Chicagoland Speedway is one of the few tracks that Jimmie Johnson ($9,200) hasn’t tasted victory at. That minor detail hasn’t gotten in the way of his usual domination. Since the inception of Loop Data in 2005, Johnson leads all competitors in Fastest Laps Run (359), Driver Rating (115.5), Average Running Position (7.1), Laps in the Top 15 (2,350) and Laps Led (577). The struggles of Hendrick Motor Sports have been well documented as of late, and subsequently, other members of HMS (Jeff Gordon at $8,400 and Dale Earnhardt Jr. at $8,300) are coming in below market value on DraftKings. That said, Johnson remains an elite option every single week, meaning Fantasy owners need to strike in DFS while the value is there.
At one time, Tony Stewart ($7,700) was the king of Chicagoland, racing to three wins and 10 Top 10s in 13 tries. But last season he finished a middling 18th at the site, and overall, his 2014 slump carried all the way into 2015. To say Stewart is a shell of his former self is an insult to his former self and shells everywhere. And up until this point in the season, Stewart has not been priced accordingly in DFS. While I still believe his price is too high for the caliber of driver he currently is, the number is still lower than it’s been all season long. While the negatives likely outweigh the positives, the positives are glaring. Smoke has a 76 percent Top 10 rate, two wins since 2007 and is a +52 in place-differential in his last three starts. I’m not necessarily recommending Stewart. I just wanted to point a few things out to Fantasy owners. Aside from DFS, where the value is moderate, Stewart will come at a much better value in Tiered/Grouping formats and Salary Cap leagues.
Ryan Newman ($7,700) hasn’t finished outside the Top 25 since the June race at Pocono Raceway, and is slightly underpriced in DFS heading into the Chase opener. It was a little over a decade ago that Newman had a two-race stretch in which he was near invincible at Chicagoland, started from the pole, finished fifth with 87 Laps Led (2002) and won with 67 Laps Led (2003). Since then, he’s been well above average at the site, posting one Top 5, three Top 10s and four Top 15s with an Average Finish of 9.5 in his last four starts. Overall, he’s posted 33 Fastest Laps Run in Chicago. Newman caught fire at this time last season, making a serious run for the championship. I wouldn’t expect that much heat this season, but being priced 5 percent below the average price per player in DFS makes him a very intriguing option given the consistency Fantasy owners can expect.
Paul Menard ($7,300) deserves a ton of credit for making the Chase, and even more credit as a legit value play in DFS this weekend. In his last five Chicagoland starts, he has one Top 10, two Top 15s and three Top 25s. In terms of having a good feel for the track, Menard has started 11th-or-better in each of his last five Chicagoland appearances, including second on the grid in 2011. He’s easily having his best season to date and makes the most Fantasy sense in DFS.
Austin Dillon ($7,200) turns up on a majority of my columns, but when you’re chronically underpriced that’s to be expected. In his lone starts at Chicagoland, Dillon started 15th and finished 16th. Digging a bit deeper, he finished third and led 28 laps in the 2015 Chicagoland XFINITY race. He’s just three races removed from a Top 5 (fourth at Michigan) and provides Fantasy owners with a decent amount of consistency and upside. He’s a solid DFS play.
The value is not there on Ryan Blaney ($7,200) in DFS. He’s logged all of zero starts at Chicagoland and really doesn’t have any business being a dollar over $7,000. He provides much better bang for your Fantasy buck on the Tiered/Grouping format C-List and NASCAR Fantasy Live Salary Cap leagues.
I’d be curious to see how DraftKings comes up with its driver costs. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($6,400) remains woefully underpriced, while less accomplished drivers come in overpriced. He’s coming off an impressive 16th-place finish at Richmond International Raceway. In two Cup starts at Chicagoland, Stenhouse Jr. has logged seven Fastest Laps Run and one Top 10 with an Average Finish of 12.5. He’s never finished worse than 18th. Not that this stat helps DFS owners much with place-differential, but Stenhouse Jr. has started fourth and fifth on the grid in his two starts at Chicago, proving he’s got the speed to hang with the big boys. Fantasy owners need to consider him a must-start value play across the board.
Here are my Fantasy NASCAR lineups for this week:
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
|Ricky Stenhouse Jr.|
NASCAR Fantasy Live
|Martin Truex Jr.|
Yahoo! Fantasy Auto Racing
|Matt Kenseth||Brad Keselowski|
|B-List||Jamie McMurray||Paul Menard||Kurt Busch|