Golf’s fall season has come to an end, and for fantasy owners, it’s time to look forward to the New Year. The 2017 year brought us the dominance of Justin Thomas, and the emergence of golfers like Jon Rahm, Marc Leishman, and Brooks Koepka. Not to mention the unfathomable outcome of McIlroy and Day not winning on TOUR, while Sergio Garcia finally grabbed his first major.
Below are the top 25 golfers for the 2018 fantasy golf season, taking into account the fact that more tournaments played will get you a higher ranking, as you of course want your golfers playing as much as possible. I’ve included a detailed run-through of the top 10, with some quick notes from ranks 11 to 25.
The Top 10
1. Jordan Spieth
The perfect model of consistency, especially as a putter over the last five seasons, warrants Spieth as the top pick in the fantasy golf world. Spieth has finished no worse than second in putting average every year since 2014, and he was ninth in 2013, not to mention his constant dominance in scoring average, greens-in-regulation, SG (strokes gained): approach-the-green, and SG: tee-to-green. With 11 career wins at just 24 years old, Spieth is the best on the planet
2. Justin Thomas
The 2017 FedEx Cup winner, money leader, and player of the year, Justin Thomas, had a whopping five wins (including one before last year’s winter break, and two consecutive wins to start the New Year), not to mention the fact that he captured the PGA Championship as well as a playoff win at the Dell Technologies Championship last September. He made 19 of 25 cuts, with 12 top-10 finishes and a scoring average of 69.39. Thomas was on cruise control all year. With a season like this, you’d think he would warrant the first overall pick, but the foundation that Spieth has built over the past few years pushes Thomas to No. 2, even though you won’t be scoffed at if you wanted to pull the trigger on Thomas at No. 1.
3. Dustin Johnson
Johnson, the no-doubt No. 1 pick in drafts last winter, has been pushed down to third for now. However, with how quickly Justin Thomas took over last year, we could just as easily see the world No. 1-ranked golfer post at minimum another four-win season. In the last three seasons, DJ has made 56 of 63 cuts with eight wins, 34 top-10s, and a 69.63 scoring average. He’s also finished fifth, first, and third in earnings in 2015-2017, respectively.
4. Rory McIlroy
After an injury-plagued 2017 season, Rory still remains one of the most talented golfers on tour, although this list starts to become a little less dominant. It’s not too often that a season of $2.4 million in earnings is a disappointment, but from here on out, there is nowhere to go but up for the four-time major winner. McIlroy’s 12 of 14 cuts made with six top-10s in 2016 was good, but he’s going to need to play in 20+ events to reach that full potential in 2018. We know he is better than this.
5. Jon Rahm
In 2015 and 2016 combined, Rahm made 10 of 12 cuts while posting a 69.4 scoring average with four top-10 finishes. Fast forward to last year, and Rahm absolutely exploded with 21 of 23 cuts made, 11 top-10s, and a fifth-place finish on the money list. And let’s not forget his thrilling victory at the Farmers Insurance Open, which he won with an incredible 60-foot eagle putt on the final hole.
The 23-year-old Spaniard, who is ranked fourth in the world, has reached — and exceeded — the mile-high hype and expectations that surrounded him coming into last season. Golfers this young don’t just destroy expectations like that. Just recently finishing off a win on the European Tour’s finishing event, it’s very scary what Rahm could do this season while building off of last year. The sky is the limit for the former world No. 1 amateur golfer, a title he held for a record 60 weeks from October 2015 to June 2016.
6. Hideki Matsuyama
Nearly the worst putter on TOUR last season (173rd in putting strokes gained), Matsuyama still earned nearly $8.4 million (fourth most). Putting that poorly and earning that much is nearly impossible to do. These numbers speak to how important Matsuyama’s ability to strike the ball and approach the green is. As long as he can be in the top 10 in SG: tee-to-green and SG: approach-the-green (fifth and seventh, respectively, last season), he will continue to post great numbers. If you believe Matsuyama’s putting has hit its ceiling, then he may not get past that $9 million mark. It’s crazy to think just how great he could be if he was at least middle-of-the-pack in putting stats.
7. Jason Day
Day is still a definite must-have fantasy golfer for 2018 even with his zero-win 2017 season. He still ranks as the world No. 12 in the OWGR, and he posted over $8 million in earnings in back-to-back seasons before 2017, something that a very few group of golfers have ever done. Day generally plays a lighter schedule at around 20 events per year and has had injury concerns in the past, but the fact that he’s dropped only around five spots to his pre-2017 fantasy golf ranking proves that his confidence should still be alive and well.
8. Rickie Fowler
It’s hard to trust a guy that hasn’t been able to get over the mental barrier of closing out a major, but without labeling Fowler as an “overrated choker,” he’s still a sure-fire top-10 golfer. Fowler by best finishes in 2017: One win, two runner-ups, and two third places. He even had eight top-five finishes and 10 top-10s. He is one gigantic win away from the floodgates potentially opening up, and it’s obviously easier said than done to pencil in a major victory for Fowler this season. However, if anyone is grabbing his first this season, it could very well be him. Fowler is in a good position for fantasy purposes, as he gets the job done stat-wise, and although it’s frustrating to still want more out of him, chasing a major should light a fire under him yet again.
9. Patrick Reed
Reed lacks the popularity of the golfers mentioned before him, so you could potentially steal him in your drafts, especially considering he was a bit of a bust last season. After a 2016 season in which he was fifth on the money list, thanks to one win, 11 top-10s, and 24 of 28 cuts made, he had a disappointing 2017. He made 25 of 29 cuts, but he had just four top 10s and finished 26th on the money list. Reed can still be listed this high because his likely 30-event schedule is great for his potential. He’s certainly got the talent for a multi-win season.
10. Brooks Koepka
Koepka ranking 10th on this list is a little surprising since it’s not every season such a young player with so much potential grabs a major. We can blame the emergence on Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas, and the instilled confidence of McIlroy and Day for pushing Koepka back a bit. What makes Koepka so impressive is his consistency and his ability to post great stats without winning multiple times (at least so far). In Koepka’s 2015 and 2016 combined, he recorded 24 top-25 finishes and 15 top-10 finishes while recording just one win. In 2017, his dominant U.S. Open win propelled him to eighth in earnings while he made 20 of 24 cuts.
You’ve got to think that these great finishes will bring Koepka to even bigger heights. His top 25s and 10s will hopefully start turning into top fives and top threes. We could see a multi-win season from Koepka this season.
Quick Notes on Golfers Ranked 11-25
11. Matt Kuchar – The 39-year-old is so consistent that he still comes in at 11th without posting a win since 2014. His consistency is boring, but since then, he’s been in the top-15 in earnings three times.
12. Daniel Berger – Berger fended off the regression monster after he backed up his impressive first two seasons on TOUR with a solid $4.2 million, six top-10s, 20 of 26 cuts, and a win in 2017.
13. Justin Rose – A great end to 2017 keeps Rose this high on the list, though he won’t improve much since he never eclipses more than 20 events.
14. Sergio Garcia – Finally capturing that major, Garcia will look to keep posting great numbers after tailing off to end 2017.
15. Paul Casey – Casey has no wins since 2009, but you can’t ignore the talent. He’s also played in 70 events in the last three years.
16. Marc Leishman – Taking flight in the playoffs last year, Leishman finally has the consistency he needed rank this high.
17. Adam Scott – A great draft bargain this season, Scott disappointed in 2017 with just four top-10s. He finished 66th in earnings after finishing 2016 with $6.4 million (third) and a perfect 20 of 20 in cuts made.
18. Kevin Kisner – Kisner had a huge boom in production after he was almost run off the TOUR. He may not take it to another level in 2018, but you can surely live with the 25 of 28 cuts, eight top-10s, one win, and $4.7 million that he posted in 2017.
19. Jason Dufner – Dufner has turned into a more consistent golfer rather than a dominant one over the years. He’s fortunately improved since 2015, when he posted just over $1 million and two top-10s in 21 events that year.
20. Webb Simpson – A great 2011 with two wins makes it seem like what Simpson is doing now isn’t good enough, but he’s still been posting very consistent numbers since then.
21. Gary Woodland – Still searching for that ultimate breakout after his 2011 win, Woodland has eight second-place finishes since.
22. Charley Hoffman – No wins in 2017, but it was one of Hoffman’s best seasons, as he registered seven top-10s and four top-threes. However, anyone coming into their age-41 season can hit a wall.
23. Thomas Pieters – He’ll need to perform in his PGA events after his public commitment to the European Tour in 2017. Pieters managed a second-place finish, two fourth-place finishes (one at the Masters), and a fifth-place finish last season. Impressively, he was in the top 55 in FedEx points as a non-member.
24. Brian Harman – Just five top-10s in 2015 and 2016 combined, Harman had seven top-10s, a win, and $4.3 million (10th) in 2017. You either buy it, or you don’t.
25. Kevin Chappell – Chappell had four runner-up finishes in 2016, and he finally won last year. He is definitely in a position to improve.