NASCAR Daily Fantasy Helper: 1000Bulbs.com 500 at Talladega
A wild race at Dover saw Chase Elliott come out ahead for his second career win. Elliott is the only playoff driver left who can take a deep breath, as he does not have to worry about the unending mayhem ahead. Talladega -- the 2.5-mile monster made of dreams and DNFs -- looms as it once again reclaims its place as the wild card of NASCAR's playoffs. No one knows what to expect from this race, and it will likely turn the championship picture upside down.
This weekend was another impound race, but the good news is that post-qualifying inspection has already been completed. Only Corey Lajoie in the #72 failed and will start at the back, but Lajoie is not fantasy relevant. No last-minute "qualifying spot adjustments" will be made this weekend.
Here at numberFire, we've always got you covered for everything NASCAR DFS. Our track preview gives you more information about this track, our driver preview helps bring you up to speed on drivers' recent history here and elsewhere, and our Heat Check Podcast with Jim Sannes gives you insight to how he is approaching this weekend's slate.
Brad Keselowski ($13,000) and Joey Logano ($12,500): The Penske duo are listed together by themselves in the high-priced section, and there is good reason. The two are the most expensive drivers on the slate, and it is because together they have won four of the last five races at Talladega. That mark of dominance at a track this random has not been had since Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the early 2000s, when he alone won five of eight races between 2001 and 2004.
The reasons? First and foremost is the restrictor-plate racing cars Penske Racing provides. Ryan Blaney dominated the Daytona 500 before a late accident way back in February, and Logano won at Talladega in April. Their Fords are fast. "Bad Brad" and "Sliced Bread" are also two of the best in the business, usually commanding the lead at this track and keeping it from other drivers. The two have the highest average driver ratings at Talladega over the last four years. "Driver Rating" is a mathematical calculation based on finish, lap times, average running position, and fastest lap overall. The two have such high ratings because of the amount of time they are at the front, whether leading or not. At a track this wild, drivers running at the front are extremely valuable, as they have a better chance to avoid huge wrecks.
Keselowski and Logano will be popular, as they are starting 18th and 20th, respectively. That kind of floor on two of the race favorites is too good to pass up in all formats, and a stack of the two is a great idea in cash.
Ryan Blaney ($11,000): Ryan Blaney was mentioned a minute as dominating the Daytona 500 on a plate track, and he should warrant consideration today. In a race with most favorites starting at the front, there some risk in starting those guys. Kevin Harvick ($12,200), Chase Elliott ($11,800), and Kurt Busch ($11,400) all have incredibly strong cars, but they are also starting inside the top five. While they could find safety easier from there, should any of them wreck, your lineup would have a tremendous liability of negative points. At restrictor-plate races, the juice is usually not worth the squeeze on expensive, top-five starting position stars, unless that driver winds up winning the race. Thankfully, Blaney is not starting at the front. He is sandwiched between his Penske teammates, starting 19th. That kind of floor should be great for Blaney, who should be seeking a second win of the playoffs to advance rounds again.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr ($9,700): It's not comfortable recommending a driver with the nickname "Wrecky Spinhouse," but here he is, and he's at a major price increase from his prior six weeks. So why would you play him? Because he's been one of the best restrictor-plate drivers on the planet the last two years. Stenhouse won two plate races last year, and he won both of the stages at Daytona in July before finishing poorly in a tumultuous four-incident night. Stenhouse is really tremendous on these tracks, mostly due to his aggressive nature in the draft. He is a high-risk, high-reward play and should be somewhat contrarian given his price hike and the fact he has finished 30th or worse in three of the last five races. He starts 12th, which is not a very high pass-differential floor, so it may be wise to avoid the #17 in cash.
Paul Menard ($8,800): Paul Menard has been considered a careful, sensible plate racer for a while, and it has resulted in several solid finishes. More of those have come at Daytona than Talladega, where his average finish is only 18.00, but FanDuel's pricing gurus have paid some well-due respect to Menard's plate prowess with more than a $1,000 price increase from last week. Menard is in another fast Ford, which is the manufacture of every driver in the article so far. He posted 11th in the only practice session, which shows he should quickly improve on his 30th-place starting spot. Starting so deep in the field, Menard's floor justifies this price tag as a safe cog in your lineup.
Kyle Larson ($8,200): We need to mention Kyle Larson in this area, only because we may never be able to talk about Larson in the "bargain bin" ever again. This is a tremendous price decrease for Larson, and it could be an overreaction to a thoroughly average history at Talladega. In April, he finished dead last after a crash, but before that, Larson had three top-15 finishes in a row at Talladega. He also won the Xfinity Series race at Daytona in July, so while the finishes have not yet been stellar, Larson can definitely navigate a restrictor-plate track. Larson's talent might justify this price with a normal starting position, but starting 34th, he has one of the safest floors in the field along with some crazy upside. Larson is still in NASCAR's playoffs and could badly use his first win of the season to advance. Larson should be a lock in lineups in all formats.
Jamie McMurray ($7,600): Jamie McMurray is a two-time Talladega winner, but recently, he has been feast or famine at the track. In the last six races, Jamie Mac has two top-five showings but also three finishes of 28th or worse. McMurray is a high-upside GPP play. But starting 31st and having the reputation of a solid plate racer, he will likely be popular in all formats. McMurray could be the straw that stirs the drink in a big-time winning lineup, but he also has frustrating lineup void potential. If you like narratives, the rumor mill has the 42-year old veteran out of a Cup Series ride next season, so McMurray could be driving for a job. He has not won a race in two years -- or made the playoffs -- and this wild race could be his best chance for a final stand against Father Time.
Trevor Bayne ($7,400): Speaking for driving for a job, Trevor Bayne is out of his #6 ride at the end of the season for veteran Ryan Newman, and Bayne's driving career could be over if he does not find some results soon. If Bayne had his track of choice to do so, it would likely be a plate track. Bayne finished 3rd here at Talladega last year and starts 24th, which gives him a solid floor for his price. Bayne's lone Cup win was in 2011 in the Daytona 500, and he also has the same very speedy Roush Fenway equipment that Stenhouse will pilot. All of these factors -- and a Tennessee upset of Auburn Saturday -- point to good signs for the Knoxville native.
In this range at plate tracks, DFS players are throwing darts seeking the unexpected finish. Ryan Newman ($8,600) and Chris Buescher ($7,500) are other quality dart throws on the discount rack, along with Bayne. In a max multi-entry format, you will want to spread exposure thin to a wide range of drivers. In cash, the optimal strategy is to pick two with the highest floors, which might include Ty Dillon ($6,500), who is starting 29th, or his brother, Austin Dillon ($8,400), who has had a plethora of plate success, including his Daytona 500 win in February.
Austin Swaim is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Austin Swaim also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username ASwaim3. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.