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Cap Considerations

DFS: Darlington

by Dan Beaver
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Draft Kings

The Bojangles' Southern 500’s elevated status as a marquee race is confirmed by Draft Kings biggest game. With a first-place price of $50,000, the Pedal to the Metal, $4-entry contest is the biggest since the Firecracker 400 at Daytona International Speedway, but to win that amount won has to be smarter and luckier than 73,499 other fantasy players—give or take because there is a multi-entry caveat that allows for 150 permutations per player.

This week, getting the right arrangement became even more difficult when Hurricane Hermine shuffled the deck and rearranged the weekend. Practice was moved from Friday to Saturday, with qualification canceled completely. That means some fast cars will start deeper in the field than normal and some normally reliable metrics are meaningless.

The front row often dominates the Draft Kings game, especially in contests with fewer laps. Getting off to a strong start equates to laps lead, but that has not been the defining strength of Kevin Harvick. Often he qualifies in the middle of the pack and surges forward. He leads his share of laps, but rarely dominates that category. Harvick is the most expensive driver in the game—in no small part because of his consistency that put him in the points’ lead. The Bojangles' Southern 500 will be lined up by that criterion.

Of course, Brad Keselowski is also one of the most expensive drivers in the field because of his second-place ranking in the points. The $400 difference between these two drivers makes Kez a much better value not only because he allows for an upgraded midline pick, but as the result of a slightly more aggressive nature and better record at Darlington. Unfortunately, Keselowski proved to be fallible in 2014 and earned a meager 19.5 points in this contest. Last year he took the lion’s share of 111 though.

Kyle Larson is a solid pick this week and not only because of his Pure Michigan 400 victory. We are climbing on his bandwagon because a sweep of the top 10 in his previous two Darlington starts resulted in the eighth-most points in each of the past two years. If that consistency was not enough, he earned 47.5 points in 2014 and 47.3 last year.

Larson’s points’ position in the past two Darlington Draft Kings game segues nicely to his teammate Jamie McMurray. The driver of the No. 1 Chevrolet has finished eighth in his last three attempts, but still finds himself on the bubble entering this week. He needs to run a clean, error-free race this week to insure that he does not get overhauled by Ryan Newman in the standings. That kind of patience pays dividends on this tough old track.

The rookie contenders are also worthy of note. Both of them got the inaugural jitters out of the way last year. Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney sustained damage and neither were good values, but they turned their season around last week in Michigan with a pair of top-fives. As usual, Elliott looked sharper. He contended for the victory, but Blaney was in sight throughout the weekend. Elliott is also $900 more expensive than Blaney’s $7,600 this week and that could make a huge difference.

Lineup set while writing this article: Brad Keselowski ($10,200), Kyle Larson ($9,100), Chase Elliott ($8,500), Ryan Blaney ($7,600), Jamie McMurray ($7,400), and Greg Biffle ($7,200).

RaceDayScore

Last week was a midline special. Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, and Ryan Blaney all finished in the top five and contended for the victory in the critical stages of the race. This week, they provide a sufficient anchor even though all three are above the midline. Ranging from Larson’s 10,900 to Blaney’s $10,300, adding these drivers to the roster forces a decision of whether to remain around the middle of the order, or take what is in essence a throw-away pick at the bottom.

The problem with employing this strategy is there are only five drivers who would make a big enough difference to move the needle sufficiently to take Harvick or Keselowski. Michael Annett, Jeffrey Earnhardt, Reed Sorenson, Michael McDowell, and Josh Wise are not going to earn enough points to help win one’s league.

For that reason, players are more or less locked into an all-or-nothing strategy. Harvick or Keselowski should anchor one’s roster unless someone really steps up in Saturday’s practice. Larson should be a good a bargain in RaceDayScore as he is in Draft Kings, and it has been hard to bet again Chase Elliott in recent weeks.

Now the hard choices get made. With a new midline of $8,833, players can drop down and consider Chris Buescher. With his Pocono Raceway victory and top-five at Bristol Motor Speedway, he is no longer a bargain basement driver, but still a good value at $8,500. There are no strong picks beneath him, so players might consider Casey Mears with the same value to slot into position five.

That leaves a remaining cap value of $9.300 and four drivers in that range. The decision to activate Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Paul Menard, or Aric Almirola will come down to practice times, but pre-weekend the Richard Childress Racing driver would seem to have an edge. One can immediately discount Regan Smith because his cap value is based on a record with much better machinery than he will steer this week.

Lineup set while writing this article: Kevin Harvick ($11,800), Kyle Larson ($10,900), Chase Elliott ($10,800), Paul Menard ($9,300), Chris Buescher ($8,500) and Casey Mears ($8,500). 

 

Driver

Avg. Fin Last 6 Races

Avg. Points Draft Kings

Avg. Points RaceDayScore

Denny Hamlin

5.50

44.83

38.82

Kevin Harvick

8.67

59.17

40.05

Jamie McMurray

11.50

36.92

34.50

Joey Logano

11.50

36.50

32.65

Brad Keselowski

12.17

37.92

31.85

Tony Stewart

12.33

31.33

31.00

Matt Kenseth

13.33

37.67

30.85

Kyle Busch

13.67

62.88

36.63

Kyle Larson

13.67

38.50

31.55

Jimmie Johnson

14.00

31.83

29.13

Austin Dillon

14.33

31.00

29.82

Carl Edwards

15.17

25.46

24.53

Jeff Gordon

16.25

32.00

29.25

AJ Allmendinger

16.83

25.96

26.27

Kasey Kahne

17.50

28.50

27.17

Ricky Stenhouse Jr./p>

17.83

32.25

28.58

Kurt Busch

18.17

21.88

23.47

Ryan Newman

18.50

29.96

22.18

Chase Elliott

18.67

24.04

21.50

Martin Truex Jr./p>

18.67

29.04

22.37

Chris Buescher

19.00

30.50

27.62

Ryan Blaney

19.33

20.25

21.58

Trevor Bayne

19.50

32.00

28.08

Danica Patrick

20.67

30.21

26.68

Casey Mears

21.83

25.33

23.25

Greg Biffle

22.50

25.88

23.17

Paul Menard

22.50

20.00

20.50

Boris Said

24.00

33.00

 

Regan Smith

24.67

27.13

23.18

Aric Almirola

24.83

21.08

20.00

Michael McDowell

25.33

19.33

18.92

Brian Scott

26.67

22.29

19.67

Clint Bowyer

26.67

20.25

18.75

Landon Cassill

26.67

24.00

20.67

Alex Bowman

28.00

-7.50

8.50

David Ragan

30.33

14.75

13.42

Matt DiBenedetto

30.33

11.83

12.42

Cole Whitt

31.20

14.60

13.70

Michael Annett

32.00

17.60

14.80

Jeffrey Earnhardt

33.00

17.00

14.00

Patrick Carpentier

34.00

 

 

Reed Sorenson

34.20

13.60

11.70

Ryan Ellis

34.50

 

 

Josh Wise

34.80

13.20

11.20

Alex Kennedy

36.00

8.00

8.00

Eddie MacDonald

36.00

10.00

9.00

Jeb Burton

36.00

9.00

8.50

Justin Allgaier

40.00

 

3.50

 

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Dan Beaver

Dan Beaver has been covering fantasy NASCAR for more than 20 years with a little help from his >650,000 record database. He can be found on Twitter @FantasyRace.