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NASCAR DraftKings Fantasy Driver Rankings: Big Machine Hand Sanitizer 400 at Indianapolis DFS picks

Pearce Dietrich gives his picks and ranks his top drivers for Sunday’s Big Machine Hand Sanitizer 400 Powered By Big Machine Records at Indianapolis slate, which locks at 4:00 p.m. ET on DraftKings.

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 the value of each driver. Note: fppk = average fantasy points per $1,000 of salary.

Set your lineups here: NAS $800K Front Row [$200K to 1st] (Cup)

1. Denny Hamlin ($10,100) - Two drivers have separated from the field. Hamlin is one of those drivers and it’s not a sudden surge. Hamlin has been good all season, but at Pocono it became clear when he battled for the win in both races, that the No. 11 car is significantly better than the rest of the field. (5.1 fppk)

2. Kevin Harvick ($11,000) - There’s Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin and then the rest of the field. That will most assuredly change, but since the season resumed with unique rules, Hamlin and Harvick have benefited the most. That likely won’t change at Indy because Harvick led 74% of the laps in the 2019 race. (5.6 fppk)

3. Joey Logano ($9,200) - Pocono did not go the way Logano wanted. His poor results might scare some DFS players away, but his finishes do not reflect his skill or the speed of his cars. Logano blew a tire on Saturday and suffered a green flag penalty during a 50-lap green flag run to the finish on Sunday. (3.7 fppk)

4. Kyle Busch ($10,400) - The lack of practice is a problem for Busch. He mentioned this problem at Bristol, but in a 500-lap race, he was able to dial the car in. At Pocono, he repeated his claim and his improved performance in the second Pocono race verified his belief. (2.9 fppk)

5. Brad Keselowski ($9,800) - If the race is green, and Indy can absolutely turn into a green flag lap turner, then Keselowski doesn’t have a chance. If there are cautions and games on pit road, then Keselowski has a chance. Late-race cautions resulted in wins for Keselowski at Bristol and Charlotte this year. A late-race caution also allowed Keselowski to steal a win at Indy in 2018. (4.8 fppk)

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6. Erik Jones ($8,100) - First in practice doesn’t mean first in the race. Last year, Jones was first in practice and the first to wreck. Jones comes into this race as one of the most beguiling DFS picks in years. He’s regularly underpriced and starting in a prime spot, but he routinely burns DFS players. (4.2 fppk)

7. Chase Elliott ($10,700) - In the first Pocono race, Elliott’s car had trouble shifting from third to fourth gear. This killed his restarts, and that killed his race. In the second Pocono race, Elliott did not have a mechanical issue and finished fourth. (4.5 fppk)

8. Ryan Preece ($5,800) - It’s hard to ignore a decent driver starting in the 30s with a sub $6,000 price tag. Preece is not a world beater by any means, but he doesn’t have to be. In the 10 races since the season resumed, Preece is averaging a 22nd place finish (excluding a mechanical failure in the second Darlington race). (3.2 fppk)

9. Cole Custer ($6,300) - This hasn’t been the best possible rookie season for Custer, but it’s not a total wash. He’s earned eight top 20 finishes along with 11 top 25s. His best two-race stretch was last weekend with a 16th and 17th place finish at Pocono. (3.4 fppk)

10. Aric Almirola ($7,400) - It appears that Almirola has turned a corner. He’s earned a top 5 finish in each of the past four races. No one doubts Almirola’s skill, but the problem over his career has been inferior and inconsistent equipment. For the past month, SHR has provided Almirola with fast cars. (4.3 fppk)

11. Ryan Newman ($5,900) - One of the age-old DFS NASCAR narratives is the hometrack advantage. Whereas BvP truthers can explain why their beloved stat is real, the hometrack advantage in racing lacks any real explanation. Newman has finished 12th or better in eight of the past 10 races at Indy (including a win in 2013). He grew up in Indiana, so he must have a hometrack edge. That’s how the narrative gets created. (3.7 fppk)

12. William Byron ($8,700) - Pocono was another solid weekend for Byron. Excluding two wrecks since the season resumed, Byron is averaging an 11th place finish. That’s not great, but solid. Byron had the fourth-best average running position at Indy last year. (3.5 fppk)

13. Christopher Bell ($11,500) - There aren’t many narratives that are real in NASCAR, but the rookie narrative holds up. NASCAR rookies are inconsistent. Last weekend, Bell earned a top 5 finish on Saturday and followed it up with a wreck early in the Sunday Pocono race. (3.5 fppk)

14. Ryan Blaney ($9,400) - Blaney has been winning DFS players a lot of money this season. He has been in the most optimal lineups in 2020 (7). Last year, he was tied for the third-most optimal lineup appearances with 10. (4.7 fppk)

15. Martin Truex, Jr. ($9,600) - There are a lot of ways to have a bad day in racing, and at Indy, Truex has done them all. In 2017, he wrecked from the lead. In 2018, he suffered a mechanical failure. Last year, he wrecked on pit road early in the race. (4.2 fppk)

16. Tyler Reddick ($7,700) - This will come as a surprise to many, but Reddick has the seventh-fastest pit crew. Most DFS players want to believe that his success has largely been due to his aggressive style of racing, but the reality is that in the high downforce package, everything comes down to pit road. (4.1 fppk)

17. Alex Bowman ($8,000) - The bandwagon has cleared out. Bowman looked great before the season was interrupted and raced well coming out of the break, but now he has cooled off. He should have earned a top 10 in both Pocono races, but he was never close to contending for the win. (3.9 fppk)

18. Clint Bowyer ($9,000) - He ran well in 2018, but that was in a different racing package and is not a great data point. Perhaps a better indicator, or at least a positive data point, is that Bowyer ran well in both Pocono races last weekend. (3.8 fppk)

19. Kurt Busch ($7,500) - At Pocono, Busch started on the front row and led all of stage one. Even with the advantage of track position, he was unable to earn an average track position inside the top 10. At Indy in the high downforce package last season, Busch had an uneventful day. (4.1 fppk)

20. Jimmie Johnson ($8,500) - The NBC broadcasters were depressed when Johnson wrecked at the beginning of stage 3 at Indy last year. He was in eighth place and they were going to talk about his meaningless battle for the last playoff spot for the rest of the race until he got loose and took out the field. (3.8 fppk)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Johnson has withdrawn from Sunday’s race after testing positive for COVID-19. He will be replaced by Justin Allgaier.

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.