No one will be more surprised than Kevin Harvick if he fails to win this week and that is going to make him one of the most popular drivers in the field. While Daily Fantasy does not have the same problems associated with year-long games and the need to differentiate one’s roster to gain points if one is lagging during the season, it is still difficult to finish at the top if the lineups are the same. This week, players need to decide if they are going to start Harvick and do an exceptional job on their other five players or if they believe Harvick will stumble and take down the competition—and cost $10,600 in the process.
In order to take Harvick, a one-to-one ratio of points means one needs to find a strong driver for about $6,100. We have been high on Michael McDowell ever since Todd Parrott joined the organization at Charlotte Motor Speedway, and that is precisely where he fits in. Last week he scored 26 points at Texas Motor Speedway and that was his worst performance in the past five weeks, but it was still enough for 17th on the chart.
We have not been particularly high on Greg Biffle for much of the season and in coverage for other games, he has not gained a lot of respect. He was only the 19th-most expensive driver two weeks ago on the similarly-flat Martinsville Speedway, however, and earned the 10th-most points for his 18th-place finish. This week he is $100 cheaper at $7,000 than he was for the Goody's 500. He should be activated if he qualifies outside the top-20 and records a top-15 10-lap average in either of Saturday’s sessions.
Starting at the bottom and working up gives the opportunity to define those upper limits more precisely. McDowell and Biffle move the average cost of the remaining four drivers to $9,225 and only eight options are more expensive than that.
The sky is not the limit, but there are some solid picks below that mark. This spring Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney, and Austin Dillon all scored top-10s and each fit comfortably in that range. Elliott has been one of our go-to picks, but really any of these three could be the difference-maker. Blaney is the cheapest, but after last week’s run-in with Harvick, Dillon has the most motivation.
At least two of the roster positions should go to drivers vying for the final Chase berths. Joey Logano, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, and Matt Kenseth are all going to challenge for top-fives. Track position is going to make the ultimate difference and that is hard to predict before the green flag waves. If one is playing multiple lineups, spread the allocations around.
McDowell is an even better value in RaceDayScore with the fifth-lowest cap of $7,700. It does not take much brain-strain to guess who gets put on the roster first this week.
Aric Almirola has been incredibly consistent on short, flat tracks in 2016, but his highs and lows on other tracks keep him under the midline. With the heavy in balance of this game—the top-loading of cap values for marquee drivers—risks have to be taken on occasion and Almirola has been worthwhile on this track type with five top-20s and a 21st in seven races. His best effort came back in spring with a 13th in the Good Sam 500.
Jimmie Johnson has a lot of motivation to keep Harvick out of Victory Lane this week, and he should actually be considered one of the favorites to win. Before Harvick came along, the No. 48 dominated this track. He already has his ticket to the finale, but he would love to carry some momentum into Homestead-Miami Speedway. So would Carl Edwards, who finished second to Harvick this spring, but Johnson is $500 cheaper at $10,500 and that tips the value proposition in his favor.
Elliott’s eighth-place finish this spring is important in light of what he did at Texas. He entered that race with one top-five in one start and backed it up with another in the AAA 500. He should be able to double-down in regard to top-10s at Phoenix as well.
It is difficult to bet against Martin Truex Jr. when he fits the right niche on one’s roster. His record on short, flat tracks is not stellar, but then again he has been the most-improved driver on several occasions this year on other types so that can hardly be counted against him.
As in the Draft Kings game, the four cusp contenders will all spur one another to greatness this week. For the final slot, pick ‘em. We picked Logano.
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