Fantasy NASCAR: Jimmie Johnson is a Lock at Dover
The name of my game is value. It’s a simple algorithm. Low price plus high upside. Zig when they zag. Mine the fields for every statistical edge you can get. Value is how you get the most for the least. But in this particular week – when the Sprint Cup Series hits Dover International Speedway – I must inform Fantasy owners that it’s time to pay the piper.
Jimmie Johnson ($11,200) rings in as the most expensive driver on DraftKings. Normally, I don’t even bother looking at the top of that list, and I really don’t like investing in five-figure players. But Johnson is so incredibly elite at Dover that I’m really left with no choice here. In 27 starts at the site, Johnson has 10 wins (!), 15 Top 5s, 20 Top 10s and three poles with an Average Finish of 7.9. Since the inception of Loop Data in 2005, Johnson leads all competitors in Driver Rating (122.3), Average Running Position (6.4), Laps in the Top 15 (7,464), Average Green Flag Speed (144,766 mph), Fastest Laps Run (1,164) and Laps Led (2,999). To sum up these numbers, Johnson is good at Dover. Breaking down the sample even further, in his last ten starts at Dover he’s only finished outside the Top 9 once (17th in 2013) and outside the Top 4 twice. Value is nice, but sometimes you have to pay for the best. Fantasy owners are advised to cough it up across all formats.
While we’ve got our wallets out and are forking over hordes of cash, we might as well keep the party going. Matt Kenseth ($10,100) is the hottest driver through two Chase races, logging a Top 5 in the opener and a win last weekend at Loudon. Forgetting a nasty 39th place DNF in the May 2015 race, Kenseth has finished seventh or better in three of his last four starts at Dover, and has led at least two laps in four of his last five appearances. He also ranks third in Fastest Laps Run (490). Kenseth has been heating up during the weeks leading up to the playoffs, and now that they’re here, he’s simply on fire. Go with the top-heavy lineup in DFS and roll Kenseth in Tiered/Grouping format lineups.
I’ll keep this paragraph short. Jeff Gordon ($8,400) needs a solid finish to move on to the next round of the Chase. That’s not a tall task for the No. 24 driver at Dover. During his stellar career, Gordon has five wins, 18 Top 5s, 26 Top 10s and four poles with an Average Finish of 11.4 in 45 races. Over his last eight starts, Gordon has finished 15th or better with a win and four Top 5s sprinkled in there. He’s not lighting the world on fire and I understand his DFS price, but the value is too good to pass up (like it’s been every other week).
It hasn’t been the best year for Kyle Larson ($8,100), but when it comes to Dover he should not be this cheap. In three career starts, Larson has progressively improved, finishing 11th and sixth in the 2014 set, and finishing third in the May 2015 race. Despite the down year, Larson is capable of putting up quality numbers each and every week. Consistency is something he will find eventually, but right now he’s more of an upside guy. For Fantasy owners looking for a mid-range option with upside, this is the place.
The only thing that can account for Clint Bowyer’s ($6,900) insultingly low cost is that the guy who sets the prices at DraftKings was distracted in some way, shape, or form at the time. The average price based on a six man roster is $8,333. Bowyer costs 18 percent less than that. He’s posted nine consecutive Top 10s at Dover, and has led at least one lap in each of his last four starts. Overall, he ranks a respectable 12th in Fastest Laps Run (218). And he just received the fantastic news he will helm the No. 14 ride when Tony Stewart retires after the 2016 season, meaning he’s riding a little higher on his high horse this weekend. Bowyer is a good value in all formats, but is a must-start regardless of strategy in DFS.
Aric Almirola ($6,100) has been very good since the Chase began, driving to 10th and 18th-place finishes. Once again, he’s coming in undervalued in DFS. That’s not to say the price adjustment is drastic, but when you have a guy priced 27 percent below the average price per player, who can log Top 10s, and who just logged a fifth-place finish in the May 2015 race at Dover, there’s a discrepancy there. I like Almirola a lot in DFS, and he’s even worth a look in Tiered/Grouping formats for Fantasy owners looking for a deeper alternative.
Alex Bowman ($5,500) is a name that is highly unlikely to make a cameo on many radars, but given the strategy I’m putting forth this week, Fantasy owners might need to dig this deep. In three career starts at Dover, Bowman has shown tangible improvement each and every time, finishing 40th, 34th and 20th in May. In his most recent outing at Dover he posted a +10 place differential. Depending on who you choose to compliment your top tier talent, you may or may not have to scroll far down the DraftKings driver list. If you do, Bowman has decent upside.
Here are my Fantasy NASCAR lineups for this week:
NASCAR Fantasy Live
Martin Truex Jr.
Yahoo! Fantasy Auto Racing
|Jimmie Johnson||Matt Kenseth|
|B-List||Kyle Larson||Clint Bowyer||Aric Almirola|
Martin Truex Jr.
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