Last week in the Bank of America 500, Martin Truex Jr. tried to bump draft Austin Dillon a little too aggressively for the conditions. Dillon was on old tires and turning through the double-dogleg of the Charlotte Motor Speedway frontstretch. Truex sustained some damage, finished in the teens and earned only the 21st-most points. The problem was, at $10,900 he was the most expensive driver in the game. This week, he is $200 more expensive. Kevin Harvick had a mechanical problem, finished 38th, and actually cost fantasy players 22.5 points. He was and is the second-most expensive driver. He is also $200 more expensive this week than last and there is a lesson to be learned.
Spending heavily at the top comes with risk.
Truex and Harvick are both obviously worth their price tag—right up until the time they have trouble. That means they should be part of one roster in mutli-entry games because it can often be difficult to finish in the top 20 percent of the field without their production. In 50/50 or multiplier games, however, a safer approach is indicated.
Aric Almirola has been much more consistent on similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks than other course types during his tenure with Richard Petty Motorsports. Last week, he was a great value with his 15th-place finish. He accumulated 51 points in the Draft Kings contest, which made him the eighth-most productive driver. At Dover International Speedway two weeks ago he finished 16th. He was 17th at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and also at Richmond International Raceway, so it is time to trust him so long as it doesn’t cost too much.
Michael McDowell was a big part of helping win one’s Charlotte contest. For an extremely modest price of $5,400, he earned 38 points and that was 13th-best. Much more importantly, he feed up nearly $3,000 from the average player cost and that could be spent freely at the top of the order. We predicted he would be strong at Charlotte because of the addition of Todd Parrott to the team and that gives us hope that his improvement is sustainable.
With Almirola or another sub-$7,000 driver on the roster plus McDowell, the average budget for players rises to $9,525. Only five drivers are more expensive, which does not mean the sky is the limit, but one can reach to the top of the trees. Chase Elliott had an incredibly strong car last week and would have been capable of challenging for the win if not for an accident that was not of his making. Even with his 33rd-place finish, he scored the 10th-most points. If he stays out of trouble, he is going to be much more productive this week.
Joey Logano also had a bad finish last week—only his was self-imposed. With problems already reported, the team decided to leave him out for longer than the competition and that ultimately caused him to blow a tire. He slapped the wall and did enough damage that he hit it again more substantially later on. Logano cost his players 16 points; at Kentucky Speedway on another similarly-configured, 1.5-mile track he lost 30 points, but in between he was the fifth-most productive driver at Chicagoland Speedway. Logano cannot afford to struggle again at Kansas if he wants to advance. He will not struggle.
Following the same strategy of picking two low-cost drivers (Almirola and McDowell) does not free up quite as much in RaceDayScore. The biggest reason for this is because the No. 43 is only $900 below their midline. Unfortunately, taking a much cheaper driver represents significant risk.
In the less than $9,000 range Clint Bowyer and Casey Mears are perhaps the most interesting. Mears has been a decent value on a few occasions this year and at least one of those races factors directly into this week’s handicap. He earned the 18th-most points at Michigan and frees up about $500 more than Almirola.
Bowyer earned the 11th-most points at Charlotte last week as well as the 18th-most on another similarly-configured, 1.5-mile track with 25 markers banked at Chicagoland Speedway. One might wish to wait until Saturday’s practice to make the final determination.
Kyle Larson has been a top-10 producer in RaceDayScore in eight of the last 15 races. He earned the most at Michigan International Speedway, which is another unrestricted, intermediate speedway. Last week after struggling for three races, he put 49 points on the board, which was third-best.
In this contest, Truex is a much value overall because he is only the seventh-most expensive driver in the lineup instead of commanding the top spot. That lowers the risk inherent in forcing players to employ strictly a mid-cap strategy. Truex made a mistake last week at Charlotte, but it is unlikely that will happen two weeks in a row. Truex is capable of scoring the most or second-most points in the game—and in fact that is what he has done in five of the last six weeks, so his modest price tag is a gift.
Kyle Busch is an all or nothing racer most weekends, but when he clicks on all eight cylinders he is hard to beat. Like Truex, he is a little too expensive in Draft Kings to represent a great value, but he should be considered as the best available option if he fits the final niche on one’s roster.
|Driver||Avg. Fin Last 6 Races||Avg. Points Draft Kings||Avg. Points RaceDayScore|
|Martin Truex Jr||4.33||94.21||48.72|
|Ricky Stenhouse Jr||19.33||27.25||25.42|