NASCAR DFS Picks for DraftKings – 2017 Toyota/Save Mart 350
Welcome to another edition of ResearchFantasy’s NASCAR Breakdown. These picks are what I consider to be the best play of the day, relative to their price. One of the most important things we must consider in daily fantasy is how many points a player gets per dollar. It helps us identify value plays to pair with studs that we know will produce in order to maximize our potential points in lineups. I also try to identify plays that can be used in either cash games or tournaments. Typically, when I build my cash games, I am looking for players that have the best floor combined with good upside. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please let us know!
This is our first road race of the year, as there are only two on the schedule. Because this is a road track, we get some guys in the entry list that we normally don’t see, as they specialize in the road tracks. This includes guys like Boris Said, who has been showing up for these races forever, and new entrants like Billy Johnson and Alon Day. This is also the first time we will see stage racing at a road course.
A little bit about the stage racing: I LOOOOOOOOOOOVE Michael Waltrip. Not only is he the best commentator in all of sports, but he has insights like none other due to he and his families long history in the sport. He brings up a good point about how things can pan out with the stages. Those sitting probably 15th on back who have no shots at stage points will likely take to the pit right before pit road closes. This will, for the most part, force the hands of those who didn’t pit because they were chasing stage points to do so after the completion of the stage.
I know what you’re thinking: why is this any different? Well, Sonoma is a course where you aren’t going to lose laps pitting with green flag cautions. When these drivers pit at lap 22, they aren’t going to lose a lap, and they won’t be taking a pass through lap on the stage caution to stay on the lead lap. Rather when the stage winners pit, those other cars will take the positions of the leaders who just pitted, and they will start in the back.
OK – I get that I’m being indirect, so let me clean the thought process up: there are likely to be no drivers who end up with a significant amount of laps led. Let’s define that a bit more. This race has 110 laps. Over the past 5 years, the lap leaders here have finished with 33, 45, 35, 51 and 71 respectively. Due to the stages here, I would be surprised if we see a driver finish with over 40 laps led. I say all that to say this: 40 laps gets you only 10 points in terms of laps led points. Sure, there are likely to be a handful of fastest laps points to go along with that, which is important, but should we be focusing on laps led as our dominator stat. The answer is a resounding no.
You might have noticed that A.J. Allmendinger, a guy who is typically sub-$7k, is priced as the 6th highest priced driver this week. While he did qualify in 5th position, his past 3 years have been less than stellar losing 12, 36 (didn’t finish race) and 35 spots. I’m not saying not to play him, but I am saying that sometimes we over-value players because of a perceived strength on paper, and it actually hasn’t been one for them in the more recent years.
With all of that said, I am going to focus on two things: first and foremost, guys I think can finish at the front of the pack, and secondly place differential. I think often times we look at guys who are starting in the back so we can get that place differential points, but if we think we can get someone like Danica this week to finish in the top 5, then it’s a no brainer to lock them in, because the points will come with their finishing position.
4 Guys I Am Playing:
Kyle Larson (9300) – What? $9,300? Are you kidding me? This could be fools gold or you could be a fool for not playing him this week. Between he and Martin Truex Jr., there are no hotter drivers this year in NASCAR. That in itself is enough for me. But no, that’s not it: Larson is in fact the pole sitter for the week! He also has a very fast car (obviously Nick, you idiot, he won the pole), as he also finished with the fastest car in the Happy Hour practice on Friday evening. His past hasn’t been stellar here in the past, but if you believe that Larson is a different driver this year, then you’ll probably gladly bet on him leading the first 25 laps at least. I think he’s a good bet to win from the pole, but that’s not to say he won’t have to work for it.
Clint Bowyer (9400) – Even though we are only at the second position, I do want to give a special mention to both Danica Patrick and Chris Beuscher. Both of these drivers qualified high and showed good speed in practices, but you can’t help but believe that they are likely to finish below where they started. One driver I believe will finish higher than where they started this year will be Bowyer. He was very frustrated when he lost his car to an electrical fire last year, and very frustrated when he missed the final qualifying group by two-tenths of a second. Still, Bowyer has a ton of success on his resume here, including a win, so I have no doubts about him being able to get things done this week.
Kasey Kahne (8000) – There is nothing safe about Kasey Kahne to me, but yet, I’ll end up putting him in my cash game lineups. Can you argue with that seeing as how he finished in the top ten at this event for the last 4 years? He’s done it from no better than a starting position of 15th, and as far back as 30th. Currently, he will be starting at the 21st position, so if he is able to repeat this feat again this year, we’ll be looking at a place differential of at least 11. That is enough motivation for me this week, especially when I think we’ll see a lot of dumpster divers going off the place differential potential of Alon Day and Billy Johnson.
Matt Kenseth (7500) – When pricing was released, I immediately thought that this was just a silly price for Kenseth. Then I looked through his history, and it is bad. Just bad. Then he had an issue with his oil pump in practice, that caused him to have to alter the car and start from the back. Then he decided he just wouldn’t even make an attempt at qualifying. Now he’s starting 38th. He’s been a decent qualifier here, so maybe instead of starting in the top 10, starting from the back will help him. Either way, with his price here, and a very easily attainable 18 point place differential upside if he gets into the top 20, it’s VERY hard to not want to consider him a lock for your cash games and tournaments. Those 18 points, finishing position and nothing else would net him over 40 fantasy points. That’s a great day at the office, and we aren’t even asking him to pull a Jimmie Johnson.