Two years 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 weighs player odds heavily in its pricing. Take a look at the correlation between salaries and odds for this week’s CareerBuilder Challenge:
The r-squared value of 0.9 is very 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.
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 PGA Championship VBRs for both DraftKings and FanDuel:
GPP Strategy: Rahm vs. the Field
Jon Rahm has the highest VBR on both sites by far, and he has easily the highest odds to win the tournament at 10.0 percent currently. This is right in line with what I wrote about a ton last season, which is that stars-and-scrubs is often the way to go in PGA DFS tournaments. Put simply: If you want to maximize your odds of rostering the winner of the tournament — which, again, is necessary to take down a huge GPP — being overweight on Rahm is likely the best route.
Rahm’s salary is high, but it isn’t prohibitive, and some of the best VBR values below him are guys in the $7,000 range on DraftKings: Brandt Snedeker, Kevin Chappell and Jhonattan Vegas. Interestingly, it doesn’t seem like these guys will be extra popular this week, although that is typically the case. In NBA, guys with high points-per-dollar value are public plays. In golf, it is guys with high odds-per-dollar plays.
Rahm’s high VBR also means that the high priced guys below him with middling odds are the worst ‘Vegas bargains.’ Jason Dufner, Austin Cook, Chesson Hadley, Bill Haas, and Patrick Reed are all examples of players who, while they could certainly win the tournament, are terrible values for their price tags, especially compared to Rahm. And rostering those guys is particularly harmful this week given how well the salaries set up to take Rahm and a bunch of $7k guys on DraftKings. Of course, you have to measure all of this with projected ownership, but in terms of solely maximizing the odds of finding the winner, taking these guys and not Rahm is leaving a ton of equity on the table.
Finding Mispriced Golfers According to Talent
You can do the same exercise outlined above for a variety of metrics: Find which players are the best ‘values’ relative to their course history, their birdie-making ability, or their long-term talent. Let’s touch on that last one. We can use our signature PGA metric, Long-Term Adjusted Round Score, as a proxy for talent. It is defined as the averaged adjusted strokes per round over the past 75 weeks; adjustments are made to account for the difficulty of the course and the strength of the field.
While the value in odds is typically concentrated at the top with the best golfers, the value in terms of talent or LT Adj Rd Score is with a lot of mispriced golfers in the $7k range on DraftKings like Snedeker, Stewart Cink, Lucas Glover, Martin Laird, and Chappell.
On FanDuel, the guys with the highest value ratings are a bit different, and it seems the edge could be in analyzing the bottom of the salary structure. Taking a minimum-priced guy like Jim Herman or Andrew Putnam isn’t exciting, but it will open up a ton of roster flexibility to be able to get up to the high-priced studs.
Good luck this week!
Photo via Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports