Fantasy preview: John Deere Classic

July 10, 2012
Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM Fantasy Columnist

Three-time John Deere Classic defending champion, Steve Stricker, will likely run away with the highest percentage in Yahoo!'s Group A this week. If you're a frontrunner, you have to invest in him. However, if you're trailing and need a spark, there's no better time than the present.

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Power Rankings
Rob Bolton breaks down the field at this week's The Greenbrier Classic in our Power Rankings and provides five players who could surprise.

When all signs point to such a popular option, it's often the best time to throw a curveball at your competition. It's a shortcut to closing the gap, albeit high-risk. If you're going to subscribe to this philosophy, narrow your focus to deciding who stands the best chance of outscoring only Stricker. If you broaden your perspective to pit your option against the field as a whole, you'll lose direction and forfeit the purpose of taking the approach.

Meanwhile, at The Greenbrier Classic in PGA TOUR Matchups on Facebook, all five matches were decided by the midpoint as one golfer in each missed the cut. I went 2-3-0, dropping to 59-49-2 with 126 points. After numerous weeks atop the overall leaderboard, Chris Stolle (2-3-0) finally lost footing. Stolle now shares second place with Austin Frank (3-2-0) at 146 points. Ryan Harmon (4-1-0) is the new leader with 148.

My picks for the John Deere Classic:

Steve Stricker over Zach Johnson • Ted Potter Jr. over Troy Kelly • K.J. Choi over Y.E. Yang Jonathan Byrd over Ben Crane • Sean O'Hair over Ken Duke

Power Rankings Distribution for Yahoo! (rank)

Group A ... Steve Stricker (1); Zach Johnson (2); Sean O'Hair (8); Charles Howell III (9)

Group B ... Charley Hoffman (3); Ken Duke (7); Brendon de Jonge (12); Tim Clark (13); Ryan Palmer (14)

Group C ... Jonathan Byrd (4); Scott Piercy (5); Carl Pettersson (6); Jeff Overton (10); John Senden (11); Daniel Summerhays (15)

Sleepers Distribution for Yahoo! (rank)

Group A ... Jhonattan Vegas

Group B ... none

Group C ... Jason Bohn; Richard H. Lee; Billy Mayfair; Garth Mulroy

On a Roll (Yahoo! Group)

Ted Potter Jr. (B) ... Fresh off his breakthrough victory at The Greenbrier Classic where he led the field in Strokes Gained-Putting and swallowed just four bogeys all week. He entered his rookie year with the label of an aggressive type, so it only makes sense that it plays out again at TPC Deere Run, but he's in uncharted territory as a PGA TOUR champion. Invest long-term and remain patient.

Troy Kelly (C) ... His paycheck for the playoff loss at The Greenbrier Classic represents nearly 85 percent of his career earnings in 34 PGA TOUR starts. Crafted a bogey-free 62 in the third round last week. Given the fact that he's almost 34 years of age and the P2 is his only top-35 finish on the circuit, I'm hesitant to invest moving forward. Certainly, he wouldn't be the first late bloomer in history, but I'd like to see him ride the momentum before taking a bite.

Rob's Yahoo! lineup
Group A: Zach Johnson; Steve Stricker
Group B: Tim Clark; Brendon de Jonge; Ken Duke; Charley Hoffman
Group C: Carl Pettersson; Scott Piercy
YAHOO! STATS: 3,900 points; 16,468th place
SUMMER: 616 points (14,014th)
ONE-AND-DONE: Steve Stricker
2012 EARNINGS: $4,318,423.00
DUFFER: Alexandre Rocha
2012 EARNINGS: $290,143.50

Charlie Beljan (C) ... Before you dismiss his T3 at The Greenbrier Classic as a one-off, consider that after lighting up The Old White TPC with a career-low 62 in the second round, he chased it with a bogey-free 67 in the third round and another 67 in the finale. After a forgettable rookie campaign, his recent work with Peter Kostis has triggered sudden relevance for fantasy gamers. What's more, he's fearless. Just a matter of managing his way around TPC Deere Run for the first time now.

Seung-yul Noh (C) ... Ten consecutive cuts made leads all rookies this season. Half of them have gone for top 20s. Ranks 37th on TOUR in greens in regulation and 65th in birdie average. A safe call in Yahoo! this week.

Blake Adams (B) ... His T17 at The Greenbrier Classic extended his consecutive cuts made streak to a career-high eight. He's cracked the top 25 four times during the stretch. Sits 38th on TOUR in birdie average. Underrated greenside game could come in handy with the collection areas scattered around TPC Deere Run.

Horses for Courses (Yahoo! Group)

Jerry Kelly (C) ... Last year's missed cut ended a string of five consecutive cuts made in as many starts at TPC Deere Run, the last four of which were top 25s. Played his first 43 holes at last week's Greenbrier in bogey-free 9-under. Went on to post a season-best T12.

Chris Stroud (B) ... Owns a 4-for-4 record here with a pair of top 25s. He's recorded eight top 25s among 10 cuts made this season. Ranks 145th on TOUR in greens hit but first in scrambling, which helps explains his success.

Brian Gay (C) ... A course-history buff special. In his last eight starts this season, he's logged zero top 45s among four cuts made, but he's posted top 20s in each of his last three appearances at TPC Deere Run, including a T9 last year.

Vaughn Taylor (C) ... All three of his cuts made (in six starts) at TPC Deere Run are top 15s. Closed out a T11 at the Travelers Championship with a pair of 65s that included only one bogey over both rounds.

Tim Petrovic (C) ... Could have qualified as one of my sleepers, but he fits nicely here as well. Three top 25s in his last four starts at TPC Deere Run. Also coming off a T38 at The Greenbrier Classic where he posted four rounds in the 60s. He ranked last in greens hit at The Old White TPC but first in total putts. That ratio is always better than the reverse. If you're looking for a flier to inject some value into your roster down the stretch, give him a look. He'll gain entry into most fields on merit despite his conditional status, and his experience could prove vital.

Leaking Oil (Yahoo! Group)

Spencer Levin (A) ... Halted an 0-for-3 skid with a solo 63rd at The Greenbrier Classic where he ranked outside the top 60 in both fairways and greens hit but T28 in birdies. If he tightens his irons, his aggressive style should contend this week.

Colt Knost (C) ... He's missed eight consecutive cuts. Opened with a six-birdie 67 at last week's Greenbrier but answered with a 75, missing the cut by three strokes.

Harrison Frazar (B) ... Zero top 45s of four cuts made in his last 11 starts.

Josh Teater (C) ... Since opening the year with five consecutive cuts made, he's gone 5-for-15 with no top 30s. Hasn't broken par in his last 11 rounds.

Matt Bettencourt (C) ... Zero cuts made in his last 10 starts.

Mark Anderson (B) ... Since a run of eight consecutive cuts made, the PGA TOUR rookie has missed his last seven.

Alexandre Rocha (C) ... He's 4-for-12 on the season with zero top 70s.

Matt Jones (C) ... Has missed four consecutive cuts. Might find salvation at TPC Deere Run, however, as he posted fifth-place finishes in 2009 and 2010.

Danger (Yahoo! Group)

Kyle Stanley (A) ... Ended a drought of zero top 45s in 12 straight starts with a T22 at the AT&T National. Still, while TPC Deere Run should evoke good vibes given he was the runner-up last year, his recent form sets him up as a bit of a trap.

Nick Watney (A) ... A relative fade. He's missed the cut in his last three appearances here although his most recent start was in 2008. In his last two starts this season, he's finished T21 at the U.S. Open and 10th at the AT&T National. He qualifies as the kind of calculated investment that I referenced in the opening of this preview.

Pat Perez (C) ... Since top 15s in 2002 and 2003 at TPC Deere Run, he's fared no better than T30 (2009) in seven returns trips. Everything points to a cut made this week, but temper your expectations given his history.

Kevin Stadler (C) ... Banking on two trends to end simultaneously is usually a recipe for regret. Although he's enjoyed a fine season, he's missed his last two cuts entering this week and he made just one of his last four at TPC Deere Run (T34, 2010).

Mark Wilson (B) ... The Illinois resident hasn't posted a top 25 in nine starts at TPC Deere Run. In his last 11 starts this season, his only top 25 was a T24 at the RBC Heritage.

Heath Slocum (C) ... He's survived his last six cuts at TPC Deere Run, the first three of which resulted in top 15s. However, his only top 30 this year was a T15 at the Travelers Championship.

Y.E. Yang (A) ... Still without a top 25 in 14 stroke-play starts on the PGA TOUR this season.

Medic! (Yahoo! Group)

Matt Every (C) ... Became a first-time father on July 3 when Liam Steele Every was born. The proud papa had withdrawn early from each of his last four commitments.

Michael Bradley (B) ... Forced out after 18 holes of the AT&T National with a hip injury, then withdrew early from last week's Greenbrier Classic. Riding an 0-for-5 skid.

Rocco Mediate (C) ... An injured leg bumped him from The Greenbrier Classic after one round, ending his consecutive cuts made streak at five. Too wily to out-and-out expect a fade at any time.

Scott Brown (B) ... Withdrew from The Greenbrier Classic prior to the final round to be with his wife for the birth of the couple's first child.

Notable WDs (Yahoo! Group)

John Huh (C) ... Taking the week off after three straight starts. Competing in his first major championship next week.

Steve Marino (B) ... Since he's qualified for a Major Medical Extension for 2013 (if he'll need it), any start he makes the remainder of this year would deduct one start from next year's allotment via the MME. He's currently 207th in the FedExCup standings and 200th on the money list, so if he tees it up again this season, make the assumption that he's finally 100 percent from a lingering injury to his left knee. Given all of that, only weekly gamers should invest moving forward if he returns.