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Power Rankings

Power Ranking After: Vegas

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

For the first time since week three of the 2018 season, the Fantasy Power Rankings is led by a driver who is not a member of the Big 3.

All of the top drivers have experienced trouble in the past several races. Kevin Harvick crashed last week in the South Point 400, Kyle Busch has made three unforced errors in the past four weeks and is struggling to earn top-10s, Martin Truex Jr. had catastrophic brake failure at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and Chase Elliott retired with crash damage at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Those valleys are the very reason why the Fantasy Power Rankings formula looks back at a 60-day period – and also why it takes into consideration several strength-based categories like Average Running Position, Driver Rating, and the amount of time spent in the Top 15.

1. Chase Elliott (Last week: 2)
Weeks in the top 10: 12
In virtual mirror incidents, three of the top contenders were wiped out last week. Chase Elliott ran into a rapidly slowing Jamie McMurray much the same as the Erik Jones ran in Kevin Harvick when that driver lost a tire, but since Elliott’s incident happened later in the race, he had an opportunity to show more strength. Unfortunately, he is now outside of the top 12 and could get knocked out of the playoffs if he has any other issues in the next two weeks.

2. Kurt Busch (Last week: 4)
Weeks in the top 10: 28
Busch had his own problems at Vegas. He was banged about a couple of times – most memorably in one of the last cautions of the afternoon. That snapped an eight-race, top-10 streak. In 2018, it has been rare for him to go back-to-back weeks outside of that mark, however, so he should rebound at Richmond.

3. Kyle Busch (Last week: 3)
Weeks in the top 10: 26
To be successful, drivers have to find the edge and walk on it like a tightrope. That has been Busch’s strength and weakness throughout his career. He has been able to survive most of his mistake with three top-10s in the past four races, but he has not earned a top-five since the Consumers Energy 400 at Michigan and that is what is needed in order for him to be a good value in salary cap games.

4. Kevin Harvick (Last week: 1)
Weeks in the top 10: 27
When asked last week if he was happy to have the 50 bonus points that started the playoffs, Unhappy Harvick answered, “I’m not happy about anything at the moment.” We understand. The Big 3 are losing their stranglehold on the competition – and while that will make little difference in the first two rounds of the playoffs, it is a huge consideration for fantasy owners. The Big 3 are no longer automatic picks.

5. Ryan Blaney (Last week: 5)
Weeks in the top 10: 21
Ryan Blaney did not get out of Las Vegas unscathed. He got pinched into the wall by fellow playoff contender Aric Almirola and had to make multiple repairs. Once those were affected, he charged back up through the field and joined his Team Penske mates to sweep the top five. That is the first time in the organization’s history that all three finished as well. Blaney currently has a nine-race streak of top-15s.

6. Kyle Larson (Last week: 7)
Weeks in the top 10: 25
Kyle Larson may be the driver everyone should be watching. He has the hottest hand at the moment with three top-three finishes in the last four races. He needs just a little something extra to get the victory, and later in the playoffs that is going to be critical for success. At the moment, however, he is earning major fantasy points.

7. Denny Hamlin (Last week: 8)
Weeks in the top 10: 23
Denny Hamlin had almost the same spin as his teammate Kyle Busch last week, but his car dug into the infield grass and ripped the splitter off. Luck does play a role in NASCAR, but the Fantasy Power Rankings is supposed to remove those peaks and valleys. Before his Vegas hardship, Hamlin was riding an eight-race streak of results 16th or better.

8. Brad Keselowski (Last week: 11)
Weeks in the top 10: 23
Yes, Brad Keselowski enters Richmond with three consecutive wins – all in high profile races (the Southern 500, Brickyard 400, and playoff race), but he has not shown the kind of dominant performance that makes him a place-and-hold driver. This week will be a huge test because short, flat tracks have not been overly kind to Keselowski so far in 2018. If he challenges for victory in the Federated Auto Parts 400, that opinion is likely to change.  

9. Martin Truex Jr. (Last week: 10)
Weeks in the top 10: 22
Martin Truex Jr. won Stage 1 last week and was in contention for the overall victory. That made a statement about how this team that will close at the end of the year has come to race. No one expected their results to slide immediately, however, and the trick for fantasy players will be in timing their jump off his bandwagon.

10. Erik Jones (Last week: 6)
Weeks in the top 10: 8
There were two reasons Jones did not need what happened last week. It dropped him outside the top 12 in the playoff standings and now he has to battle his way back. More importantly, it may have robbed him of some of his confidence. Time will tell and Richmond is going to be critical for all of the drivers who experienced problems last week.

Dropped from the Top 10

11. Clint Bowyer (Last week: 9)
Weeks in the top 10: 25
Two sub-20th-place finishes in the last three weeks caught up with Clint Bowyer. The good news for his fans is that with so much carnage last week at Vegas, he is still above the cutline to make Round 2 of the playoffs. The bad news is that he has lacked consistency in the past 18 races with top-10s in only one-third of his starts.  

Big Movers outside the Top 10

15. Alex Bowman (Last week: 18)
Weeks in the top 10: 1
It appeared that Alex Bowman would be one of the benefactors from last week’s chaos until he was caught up in an incident on a Lap 256 restart while running ninth. He sits 12th in the standings – six points ahead of teammate Jimmie Johnson and nine above Elliott. He is not expected to stay there.

17. Daniel Suarez (Last week: 15)
Weeks in the top 10: 0
Daniel Suarez fell two spots in the rankings last week, but he should not be discounted entirely. He finished eighth in the South Point 400, which was his first top-10 in five races. It seems like a distant memory since he finished second at Pocono Raceway and fourth at Watkins Glen International, but the potential is still present with the No. 19 team.

 

This Week

Driver

Power Average

Last Week

Difference

1

Chase Elliott

6.16

2

1

2

Kurt Busch

6.42

4

2

3

Kyle Busch

6.51

3

0

4

Kevin Harvick

6.62

1

-3

5

Ryan Blaney

7.78

5

0

6

Kyle Larson

8.15

7

1

7

Denny Hamlin

9.33

8

1

8

Brad Keselowski

9.44

11

3

9

Martin Truex Jr.

9.54

10

1

10

Erik Jones

9.59

6

-4

 

11

Clint Bowyer

9.68

9

-2

12

Joey Logano

11.10

12

0

13

Ryan Newman

12.97

14

1

14

Aric Almirola

12.97

13

-1

15

Alex Bowman

13.97

18

3

16

Jimmie Johnson

14.49

16

0

17

Daniel Suarez

14.65

15

-2

18

Jamie McMurray

15.31

17

-1

19

Austin Dillon

17.00

20

1

20

William Byron

18.47

19

-1

21

Trevor Bayne

18.58

22

1

22

Matt Kenseth

18.81

23

1

23

Paul Menard

19.52

21

-2

24

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

20.84

25

1

25

Chris Buescher

21.19

24

-1

26

Regan Smith

23.00

27

1

27

Kasey Kahne

24.17

26

-1

28

Michael McDowell

25.16

28

0

29

Parker Kligerman

25.50

30

1

30

David Ragan

25.90

29

-1

31

AJ Allmendinger

26.42

32

1

32

Ty Dillon

27.77

31

-1

33

Matt DiBenedetto

30.55

34

1

34

Bubba Wallace

31.13

33

-1

35

Ross Chastain

31.23

35

0

36

JJ Yeley

32.37

40

4

37

Josh Bilicki

32.75

36

-1

38

Corey LaJoie

32.96

39

1

39

Landon Cassill

33.00

38

-1

40

Cole Whitt

33.75

37

-3

41

Blake Jones

34.17

42

1

42

Kyle Weatherman

34.33

41

-1

43

Garrett Smithley

34.50

46

3

44

Jeffrey Earnhardt

34.74

44

0

45

Reed Sorenson

35.06

43

-2

46

Spencer Gallagher

36.00

47

1

47

BJ McLeod

36.04

45

-2

48

Jesse Little

36.75

48

0

49

Timmy Hill

37.14

49

0

50

Gray Gaulding

38.88

50

0

51

David Starr

39.75

51

0

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.