The rankings below are based on a mixture of expected output and DraftKings’ NASCAR salaries for Sunday. The order is not based on the highest projected fantasy totals, but rather by the value of each driver.
The DraftKings NASCAR Cup Series Championship slate locks at 3:00 p.m. ET on Sunday.
1. Kyle Larson ($11,500) — “But he’s never won at Phoenix.” Stop! How many times have DFS players faded Larson this season because he did not have track history on his side? Larson has embarrassed the track history truthers. Any sharp player knew in 2018 that Larson was being held back by his Chip Ganassi Racing equipment. The sharp players that have been jamming him into lineups since Week 1 have done pretty well this season.
2. Martin Truex Jr ($10,400) — No one is better in the low downforce package than Martin Truex Jr. He wrecked near the end of last week’s race and still somehow finished fourth. After an adjustment at the end of stage 1 in the first Phoenix race, Truex was the fastest on the track and won for the first time in the desert.
3. Chase Elliott ($10,800) — It’s speculated that the four Championship contenders are allowed to get away with illegal cars. Perhaps, Elliott pushed it too far last season, and NASCAR slapped him on the wrist before allowing his “very fast” car — another adjective could be inserted — to win the 2020 Championship race. Unsurprisingly, in the spring 2021 race at Phoenix, Elliott’s car was good, but not “very fast.”
4. Denny Hamlin ($11,000) — Here’s something to chew on. Hamlin revitalized his career during the “no practice” era. No other team has been better at guessing setups based on past notes, simulator notes and driver input. That huge advantage is lost this weekend when every team is afforded track time during practice.
5. Brad Keselowski ($9,100) — Last season, Keselowski’s pit crew cost him the Championship. His car won at New Hampshire and Richmond, and was the fastest at Phoenix, but he lost too much time on pit road.
Refer a friend and get $20 DK Dollars! Head to the DraftKings Playbook Promo page for more details!
6. Joey Logano ($8,900) — In the spring race, Logano led the most laps, but that doesn’t mean he had the fastest car. It’s difficult to pass the leader, it’s difficult to pass the leader at Phoenix and it’s almost impossible to pass the leader with the PJ1/resin moving the fastest groove from the bottom to one lane higher.
7. Kevin Harvick ($9,300) — It wasn’t very long ago, when DFS players plugged in Kevin Harvick at Phoenix and didn’t have to worry about any other hogs (fast lap and lap leaders). As it has been stated in this article plenty of times over the last seven years: Father Time remains undefeated.
8. Kyle Busch ($9,800) — Does he even want to be in Phoenix? He can’t race for the win because that would mess with his JGR teammates’ title chances. NASCAR is ordering him to attend sensitivity training. The only reason he is racing this weekend is because he is contractually obligated.
9. Ryan Blaney ($9,500) — He’s a better fantasy driver than real life driver. Blaney’s wins have come at 1.5 mile or larger tracks where machine or luck (Talladega) often trump skill. However, wins are overrated in fantasy NASCAR. Blaney has never won at a one-mile or shorter track, but that is where some of his best fantasy performances have been.
10. William Byron ($10,000) — The worry heading into this race is that Hendrick Motorsports poured all of their resources into the No. 5 and No. 9 car. Last week, Byron was not Championship eligible and still had a fast race car, but that car was likely finalized before he was eliminated from the playoffs.
11. Alex Bowman ($8,200) — Once upon a time, Alex Bowman had an amazing race at Phoenix subbing for Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Other than that race, Bowman has struggled at this track. Eventually, he will figure it out, it is his home track and the Hendrick cars are incredible.
12. Christopher Bell ($8,700) — In the Xfinity Series, Bell earned three top-5 finishes at Phoenix, including a win. He looked comfortable in every race at Phoenix and that comfort has continued in the Cup Series — he finished ninth at Phoenix with JGR earlier this season.
13. Tyler Reddick ($8,500) — Phoenix is not a Reddick track. Sure, there was a moment in the 2020 spring Phoenix race where Reddick was running higher than anyone else and was clocking the fastest laps, but laps later, he wrecked. In the Cup Series, he has finished 29th, 19th and 33rd at Phoenix.
14. Kurt Busch ($8,400) — In his 21st season, Busch earned a win and six top-5 finishes. His performance has not dropped off at all this season. His price tag undervalues his talent, but if he qualifies close to the top 10, then DraftKings nailed it.
15. Austin Dillon ($7,300) — At the 750 package tracks, Dillon has the 14th best Real Rating (my own statistical creation that weighs a driver’s average position along with the amount of laps led and laps driven inside the top 5, top 10, top 20, top 25 and top 30). He had a Real Rating of 76/100 and 69/100 in the two Richmond races — a short, flat track.
16. Chris Buescher ($6,400) — In four of the last five high horsepower, oval races, Buescher has been a top 15 driver. He scored a Real Rating of 64/100 in the first Martinsville race (despite wrecking), 69/100 at Richmond and 67/100 at New Hampshire — all flat, short tracks.
17. Matt DiBenedetto ($7,900) — At the 750 package tracks, DiBenedetto has the 16th best Real Rating. This might come as a bit of surprise being that DiBenedetto has a reputation for running well in the low horsepower package, but his quasi-Penske ride has driven like a Penske car at the high horsepower tracks.
18. Daniel Suarez ($6,800) — In three comparable races, Suarez earned top-20 finishes in each race. He finished 16th and 17th at Richmond and 20th at New Hampshire. Keep your eye on Suarez’s long run speed in practice.
19. Anthony Alfredo ($5,400) — Practice will help Alfredo, but it will also help his competitors. Actually, it might benefit the teams with more resources more, and end up hurting Alfredo. Regardless of the effects of one 50 minute practice session, Alfredo kept his car clean and finished 20th last week.
20. Chase Briscoe ($6,200) — Phoenix is Briscoe’s worst track. He has struggled at this track in the Xfinity and Cup Series. He lost the 2020 Xfinity Championship because he couldn’t figure this track out, and everyone knows it, so they will not play him. Briscoe is a talented driver and he will figure it out eventually. If he figures it out this weekend, then he will be an amazing GPP play.
Put your knowledge to the test. Sign up for DraftKings and experience the game inside the game.
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.
If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, crisis counseling and referral services can be accessed by calling 1-800-GAMBLER (1-800-426-2537) (IL).
Gambling problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER (IN/MI/NJ/PA/WV/WY), 1-800-522-4700 (CO/NH), 1-800-BETS OFF (IA), 1-888-532-3500 (VA), 1-800-NEXT STEP (AZ), call/text TN REDLINE 1-800-889-9789 (TN), or 888-789-7777/visit ccpg.org/chat. (CT).
21+ (18+ NH/WY). AZ/CO/CT/IL/IN/IA/MI/NH/NJ/PA/TN/VA/WV/WY only. Eligibility restrictions apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for full terms and conditions.