About a year ago, I introduced the Vegas Bargain Rating (VBR) metric to identify discrepancies between DraftKings PGA salaries and odds to win a tournament. Such a metric is valuable because DraftKings weights player odds heavily in its pricing. Take a look at the correlation between salaries and odds for the Travelers Championship:
The r-squared value of 0.82 is high and suggests that DraftKings prices players largely by their odds to win. That’s useful information because it’s not a perfect 1.0 correlation. There are outliers, and identifying those can help us find value in our quest to roster the winner of the tournament. And that’s useful because daily fantasy golf guaranteed prize pools (GPPs) are massive these days. If you want to take down a top-heavy GPP, you almost always have to roster the tournament’s winner. The VBR metric can help you find golfers who are cheap relative to their odds of winning.
To calculate VBR, I find a line of best fit (shown above), ‘predict’ what a player’s salary would be if there were perfect correlation, calculate the difference between predicted salary and real salary, and then reset everything to an easy-to-understand 0-to-100 scale.
And, of course, we can do the same exercise for golfers on FanDuel, where the r-squared value is lower than on DraftKings, but FanDuel VBR is still useful:
Without further ado, here are the Travelers Championship VBRs for both DraftKings and FanDuel:
Travelers Championship Strategy
As usual, the best bargains are the highest-priced players, who cannot be properly priced according to their Vegas odds to win because of the salary caps. However, there is one golfer who stands out this week other than the studs, and that’s Charley Hoffman, who has a 78.93 VBR on DraftKings, where he’s oddly priced down at $7,300. For reference, Hoffman, who finished eighth in last week’s U.S. Open and hasn’t missed a cut since the Heritage in early April, has the same odds to win (2.9 percent) tha Bubba Watson and Brendan Steele have. Those guys are much pricier at $8,400 and $9,000, and Hoffman even has better odds this week than Tony Finau, Daniel Berger, and Brian Harman, all of whom are between $8,700 and $9,100. Other than the high-priced studs, Hoffman is easily the best value in terms of price per odds to win.
The only issue is that he’s not even close to being a secret. On this week’s Daily Fantasy Flex podcast, Colin Davy notes that the public is hyper efficient at identifying lower-end players with elevated odds to win. That sentiment is even factored into the ownership projections in our Player Models: Hoffman is currently projected at a slate-high 26-30 percent ownership, tied with Steele, who has perhaps the best combination of recent play and course history in this week’s field. There’s an edge every week — in terms of maximizing the odds of finding the event winner and thus taking down a guaranteed prize pool (GPP) — in going with a stars-and-scrubs approach, but I’m skeptical that there’s any edge with Hoffman. His combination of low price and high odds to win will cause people to roster him at an exorbitant rate.
The issue with going stars-and-scrubs every week is the likely chalkiness of the studs; they’re the best golfers and thus popular (per our DFS Ownership Dashboard):
That’s not to say that stars-and-scrubs isn’t an optimal strategy within the current meta of PGA GPPs — but it’s only optimal if you take contrarian scrubs, since the stars certainly will not be contrarian.
That said, perhaps they’ll have reduced ownership this week, specifically Rory McIlroy and Jason Day, who flamed out in glorious fashion in the first two rounds of last week’s U.S. Open. Also, while Jordan Spieth made the cut, he couldn’t string together birdies on the weekend. Meanwhile, Steele is coming off an impressive weekend, Paul Casey has probably been the most consistent golfer on the Tour over the past two months, and Justin Thomas — right below the main guys this week at $10,200 and $9,800 on DraftKings and FanDuel — literally broke the U.S. Open record with a 63 on Saturday. If recency bias creeps in and makes users roster the lower-salaried studs instead of McIlroy, Day, and Spieth, it could really pay to go stars-and-scrubs for this week’s Travelers Championship. But, again, make sure to find contrarian options to go with the studs, whose ownership will dip only so much.
Good luck this week!