NASCAR Daily Fantasy Helper: Daytona 500
Oh, how time flies by. Just yesterday, it seemed like the season had ended with Joey Logano crossing the finish line in Miami as the 2018 Monster Energy Cup Series champion. And already we are back at it for the 2019 season, starting at the most famous of NASCAR races, the Daytona 500.
As far as fantasy trends to consider, practice is fairly irrelevant here given how random things can get at Daytona. The main quality that should be evaluated in rostering a driver here is his place differential upside. Looking at past races here, there aren't many drivers that have produced much in terms of laps led, even from those that start in the top five. Another tip for Daytona, don't worry about filling the salary cap. Lineups that do well here normally leave as much as $10,000 in cap space on the table.
Make sure to check out our driver and track previews from Jim Sannes to get you more acquainted with individual drivers and more of the detailed nuances of the track. So without further ado, let's talk about some top plays for the first big NASCAR slate of the year!
Brad Keselowski ($12,200) - If there were to be a "lock of the slate," Keselowski would fit that bill perfectly. He is starting all the way back in 35th and has the highest place differential upside of any driver in the field. He has top-notch equipment that will allow for him to secure a top-20 finish at the very least, if not better. Of course, it is Daytona and there is always the possibility of "the big one" happening, which means that no driver is a lock here. For context, 14 out of 40 drivers did not finish last year's Daytona 500 due to crashes. Ownership will also be very high on Keselowski, so it might behoove you to make a pivot to another driver in this top tier if you are looking to differentiate in tournaments -- especially with the amount of lineup overlap that tends to occur at Daytona races.
Kyle Busch ($10,300) - To be honest, it's a little freaky seeing the younger Busch priced so low in relation to other drivers in the field. While that will change in due time, we should take advantage now of the insanely good value that he is. Kyle Busch, who is a contender for the Cup title every year and is starting all the way back in 31st, is another driver who we can consider to have a very high ceiling in terms of his ability to gain place differential. While the fantasy point ceiling is slightly lower than that of Keselowski, it is offset by the $1,900 difference in price. Busch should also be a guy who is in many lineups this weekend because of the value that he possesses but should be well worth the ownership due to the upside. Both can be easily fit into lineups this weekend because of all the value options that this race provides us.
Erik Jones ($8,800) - Starting in 28th, Jones, who won here back in July of last season, makes for a very solid play this weekend. With another year of experience under his belt, the young driver knows how to navigate through an aggressive field. Heck, there's a chance that he could even win again this time around. When Jones won here in July, he started just one spot behind where he will Sunday in the 29th position. Jones can be considered one of the safer plays on the board this weekend and should be safe for fantasy assuming he can stay safe throughout the race.
Austin Dillon ($8,600) - Last year's Daytona 500 winner is in play for lineups starting in the 20th position. While I prefer playing guys who are starting 25th and back at Daytona, Dillon makes for an exception when you want to stand out in a tournament. It will be more of a stretch for him to return to victory lane this time around after starting 14th last year on his way to victory, but there's no reason to entirely rule out a top 10 or even top 5 finish here. Which is why I will put Dillon in my pool of tournament plays. I would avoid him in cash, though, due to higher floor options.
Kyle Larson ($8,300) - Between Larson and the aforementioned Dillon, Larson is the better play for cash games starting 26th. Larson is driving top-notch equipment and has as much place differential upside as anyone in this field. And you just know that a guy like Larson wants to get off to a good start to the season after failing to make the final four in last year's playoffs or even win a race. Look for Larson to try and make a statement here by attempting (and probably succeeding) to finish in the top five.
Michael McDowell ($6,200) - There are a slew of drivers who can fit into this tier because of the craziness that can happen at Daytona. Restrictor plate tracks such as Daytona have the highest negative correlation between starting position and fantasy points scored -- meaning drivers that are starting farther back normally score more. For McDowell's case, he is starting 34th in a 40-man field, which means he has a ton of upside here and very little downside. At $6,200, he can hurt a lineup a bit if he finishes in last place for some reason, but I do not believe that will be the case. In last year's Daytona 500, he finished 9th, which tells you that if he can avoid crashes, he should be fine here. I recommend McDowell for both cash games and tournaments.
Brandon Gaughan ($5,300) - Starting in 30th, Gaughan has a decent fantasy point ceiling. Gaughan pulled off a 12th-place finish here in July, which shows that he is capable of avoiding the big crashes and giving himself a chance to finish the race -- something that we want to see from our drivers, obviously. Gaughan should certainly be in your pool this weekend for both cash games and tournaments lineups because of the upside that he can provide your lineup at such an inexpensive price.
Tyler Reddick ($4,000) - Making his debut in the Monster Energy Cup series, Reddick is poised to be in a position to help us mightily. Reddick is starting in 39th, which means the only place he has to go is up pretty much. Reddick is in very good equipment, driving with Richarch Childress Racing, so it is possible for him to advance through this field fairly quickly. Even if something does happen to Reddick's car, he won't kill you being minimum priced starting in the second-to-last position. It's safe to say that I will have a very large share of one Tyler Reddick in all formats.
Evan Cheney is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Evan Cheney also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username theman90210. 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.