Only a couple of items to get out of the way before we get to the rankings:
First, two of the four winners from the last five races at Watkins Glen International will not be participating in this weekend’s events (Marcos Ambrose and Juan Pablo Montoya).
Second, I’ve been preaching this for a while, but with so few road races per season (two) it bears repeating; the days of the road-course ringer are gone.
And with that, let’s proceed.
That win at Watkins Glen remains elusive to Jimmie Johnson ($8,900), a driver used to winning just about everywhere else. But that doesn’t mean he should be overlooked this weekend, particularly in DFS. Perhaps it’s the stigma of never winning at this site that has Johnson at a premium value but, whatever it is, Fantasy owners need to take advantage. Johnson has proven that he can get out front at The Glen, leading at least one lap in seven of 13 starts. With Laps Led comes Fastest Laps Run, a category in which Johnson ranks sixth (28). Eight of his 13 starts have been from inside the Top 5 on the grid, which limits his place-differential upside, but I don’t care. To be clear, I don’t back rolling Johnson in NASCAR Fantasy Live Salary Cap leagues or Tiered/Grouping formats. But I love him in DraftKings and suggest he be one of your six drivers.
There was a point when Tony Stewart ($8,800) was the biggest Watkins Glen no-brainer on the circuit. In eight starts from 2002-2009, Smoke posted five wins and seven Top 2s with at least 20 Laps Led in five of those starts. Despite stinking up the joint the past couple of years, Stewart still leads all drivers in Fastest Laps Run (106) by a wide margin (Kyle Busch is second with 74). My view on Stewart is the exact opposite of Johnson. He’s a solid value in Salary Cap and Tiered/Grouping formats, but not as good of a value as I’d like to see in DFS. That said, there’s an argument to use him here.
Martin Truex Jr. ($8,800) has finished inside the Top 15 in each of his last five starts at The Glen, with two Top 5s and three Top 10s in there. Where he’s really shined in that span is pass-differential, with a sparking +26. He’s always been a superb road course racer and his best value to Fantasy owners this weekend comes in DFS.
Jeff Gordon ($8,700) has finally gotten hot with one Top 5 and four Top 10s in his last five Cup starts. There once was a time when it seemed like Gordon was the only driver on the circuit capable of putting up consistent finishes at Watkins Glen. From 1997-99, he won three straight races with at least 32 Laps Led. Since 2008, he’s posted one Top 10 (10th in 2010). He did flash some of that old school dominance last season, capturing the pole and leading 29 laps before bottoming out with a 34th place finish. Gordon makes for a quality DFS play.
In his Watkins Glen debut, Kyle Larson ($7,500) finished fourth with one Fastest Lap Run and a place-differential of +19. In my opinion, he’s grossly underpriced in DFS this weekend. One reason is likely his streakiness this season. Larson is underachieving based on preseason projections, and has just one Top 10 in his last seven races. But not all of this so-called underachieving is has to do with a regression in talent; a lot of it is just luck. Since DraftKings introduced NASCAR to its stable of games, Larson has been overpriced just about every week. This is one of the first weeks in memory he’s not. Go for it. I always like Larson as a Tiered/Grouping format option.
The narrative this season for Danica Patrick ($6,600) is that this is the year she’s finally figuring out how to be consistent every week. Patrick has had some impressive runs on the road course. In her two career starts at the site, she has finished 20th (2013) and 21st (2014) with a place-differential of +37. Her value is as high as it’s going to be in any race outside of Daytona. Fire her up on the Tiered/Grouping format C-List and plug her into all DFS lineups in which lower end options are needed to balance out the top.
I said it plain and clear last week: If DFS is going to continue to disrespect Austin Dillon ($6,600) with prices this low, he’s going to show up in this article every week. Well, the disrespect has continued, so here we are. Dillon finished 16th with a place-differential of +15 in his lone start at The Glen. The reason the low price makes little to no sense to me is how well Dillon has been running. In his last five Cup starts, he’s posted two Top 10s and three Top 15s with no finishes outside the Top 25. For Fantasy owners to snag a driver who’s consistently dropping Top 25s and has Dillon’s upside, the value is apparent. DFS is the format to take advantage.
It’s been a rough couple of races for Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($6,500) with a 35th place showing at Indy and a 41st place disaster at Pocono. But, there’s reason to think a turnaround is on the horizon. He’s posted a Top 20 in each of his two starts at Watkins Glen with a place-differential of +16. DFS is likely the only sensible spot to use Stenhouse Jr.
David Ragan ($6,200) has quietly put together a solid five week run with finishes ranging as high as 12th place, to finishes as low as 21st place. Not too shabby for a driver in quality equipment (Michael Waltrip Racing) and who’s finally finding a rhythm with his crew. The argument can go either way on Ragan’s DFS price, but I’m of the opinion he shouldn’t be this cheap. He’s posted one Top 20 and four Top 25s in his last five starts at The Glen with a place-differential of +25 in that span. Those numbers are very respectable for the driver who’s sitting at the bottom of your lineup. And considering the least you can pay for any driver in DraftKings is $5,600, Ragan has bargain written all over him.
Here are my Fantasy NASCAR lineups for this week:
Martin Truex Jr.
NASCAR Fantasy Live
|Martin Truex Jr.|
Yahoo! Fantasy Auto Racing
|Kyle Busch||Brad Keselowski|
|B-List||A.J. Allmendinger||Kyle Larson||Tony Stewart|
Sam Hornish Jr.