We’re already onto the third race of the Fantasy NASCAR season, and the first race on the west coast with the Kobalt 400 from Las Vegas Motor Speedway. And if you were displeased with the No. 48 winning in Atlanta last week, you might not want to tune in this Sunday for Vegas.
(DraftKings.com salaries in parentheses, all stats and recommendations below also widely applicable to NASCAR Fantasy Live and Yahoo as well)
Hendrick Motorsports driver Jimmie Johnson ($10,300) grabbed checkers in Atlanta last week, and he has his sights set on back-to-back victories at a place he has dominated. He should make his Fantasy owners very happy with another dominating performance. According to NASCAR’s Loop Data Johnson leads all racers in Driver Rating at 111.9 in his career, followed by Joe Gibbs Racing’s and Las Vegas native Kyle Busch ($10,200) and Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick ($10,500).
Over the past five stops at LVMS, Dale Earnhardt Jr. ($9,000) tops the charts in Driver Rating at 110.9 while running an impressive 91.3 percent of his laps inside the Top 15 with 125 laps led. Johnson leads all drivers with 180 laps led during the five-race span, while Harvick is next with 169 laps led. Martin Truex Jr. ($9,100) also represents a huge value at this price level considering he has run 97.8 percent of his laps inside the Top 15 over the past five races in Nevada while posting an Average-Finish Position (AFP) of 9.4. If you plan to employ a high-low lineup strategy in DFS, Harvick and Johnson are essential to your lineup, while MTJ or Little E could make for a solid No. 3.
JGR has been spot on at the track, too, and you might want to look Matt Kenseth‘s ($9,900) way, too. He leads all drivers with an 11.4 AFP in 16 career starts, posting three wins, six Top 5s and 14 finishes inside the Top 20 with 516 laps led, most of any driver past or present. His teammate Carl Edwards ($9,600) has two victories with nine Top 20 finishes in 11 career starts, leading 163 laps with zero DNFs. He also has five Top 5s in that 11-race span, so he is about as automatic as they come amongst the drivers listed with four-figure DFS salaries.
Daytona champ Denny Hamlin ($9,300) fell back to 16th at Atlanta, and he has crapped out in recent trips to Las Vegas. While he has a respectable 12.2 AFP in 10 career starts, he has never won at the track and he has led a total of just four laps.
Hendrick’s Kasey Kahne ($8,500) is often overlooked, as he doesn’t have the wins or fan following like his teammates J.J. and Jr., but he should not be ignored at Vegas. Kahne has an impressive 13.8 AFP in 12 career starts. While he has never won at the track, he has turned in three runs inside the Top 5, while bringing it home six times inside the Top 10 while leading 172 career laps. At a mid-tier price, you can certainly do worse for a No. 3 or 4 driver.
Penske Racing’s Joey Logano ($10,000) and Brad Keselowski ($9,700) have barely been blips on the radar to date in Vegas. Keselowski is ninth in Driver Rating at 96.3 over the past five races, while Logano doesn’t register among the big boys during the span. Logano has managed just one Top 5 finish and three Top 10s in seven career starts at the track, posting a respectable 12.0 AFP. Not bad, but not dominating, either. That basically sums up the season so far for Penske – not bad, but not dominating. Logano ($27.50) and Kes ($27.25) are not recommended options in NASCAR’s Fantasy Live.
If you’re hunting for a sleeper, looking to Paul Menard ($6,500). NASCAR’s Loop Data shows Menard with a 93.2 Driver Rating, 10th among all drivers over the past five stops at the track. He has led just nine laps during the span, but run 78.3 percent of his laps inside the Top 15. In fact, in Yahoo! Fantasy it is a great time to use him due to the limited amount of starts. Get him in there this weekend and enjoy the ride.
It is a limited sample size, but Kyle Larson ($8,400) has had a measure of success at LVMS, too. He has finishes of eighth and 19th in two career runs at the track, never leading a lap, but posting a 13.5 AFP. He has run well at the track early in his Cup career, as well as during his time in the Xfinity Series, formerly Nationwide. Brian Scott ($5,400) has brought sub-par results to the table for Fantasy players thus far, but that could change in Vegas. He debuted with a 13th-place showing last spring, and he could be a tremendous value at a DFS minimum price. Scott is a pretty solid value in Fantasy Live, too, checking in at $14.75. As such, he is a good No. 4 selection if you couple him with a minimal price driver. That strategy will allow you to load up with three high-priced drivers with minimal risk.
As mentioned, the Busch Bros. are from Las Vegas. SHR’s Kurt Busch ($9,200) comes with a very high price tag, but very poor results over his career at his home track. In 14 career starts he has just one Top 5 finish, and half of his results have come outside of the Top 20 with a dismal 22.1 AFP. Steer far clear of the 41 this weekend. For whatever reason Richard Petty Motorsports driver Aric Almirola ($6,800) has been a bust in Vegas. He has seven career starts under his belt, but his best finish was 16th and it was his only run inside the Top 20. His AFP is an awful 30.6 with three DNFs. When filling out that last roster spot, make sure not to waste the pick with Almirola in your lineup.
Ryan Blaney ($6,600) isn’t a bad sleeper. He is averaging a 22.0 AFP through two races so far, and he was 19th in his debut in Cup last season. At $16.25 he is a big pricey in Fantasy Live, but he is a strong value in DraftKings. Austin Dillon ($6,700) is a decent value at this price level, as he has posted two Top 20 finishes in three career runs at the track while posting a respectable 19.0 AFP. He has never finished worse than 21st in his three attempts.
Casey Mears ($6,100) has some limited success at LVMS, finishing inside the Top 20 in five of his 12 career starts while turning in three Top 10s. Trevor Bayne ($5,900), running in the Blackjack No. 21 car, has posted one Top 10 with three Top 20 finishes in five starts while posting a 20.0 AFP. He is attractive at DraftKings as a No. 5 or 6 driver, but he is less attractive on Fantasy Live at a price of $18.00.