Kevin Harvick ($13,900 on DK) and Jimmie Johnson ($13,000 on DK) are the class of NASCAR. You can expect them to top the list of DFS salaries every week. But putting together a well-rounded team with guys who take upwards of a quarter of your budget isn’t the most appealing option. I lean towards mining value.
Any Fantasy owner confident they can build a quality squad with Harvick at the helm should do it. He’s finished in second-place in each of his last four Michigan International Speedway starts with an Average Running Position of 6.2. He’s also finished in second-place in three of his last four Sprint Cup starts. So yeah, he’s good. But you don’t need me to tell you that. What you need me to tell you is how to build around the No. 4 driver. Stay tuned for some pairing options below.
When it comes to mining DFS value, I break drivers out into three groups. Elite – drivers who can lead some laps and actually win the race. Mid-range – drivers who have Top 10 potential. Sleeper – a Top 20 would make my day. My ideal lineup has three Elites, one mid-range and one sleeper.
Joey Logano stands out as an excellent option to headline DraftKings Fantasy lineups at $11,200. He’s been dominant at MIS, logging one win (2013), two Top 5s and four Top 10s with an Average Finish of 5.5 in his last four appearances. His Driver Rating at MIS is 91.8, good for eighth. But if you focus in solely on his last four starts, around the time he took that major leap forward to NASCAR’s elite, his numbers look like this:
Laps Led: 187 (never less than 21)
Average Starting Position: 4.5
He’s also the Fastest Driver on Restarts (175.207 mph). That’s what dominance looks like. So why is he just the seventh-highest rated player on DraftKings this week? I’m not sure. He’s logged two Top 5s in his last four Cup starts and is consistently qualifying well and leading laps.
Logano takes up 22 percent of DFS cap space, a very reasonable allocation. As for other formats, he’s worth the price ($27.25) in NASCAR Fantasy Live Salary Cap leagues and is a quality value option on Yahoo! Fantasy NASCAR.
Michigan native Brad Keselowski, listed at $11,300 on DK, comes in as a solid option to pair with teammate Logano. While he’s been just okay since mid-April (two Top 10s in his last seven Cup starts), he’s been much better at Michigan. He’s run an average of 96 percent Laps in the Top 15 in his last five MIS starts, leading at least two laps in four of those five starts. In Yahoo! Tiered/Grouping format leagues, Keselowski comes in as just the seventh (out of 10) most used driver on the A-List. For DFS, he only accounts for 23 percent of available cap space, a relative bargain for a guy with this much potential.
Jeff Gordon is very similar to Keselowski this weekend in many areas. He won the August 2014 race. He’s started second (June) and from the pole (August) in the 2014 set at Michigan. And like Keselowski, he’s been average at best lately with one Top 5 and two Top 10s in his last five Cup starts. Gordon ranks fifth on the Yahoo! A-List among the most-started drivers, providing a solid window for Fantasy owners who need to make a move to play catch up. And at $11,100 on DK, that’s a bargain Fantasy owners shouldn’t be passing up.
Kyle Busch logged his first Top 10 of the season at Pocono Raceway, putting him on a few more radars. Rust is a factor, but his 93.9 percent Laps in the Top 15 in 2015 suggests he’s already in midseason form. His cap number of $25.25 in NASCAR Fantasy Live leagues won’t stay that low for long. Fantasy owners should get in on the ground floor provided they have the roster space and flexibility. His DFS price of $10,800 is on par with what I expected. Busch is a boom-bust option at MIS. He’s likely to record either a Top 5 or 30th-place finish with not much room in the middle. Fantasy owners expecting the latter should fire up the No. 18 driver
A driver I was hoping would come in at a better price in DK is Paul Menard. He’s logged three straight fourth-place finishes at Michigan with an ARP of 10.2, but $9,700 is too rich for my blood. Fantasy owners are advised to fire Menard up on all Yahoo! B-List’s where his value is at a much safer level.
Since the inception of Loop Data in 2005, Greg Biffle leads all competitors in DR (107.1), ARP (8.9), Laps in the Top 15 (3,265) and Quality Passes (920). Typically those numbers would make The Biff a no-brainer option in all formats. Right? Well, sort of. I’ve declared on more than one occasion that Biffle is done. While that’s not quite the case, as evidenced by his second-place showing at Charlotte Motor Speedway last month, he’s not what he used to be. I’m always cautious to put a lot of faith in an inconsistent and declining performer like Biffle, but the value across all formats is there for the taking. His price in DraftKings ($9,400), Fantasy Live ($19.75) and usage rate on the Yahoo! B-List make him worth the gamble.
Clint Bowyer is easily the biggest disappointment for me this season, as I touted him the comeback king of 2015 before the season. However, he’s logged eight consecutive Top 10s at Michigan, which includes 10th (June) and sixth-place finishes (August) in the 2014 set. At $8,700 the price is right considering he’s a decent bet to stretch that Top 10 streak to nine races.
While this weekend will mark Ty Dillon’s first Sprint Cup start at Michigan, he’s had success at the site in other Series. In the June 2014 XFINITY race, he finished ninth with nine laps led and he’s posted an Average Finish of 4.5 in two Camping World Truck Series starts. Fresh off a season-best 18th-place finish at Pocono, Dillon is the premier option for Fantasy owners trying to fill out a DK lineup ($7,700) and a must-start on the C-List given his limited 2015 schedule.
Aside from Dillon, A.J. Allmendinger represents another quality DFS choice at $7,800. While his incredible start to the season feels like it was three years ago, not three months ago, he’s been good at MIS. In his last eight starts at the site, Allmendinger has four Top 15s and seven Top 20s. A Top 15 would be a major win for DK owners.
One more sleeper option is Justin Allgaier, who finished 16th in the June 2014 event at MIS is modestly priced at $7,300. He finished that race on the lead lap and posted a solid 71 percent Laps in the Top 15. It’s not all sunshine and roses, as he finished the August race in 42nd-place.
Fantasy owners looking for bargain basement prices in DK ($7,000) have a few options. Brett Moffitt stands out simply because of his eighth-place finish in Atlanta. Historical data won’t help much here (one career start at MIS), however it’s always nice when a young driver has even a sliver of experience. He’s very much worth the gamble for Fantasy owners putting together top heavy lineups.
Jeb Burton ($7,100) hasn’t finished better than 29th in 2015, but has raced at MIS albeit against inferior competition in the Camping World Truck Series. He posted 10th (2013) and eighth-place (2014) finishes in his two MIS starts, leading 41 laps in 2013. There is a sliver of hope he can cash in a Top 25 this weekend.
A driver who has shown consistent and steady improvement at Michigan is Josh Wise ($7,200). In six Cup starts at MIS, Wise has improved his finishing position each year, ranging from 42nd-place (June 2012) to 28th-place (August 2014). If that trend continues, Wise will serve his purpose and then some for Fantasy owners.