Fantasy NASCAR Tips For Success In 2015
Want to play with the big boys? Take on Ansell, Dobish and The King in NASCAR Fantasy Live 2015 (password "polecat")
1. Pick the league that is right for you. Salary Cap style formats will suit novice Fantasy owners best. They are challenging, but you can compete at a higher level more quickly and own top drivers that make you feel comfortable. More experienced owners should take on formats that make you choose between a few similarly ranked drivers every week. If you are very confident in your knowledge, straight/snake drafting or auction drafting can be a lot of fun with other experienced owners. Such leagues are not for the newbie, as you need to execute a very solid draft to have a real shot at contending all year long. There is little room for trades or free-agent movement in many of these leagues during the season.
2. Like in all Fantasy games, know your scoring system. NASCAR recently simplified its points system, and most Fantasy leagues will be based around this system. It’s also important to know the type of game you’re playing in, if values change every week, how your lineup should be set and the amount of wiggle your room you have for transactions, if any.
3. Kevin Harvick (20.3%), Brad Keselowski (14.6%), Jimmie Johnson (12.4%), Jeff Gordon (10.3%) and Joey Logano (9.4%) combined to lead just under 70 percent of all Laps Led in 2014. It was abundantly clear who was going to be consistently fast early on last season, and Fantasy owners who were able to lock these drivers into their Salary Cap lineups at discounted prices were at a major advantage all season long.
4. No major winless streaks to report, however there are more than a few drivers looking to get off the schneid in 2015. The reason I include this stat is wins are just a small piece of the Fantasy Racing puzzle simply because they’re so tough to predict. It’s a roulette spin. Top 10s, figuring out who’s likely to lead laps based on past Loop Data and practice speeds, and any other pertinent history is the real key to success.
5. Notable winless streaks heading into the 2015 season:
Clint Bowyer (77)
Greg Biffle (55)
Matt Kenseth (44)
Jamie McMurray (40)
Paul Menard (124)
Ryan Newman (52)
Tony Stewart (59)
Martin Truex Jr. (56)
6. Get to know what NASCAR's Driver Rating is. If you look at nothing else to help pick a Fantasy lineup, fine, just make sure to look at this. As a comparison, it’s similar to Quarterback Rating in football, but is way more accurate. In my weekly Previews, you’ll get the lowdown on which driver has the best rating at each track. NASCAR’s Driver Rating combines the following categories: Wins, finishes, Top 15s, Average Running Position while on lead laps, Fastest Laps Run, Average Speeds under green-flag conditions, Laps Led and lead-lap finishes. The best part of the formula is that it eliminates factors like accidents, pit gaffes and any other potential mishaps. The DR formula includes the Loop Data that truly mirrors how a driver and a car performed in a particular race or over a full season. A perfect Driver Rating is 150 points. You just need to know who has the highest ratings from last year and overall at each track every week.
- a. If you play with a salary cap, it’s all about sticking with hot drivers and knowing who performs the best at each track. Driver Rating will be a major key for you each week, and fitting road course specialists and other bargains will make the game fun and challenging.
- b. If you stick with the same drivers all season, full season Driver Ratings from 2014 will be your paramount guiding statistic. You may rotate the final guy in your lineup every week, so track-by-track DRs will be more important for you to find, and we’ll supply the best sleepers every week.
- c. If you’re not playing in a salary-cap league, do all the preparation you possibly can for the draft or initial selection process. You live and die by the draft, as there isn’t much turning back or restructuring after draft day. Trading is essentially a non-factor, and the free agent list is sure to be bare. Plan ahead and be ready to roll with the same team all season.
- d. We are going to provide you with a lot more than just Driver Rating each week. We’ll go fully through NASCAR’s Loop Data, its unique set of statistics that help you make sound lineup decisions regularly.
7. Jamie McMurray ended the 2014 season ninth overall in Driver Rating (89.2).
8. Closers is a Loop Data category which captures improved positions in the last 10 percent of laps in each race. A couple of names you might not expect to see are A.J. Allmendinger (second, 53 positions moved up) and Aric Almirola (third, 52 positions moved up). Having a guy that gets better when the pressure is on is a very valuable Fantasy commodity.
9. Patience is a virtue. In non-salary cap-style formats, there are limited roster maintenance duties and Fantasy owners can afford to be patient. Don’t get frustrated if your season starts slowly and never overreact. Nothing stays the same in Fantasy NASCAR for long.
10. Thirteen different drivers won a Sprint Cup event in 2014. Sixteen difference drivers won a Sprint Cup event in 2013. In 2012, 15 different drivers took a Checkered Flag in a Sprint Cup event. Don’t get mesmerized by the standings and don’t be afraid to make a gutsy call. Playing it safe won’t win your league.
11. Jimmie Johnson has at least one win in 13 straight seasons.
- a. If you’re new to the game, get to know the different types of tracks. I’ll break down the tracks for you each week in my previews. For newcomers, you can learn the game as you go along and still be very competitive. Again, there’s only one Cup race per week, and we do a lot of the research for you.
12. Nothing kills Fantasy weeks like DNFs. Austin Dillon ranked second in Percentage of Laps Completed logging 10,488 of 10,541 which equates to 99.50%.
13. Don’t get frustrated if your driver doesn’t qualify well. The very best drivers can easily make their way up from the back of the field and finish strong. Five races out of 36 produced a winner from the pole: Harvick at Darlington, Johnson at Charlotte, Keselowski at Kentucky and Richmond, Gordon at Michigan
14. Jeff Gordon has at least one pole in 22 straight seasons.
15. Think of Fantasy NASCAR as a Fantasy fusion between baseball and football. Like baseball, you can rely heavily on past stats, and it becomes fun to scrutinize the numbers. Like pro football, there is only one Cup event per week, so you don’t have to feel overwhelmed in preparation. There’s even less weekly prep with limited free-agent pickups. So sit back and watch your drivers roll!
16. It becomes a challenge when the NFL and NASCAR seasons converge. If you’re going to take this game seriously, watch the 15 minute (approximately) Race Rewinds on NASCAR.com to get caught up.
17. If you also play Fantasy Baseball, Fantasy NASCAR won’t interfere with your roster management very much. Just make sure your NASCAR lineups are locked in every Friday or Saturday night and baseball lineups on Sunday nights.
18. Drivers with Chevy equipment under the hood took down 20 races. Toyota engines won 14 events, while Ford managed two victories.
19. Take time to watch qualifying and practices, or at the very least check in on the results. Don’t overanalyze the performances, but the more you can eyeball drivers, the more confident you will be in making weekly selections and collecting qualifying bonus points.
20. The days of the road course specialist are dead. In the past, the theory was stash a road course ringer on your reserve list. Now, the only real advantage to rolling a guy like Robby Gordon or Boris Said is to compensate for a horrific C-List on Yahoo! when Infineon and Watkins Glen appear on the schedule.
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