 2016, showing she can compete in larger events, and she’s started out 2017 by playing well above her rating in each event she’s participated in, including the season-opening Major in Australia.

2) Start Your Stud, Avoid The Chalk

As we talked about above, you’re going to have either McBeth or Wysocki in your lineup. From there, you’ll want to take a balanced approach that also takes into account the fact that everyone – more than likely – will have McMahon in their second spot.

If you want to gain maximum points, though, you’ll need to eschew the chalk pick – McMahon — in favor of a couple players in a similar price range – that 1029-1019 sweet spot – who may not be as highly-started. For example:

Matt Orum (1027) – The sneakiest 1027 player around? We may not see him in the headlines as much, but Orum has gobs of experience in big events – he had four top 10 finishes in NTs and Majors last year – and excels on golf-style layouts (see: sixth place at the Glass Blown Open, ninth place at Pro Worlds). Finally, he is one of a handful of players who has tackled these GCC courses already, coming in third at last year’s event. He’s a must-start.

JohnE McCray (1020) – He’s Masters eligible, but McCray is playing Open at the GCC, and at 1020 is a great pick. He starts seasons strong – his 2015 and 2016 PDGA finishes from January and February are only top 5 performances – and he, like Orum, can deftly navigate a golf layout.

3) Dynamic Duos

Just have to have Wysocki and McBeth in your lineup? It’s actually not as treacherous as you think. In fact, it makes a pretty tasty composition – if you’re willing to take on some risk in the women’s division:

McBeth/Wysocki Stack
Paul McBeth1051
Ricky Wysocki1049
Nikko Locastro1029
Eagle McMahon1024
Eveliina Salonen929
Madison Walker918

Additionally, you can stack Allen and Pierce together in the women’s division. You’re almost guaranteed to have the top two players there, and you can still compile a strong men’s roster. For example:

Allen/Pierce Stack
Ricky Wysocki1049
Eagle McMahon1024
Austin Turner1009
A.J. Risley989
Catrina Allen966
Paige Pierce958

Optimal Lineups

Who is our staff putting in their lineups?

6,000-point leagues

Steve's PicksAlex's Picks
Paul McBeth1051Ricky Wysocki1049
Matt Orum1027Matt Orum1027
Eagle McMahon1024Eagle McMahon1024
Austin Turner1009Jeremy Koling1023
Paige Pierce958Paige Pierce958
Eveliina Salonen929Madison Walker918

Looks like we were both big on the Orum/Eagle pairing, with another push on Pierce. As per usual, it’ll come down to McBeth versus Wysocki.

6,025-point leagues

Steve's PicksAlex's Picks
Paul McBeth1051Paul McBeth1051
Matt Orum1027Ricky Wysocki1049
Eagle McMahon1024Eagle McMahon1024
Jeremy Koling1023Austin Turner1009
Catrina Allen966Paige Pierce958
Eveliina Salonen929Eveliina Salonen929

A trifecta of McBeth, Wysocki, and McMahon shouldn’t be legal. We’ll take it while it is, though.

Value Plays

Players with plenty of game-breaking potential at a lower cost

Austin Turner (1009) – The North Carolina pro jumps out right away as someone to consider here. He’s young, has a lot of potential, and is jumping into touring full time now. Plus, he even likes playing on ball golf courses.

Alex Russell (1007) — The talented, but young pro from the Pacific Northwest got some experience traveling to NTs last year and might be ready to turn that into higher finishes in 2017.

Zackeriath Johnson (999) – Johnson put himself on the map last season when he ended up tied for third at the 2016 GCC. The only thing that kept him from closing on Philo Brathwaite last year was some touchy putting, and he has good potential to throw at least three out of the four rounds above his rating.

Melodie Bailey (918) – Bailey has plenty of experience and many years of quality NT finishes on her record. She finished second in last year’s GCC, albeit in a much more shallow women’s field.

Deep Sleepers

Feeling bold? Stack the high end of your roster and take a risk with these players

A.J. Risley (989) – The Southern California product is hitting the road full time this season and is coming off a solid finish at last weekend’s Wintertime Open. He’s on the ascent and is a strong play to outperform is rating.

Eric Oakley (984) – Another bargain at 984, Oakley has big event experience aplenty and won an A-Tier in 2016.

Nate Wegryn (983) – Another veteran of golf layouts and big stages, Wegryn made the lead card for the final round of 2016’s Glass Blown Open.

Jessica Hill (895) – Traveling in from Florida, Hill finished ninth in her first NT last year, the Glass Blown Open, against a similar sized field. She just notched a victory at last weekend’s Smithsonian Open.

Rebecca Cox (874) – Cox is back to compete in her first NT after playing locally in Cincinnati last year. She took 2014 and 2015 off completely from PDGA sanctioned play, but in 2013 she was rated in the low 900s with a high of 908. Plus, she was mentioned by Wysocki as a player to watch for this season, and she aced during a practice round at the Innova course the other day. Be bold and plug her into your lineup, and pretty much go huge for the rest of your roster.

Shy Away From

A couple players to keep out of your lineups this week

Simon Lizotte (1028) – Coming off an ACL injury, competing for the first time in almost a year, we think it’s safe to take a fantasy pass for this first go around. Who knows — he might tear it up — but there are other solid players around a 1028 rating to choose from who aren’t coming off a serious knee injury (Locastro, 1029; Leiviska, 1027; Orum, 1027).

Zach Melton (1010) – Who doesn’t like that fantastic beard, and those dabs? But he’s still learning new discs after changing up sponsors during the offseason, and to top it off he hasn’t exactly been lighting it up to start 2017. Keep it cool on Melton for the time being, and maybe choose Austin Turner for one less ratings point. For the record, we’d be happy to see Melton prove us wrong.

Sarah Hokom (952) – Generally a lock for a top 4 placement in the women’s division, this is one event that doesn’t play to Hokom’s strengths. Here game is more about angles and navigating the woods, and there aren’t a lot of woods here to be navigated. Jennifer Allen (924) is a stronger play here, with one caveat: Hokom has been training in Vegas recently.

Final Thoughts

Yes, it’s tempting to have all of the studs in there, but you’ve got to take some risk to differentiate your lineup. In a deep field, it’s easy to snag a lesser known player, since that player will likely be used by fewer people, thus resulting in a greater payoff if they play well.

Good luck, and pick well!

  1. Alex Colucci
    Alex Colucci

    Alex Colucci is the managing editor at Ultiworld Disc Golf. He is a disc golfer currently living in Northeast Ohio who teaches geography sometimes. Contact him at [email protected] with tips, news and questions, and follow him on Twitter.

  2. Steve Hill
    Steve Hill

    Steve Hill is the editor of Ultiworld Disc Golf. He provides reviews from the perspective of a low-powered player at Noodle Arm Disc Golf, and in the past served as the associate editor for Rattling Chains. Contact him at [email protected] or on Twitter.

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