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.
1. Chase Elliott ($10,500) - Talladega has been the better of the two plate tracks for Elliott, but he has his fair share of DNFs at Talladega (33%). With the non-qualifying format, Elliott is sitting in one of the better spots among the possible race winners. If this race is conservative, then Elliott is in play. If it’s a wreckfest, then he is likely not starting deep enough in the field. (4.3 fppk)
2. Aric Almirola ($8,500) - No other driver has been better at the plate tracks than Almirola from a DFS perspective. He’s been optimal eight times in the last 20 plate races (most), and he has a top 10 finish in the last eight Talladega races. (4.4 fppk)
3. Bubba Wallace ($7,700) - As much as the NASCAR community loves Bubba, most are willing to admit that he lacks the talent of his competitors. All will admit that his car can’t compete with the elite. This week, talent and equipment do not matter. This might be one of the final memorable moments for the legendary #43 car. (3.7 fppk)
4. Christopher Bell ($7,000) - Plate racing is not his strong suit, but these days, it’s no one’s strong suit. Bell has a quality car and he’ll get some assistance from his JGR teammates. While those factors help, it will all come down to avoiding wrecks. He may not be better than other drivers at crash avoidance, but he can score more points than half of the field purely based on his starting position. (3.5 fppk)
5. Tyler Reddick ($7,900) - The rookie is not an adept plate racer. He’s not even an average plate racer, but he did win an Xfinity race at Daytona way back in 2018. Reddick is starting 30th, so if he avoids the wrecks, then he’ll be optimal. The problem with that is that he caused all of the wrecks in the last plate race. (4.3 fppk)
6. Kevin Harvick ($10,100) - He hasn’t been that great at restrictor plate tracks, but he’s been great everywhere this year. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him win. Even if he does win, Harvick will need this race to be a snoozefest with few place differential monsters, and that’s something that SHR has dictated in the past. (5.8 fppk)
7. Denny Hamlin ($9,700) - The pole sitter has not been in the optimal lineup in the last 20 plate races. In the very first restrictor plate DFS contest on DraftKings, Dale Jr. was optimal from the pole. The 20 races since then, not so much. (5.0 fppk)
8. Ryan Blaney ($9,100) - He’s won the last two Talladega races. He just missed winning the Daytona 500, and then finished 6th in the summer Daytona race. It’s a thing for drivers to get hot at plate tracks and be unbeatable for a stretch (see Dale, Jr., Keselowksi, and Logano). (4.1 fppk)
9. Joey Logano ($10,300) - The last time Logano was optimal at Daytona was 2016, but he’s been optimal five times in the last 10 races at Talladega. You’re not going to get better odds than a coin flip this weekend. (3.7 fppk)
10. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($8,800) - Here we go. Stenhouse is an aggressive plate racer, and early in his career, he consistently earned top 10 finishes. In 2017, he won two plate races. He hasn’t won since, but he has continued to earn top 10s. Statistically, Talladega is his favorite plate track. (2.9 fppk)
11. Ty Dillon ($6,300) - His stats aren’t great, but they’re not bad either. In his seven Talladega races, he’s finished between 10th and 17th in each race. His ability to avoid the big wrecks is almost as impressive as his inability to finish better than 10th. (4.1 fppk)
12. Ryan Newman ($6,800) - After his brush with death at Daytona, Newman has wrecked in the last two plate races. It could just be bad luck, but after cheating death, it’s safe to assume that Newman has used up his allotment of luck for the rest of his life. That’s it. No more luck for Newman. He’s not even going to find a dollar in a pair of clean jeans. (3.3 fppk)
13. Ryan Preece ($6,500) - His contract is up at the end of the season. A win at Talladega likely won’t save his career, but you can’t tell him that. He still believes that he can compete at this level (he can’t). Preece will likely give it everything he’s got this weekend. A top 10 won’t cut it. It’s checkers or wrecker. What’s another destroyed race car among friends? (3.5 fppk)
14. Brad Keselowski ($9,900) - At Daytona, he earned his first restrictor plate top 10 since the 2017 fall Talladega race. Keselowski won that race and has been terrible ever since. The argument is that it’s just bad luck, but if that’s the case, then his wins were just good luck. (4.7 fppk)
15. Martin Truex Jr. ($9,300) - His poor plate streak was broken in the Daytona summer race (4th place finish). However, his terrible Talladega streak is still intact. Treux has not earned a top 10 at Talladega since 2015. His average finish over the last eight Talladega races is 27th. He’s due. (4.6 fppk)
16. Kyle Busch ($9,500) - Talladega might be Kyle Busch’s only chance to win this season. That’s a statement that no one ever expected to read. This team is in trouble. Talladega is usually the worst week to consider a Kyle Busch DFS play, but not this time. (3.5 fppk)
17. Kurt Busch ($8,100) - The stats say that Kurt is safe. He has eight top 15 finishes in the last 10 Talladega races. The problem is that he’s starting 2nd. Busch needs to lead a bunch of laps for this play to work. (3.9 fppk)
18. William Byron ($8,900) - Now that he’s out of the playoffs, the pressure is gone. Byron won the last plate race, and it’s common for drivers to win plate races in bunches. DFS players don’t need him to win. If Byron simply finishes, then he has a great chance of being optimal. (3.5 fppk)
19. Alex Bowman ($7,500) - Every other Talladega race, he earns a top 10. Unfortunately, he earned a top 10 finish in the spring at Talladega. This sounds ridiculous and unscientific. It is, but plate racing is closer to witchcraft than science. (3.7 fppk)
20. Corey LaJoie ($6,700) - The jinx is real. After LaJoie caught the eye of the DFS community with four consecutive optimal lineup appearances at the plate tracks, he cooled off. His finishes in the last two plate races at Talladega at Daytona were fine, but he did wreck at Daytona. (4.0 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.