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Fantasy NASCAR: Kasey Kahne Is A Top Sleeper At Kansas

*Leads all Active Drivers
DR = Driver Rating
ARP = Average Running Position

THE TOP 15

1. Jimmie Johnson: Ten races this season. Zero wins this season. Time to panic? Not quite. Since Johnson became “Six Time”, it’s taken him this long to win a race just once; back in 2012, his first victory came in the 11th race of the season. He went on to finish with five wins. Based on what Johnson’s done at Kansas Speedway, his “drought” might end this week. He’s finished inside the Top 10 in every race since 2007. He’s led at least two laps in each of his last five starts. And as you may have noticed, there’s no shortage of asterisks in the fancy little chart below. Since the inception of Loop Data in 2005, Johnson leads all drivers in Fastest Laps Run (470), Laps in the Top 15 (2,812), Average Green Flag Speed (166.603 mph) and Quality Passes (566). Johnson’s lack of a win may actually be helping his Fantasy value in all formats, as skittish owners may be bailing prematurely.

DR ARP Starts Wins Top 5s Top 10s Poles Avg. Finish Laps Led
118.9* 7.4* 15 2* 6 13* 3* 7.5* 562*

2. Matt Kenseth: Kenseth was on a nice run (two Top 5s and four Top 10s in his last four Cup starts) before being derailed at Talladega (37th place). Fortunately, in the grand scheme of things one can hardly be blamed for trouble at ‘Dega. Kenseth has owned Kansas for the better part of five years, collecting two wins in the last three races there. He’s led at least one lap in eight of his last nine starts. While he’s not dominating the wins category like last year, it appears the No. 20 Toyota is finally finding his footing. Fantasy owners should consider Kenseth a very safe play across all formats.

DR ARP Starts Wins Top 5s Top 10s Poles Avg. Finish Laps Led
109.6 9.6 16* 2* 6 9 2 14.6 500

3. Joey Logano: Logano has won two of the last four Sprint Cup races (Texas, Richmond). My major beef with Logano has been his boom-bust nature, and while he hasn’t quite shed that distinction (35th and 32nd place finishes in his last four Cup starts) there’s something different about the No. 22 and that is a consistently dominant car. Even though he posted abysmal finishes at Darlington and Talladega, he combined for an ARP of 10.9 in those events. He’s led at least two laps in nine of ten Cup starts this season, and at least 25 laps in each of his last five. He’s a legit championship contender and an absolute stud in Tiered/Grouping formats.

DR ARP Starts Wins Top 5s Top 10s Poles Avg. Finish Laps Led
67.0 22.2 9 0 1 1 0 23.7 33

4. Denny Hamlin: After failing to record a Top 10 in each of his last four Cup starts, Hamlin finally put together a complete race at ‘Dega for his first win of 2014. In his 2012 victory at Kansas, he led 32 laps and posted a 3.2 ARP. While the results have been below average from a Fantasy perspective up until this point, Hamlin remains a high-upside driver with unlimited potential. I like him to carry the momentum from last week’s win into Kansas and put together a run. He will be a steal in Salary Cap formats this week.

DR ARP Starts Wins Top 5s Top 10s Poles Avg. Finish Laps Led
89.2 14.1 11 1 3 3 0 14.8 68

5. Kasey Kahne: This one is a gut call. Kahne’s coming off his best performance of 2014 with an eighth-place finish at Talladega despite starting 42nd on the grid. He has three Top 5s and four Top 10s in his last five starts at Kansas, including a second-place finish in this race last season. It’s been a rough season for the No. 5, but he’s no stranger to being a slow starter. Fantasy owners looking to make a big move across all formats need to pencil in Kahne but make sure you read the disclaimer: this is a “go big or go home” type recommendation.

DR ARP Starts Wins Top 5s Top 10s Poles Avg. Finish Laps Led
91.1 14.0 13 0 3 6 3* 14.0 78

6. Kevin Harvick: Despite engine troubles earlier in the season, Harvick has emerged as the most reliable Stewart-Hass Racing driver by a wide margin. He took the checkered flag at Kansas in the October 2013 event, starting from the pole and leading 138 laps. Another factor is with two victories under his belt in 2014, Harvick can gamble for wins at the expense of “points racing”. He’ll come at a nice value in Tiered/Grouping format this weekend. Harvick leads all drivers in Green Flag Passes (900).

DR ARP Starts Wins Top 5s Top 10s Poles Avg. Finish Laps Led
95.9 12.2 16 1 2 7 1 12.1 221

7. Kurt Busch: Busch’s 2014 is actually quite shocking: outside of his win at Martinsville and third-place finish at the Auto Club, he has an Average Finish of 30.9 in the other eight races this season. So why do I like him this week? He finished 15th (April 2013) and more importantly second (October 2013) in these races last season driving inferior equipment on an inferior [single car] team. The history doesn’t necessarily back this high ranking up, but it was the same deal at Martinsville earlier this season. Busch is worth a roll of the dice in Salary Cap formats.

DR ARP Starts Wins Top 5s Top 10s Poles Avg. Finish Laps Led
89.0 14.7 16* 0 1 4 1 16.9 239

8. Brad Keselowski: Keselowski avoided finishing dead last by getting back on the track late, finishing 38th at Talladega. Yikes. At least he led a lap before spinning out early. As for this week, he’s been fairly mediocre at Kansas in terms of finishes, but has led at least one lap in five of his eight appearances. Fantasy owners should consider the Blue Deuce a top option in Tiered/Grouping formats.

DR ARP Starts Wins Top 5s Top 10s Poles Avg. Finish Laps Led
89.2 14.2 8 1 2 4 0 10.3 69

9. Jeff Gordon: Up until last week (39th at Talladega), Gordon hadn’t finished worse than 13th in any race this season. He currently leads the point standings, but will need a win to ensure himself a spot in the postseason. This is intriguing in the sense that like Harvick or Logano, Gordon can gamble but for different reasons. He needs the win; he doesn’t need points. Expect the No. 24 to be in attack mode. He makes for a safe start across all formats.

DR ARP Starts Wins Top 5s Top 10s Poles Avg. Finish Laps Led
99.6 9.8 16* 2* 9* 11 0 10.6 208

10. Greg Biffle: Biffle logged his best race of the season at Talladega, posting season-highs in finish (second), DR (115.1) and laps led (58). He’s quietly put together a nice string of races with two Top 5s, three Top 10s and four Top 15s in his last four Cup starts. He’s been great at Kansas, just not recently. From October 2004 to October 2010, he logged two wins and six Top 3s in seven starts. He hasn’t made much noise since. But with his recent hot streak and knowledge of the track, I’m expecting a plus performance that warrants a start in Tiered/Grouping formats.

DR ARP Starts Wins Top 5s Top 10s Poles Avg. Finish Laps Led
106.9 9.1 15 2 7 9 1 10.3 346

11. Carl Edwards

DR ARP Starts Wins Top 5s Top 10s Poles Avg. Finish Laps Led
96.6 12.3 13 0 5 9 0 10.8 91

12. Dale Earnhardt Jr.

DR ARP Starts Wins Top 5s Top 10s Poles Avg. Finish Laps Led
89.9 15.1 15 0 1 7 1 15.9 92

13. Kyle Busch

DR ARP Starts Wins Top 5s Top 10s Poles Avg. Finish Laps Led
76.9 18.8 13 0 0 2 0 23.3 85

14. Ryan Newman

DR ARP Starts Wins Top 5s Top 10s Poles Avg. Finish Laps Led
67.7 21.4 16* 1 3 4 0 19.2 122

15. Tony Stewart

DR ARP Starts Wins Top 5s Top 10s Poles Avg. Finish Laps Led
97.5 11.3 15 2* 6 9 0 12.3 152

TOP 10 BEST VALUE PLAYS

1. Clint Bowyer: Bowyer is fresh off of his best finish of 2014 with at third-place showing at Talladega. He finished fifth in this race last season. He’s from Kansas, so expect the hometown motivation to play a minor factor as well.

DR ARP Starts Wins Top 5s Top 10s Poles Avg. Finish Laps Led
90.1 15.2 11 0 2 5 0 13.2 48

2. Martin Truex Jr.: Truex Jr. has logged three Top 5s in his last four Kansas starts. Granted that was on Michael Waltrip Racing equipment, I still expect something out of Truex Jr. this weekend. He’s starting to get a feel for his new ride and will come at a nice value in all formats.

DR ARP Starts Wins Top 5s Top 10s Poles Avg. Finish Laps Led
91.5 13.8 11 0 3 3 0 19.2 251

3. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: Finished 11th in this race last season with 26 laps led. In his two starts, he’s qualified second and third on the grid.

DR ARP Starts Wins Top 5s Top 10s Poles Avg. Finish Laps Led
86.3 13.8 2 0 0 0 0 20.5 26

4. Paul Menard: He’s logged one Top 5 and three Top 10s in his last three Kansas appearances. Serious value can be mined in all formats.

DR ARP Starts Wins Top 5s Top 10s Poles Avg. Finish Laps Led
80.5 16.5 10 0 1 4 0 16.1 17

5. A.J. Allmendinger: Quietly been very consistent as of late, culminating with sixth (Richmond) and fifth-place (Talladega) finishes in his last two Cup starts.

DR ARP Starts Wins Top 5s Top 10s Poles Avg. Finish Laps Led
70.4 22.2 8 0 0 2 1 21.9 44

6. Aric Almirola

DR ARP Starts Wins Top 5s Top 10s Poles Avg. Finish Laps Led
87.6 16.4 4 0 0 2 0 17.5 69

7. Jamie McMurray

DR ARP Starts Wins Top 5s Top 10s Poles Avg. Finish Laps Led
70.6 20.1 14 0 0 3 0 18.6 26

8. Brian Vickers

DR ARP Starts Wins Top 5s Top 10s Poles Avg. Finish Laps Led
70.1 20.1 9 0 0 1 0 20.9 0

9. Marcos Ambrose

DR ARP Starts Wins Top 5s Top 10s Poles Avg. Finish Laps Led
68.2 21.1 9 0 0 2 0 19.6 0

10. Casey Mears

DR ARP Starts Wins Top 5s Top 10s Poles Avg. Finish Laps Led
63.0 24.6 14 0 2 3 0 22.8 45

TOP 5 SLEEPERS

1. Kyle Larson

DR ARP Starts Wins Top 5s Top 10s Poles Avg. Finish Laps Led
N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A

2. Austin Dillon

DR ARP Starts Wins Top 5s Top 10s Poles Avg. Finish Laps Led
52.1 28.5 1 0 0 0 0 26.0 0

3. Justin Allgaier

DR ARP Starts Wins Top 5s Top 10s Poles Avg. Finish Laps Led
55.1 27.7 1 0 0 0 0 39.0 0

4. Reed Sorenson

DR ARP Starts Wins Top 5s Top 10s Poles Avg. Finish Laps Led
31.2 30.8 9 0 0 1 0 31.2 0

5. David Reutimann

DR ARP Starts Wins Top 5s Top 10s Poles Avg. Finish Laps Led
57.2 27.2 9 0 0 1 0 27.1 1

2014 NASCAR.com Fantasy Live Lineup for Kansas (Salary Cap)

DRIVER SALARY
Jimmie Johnson $27.25
Joey Logano $26.25
Denny Hamlin $23.00
A.J. Allmendinger $17.00
Reed Sorenson $ 5.00
TOTAL $98.50

Yahoo! Fantasy Auto Racing Picks (Tiered/Grouping Format)

A-LIST Jimmie Johnson Kasey Kahne
B-LIST Joey Logano Greg Biffle Brad Keselowski Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
C-LIST Austin Dillon Kyle Larson

 

Photo via Getty

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