The rankings below are based on a mixture of expected output and DraftKings’ NASCAR salaries for Sunday’s race. 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.
1. Ryan Blaney ($8,900) — Over the past nine races, Blaney has scored the third-most hog points (156 points). He has not been able to capitalize on his speed at non-plate tracks but Blaney has been in most DFS optimal lineups this season (8). (4.5 fppk)
2. Aric Almirola ($8,100) — Clean air is king. Almriola started up front and stayed upfront all race long at Texas. This enabled him to record 50 fast laps. This weekend Almirola brings the desirable blend of recent track history and exceptional current form. (4.6 fppk)
3. Kevin Harvick ($11,300) — The 2018 Texas winner received a massive penalty and his win was taken away. His winning 2019 Texas car had a suspicious paint job that was explicitly banned by NASCAR in 2018, but the media and NASCAR officials ignored the blatant infraction. Might as well cheat again. (5.6 fppk)
4. Martin Truex Jr. ($10,400) — He struggled last fall at Texas but this is not unique. Truex, like many Martinsville fall winners before him, had earned a ticket to the championship and was looking ahead to Homestead. Texas received a fraction of the planning it normally would receive. (4.1 fppk)
5. Denny Hamlin ($10,800) — Despite two early race penalties, Hamlin won the spring 2019 Texas race. How did he win? How does anyone win in NASCAR — on pit road. During the stage 3 green flag pit cycles, Hamlin was the fastest onto pit road, on pit road and off of pit road. The seconds he shaved off led to his victory. (4.7 fppk)
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6. Christopher Bell ($9,100) — It’s very difficult to determine which rookie has been the best this season. Cole Custer has the win, but Tyler Reddick and Bell have spent more time inside the top 10. Like all rookies, the crop looks marvelous one week and are total duds the next. Bell has seven top 15s since the season resumed. (3.7 fppk)
7. Kurt Busch ($7,900) — Over the past six races, Busch’s average finish is 13th but only two of those tracks are intermediate tracks. The most recent track was an intermediate track race and Busch earned a fifth-place finish at Kentucky. (4.2 fppk)
8. Kyle Busch ($9,300) — What happened to Kyle Busch? That’s a question that should have been asked last season. If Martin Truex’s team doesn’t put his tires on backward in the championship race, then heading into 2020 people would have realized that Busch struggled in the second half of the 2019 season and expectations would have been much lower for the No. 18 car. (2.8 fppk)
9. Michael McDowell ($6,600) — It’s over. McDowell finished 24th at Kentucky. He stunk all day, but he stayed out and caught a caution. The lucky break made a 24th-place car a 10th-place car with 30 laps remaining. That was too many laps. On the penultimate restart, McDowell got eaten up and dropped like a rock and faded back to 24th place. (5.4 fppk)
10. Tyler Reddick ($7,800) — At Pocono, Reddick wrecked and had a mechanical issue and Talladega was Talladega. In the other recent races, Reddick earned a top 5 finish at Homestead and a top 10 finish at Indianapolis and Kentucky. He’s been up and down, but for a rookie, earning top 10s more than half of the time is really good. (4.3 fppk)
11. Chase Elliott ($10,000) — The PJ1 was ice last fall at Texas. Elliott got into it and his day ended on the ninth lap. The forecast is much hotter, so there is a chance that the grip strip will activate. Elliott would much rather it remain ice because he’s been much better in races with cooler temperatures. (4.3 fppk)
12. Joey Logano ($9,500) — He hasn’t won since Phoenix, but the car hasn’t been slow. Logano has scored eight or more hog points in six intermediate track races. Logano has finished seventh or better in seven of the past eight Texas races. (3.6 fppk)
13. Brad Keselowski ($9,700) — Texas covered the entire turn in PJ1. Not just one lane, the entire track from entry to exit except for the bottom groove. The idea was that one of these lanes was bound to work against the preferred groove on the bottom. It was an absolute failure. The drivers described the PJ1 as shiny ice. Keselowski hit the ice and then the wall on lap 54. (4.8 fppk)
14. Erik Jones ($8,600) — It might be time to start rethinking Erik Jones chalk. Sure, his place in the standings is largely due to mechanical issues and wrecks, but the good races are few and far between. He was terrible last week at Kentucky. The future does not look good for a young driver on a one-year contract that is about to miss the playoffs. (3.8 fppk)
15. John Hunter Nemechek ($6,000) — Worst case scenario, it’s John Hunter Neme-Wreck, but he’s only suffered two major wrecks this season. When he doesn’t wreck, he averages an 18th-place finish. That’s 6x and very likely a place in the optimal lineup. (4.6 fppk)
16. Ryan Newman ($6,300) — Since returning, Newman is averaging a 15th-place finish in the races where he didn’t wreck or have an issue. It’s always 15th for Newman. Sadly, Newman doesn’t have one top 10 finish over that span. (3.5 fppk)
17. Alex Bowman ($8,400) — In the first six intermediate track races of the season, Bowman averaged 34 hog points per race. In the past three intermediate track races, Bowman has averaged 3 hog points per race. (3.6 fppk)
19. William Byron ($8,000) — “I don’t know what it is about this race track (Texas), but I always feel comfortable here.” The numbers back up this on board radio transmission. Byron has two top 10s in four Texas races and he should have earned another top 10 last fall, but he was caught a lap down during pit cycling when Bubba Wallace intentionally caused a fake caution. (3.5 fppk)
19. Clint Bowyer ($7,700) — SHR made a habit of trimming out their cars in 2019. Sometimes it worked, but most of the time it did not. Texas was one of the cases where it worked. The teams sacrificed handling for speed, but with a cool track the teams did not need extra downforce. Bowyer scored 13.5 hog points and finished 11th. (3.8 fppk)
20. Cole Custer ($7,400) — The saying goes, drivers have to put themselves in a position to be lucky. This implies that a driver has to at least run up front to catch a break. Custer did not run up front at Kentucky. He was in 15th place and stayed out long hoping to catch a caution and he did. It was a lucky win, but even if he didn’t win a 15th-place finish is good for a rookie. (4.3 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.