The PGA DFS Breakdown offers data-driven analysis for each week’s slate, using the FantasyLabs Tools and metrics to highlight notable golfers.
The TOUR heads to Cromwell, Connecticut this week as the TPC River Highlands hosts the Travelers Championship. The course is a short par 70, measuring at just over 6,800 yards with bentgrass/poa annua greens.
I’ll be highlighting the best cash game/single-entry plays on the DraftKings main slate, but these players are often great options in any contest.
My analysis will frequently reference Strokes Gaineda 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 now available in the FantasyLabs PGA Models.
There are a variety of Strokes Gained-related metrics, but the six main categories you need to know include:
- Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee (SG: Off-the-Tee)
- Strokes Gained: Approach (SG: Approach)
- Strokes Gained: Around-the-Green (SG: Around-the-Green)
- Strokes Gained: Putting (SG: Putting)
- Strokes Gained: Ball-Striking (SG: Ball-Striking), which is SG: Off-the-Tee + SG: Approach
- Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green (SG: Tee-to-Green), which is SG: Ball-Striking + SG: Around-the-Green
Also, our new Perfect% metric is a great data point to use with your roster construction.
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.
The following players listed are based on DraftKings scoring and pricing.
PGA DFS Core Picks
Patrick Cantlay ($10,200 DraftKings)
Cantlay posted one of the more under-the-radar T14s you will ever see last week at the US Open. He looked especially good in his final round, gaining 1.81 strokes off-the-tee, 1.41 on approach, and 1.2 with the flat stick. It’s always nice to see someone close out a tournament with a great round, as more times than not, it leads to positive results the following week.
Some more good news is that Cantlay seems to love TPC River Highlands, having posted four consecutive top-15 finishes since 2018. He also posted a round of 60 here in 2011 as an amateur, which was the course record until Jim Furyk posted a 58 back in 2016.
Cantlay is a nice starting point for us in cash games this week and provides a nice discount from both Scottie Scheffler and Rory McIlroy.
Mito Pereira ($8,700 DraftKings)
Pereira missed the cut by one stroke last week at the US Open, but I am pretty sure we can give him a pass for that. Prior to that, however, the Chilean had been locked in, posting nine top-30 finishes across his previous 10 starts. In that stretch, he had a pair of top 10s, most notably at the PGA Championship, where he finished T3.
In a field loaded with top-end talent, Pereira still sits No. 7 in this field in Total Strokes Gained, as well as fourth in SG: Approach across his past 48 rounds. He has established himself as one of the best pure ball-strikers on the planet, and what’s even more impressive is that he ranks seventh on the PGA TOUR in bogey avoidance.
That will come in quite handy this week, as TPC River Highlands is a tough track, and scoring will be at a premium.
Brian Harman ($8,600 DraftKings)
Harman looked pretty good last week at the Country Club, making the cut and playing well for three rounds before stubbing his toe on Sunday, which dropped him to a share of 43rd place. He will likely bounce back pretty quickly this week at one of his favorite courses on the PGA TOUR circuit. In 10 starts at TPC River Highlands since 2012, Harman has made the cut eight times while finishing inside the top 10 in four of those starts.
Outside of a brutal missed cut at Colonial when he was the chalk play of the week, Harman has been pretty consistent this season, making 11-of-14 cuts since the calendar flipped to 2022. He’s been firing on all cylinders across his past eight starts or so, ranking 16th in this field in Total Strokes Gained, 19th in SG: Ball-Striking, and 38th in SG: Putting.
He will not be nearly as popular as he was at Colonial, but his history at this event is too strong to ignore, and another top-10 finish is firmly on the table.
PGA DFS Value Picks
Brendan Steele ($7,700 DraftKings)
Steele, like Harman, absolutely loves TPC River Highlands. He’s played this event each of the past 10 seasons, having made the cut in seven of those starting and finishing inside the top 25 in each. Steele has both course history and recent form working in his favor, which is always nice to see. He’s coming off back-to-back top 10s at the Memorial and PGA Championship.
Steele ranks No. 2 in this field in SG: Ball-Striking over his past 24 rounds, trailing only Rory McIlroy in that stretch. He’s been locked in for quite some time now, and DraftKings has not caught up to this, pricing him at just $7,700 this week.
He should be pretty chalky, but he’s quite hard to get away from in cash games when you consider all the contextual factors working in his favor.
Aaron Rai ($7,400 DraftKings)
Rai is another golfer DraftKings consistently mispriced, despite the fact that he’s made six of his past seven cuts. He has been coming on strong of late as well, posting a T26 at the Memorial followed up by a T13 two weeks ago at the RBC Canadian Open.
Rai looked incredible with his ball-striking in Canada and was let down by his putter, while the results were flip-flopped at Memorial, as he was underwhelming with his irons and elite on and around the greens. It goes without saying that if he can get the two to click at the same event, he’s got a real shot to contend.
His $7,400 price tag this week makes him one of the better value plays in this range.
Mackenzie Hughes ($7,400 DraftKings)
Hughes is obviously not known for his ball-striking prowess, but he’s been pretty steady of late in that department, ranking 26th in this field in SG: Approach over his past 12 rounds. His putter and short game have remained elite in that stretch as well, ranking 13th in SG: Short Game.
The Canadian is on a nice run right now, having made three consecutive cuts which was culminated by a T24 at last week’s US Open. In addition, he also has an affinity for TPC River Highlands, teeing it up here five times and making the weekend on each occasion. He posted a T3 here in 2020, and while that may be a bit of a big ask this week, at least we know the upside is there.
When you factor in his $7,3000 salary, he becomes one of the better value plays on the board.