Monkey Knife Fight: February 13 (EPL and PGA)
Steve Pimental breaks down his plays on Monkey Knife Fight for Thursday's EPL and PGA contests!
One of the best parts about playing golf contests on MonkeyKnifeFight is you can be pretty confident the players will all start. The last time I tried a Premier League contest, one of the players was benched and the contest was canceled, which was a bummer. We’re back in the saddle this week, with another Liverpool contest, to go along with two PGA games. I usually prefer tournament-long contests for PGA, but I like instant gratification as much as the next person, so we’re doing a Round 1 game and a full tournament game.
More or Less 3/4
Mohamed Salah Less than 19.5 fantasy points
Mohamed Salah has done almost all of his damage at home this season, so this is a pretty easy call. That being said, there is still some risk. Salah takes penalties when James Milner sits, and he will be more involved offensively if Sadio Mane sits. Even so, I think the smart play is betting against a road goal.
Sam Byram Less than 5.5 fantasy points
Bryam has one shot on target in his last five starts, so we don’t have to worry about attacking points. He has one block and five interceptions in that same period, to go with 14 tackles. I really don’t see where the fantasy points are coming from, especially when you consider Liverpool have scored at least two goals in four straight games. This sounds risky to go under such a low total, but I don’t believe it is.
Roberto Firmino More than 17.5 fantasy points
Firmino has basically been the opposite of Salah, scoring nearly all of his goals on the road. This is about as tasty as a road fixture can get, and I would be pretty surprised if Firmino doesn't score.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain More than 9.5 fantasy points
He has two goals on four shots on target in his last five games. If he has two shots on target or one goal, he will go over pretty easily. I don’t like to count on that, even if Mane is out, but Norwich is the worst team in the league by far, which should help.
Round 1 RapidFire 4/4
More Birdie or Better: Jon Rahm vs. Rory McIlroy +0.5
I love both of these guys this week, but Rahm is T5 in Round 1 Scoring Average, and the tie-breaker is in his favor. Rahm also has three top-10s in 2020, while this is only Rory’s second tournament since Thanksgiving. We’re splitting hairs, but I’m taking Rahm
More Par or Better: Patrick Cantlay vs. Brooks Koepka +0.5
I will look dumb if he wins the tournament, but I am fading Koepka this week. Cantlay has finished 15th and fourth in this tournament the last two years, while Koepka has played once in the last five years and missed the cut. Koepka’s 2020 on the European Tour has been underwhelming thus far, and if that continues, Cantlay could win this easily.
Less Total Strokes: Justin Thomas +0.5 vs. Bubba Watson
Bubba won this tournament in 2014, 2016 and 2018. If the even-year trend continues, this pick will likely be wrong. That being said, Thomas has two top-10s in his last two trips here, and he’s the Number 4 ranked player in the world. I like them both this week, but Thomas is the better player, so I’ll take him even if I have to give up a stroke.
Less Total Strokes: Tiger Woods +0.5 vs. Dustin Johnson
Nobody has been better at Riviera than D.J. He is 10/12 in cuts with 8 top tens at the course, including five in his last six. Tiger is winless here in 13 tries; it is the only course he’s played more than four times without at least one win. Really, D.J. should be getting the extra half a stroke, and even then, I’d still take him
Full Tournament More Or Less 2/3
Rory McIlroy Less Than 100.5 Fantasy Points
In 2019 Rory McIlroy was -11 for the tournament and finished T4; he scored 105 fantasy points. The year before he finished T20 at -3 and just 92 fantasy points. To get more than 100.5 fantasy points, you pretty much need to flirt with -10 and likely a top-five finish. I like Rory a lot this week, but he could have a lot go right and still go Under, which is what I’m expecting.
Justin Thomas Less Than 100.5 Fantasy Points
JT has been even better than Rory the last two years, finishing with 112 fantasy points in 2019 and 99 in 2018. That 99-point effort left him T10 at -7 for the tournament. Much like Rory, I like his chances this week, but am I really that confident he’ll shoot -8 or better? I am not.
Brooks Koepka Less Than 99.5 Fantasy points
As I wrote above, I’m skeptical of Brooks’s chances this week. I suppose it’s possible Brooks is motivated by falling to second in the Official World Golf Rankings, but I feel like if he was that concerned about those kinds of things he would have taken non-majors more seriously in the past. Brooks doesn’t have the course history or recent form I’m looking for in a fantasy play at Riviera, so I’m going Under.