PGA DFS Picks: Contrarian Golfers for the US Open Using Our SimLeverage and Perfect% Metrics

  • The US Open will be underway Thursday morning.
  • Justin Bailey takes a data-driven approach on his favorite leverage plays.
  • Strokes Gained data and the FantasyLabs Perfect% and SimLeverage in the PGA Models are the foundation of his analysis.

If you’ve ever read “Antifragile” by Taleb, then you’re familiar with how certain things gain from disorder in life. This notion certainly applies to DFS.

If there is one thing to take advantage of in PGA DFS (and DFS in general), it’s people’s overconfidence in their ability to predict what’s going to happen in the future.

Granted, you still need a lot to go your way in DFS. Even if you successfully fade highly-rostered players who end up failing, you still need to get your pivots correct to take full advantage.

The goal of this article is to help identify a few golfers we should consider using to help leverage our lineups against the field by using our brand new feature in our PGA Player Models.

If you missed it, we added two new metrics in our models — Perfect% and SimLeverage. You can find an explainer on those metrics here.

The cliff notes version is that you can use SimLeverage to quickly find leverage plays in tournaments, while Perfect% is great for finding the best price-considered plays for cash games.

And don’t forget about the tools that FantasyLabs has to offer, like our Lineup Optimizer to effortlessly create up to 150 lineups, or use our Lineup Builder if you like to hand-build your lineups.

This may reference Strokes Gained, a set of proprietary metrics generated by the PGA TOUR using millions of data points to calculate how many shots on average it takes a player to get the ball in the hole from every distance and situation.

Strokes Gained is available in the FantasyLabs PGA Models.

When deciding on pivots to make, I keep things very simple.

I’ll look at ownership projections, discrepancies in betting odds, projected points, and I stick to more catch-all golf metrics like Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green, Total Strokes Gained, and Long-Term Adjusted Round Score (LT Adj Rd Score) instead of getting very granular.

I’m always interested in a minimal approach in an industry that tries to overcomplicate things.

Last week was a good one as all five leverage plays I wrote up made the cut.

Let’s dive in.

Note: Golf’s True Strokes Gained data is over the last 50 rounds unless otherwise specified.

PGA DFS SimLeverage Picks

Cam Smith ($10,200 DraftKings)

Cam Smith will be (somewhat) one of the overlooked names in the $10,000 range. We’re projecting him to be around 10% owned, but he’s popping up in around 17.5% of our perfect lineups when we run our sims — his third-best Perfect% is resulting in the second-best SimLeverage Score in our models.

The main knock on Cam this week is he can certainly spray it off the tee, but considering he’s elite everywhere else, I would take that gamble.

He leads this field in True Strokes Gained: Approach and ranks 13th or better in True Strokes Gained: Around-the-Green, Putting, and Tee-to-Green.

There’s also the possibility of him clubbing down and playing for position with this penal rough — which could mitigate some of his spraying concerns.

I wouldn’t be surprised if he came in lower than 10% rostered this week.

Patrick Cantlay ($9,200 DraftKings)

with Will Zalatoris and Shane Lowry projected to be on the chalky side, we may get a slight ownership discount on Cantlay. He’s coming in around 13% owned at the time of writing, but he’s still popping in our Perfect% when we run our simulations.

Cantlay crushed my lineups for the PGA Championship, but I’ll head back to a guy who ranks ninth in True Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green and third in True Total Strokes Gained.

He’s made the cut in four-straight US Opens, and while his finishes haven’t been anything to write home about, I’ll still bet on his talent.

Note: You can create aggregate ownership projections in our PGA Models using our projections and other services such as FanShare Sports (available in our marketplace).

Now, let’s get to the golfer who is No. 1 in our SimLeverage Scores for this week’s tournament.

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