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 the value of each driver.
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1. Austin Cindric ($9,900) - Other than a wreck at Atlanta, Cindric has a top 5 driver rating in every single race this season. His average driver rating rank over those seven races is second. Darlington wasn’t a great track for Cindric last season, but one race was the first race after the COVID shutdown and the other was a Denny Hamlin race.
2. Justin Allgaier ($10,700) - Atlanta is a challenging intermediate track and Allgaier won the Xfinity race at Atlanta last month. A Martin Truex pit road penalty helped, but Allgaier held off Truex at the end of that race.
3. Josh Berry ($9,100) - Darlington is known as the track that is too tough to tame. Challenging tracks reward skilled drivers and punish weak drivers in great equipment. It would not be surprising to see Berry earn his second win of the season at Darlington.
4. AJ Allmendinger ($10,100) - Allmendinger wrecked while leading in the Daytona Road Course, suffered a mechanical failure at Martinsville and got spun with two laps remaining at Homestead. In the other five races, his average driver rating rank is fourth.
5. Daniel Hemric ($9,500) - The wins may never come, but Hemric looks like the 2018 RCR driver that qualified for the championship. He has the second-best driver rating and average finish in the Xfinity Series this season. He doesn’t even need a miracle — just a small break for a top-3 driver will result in a win.
6. Ty Gibbs ($11,100) - Ty Dillon wrecked the No. 54 car again, he’s a perfect 4-for-4, so the good Ty starts deep in the field again. If Gibbs excels at Darlington, then just give him a Cup car already. In his other races, he had ARCA experience at those tracks. He’s coming in cold this week, and fans are going to see what he’s really made of.
7. Harrison Burton ($8,500) - So far this season, Burton has run well everywhere (short tracks, intermediate tracks and plate tracks). Although he has been good, he has not been great, and intermediate tracks have been his worst tracks (2 hog points total this season).
8. Brandon Jones ($10,400) - Last fall, Jones earned a fluky win at Darlington, but he put himself in position to win. Jones is not good enough to win races, he needs others to fail (e.g. Hamlin and Chastain hitting the wall at the end), but it’s happened, and it can happen again.
9. Noah Gragson ($9,700) - Last season, Gragson scored over 10 hog points (fast laps and laps led points) nine times. This season, he has accomplished this feat just once (Homestead), but there have only been three 1.5-mile races and Truex stole all of the hog points at Atlanta.
10. Justin Haley ($8,700) - He’s a top-10 driver, but not a top-5 driver. He’s Ross Chastain without the aggressive upside, but the same floor. How long will Kaulig keep Haley around if he’s just a top-10 driver?
11. Brett Moffitt ($8,200) - Last week, Moffitt declared that he was running for an Xfinity championship because he believes in his team. Moffitt is a very talented driver and this car is good, but two top 10s at non-plate tracks won’t cut it. His best races have been the intermediate track races, but they’re also the races where he’s wrecked.
12. Bayley Currey ($5,800) - When this Mike Harmon car doesn’t wreck or suffer a mechanical failure, it’s a 25th-place car. Currey is a decent driver, but sometimes he’s too much of a driver. If Currey can avoid too many Darlington stripes and settle for 25th, then DFS players will be satisfied.
13. Josh Williams ($5,600) - Last season, Williams seemed poised to become one of the best small-team drivers, then his season fell apart. Here we are again. Williams has finished 21st or better in six of eight races this season with an average finish of 18th in those six races. If he finishes 16th, then he should be optimal.
14. JJ Yeley ($7,700) - At first glance, it seems that Yeley might be priced out of contention, but that assumes that everyone hits. What if no one hits a home run? The drivers finish around where they start, and there aren’t many great point-per-dollar plays. If that happens, then a safe top 20 from Yeley works.
15. Brandon Brown ($6,900) - DFS players have to think of Brandon Brown as a different driver. His results dictate that. Most players see Brown inside the top 10 and scratch his name off because he doesn’t belong, but there is a reason why he’s starting inside the top 10 and that’s because he has finished inside the top 10.
16. Michael Annett ($9,300) - When Annett doesn’t wreck or spin, he’s a top-10 driver. A 10th-place finish from Annett isn’t quite enough. He’ll need some breaks, but he’s good enough to be in a place to take advantage of the breaks, as long as the breaks do not go against him.
17. Myatt Snider ($7,500) - This has not been a bad season for RCR, but it hasn’t been a good one either. Snider is not the most seasoned driver, so expectations should be tempered. Snider is just cheap enough that if something crazy happens, like his win at Homestead, he can be optimal. Make no mistake, Snider does not work in conservative lineups.
18. Riley Herbst ($8,400) - He didn’t deserve a JGR Xfinity ride last season and he proved it. He doesn’t deserve an SHR car this season, and he’s proving it. It’s almost a lock that he will have a Cup car next season. He’s got oil money, and it can buy great cars, but it can’t buy talent.
19. Timmy Hill ($4,700) - It’s a dicey spot, but Hill has a legit sponsor this week. A competition caution should get him through stage 1. A caution in stage 2, and Hill is alive. Josh Williams is the safe value play, but if Williams struggles, then Hill could be the low-owned pivot punt.
20. Tanner Berryhill ($6,200) - Our Motorsports is a legit team and the car has a sponsor, but can Berryhill drive? How will Berryhill manage not having practice? He likely needs to finish 20th for this play to work. That would be no problem if Tyler Reddick were driving the No. 23, but it’s different with a below-average driver with little experience at a challenging track.
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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.
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