The rankings below are based on a mixture of expected output and DraftKings’ NASCAR salaries for that day. The ordering is not based on the highest projected fantasy totals, but rather by value of each driver. Note: fppk = average fantasy points per $1,000 of salary.
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NASCAR Price Check
1. Joey Logano ($10,200) – There are no guarantees. Even the best plate racers wreck. Logano was in 2nd place on lap 196 of the Daytona 500, but when the race stretched into overtime, Logano was behind the wall. If he does not wreck, then he has a great shot at earning his 4th Talladega win since 2015. (4.3 fppk)
2. Aric Almirola ($6,800) – It’s slightly ironic that the driver whose name sounds a lot like wreck, doesn’t wreck at the track where everyone wrecks. In terms of average finish, Almirola has been the best plate racer and the best driver at Talladega since 2015. (3.3 fppk)
3. Denny Hamlin ($9,200) – It’s all or nothing for Denny at Talladega. Over the last nine races at Talladega, Hamlin has three finishes outside of the top 30. He also has four top 10 finishes over that span. (4.7 fppk)
4. Kyle Busch ($9,300) – It’s strange to be this far into the season and for Kyle Busch to not have a Cup win. It would be even stranger if his first win comes at a track where he does not have a discernible advantage. (3.4 fppk)
5. Ryan Blaney ($10,100) – His last two plate races have been eventful. Last fall at Talladega, Blaney beat Ryan Newman to the finish line by 0.007 seconds. At Daytona, Blaney nearly killed Ryan Newman. That pretty much runs the gamut of plate track endings. (4.9 fppk)
6. Kurt Busch ($8,500) – Last July at Daytona, Busch survived the final pile up wreck. He pit from first place in order to prepare for the final run to the finish. As he left the pits, lightning was spotted over and over, and the race was called. Just like that with a flash of light, his Daytona win turned into a 10th place finish. (4.3 fppk)
7. Ryan Newman ($6,700) – It’s hard to believe for casual fans or new fans, but Ryan Newman, the guy that almost died in the last plate race, is statistically one of the best plate racers in NASCAR. The driver that threw a careless and borderline insane block at Daytona that resulted in one of the worst wrecks in a decade is good at plate racing? That’s what the numbers say. (4.0 fppk)
8. Brad Keselowski ($9,600) – The phrase “his luck has to turn around eventually” has become common in plate track articles. It appears that this is not the case. Keselowski may have once been a great plate racer, but that does not matter now. Due to his recent propensity to wreck at plate tracks, he ranks as just the 24th best plate racer over the last 18 plate races. (5.1 fppk)
9. Corey LaJoie ($6,500) – This might be a little bit of shocker, but Corey LaJoie has been in the optimal lineup in four straight plate races. That’s both Talladega races last year. That’s some kind of record. Of course, this means that he’s due to wreck, but he’s been due and it hasn’t happened yet. (4.4 fppk)
10. Brendan Gaughan ($7,600) – This guy has retired more times than Ric Flair. Every plate race is his farewell race, until the next plate race. Gaughan finished 7th in the Daytona 500. He’s been in the optimal lineup four times in the last 12 plate races. (9.9 fppk)
11. Michael McDowell ($6,300) – Front Row Motorsports has always been good at plate tracks. Once upon a time, McDowell pushed David Ragan to a win at Talladega. It’s not purely luck, it’s by design. McDowell will cruise safely in the back, and make a push during the last 25 laps. (5.4 fppk)
12. Christopher Bell ($9,700) – In six plate races in the Xfinity series, Bell has three top 5 finishes. Those stats may not mean a whole lot, but it’s better than zero top 5 finishes. Bell is starting in the back, so his place differential potential will make him a popular play. (3.8 fppk)
13. Ty Dillon ($7,100) – Rarely does Dillon start a plate race this far back in the field. He earns solid finishes, but never earns enough place differential points. With the random qualifying draw, Ty Dillon will become a very popular play based on his average finish of 14th over the last six Talladega races. (3.5 fppk)
14. Ryan Preece ($6,200) – He’s starting in the back, and that’s all that matters. DFS players will tell themselves that they are playing Preece because he earned two top 10s at plate tracks in 2019, and they’ll conveniently ignore that he wrecked in each of the last three plate races. (3.0 fppk)
15. Chase Elliott ($10,400) – At Daytona, Elliott has never earned a top 10 finish. At Talladega, Elliott has a win and four top 10 finishes. In particular, Elliott’s best plate races have been the spring Talladega races, which tends to be the least volatile of all plate races. (5.3 fppk)
16. Clint Bowyer ($9,900) – Based on average finish at a plate track, Clint Bowyer is the best plate racer in NASCAR. In 57 plate races, his average finish of 16th is the best (tied with Stenhouse). (3.9 fppk)
17. Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. ($8,400) – Sometimes the stats say something completely different from what your eyes see. It is not uncommon to watch a restrictor plate race and see Stenhouse wreck multiple times. How could he possibly have the best average finish at plate tracks? It’s simple, when he wrecks, he is wrecking other people and driving away safely while every car behind him is junked in a pile up. (3.3 fppk)
18. Kevin Harvick ($9,400) – Since 2016, his average finish at a plate track is 23rd. Harvick has two top 5 finishes over that span, but one of those top 5 finishes came in the 2020 Daytona 500. (5.6 fppk)
19. Erik Jones ($7,000) – The JGR team plan doesn’t always work out well for the team. The 2019 Daytona 500 worked out for JGR, but it’s very difficult for the entire team to survive a plate race. Most of the time, Jones doesn’t make it through, but he did survive a chaotic summer Daytona race in 2018 and ended up in victory lane. (3.9 fppk)
20. Martin Truex, Jr. ($9,000) – Teamwork has paid off for his JGR teammates, but it hasn’t helped Truex. Even before officially joining JGR, Truex struggled at Talladega. His best finish in the last seven plate races at Talladega is 20th. (4.5 fppk)
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is greenflagradio2) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.