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Cap Considerations

Draft Kings: Ford EcoBoost 400

by Dan Beaver
Updated On: November 14, 2019, 6:27 pm ET

This is it: the last NASCAR race of the season and one final opportunity to earn a little Christmas cash. Unfortunately the Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway can be a difficult race to handicap – not because of a lack of choices, but rather an abundance.

In the last two seasons, playoff contenders have finished fourth or better seven times, which means only one race had a Chaser finishing worse than fourth. The odds are good that this year’s contenders are going to sweep the top five again. Of course that little fact has not slipped by the Draft Kings salary cap manager – and while we will quibble with the order of these drivers, one or two of them on a roster will be essential to winning.

There is also the matter of mid-cap drivers. Many of the drivers below the $8,333 average cost-per-driver have earned top-10s on 1.5-mile tracks. On a given week, it can be difficult to determine who will be the best of this mid-cap pack because it depends on track position and who prepared harder for this race than some of the others on the course type.

If ever there was a time to set multiple lineups to hedge one’s bets, this is the week.


Group A: Most Expensive (>=$10,000)

Kevin Harvick ($10,800)
It would appear that the Draft Kings salary cap manager has drunk deeply from the Kool-Aid pitcher. While all four of the playoff contenders should be among the most expensive drivers this week, it is baffling that Harvick commands only the third-highest salary cap. This is a driver with a worst finish of fourth in the last five races, while one of the racers above him – Denny Hamlin – has not scored a top-five on this track since President Barrack Obama started his second term.

Group B: (Between $9,800 and $8,600)

Joey Logano ($9,800)
Logano is frustrated that he will not have the opportunity to defend his championship. He will internalize that negative emotion and channel it into speed. There has been no love lost between him and the organization that rushed him into the Cup in 2009 and then unceremoniously released him in 2012—and watching three of his principal rivals garner the lion’s share of attention before the race will light a slow fuse. Logano has been great at Homestead in recent years with four consecutive finishes of sixth or better.

Brad Keselowski ($9,200)
Don’t for a moment think that Team Penske is not upset about watching three Joe Gibbs Racing drivers challenge for the championship while they are forced to sit on the sideline. While the bad blood between these two organizations is mostly leveled at Logano. Keselowski has made some waves in the past as well and it’s important to him to show the competition that the non-playoff drivers are relevant. Keselowski was the top-finishing driver outside of Cup contention last year and his fifth-place on the grid was the fifth time in the last six races that he finished seventh or better.

Group C: (Between $8,400 and $7,400)

This level is tricky. If you have looked at this week’s Cheat Sheets already, you will note that we suggest a number of the drivers at this level are capable of scoring a top-10. If you are managing multiple lineups, select liberally from this range.

Matt DiBenedetto ($7,600)
It’s hard to bet against momentum. DiBenedetto was not overly impressive at the beginning of the year on the 1.5-mile tracks and sometime during the weekend he will probably say that this course type does not fit in the wheelhouse of a middle-funded team. But DiBenedetto has made up the difference behind the wheel ever since he finished 16th in the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky. Since then he has scored two more top-15s and a 21st in the last three races on this track type. This week his salary cap is the 18th-most expensive.

William Byron ($8,400)
Byron has been less than consistent on this track type in 2019. He has not finished worse than 20th in 10 starts, but half of his results landed outside the top 15. While a 15th-place finish makes DiBenedetto a good value, we expect a little more out of a well-funded team like Hendrick Motorsports and the 13th-most expensive driver. Byron has delivered. It is the other five results that makes him such an attractive pick; Byron has one top-five and four other top-10s in 10 races this year. His fifth-place at Kansas was impressive, but we really took notice a couple of weeks ago when he challenged for the lead on the short track of Martinsville Speedway.

Group D: (Between $7,200 and $5,900)

Chris Buescher ($6,700)
Buescher has been one of our go-to guys on 1.5-mile tracks this year and he has rarely let us down. With salary caps ranging from $6,200 to $7,600 he has earned top-10 points in the Draft Kings game three times and points outside the top 15 only twice in 10 starts. He’s been consistent at Homestead throughout his career with finishes of 20th through 24th, but he is so much better in 2019 that it is hard to imagine anything but a top-15 finish in the Ford 400. This week, Buescher’s salary cap is the 23rd-highest.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($6,900)
Stenhouse and Buescher both will be looking to make a good final impression on their current teams and head into 2020 with a little momentum. In scenarios like this, it is almost inevitable that they will run nose-to-tail for most of the 400 miles and if Buescher is capable of scoring a top-15, so is Stenhouse. Seven of Stenhouse’s 10 attempts on 1.5-mile tracks this year ended 16th or better; one other was an 18th—and if we mentally discount the crash-induced 40th-place finish from Texas sustained while he was challenging for a top-10, his average is 13.6.

Group E: (Less than or equal to $5,900)

Drew Herring ($5,400)
Drew Herring may be an unknown this week, but the team is not. Parker Kligerman has made six starts on 1.5-mile tracks in the No. 96 with an average finish of 27.5. His best effort—and that of the team—came two weeks ago in the AAA Texas 500. We’ve already seen that a driver at this level is capable of finishing as well as the team because John Hunter Nemechek has been a good value in the No. 36. This week, it’s Herring’s turn.

The top-10 points’ earners from 2018 were: Joey Logano (87), Kevin Harvick (82.5), Kyle Larson (68.75), Martin Truex Jr. (65.5), Clint Bowyer (54.5), Chase Elliott (48), Kyle Busch (44.25), Denny Hamlin (43.25), Brad Keselowski (38.50), and Aric Almirola (38).

Greatest Place-differential Points: Clint Bowyer (18), Kevin Harvick (9), and Ty Dillon (9)

NASCAR Fantasy Live Preview

 

Last 45 Days

Driver

Avg.
Rank

Total
Points
Earned

Avg.
Points

This
Week's
Cap

Points
Per K

Group

Martin Truex Jr.

8.50

491.50

81.92

$10,600

          7.73

A

Denny Hamlin

7.50

502.00

83.67

$11,100

          7.54

A

Kevin Harvick

7.83

356.25

59.38

$10,800

          5.50

A

Kyle Busch

7.67

343.00

57.17

$11,400

          5.01

A

Kyle Larson

12.67

275.00

45.83

$10,200

          4.49

A

 

Kurt Busch

13.17

236.50

39.42

$9,000

          4.38

B

Joey Logano

13.33

246.00

41.00

$9,800

          4.18

B

Ryan Blaney

13.83

219.25

36.54

$9,400

          3.89

B

Clint Bowyer

15.50

195.75

32.63

$8,800

          3.71

B

Erik Jones

19.17

168.00

28.00

$8,600

          3.26

B

Brad Keselowski

20.83

125.25

20.88

$9,200

          2.27

B

Chase Elliott

28.50

23.25

3.88

$9,600

          0.40

B

 

Matt DiBenedetto

17.17

209.50

34.92

$7,600

          4.59

C

William Byron

16.33

216.75

36.13

$8,400

          4.30

C

Ryan Newman

16.50

187.75

31.29

$8,000

          3.91

C

Alex Bowman

21.17

147.50

24.58

$7,800

          3.15

C

Aric Almirola

22.33

154.75

25.79

$8,200

          3.15

C

Daniel Suarez

23.00

118.00

19.67

$7,400

          2.66

C

Jimmie Johnson

23.00

115.75

19.29

$7,900

          2.44

C

 

Ryan Preece

17.17

197.00

32.83

$6,100

          5.38

D

Ty Dillon

17.67

181.75

30.29

$6,500

          4.66

D

Paul Menard

15.17

201.00

33.50

$7,200

          4.65

D

Austin Dillon

17.00

190.75

31.79

$7,100

          4.48

D

Chris Buescher

20.67

161.75

26.96

$6,700

          4.02

D

Bubba Wallace

23.17

128.75

21.46

$5,900

          3.64

D

Daniel Hemric

21.50

135.75

22.63

$6,300

          3.59

D

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

20.00

142.75

23.79

$6,900

          3.45

D

 

BJ McLeod

22.50

47.00

23.50

$4,500

          5.22

E

Corey LaJoie

22.50

153.00

25.50

$5,200

          4.90

E

Ross Chastain

22.33

152.50

25.42

$5,500

          4.62

E

JJ Yeley

24.20

106.50

21.30

$4,900

          4.35

E

Landon Cassill

25.17

120.25

20.04

$4,800

          4.18

E

JH Nemechek

22.00

47.00

23.50

$5,800

          4.05

E

Michael McDowell

25.50

118.50

19.75

$5,300

          3.73

E

Joe Nemechek

27.00

32.50

16.25

$4,700

          3.46

E

Reed Sorenson

27.60

77.00

15.40

$4,600

          3.35

E

Josh Bilicki

28.00

32.00

16.00

$5,100

          3.14

E

Timmy Hill

31.33

28.50

9.50

$5,000

          1.90

E

David Ragan

31.50

53.50

8.92

$5,700

          1.56

E

Drew Herring

 

 

 

$5,400

             -  

E

 

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.