The Big 3 have lost a lot of their dominance, but they are still among the best values in the game this week.
They have combined to win every Kansas race in the past three years and have dominated the similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks. Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch are losing momentum, however, and that paved the way for four other playoff contenders to win in the past five weeks.
The Hollywood Casino 400 is going to be a pivotal race not only for the drivers, but for fantasy players as well.
Harvick was one of the four Stewart-Haas drivers that spanked the Talladega field and if he had not run out of gas as the field came to green, that organization would probably have finished 1-2-3-4. With that performance, he has shaken any bad feelings surrounding a modest showing in the past month. Harvick has been almost perfect at Kansas in recent races, finishing first, second or third in four of the last five races. He should easily contend for a top-five.
Larson is learning to be a leader. He has been critical of his team on several occasions during the playoffs, but the team should reailize that it his attempt to galvanize them. He has struggled while this has been going on, but managed to pull out good results. He needs to win this week for his best opportunity to advance in the playoffs - especially after receiving a 10-point penalty for violating the crashed vehicle policy at Talladega. Even if he misses that mark, he should challenge for a top-five and earn major fantasy points.
Garage Pick: Kyle Busch
The only strong run that Busch has had duing the playoffs was his victory at Richmond. He has scored top-10s during the past month, but often that is because he surged at the end of a race or got the strategy to work in his favor. He has been great on similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks, however, with a sweep of top-10s in 2018 that include three victories and a second-place finish. He has a seven-race streak of top-10s at Kansas, five of which are top-fives, but his last two were 10ths. One expects more from one of the Big 3.
Red Flag:Aric Almirola
One expects a top-five from their playoff contending driver. So far in 2018, Alimirola has not been able to deliver that. In eight races on similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks this year, he has scored four top-10s and two more top-15s. That makes him a good value in other games, but not NASCAR Fantasy Live. Moreover, with his victory last week at Talladega, he is not as hungry as he should be to contend for the victory.
Hamlin has not been consistently great at Kansas, but he has been strong recently. He enters the weekend with back-to-back fifth-place finishes on this track and is coming off a morale boosting Talladega run. He won back in 2012 in the last race before Kansas was repaved and reconfigured. It has taken a while to learn the new track – but that seems to have happened.
The second non-playoff driver is a little more difficult to pick this week because the top 10 at Kansas has been dominated by the Top 12. Players have to look to the similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks as a whole in 2018 to find the right selection. Jones originally qualified for the playoffs in no small part because of his performance on this track type. In eight races this year, he has finished in the top 10 five times and 11th on one other occasion. He was on his way to another solid finish at Vegas before getting swept into Harvick's accident.
Garage Pick: Paul Menard
One can take a little more risk with their non-playoff garage pick. That also means there is a great opportunity to differentiate one's roster with this selection. Menard has not been overly flashy on the 1.5-milers, but he has picked up where Ryan Blaney left off last year. In 2018, he has three top-10s and three more top-15s in six starts on the track type. One other result was a 17th – and that means he is not going to cost a lot of points if he stumbles.
Red Flag: Austin Dillon
There have been a lot of highlights for Dillon in recent weeks. He finished sixth at Richmond and seventh at Dover. He even came close to getting a top-10 at Las Vegas the last time the series visited a 1.5-miler, but this has not been a particularly good track type for him this season. That 11th was one of three top-15 in eight starts this year, but it was not enough to give him a better-than 20th-place average.