This week the PGA Tour heads to the Career Builder Challenge which is usually known for super low scores and an abundance of birdies. The DraftKings price structure this week is very interesting. Nearly all of the players in the $9,200-$10,500 range are going to be very popular and high owned based on recent play and course history. In order to win big in a tournament on DraftKings, it often pays dividends to go against the grain and take a player who may be lower owned but in actuality has just a good of chance of winning, but the general public may not believe that. Below is a list of the players in that price range:
- Bill Haas (two-time past champ with 4 straight top 20s this season)
- Francesco Molinari (top 6 his last 4 starts worldwide)
- Zach Johnson (6th at Sony Open)
- Paul Casey (missed cut at Sony)
- Charles Howell III (8th at Sony Open and a bunch of top 15s here)
- Jon Rahm (young stud who is a birdie machine and becoming a fan favorite for DK players)
- Emiliano Grillo (4 straight top 20s worldwide)
- Jamie Lovemark (4th at Sony and 6th here last year)
- Russell Henley (13th at Sony Open and known as a great putter who makes a lot of birdies)
- Brendan Steele (finished 6th at Kapalua)
- Jason Dufner (defending champion)
Paul Casey $10,000
This player stands out in this group. I expect him to be low owned this week for three reasons:
1. He missed the cut at the Sony so people think he is playing bad.
2. He is priced around very popular options as listed above and you only have $50k in salary.
3. People will feel burned by Casey due to his MC last week and don't want to pick him again because of that.
Let's take a deeper dive into Casey. Prior to last week, Casey had 9 consecutive top 31 finishes. His game also fits this course perfectly as he is a great all around player with a high birdie rate. He is basically Bill Haas with better results in his career worldwide. Haas has had amazing success here so I think Casey might as well. A guy shoots even par for two rounds at the Sony Open and everyone thinks the world is crashing down. There is variance in golf, and we will use that to our advantage this week by rostering him at an ownership level that I believe will be less than 10%.
Brandon Stone $7,000
You may be asking “who the heck is Brandon Stone and why is he $7,000?” Well.....let me tell you a little bit about him. Stone is a 23 year old South African who is ranked 71st in the world. He won the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in December over fellow countrymen Schwartzel and Grace. He averages 296 yards off the tee and 14 birdies per tournament. He has the 7th highest birdie rate in the field which is great for DraftKings scoring which is heavily based on birdies. Another key metric that I use each week is comparing a player's Vegas Odds to his salary position on DraftKings. There is a large discrepancy this week. Draftkings has him priced as the 37th best golfer, yet Vegas has him at 50-1 to win which is the 20th best odds in the field!!! When in doubt, I trust the guys that set the Vegas lines for a living.
Luke List $8,600
List will be super high owned this week, but I can't pass up on rostering him. His 13th place finish at the Sony Open was his 5th straight top 15. On top of that, he finished 6th here a year ago. With his 309 yard average off the tee, he should be able to dominate these short courses and eat up the par 5's.
There are a plethora of options to choose from this week. With the winner only receiving a little over $1M, I think it's best to choose a player this week who you definitely will not want to use later in the year. Here are three players that I am considering:
Lovemark has been on fire and will be one of the more popular picks of the week in this format. He finished 4th at the Sony Open and 6th here a year ago. Add that to the fact that there aren't any events where I would say "I'm saving Jamie Lovemark for that event". Lovemark provides the potential upside of a win without burning a pick that you would use later in the year.
There arguably is no better place to use Haas then here as he has racked up two victories at this event (albeit on a slightly different course rotation). He is playing well as evidenced by his 13th place finish at the Sony Open and three tops 20's to end the fall. I'm not entirely sold that he will win this week, but I think he is one of the best and safest options to get a top 10 for you.