NASCAR Daily Fantasy Helper: YellaWood 500
If you are looking for an action-packed way to get your sports fix, NASCAR may be a great avenue to explore. Far from just driving in circles, some of the world's best compete nearly every weekend from February to November on tracks across America. NASCAR drivers are scored ultimately based on how they finish in the race, how many spots they advance from their starting position, and how many laps they finish and lead. Avoiding drivers who crash out of the race is a must, of course!
Here at numberFire, we've always got you covered for everything NASCAR DFS. Our track preview breaks down this week's venue, and we also have The Heat Check Fantasy Podcast, where Jim Sannes breaks down his favorite plays for Sunday's slate. Jim also has a current form and odds breakdown to review how NASCAR's best drivers are performing recently analytically.
Denny Hamlin and Chase Elliott were battling for a dominant win at Las Vegas before a cycle of green flag pit stops began and a caution during that sequence left only one of NASCAR's playoff drivers on the lead lap -- Kurt Busch. Busch was able to use that advantage to lead the final 29 laps and score a surprise win at his home track, and as a significant underdog to advance to the Round of 8 before that win, the veteran has turned NASCAR's playoff picture upside down. Hopefully "upside down" is not the theme of Sunday's race at Talladega Speedway -- as this 2.66-mile superspeedway holds NASCAR's speed records and some of its most vicious crashes. That, combined with playoff intensity, should make for a wild battle for the checkered flag on Sunday.
This race's lineup was determined using NASCAR's weighted formula that combines owner points, last Sunday's finish at Las Vegas, and the fastest lap of each driver in that race, which puts Hamlin on the pole for this event. All 12 remaining playoff drivers will start in the first 12 spots -- which will be the case for all playoff participants moving forward. That formula also gives Hamlin the premier pit stall choice.
The strategy for this event is similar to August's event at Daytona, as Talladega and Daytona represent the two "plate racing" tracks on the circuit. These events lead to tight packs, fast speeds, plenty of potential to pass, and crashes -- which evenly distributes laps led and leads to a strategy of stacking competitive drivers starting as far back as possible. Another thing to consider is, since a multi-car draft is so important, teammates working together also make for viable stacks in a FanDuel lineups.
With that, let's preview the YellaWood 500 at Talladega.
Ryan Blaney ($12,000): Something bizarre in this helper will be the absence of playoff drivers, as the 12 championship contenders start inside the top-12 starting positions, and that tends to run counter-intuitive to the general strategy at a plate track like Talladega, where we want to use drivers in the back. Those 12 drivers are the strongest cars, and several are favorites to win. But there is also plenty of speed elsewhere, which definitely applies to Ryan Blaney, who is starting 14th. Blaney has led 283 laps in the last 15 plate races, which is second to his teammate, Joey Logano, and he could potentially lead his Penske teammates at the front of the pack in an effort to keep those playoff contenders out of trouble. Blaney has also won two of the last three races at Talladega, which explains his standing as the highest-salaried driver in the player pool. He is a solid option.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($11,000): Despite driving for smaller teams with lesser equipment, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. shines at plate tracks. The Mississippi native has the third-most laps led (198) and third-best driver rating (91.4) in the last 15 races at either Daytona or Talladega, which includes a runner-up finish in June's event at Talladega. Stenhouse's seven DNFs in 2020 lead the entire Cup Serie, but that has enabled him a strong spot for fantasy this weekend, as NASCAR's algorithm afforded him a starting spot of 26th for Sunday. It has been a tough season, but at his strongest track, Stenhouse can make his entire year by winning this race.
Tyler Reddick ($9,600): The impressive rookie season for Tyler Reddick left him just outside the playoffs, but he is likely to be a contender for years to come. Reddick had trouble last weekend in Las Vegas with multiple tire failures, but as a result, he starts an incredibly optimal 30th for Sunday's 500-mile race. Reddick also has plenty of success at Talladega in his young career thus far, as he captured an Xfinity Series win at the track in 2019 and led 19 laps in June's event before getting shuffled outside the top-10 spots late in the running. Reddick is a strong play and will likely be popular, but there is an argument to pivot off him in tournaments considering he has never scored a top-15 finish in the Cup Series at a plate track.
William Byron ($8,900): William Byron won the last plate race in the Cup Series, which was the regular season finale at Daytona in August. That clinched a playoff spot, but Byron has recorded only one top-20 finish since, which led to a prompt exit from NASCAR's postseason. That misfortune has led to a pedestrian 21st-place starting spot on Sunday, which provides his fast Hendrick Chevrolet with plenty of upside to reach the front of the field. Byron has been more successful at Daytona, but with teammates Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman running strong at Talladega in the past, Byron could join them in a similar effort Sunday.
Bubba Wallace ($6,600): No one has cherished the opportunity to run up front at plate tracks more than Bubba Wallace, who has taken care of his equipment and reached the end of the last seven races at Daytona and Talladega. Wallace has scored five top-15 finishes in that span, including a fifth-place finish in August at Daytona. Wallace does not have the equipment to contend at tracks like Las Vegas, which forces him to start 27th in this race, but he has plenty of talent and upside to capitalize on a poor starting spot given that Wallace has started inside the top-15 spots at a plate track only twice since 2018.
Ty Dillon ($6,000): Dillon also sees incredibly boosted numbers by taking care of his equipment at these tracks, and he's got even better results than Wallace. Dillon actually has four top-10 finishes in the last nine plate races, and he led seven laps at Talladega last April. Dillon and Wallace have an alliance in equipment, which explains why both have run poorly leading up to this event, and they will start side-by-side as a result, with Dillon rolling off 28th. There are plenty of options in this area with good finishing upside, including heavy underdogs like Xfinity Series plate-racing specialist Justin Haley ($5,500) and Brendan Gaughan ($5,000) in his final Cup start.
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.