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.
1. AJ Allmendinger ($12,000) - He’s starting in the back and the Kaulig cars have been the best plate cars in the Xfinity Series. Oddly enough, the only thing standing in Allmendinger’s way are his teammates. Not only does he have to beat some really good Kaulig cars, but he has to hope that they do not wreck him like last time.
2. Ross Chastain ($10,200) - He’ll wreck his teammate to get a win. DFS players will be attracted to Chastain’s upside, but his aggression also provides a bottomless floor. One thing that drives DFS players nuts in plate races are the possible race winners that settle for top 10 finishes. Chastain is not that driver. He will try to lead every lap and win the race.
3. Chase Briscoe ($10,400) - In a race where talent and equipment are equalized, his crew’s pit road acumen can make all of the difference in the world. Briscoe has a top five finish in four of the last six plate races. He’ll need to lead laps in order to be optimal, and starting from the pole helps that cause.
4. Justin Haley ($9,600) - Imagine looking out of Haley’s windshield on the final lap of the Daytona summer race. His teammate Ross Chastain dumps his other teammate AJ Allmendinger, and the two wreck. Meanwhile, Haley cruises by both for his fourth plate track win (you’ve got to count the ARCA win).
5. Austin Cindric ($10,600) - All of the drivers starting upfront need to lead laps. The first place finishing position points are not enough to be optimal, and these drivers are locked out of place differential opportunities. Cindric can win, but can he lead?
6. Timmy Hill ($8,400) - His car will always be a concern, but it has finished plate races before. If he could wheel a Carl Long special to 3rd place at Daytona in February, then he can do it again this weekend at Talladega.
7. Justin Allgaier ($10,000) - His six race top 10 streak at Talladega came to a crashing halt in 2019. He has earned a DNF in the last two plate races at Talladega. If there is a silver lining, it’s that Allgaier’s wrecks came during the final laps.
8. Noah Gragson ($9,800) - The season kicked off with a Gragson win at Daytona. From a real life perspective, that seems like a lifetime ago. From the perspective of Noah Gragson, that seems like a lifetime ago. His promising season has not been completely lost. Another lucky plate track win, and he’s back in business.
9. Austin Hill ($6,600) - The Xfinity field is pretty terrible every week, so citing statistics can be challenging. Often the statistics that support picks are stretches. Austin Hill wrecked in his only Xfinity plate race, but he won a truck race at Daytona in 2019.
10. Garrett Smithley ($5,400) - The Bobby Dotter #07 car has the speed to hang onto the lead lap. When Smithley drove competent cars at Talladega for JD Motorsports, he earned two 12th place finishes, and a 10th place finish in four races.
11. Harrison Burton ($9,400) - No one knows how these races will play out. Someone has to lead the laps, and it’s always a top tier car. It can just as well be Burton as anyone else. He’s earned a top five finish in both of his Daytona races this year.
12. Riley Herbst ($8,800) - The last time I checked it was 2020. Chaos is ubiquitous. How could 2020 drop a bomb on the Xfinity Series playoffs? When the disappointing silver spoon driver washes up in victory lane, don’t be surprised and don’t be sad. This is the way it’s always been.
13. Brandon Jones ($9,200) - It takes a lot of luck to win at Talladega, and Jones is no stranger to lucky wins. In every one of his few wins, the heavens practically aligned for him. His three top five finishes in 15 plate races isn’t very appealing, but it’s surprising his numbers aren’t worse.
14. Michael Annett ($8,600) - This JR Motorsports car can win. It did win in 2019 at Daytona. A top three finish and a handful of place differential points might be enough to squeeze Annett into the optimal lineup.
15. Chad Finchum ($6,400) - He’s starting in the back and he has a car that can mechanically survive. Finchum can wreck, but if he does not wreck, the car should finish on the lead lap. There’s just one catch. The car can make it to the end, but if it does not have a legit sponsor, then Carl Long is parking this bad boy.
16. Jeffrey Earnhardt ($5,100) - Pick your poison in the back. Some cars can’t make it to the end, but Earnhardt’s JD Motorsports car can. He’s not starting deep in the field and he’s just as likely to wreck as anyone else, but DFS players have got to play somebody in that back. Might as well take an experienced driver in decent equipment.
17. Josh Bilicki ($6,900) - B.J. McCleod cars have participated in 11 Talladega races. Those cars have earned eight lead lap finishes and nine of them were running at the finish. The cars hold up and they seem to have a plan. Bilicki is starting third to last; a lead lap finish will likely be an optimal day for Bilicki.
18. Ryan Vargas ($7,700) - This is his first plate race, but he’s raced at more difficult tracks. Vargas is starting deep in the field and his JD Motorsports car can earn a top 15 finish. Just like everyone else, it’s a coin toss. He wrecks or he doesn’t.
19. Vinnie Miller ($6,200) - His Talladega finishes of 17th, 19th, and 21st do not seem that impressive, but he’s finished on the lead lap in every race. Half of the field did not finish on the lead lap in the spring, but Miller did.
20. Joe Graf Jr. ($6,000) - In four plate races, Graf has four DNFs. He’s due for some good luck. His car is good enough to earn a top 15, but it can’t finish inside the top 15, if it doesn’t finish. Hopefully, Graf has learned a couple lessons and comes into Talladega with a plan.
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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.