Bombs & Values John Deere Classic

2021 John Deere Classic Bombs & Values: The 3 Best Value Plays For Your DFS Lineups and Betting Cards

Last week’s Bombs & Values article profiled the two playoff finalists at the Rocket Mortgage Classic in Troy Merritt and Cam Davis. I can’t guarantee that’s going to happen again this week (or ever again), but coming into a similar follow up event in the John Deere Classic, I’m hopeful that a lot of overlapping modeling will once again yield the exact same results. It won’t, but a man can dream.

So once again in Easy Scoring conditions where both fairways and greens are much easier to hit than Tour average, the premiums we normally pay up for from great ball strikers in the field are mitigated, opening the floodgates for the bombs to come out and compete. In an atrociously weak field such as this, it’s hard to find viable plays deep in the $6Ks, but you can still fit a top-tier player into your lineups while living in the $7K range for value. From an outright perspective, there’s no reason to hold back from taking some big swings at an event Michael Kim torched two contests ago, especially after just watching a Cam Davis 160/1 ticket cash one week ago. Here’s a look at my favorite value guys for the week!

DFS Values

Despite a bad miss, Harold Varner III is still good at golf—and good for  golf | Golf News and Tour Information | Golf Digest

Pricing from Draft Kings

Jhonattan Vegas ($8,000)

We kick things off at the Jhon Deere Classic with my first bet of the week, Jhonny Vegas! You may ask, “Why play OTT Specialist Jhonattan Vegas on a course where distance doesn’t matter and the short, contoured angles of the course mitigate any advantages off the tee, funneling this all into a second shot, putting contest? Isn’t Vegas a bad putter?” Excellent questions! Over the last 8 rounds, Vegas has transformed from an OTT specialist to an Approach marksman, gaining 3.5 strokes on Approach at both the US Open and Palmetto Championship. Coming into this week over the last 24 rounds, that’s good enough to rank him #2 SG: T2G and #2 SG: BS. He’s also #1 SG: OTT, #24 SG: APP, and #4 Opportunities Gained over the same span. It’s been the putter that’s held him back from seriously contending at events lately, but it hasn’t been all terrible. Although there was no ShotLink data at the Puerto Rico Open, Vegas rolled it very well there to finish runner up to Brendan Grace in a tight finish at another Birdie Fest. His T20 finishes this season at both Corales and Mayakoba also suggest that the putting form/upside may be better than what the stats are telling us.

Randomly, Vegas was a guy I loved at THE PLAYERS, steadily making the cut there year over year. And while TPC Sawgrass is not the greatest comp course to TPC Deere Run, both share in common that they are Short Par 71 TPC courses with a few short/drivable Par 4s. Vegas has T5 finishes at both THE PLAYERS and the John Deere Classic and has just one MC at both tournaments over the last decade. If there are two things Jhonattan Vegas loves, it’s a drivable Par 4 (13th P4 0-350) and Easy Scoring courses (4th SG: TOT), so as long as he can convert the BoB opportunities he gives himself at TPC Deere Run, the ceiling is high this week for Vegas.

Harold Varner III ($7,800)

One place you’ll never find me is anywhere in the general vicinity of Chalk HVIII. But at this stage of the season, the DFS community has exhausted themselves trying to make Varner a thing for long enough, that I don’t think we’ll see him get back to chalk ownership again for a long time. I’m normally one to fade veterans who have never won on Tour from an outright perspective, but if there’s one event of the season I’m willing to look the other way, it’s the John Deere Classic, where 4 of the last 5 champions have picked up their first career win.

Outrights aside though, there’s plenty of reasons to get onboard with HVIII here, at least just looking at the numbers and ignoring how they’ve panned out on the course. He’s had success at this event in the past, highlighted by a T6 finish in 2018 and overall ranks at TPC Deere Run of 28th SG: T2G and 17th SG: APP. Varner comes into this week ranking 12th SG: TOT L24, carried by his irons (11th SG: APP) and short game (45th SG: SG), which is the formula for success at the John Deere Classic. He’s also 8th Opportunities Gained and 27th BoB Gained over the same span. Varner has historically played his best golf on Easy Courses, where he ranks #2 SG: T2G, and on Short Courses, where he ranks #5 SG: TOT. It’s also notable that HVIII rates out #1 in the field in P4: 400-450 scoring, the most critical hole range year-over-year for success at the John Deere Classic.

People will avoid playing HVIII because he’s HVIII and consistently underdelivers despite what the numbers say. But this field is full of nothing but losers, so I don’t mind shamelessly throwing my money at Harold Varner III at a discounted price and expected low ownership.

Adam Schenk ($6,900)

I don’t like backing a golfer named Schenk. It’s just a bad omen. Even earlier this season when he held one of the longest streaks of consecutive cuts made, I never felt compelled to play him for that reason. That, and he had practically no upside to finish inside the Top 20. But as Schenk enters this week coming off of his 3rd best Ball Striking performance of 2021 (gaining 4.8 strokes SG: BS at the Rocket Mortgage Classic), and coming to an event he finished T6 at in 2019, the best finish of his career, there is finally a ceiling in sight to hope for!

Schenk rates out 10th in my model this week, and in true Schenk fashion, it’s a credit to him ranking slightly above average versus the field in all the key stats I’m looking at this week. He ranks inside the Top 40 in SG: BS, BoB Gained, SG: T2G – Short Courses, Course History, Good Drives Gained, and P4 Scoring: 400-450. He’s also above average versus the field in SG: SG and weighted Total + Bent putting.

I’m not sure if I can get myself to pull the trigger on a outright from him without excelling in any particular category, but with so few viable $6K options this week in DFS, he makes for a high floor play with solid T40 upside.

Betting Bombs

Danny Lee, after runner-up finish: 'I gave it my best out there'

Charles Howell III (+8000)

If Steve Stricker and Zach Johnson have taught us anything over the years at the John Deere Classic, it’s that you can find repeated success at this event by just playing the old man game, pounding fairways, hitting greens in regulation, and sinking putts. The three veterans share very similar games, and yet you’ll still find Howell at nearly double the odds of the other two, despite CH III ranking out the best of the group in terms of SG: TOT (17th), SG: T2G (15th), and SG: BS (25th) over the last 24 rounds.

Howell III has played this event 6 times over the last decade, he’s made the cut in each of his last 5 appearances, and has 3 T25 finishes over that span, highlighted by a T6 in his last trip here in 2019. He ranks out 15th in my model this week as a credit to that Course History (16th), to go along with his strength in Bent Putting (4th), Scoring on Easy Courses (9th) and Ball Striking (26th). Howell III is also one of only 6 players this week who rank T20 in SG: TOT on TPC Deere Run, Short Courses, and Easy Scoring Courses. He’s the only player north of 40/1 on that list across most odds boards, joined by Daniel Berger, Brian Harman, Russell Henley, Kevin Streelman, and Kevin Na.

While the recent results haven’t been stellar over the past month coming off back to back MCs, we’ve seen Howell’s best finishes this year come on short tracks, highlighted by his T9 at THE PLAYERS, T18 at the RBC Heritage, and T19 at the Sony Open. This return to a familiar, short, easy course should be right in his wheelhouse as he looks to secure his first win since the 2018 RSM Classic.

Roger Sloan (+9000)

Roger Sloan may go on to be chalk in DFS, given he’s underpriced in the $6K range, has great course history, and is coming off of a great showing at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, a pretty good comp for TPC Deere Run with similar hole layouts and easy scoring conditions. Fortunately for outrights, we don’t have to worry about taking a stance on chalk ownership.

Sloan has played the John Deere Classic twice in the last 5 years, with finishes of T10 in 2019 and T18 in 2015. He comes into this week in significantly better form now than years’ past, rating out 21st in the field SG: T2G, 18th SG: APP, and 15th SG: BS over his last 24 rounds. At last week’s Rocket Mortgage Classic, he flashed improvement with his putting and ability to make birdies, en route to a T21, his best finish of 2021.

Over the last 2 years, Sloan has feasted on Short Courses, ranking 9th SG: T2G on courses <7,200 yards, highlighted by finishes of T25 at the Honda Classic, T23 at the RSM Classic, and T16 at the Bermuda Championship. Roger Sloan pops in my models seemingly every week, and I’ve played a ton of him in DFS as a value cut-maker with mixed results, but with this mix of Course History/Fit, recent results, and going against a beatable field, this is the first time I’ve looked at Sloan as a viable outright play.

Danny Lee (+19000)

I think anyone who’s had success at the John Deere Classic in terms of SG: T2G should be able to repeat that with the course offering so little resistance. The fairways are some of the easiest to hit on tour, putting an emphasis on second shot approaches and converting birdie putt opportunities. Over the last 24 rounds entering this event, Lee ranks 16th SG: APP, 15th in Opportunities Gained, and 30th BoB Gained. He’s also been strong in terms of Good Drives Gained (24th), GIRs Gained (7th),and Total Proximity (14th), all indicators of success here at TPC Deere Run.

It’s been an absolute adventure at the John Deere Classic for Danny Lee over the last 5 years. He finished T3 in 2015, skipped the event in 2016, Withdrew in 2017, was DQ’d in 2018, and Missed the Cut in 2019. Despite that roller coaster of outcomes, Lee still ranks 12th SG: APP and 33rd SG: P amongst the field at TPC Deere Run, so with no two years being the same for him at this event, it would seem there’s only one outcome he’s missing: a win. Cam Davis and Lucas Herbert’s recent wins have only opened the door for Oceania to prevail once more this week.