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.
1. Denny Hamlin ($16,000) - In 12 Darlington races, Hamlin has six wins and three 2nd place finishes. Last year, he won after starting dead last. He might be in play at $20,000.
2. Noah Gragson ($8,800) - Under the first set of bizarre Covid rules, starting position was determined by random draws. Gragson won a lot of these random draws and was able to pad his stats in clean air. Now that he’s not winning random draws, he no longer has the unfair advantage of clean air and he looks pretty mediocre.
3. Austin Cindric ($10,700) - It wasn’t until July that Cindric put it all together, but he was decent in the first Darlington race. Who knows, if Cindric had clean air like Briscoe, maybe he could have won? Cindric will start in the second row in the preferred groove. This gives him the best chance at passing Haley before Hamlin runs them all down.
4. Chase Briscoe ($10,000) - Take nothing away from his emotional win at Darlington, but DFS players are trying to win money. This is not happy story time. Feelings take a backseat to facts and stats. On the first run of the Darlington race, Briscoe drove from 11th to 7th. Kyle Busch drove from 26th to 5th. Briscoe was the only leader to get passed, and he got the lead at the end of the race on pit road. He’s still a top play, but it has less to do with skill and car speed, and more to do with his legendary pit crew.
5. Justin Allgaier ($10,400) - Passing the leader in modern stock car racing is nearly impossible. It’s only happened a couple times this year, and one of those passes was Allgaier getting around Briscoe during stage 3 at Darlington. Allgaier then lost the lead on pit road to Briscoe, and was forced to restart on the bottom and that was game over.
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6. David Starr ($4,600) - The No. 07 Bobby Dotter car has been a popular DFS value play this season. Starr’s average finish in this car is 21st. That will work at this price. Anything more, which is likely, is extra. DFS players need savings to fit Hamlin. Starr provides the savings and points.
7. Justin Haley ($9,000) - It’s hard to pass at Darlington, but Haley is not hard to pass. Briscoe will be trapped on the bottom when the green flag drops, and this will allow Haley to earn about 5 hog points before Briscoe or Cindric pass him. His negative place differential will negate all of his hog points.
8. Ross Chastain ($8,600) - Nothing has changed. Chastain has a ton of talent, but he’s too aggressive and his car cannot compete with the top-tier teams. Every week Chastain further proves exactly who he is. At Dover, he could not advance further than 2nd place. At Daytona, he wrecked his teammate for a 6th-place finish. The big teams learned from the Stenhouse debacle, and that’s why Chastain cannot get a top-tier ride.
9. Harrison Burton ($9,700) - It’s not surprising that Burton struggled in the first race back from Covid. This was the first race without practice, and as we have seen, the rookie class has been mediocre without practice. Burton will have notes from the first race, but rookies need on track reps the weekend of a race.
10. Joe Graf, Jr. ($6,700) - Overall, this season has been a success for Graf. Last year, he left the impression that he might be one of the worst pay-to-play drivers ever. Now, he’s just a bad pay-to-play driver. His last top-20 was at Kentucky and half of the field wrecked out. His string of 5 top-20 finishes in six races from Darlington to Homestead seems like a distant memory.
11. Brett Moffitt ($8,700) - When Moffit doesn’t wreck, he averages a 12th-place finish. That more than a respectable accomplishment for a small team in their first season competing in the Xfinity series. However, the obvious place differential points come with a hefty price tag.
12. Anthony Alfredo ($9,400) - The part-time RCR driver and iRacing enthusiast has been good this season, but not $9,400 good. His best finish this season was 4th at Homestead and that was aided by a late race caution. Alfredo’s ceiling is closer to 6th, and that’s not even five times at his price.
13. Austin Hill ($6,900) - When Austin Hill jumps into the No. 61 Hattori car, it’s no longer a Carl Long car. The whole Hattori crew from the tire changers to the engineers will be in the Xfinity garage. Hill earned a top-20 with this car at Fontana, but wrecked at Charlotte.
14. Riley Herbst ($7,900) - One Darlington race is not enough, and no practice time is definitely not enough. Herbst should improve slightly, but Darlinton is a challenging track in a low downforce car. Although he has steadily improved this season, it’s completely acceptable that he might take a step backwards this weekend.
15. Brandon Brown ($7,000) - Throw out his three bad days. In the other 10 races, Brown’s average driver rating rank is 14th. A driver that moves from 17th to 14th is not that appealing, but it is a decent amount of savings and not many drivers on the board can move forward into the top 15.
16. Brandon Jones ($8,200) - In order for Jones to move through the top 10, he’ll need some good cars to wreck. Based on the lack of talent and respect in this series, this is not an unlikely scenario. Jones is cheap. DFS players just need Xfinity drivers to do Xfinity driver things.
17. Jesse Little ($5,400) - This is terrifying, but rostering a top-tier Xfinity driver and Hamlin eats up half of the salary. In the five races before Daytona, Little’s average finish was 10th. A top-15 finish, even with the negative place differential should be fine given the salary constraints this weekend.
18. Josh Williams ($5,200) - If Jesse Little doesn’t work, then the pivot might be Williams. It’s practically the same play. A top-15 is very possible and the savings are necessary. DFS players need two things to happen: Williams has a normal day and another punt does not have an abnormally good day.
19. Tommy Joe Martins ($4,900) - It appears that curse has been lifted. Martins has finished 21st or better in the last seven races. Over that span, his average finish is 16th. Martins will never be chalk again; he destroyed too many lineups this season, but he looks like a very good play this week.
20. Daniel Hemric ($9,200) - This might be the last that we see of Daniel Hemric. The Covid schedule has not helped, but the reality is that Hemric has had plenty of opportunities to prove himself. This is his sixth season in NASCAR and he’s never won at any level, and he’s never going to win at any level.
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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.