Normally, I avoid recommending cap-cloggers like Jimmie Johnson ($12,400), who, if started on DraftKings would own 24 percent of your cap space. Well, Johnson at Indianapolis Motor Speedway isn’t your normal week. He’s absolutely dominant. He leads all drivers in Driver Rating (108.1) and Fastest Laps Run (173). Most importantly, he’s logged four wins in 13 tries. In those four wins he’s never led less than 24 laps. He’s also led at least one lap in six of his last seven starts, including at least 73 laps in two of his last three starts. When Fantasy owners dole out this kind of loot to start a stud, they better perform. Johnson can be counted on to perform at an extremely high level across all formats.
Jeff Gordon ($11,000) is very close to Johnson’s level of dominance but comes in at a better unit rate. Like he does at just about every other track on the circuit, Gordon has phenomenal career numbers, but the one that pops off the page to me is 17 Top 10s in 21 starts. Regardless of how you feel about Gordon this season, a Top 10 is his absolute floor this weekend at Indy. He ranks second in the DFS money categories of Fastest Laps Run (157) and Quality Passes (315). Looking at the entire landscape of Gordon’s history at Indy, he owns five wins – including the 2014 event – 12 Top 5s and three poles. I don’t care that he’s not as sharp as we’re used to seeing this season. There’s not a better mix of safety and upside than the No. 24 driver this weekend. I have Gordon down as a major value in DFS and Tiered/Grouping formats.
Ryan Newman ($9,300) is an excellent value on DraftKings this weekend, and would be in Tiered/Grouping formats too if he didn’t live on the A-List. For a guy who won this race from the pole and led 45 laps in the 2013 edition of this race, his price point is extremely favorable to Fantasy owners. His place-differential of +11 in his last four Indy starts leaves a bit to be desired, but that’s not what Fantasy owners are buying when purchasing Newman’s weekly services. He’s a historically excellent qualifier, evidenced by his eight starts inside the Top 5 on the grid. Fantasy owners can expect solid track position throughout the race and a probable Top 10 finish. As mentioned above, he’s a serious value in DFS and Salary Cap leagues, and is only a recommended play in Tiered/Grouping formats for owners needing to make a big move at this juncture of the season.
The Brickyard is the site of Paul Menard’s ($8,700) lone career win (2011, 15 Laps Led) and always comes to mind when the circuit hits Indy. Menard has one Top 15 and two Top 20s in two of his last three Cup starts, and that’s what I’m projecting with this recommendation. He has two Top 15s in his last three starts at Indy with one lap led in the 2013 race. His place-differential varies year-to-year from positive to negative, but for a mid-range guy I can roll the dice on that category. He’s a great roster filler in DFS and a sneaky good play on the B-List in Tiered/Grouping formats.
Austin Dillon ($8,400) logged his third Top 10 of 2015 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway last weekend, yet continues to be underpriced in DFS. In 2014 at Indy, Dillon led one lap and finished 10th with a place-differential of +7. For this price, there really is no better bargain with upside at this level. He’s a steal across all formats.
The price seems a bit steep for Chase Elliott ($8,300) at first glance, considering the lack of experience at the Cup level. In just three cup starts this season, Elliott has logged an impressive two Top 20s with an Average Finish of 24.0. When considering he’s driving for Rick Hendrick and has Top 20 potential, the value is too good to pass up, especially in Salary Cap leagues ($10.00) and Tiered/Grouping formats.
David Ragan ($8,100) has been very hot-cold with Fantasy owners this season, trending more towards the hot side currently with an 18th place finish last weekend at Loudon. Ragan has an Average Finish of 24.3 with a +2 place-differential at Indy. He’s run nearly a quarter (24.8%) of his Laps in the Top 15 and owns a 99.6 percent of Laps Completed, so the Fantasy downside here is quite low.
A.J. Allmendinger ($7,900) is about as vanilla a play as there is at The Brickyard in terms of accumulating stats. However, for this price point he’s a great value considering in six career appearances at Indy he’s never finished worse than 22nd. At $16.25 in NASCAR Fantasy Live, Allmendinger is a quality plug and play to accommodate top heavy lineups. Same goes in DFS. As long as your expectations are within reason – a Top 20 with not much else – odds are you will not be disappointed.
If you’re in the mood to go back a decade, Casey Mears ($7,700) had a stellar [for him] two year run at The Brickyard. In 2004, he captured the pole and led two laps. In 2005, he started 40th and led 10 laps in a sixth-place showing. Mears is in the midst of a very positive campaign and is fresh off a 16th place finish at NHMS. While the numbers at Indy as of late aren’t fantastic, he’s definitely in the conversation for a Top 20.
Surprisingly, Danica Patrick ($7,600) isn’t very good at Indy. Why is this surprising? Her experience at the site in IndyCar competition. But instead, she’s never finished better than 30th in two starts at Indy. What intrigues me about her this weekend are the flashes she’s shown at Indy, namely in the Fastest Laps Run (4) department. Her transformation into a reliable Fantasy option is real, and at this price point in DFS, Patrick comes in at a relative bargain. This one’s more of a gut call, but I’d be very happy with a Top 25 out of her.
There’s no data on Brett Moffitt ($6,800) for Indy, but at this DFS price there doesn’t really need to be. Looking at his 2015 accomplishments so far, he’s posted at least one Fastest Lap run in two races with an Average Start of 31.8 and an Average Finish of 28.1. In his lone Top 10 this season (eighth at Atlanta), the place-differential spread was +14. He’s an ideal fit for top heavy lineups.
Here are my lineups for all formats at The Brickyard:
NASCAR Fantasy Live
|Martin Truex Jr.|
Yahoo! Fantasy Auto Racing
|Jimmie Johnson||Jeff Gordon|
|B-List||Jamie McMurray||Paul Menard||Kyle Larson|
|C-List||Chase Elliott||Ryan Blaney|