Dan Beaver

NASCAR Fantasy Cheat Sheet

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Daytona 500 Cheat Sheet

Monday, February 12, 2018

The Daytona 500 might be one of NASCAR’s top events each year, but it is also one of the most difficult for Fantasy Experts to handicap. So much is out of a driver’s control that past records are less than predictive in most instances, but the accumulation of good or bad luck can play an important role in who finishes in the top 10.

This week, spread your money around in Salary Cap games and avoid allocating drivers who will be more predictable later in the season in Pick ‘Em games.

1. Joey Logano
Finishing second in the Advance Auto Parts Clash last weekend was just the morale boost Logano needed to put a terrible season behind him.

2. Kurt Busch
For all of his lack of control in front of the media, Busch is actually quite astute at holding a steady wheel in the draft.

3. Brad Keselowski
The cars in last week's Advance Auto Parts Clash were so loose that little could be learned about how they will run for 500 miles - but a win is still a win and Kez took home that trophy.

4. Kyle Larson
In order for Larson to be a better value, he is going to have to tighten his car up from Sunday's effort in the Clash.

5. Denny Hamlin
It took 34 attempts for Hamlin to first find his way to Victory Lane on a plate track, but after winning at Talladega in 2014, he quickly followed with a Daytona 500 victory two years later.

6. Aric Almirola
If one is looking for a sleeper capable of scoring a top-five, Almirola easily fits the bill. He enters the weekend with four consecutive top-10s on restrictor-plate, superspeedways.

7. Ryan Blaney
Change is often good for everyone involved. In his first Penske start, Blaney is out to prove just how strong he can run in the right equipment with dedicated teammates.

8. Kasey Kahne
This is going to be one of Kahne's best opportunities to shine. The No. 95 has run well on plate tracks in the past—and with some luck, he could even get a playoff berth locked down.

9. David Ragan
Plate tracks are great venues on which to start dark horses. Last year, Ragan scored top-10s in three of the four events at Daytona and Talladega.

10. Kyle Busch
While he has the numbers to suggest he should be higher on this list, Busch is not the most patient driver in the field and that could cost some positions late in the going.

11. Kevin Harvick
He is capable of scoring top-10s on plate tracks, but last year Harvick struggled to finish in the 20s. Split the difference in 2018 and be happy with a result in the teens.

12. William Byron
There is no doubt in anyone's mind that Byron is going to be a great fantasy value in 2018, but there are too many unknowns on a plate track to risk starting a rookie in his first Cup race.

13. Paul Menard
With 11 top-10s compared to 14 results outside the top 25 on plate tracks, Menard is the consummate all-or-nothing driver.

14. Ryan Newman
He got off to a slow start last year with 20-something results in the first two plate races, but when the series returned to Daytona and Talladega in the summer and fall, Newman finished in the top five.

15. Trevor Bayne
With slightly less than a .500 record on plate tracks since joining Roush-Fenway Racing, Bayne should be considered for the final slot on anyone's fantasy roster.

16. AJ Allmendinger
If one looks at Allmendinger's Daytona record only, he was great last year with a pair of top-10s. But he struggled at 'Dega and that should raise a few concerns.

17. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Winning twice on plate tracks last year will certainly put Stenhouse in the front of most fantasy players' minds, but he also finished outside the top 25 in his other two starts.

18. Michael McDowell
Both driver and team have a strong record on plate tracks and that could make McDowell one of this week's hidden gems.

19. Darrell Wallace Jr.
In every start he made last year, Wallace improved. One of these was a 15th in the summer Daytona race, so he has some laps around the joint.

20. Jimmie Johnson
Even if Johnson was not coming off one of the worst seasons of his career, it would be ill-advised to start him on a wild card track like Daytona when he is more predictable elsewhere.

21. Chase Elliott
Place-differential points are a big factor in Fantasy NASCAR and Elliott has finished worse than he started in every plate race he started—often by a considerable margin.

22. Daniel Suarez
In four starts on plate tracks, Suarez improved each time. His best result of 15th at Talladega last fall came despite getting involved in a lap-184 accident.

23. Ty Dillon
He is still seeking his first plate top-10, but Dillon came close twice in 2017 with top-15s in both Talladega races and a 16th in the Coke Zero 400.

24. Martin Truex Jr.
There is going to be a strong temptation to start Truex this week because of his championship run in 2017. Avoid it; he has crashed out of his last three plate races.

25. Matt DiBenedetto
Last year, DiBenedetto was one of the best values on plate tracks with 20-something finishes in three of his four starts – including a ninth in the Daytona 500.

26. Austin Dillon
Several drivers enter this weekend with three consecutive crashes on plate tracks. Dillon is unhappy to find himself included in the not-so-special list.

27. Jamie McMurray
Last year was actually one of McMurray's better seasons on the plate tracks; he only crashed twice, beating his recent average of nearly 67 percent.

28. Alex Bowman
He has already drawn first blood with a pole winning run, but that has happened to a lot of Young Guns in Hendrick Motorsports equipment. Bowman will certainly lose place-differential points this Sunday.

29. Danica Patrick
This will be Patrick's NASCAR Cup series Swan Song and everyone hopes she is able to leave on a high note.

30. Clint Bowyer
Both of Bowyer's two plate wins came at Talladega, but he was close last summer with a second in the Coke Zero 400.

31. Chris Buescher
In his Cup career, Buescher has made nine starts on restrictor-plate, superspeedways. He has crashed and failed to finish five of those.

32. Erik Jones
There are simply much better places to start Jones. In four restrictor-plate, superspeedway attempts last year, he crashed and failed to finish three times.

33. Jeffrey Earnhardt
There will be an Earnhardt in the field again, but Jeffrey is not going to garner the same amount of attention or success as his famous uncle or cousin.

34. Brendan Gaughan
Last summer, driving for this same team, Gaughan scored his second plate track top-10 at Daytona. That made him one of the best values in every game.

35. David Gilliland
Before fantasy players write off Gilliland, they should be aware that he has six top-10s on this track type including a dramatic runner-up to his teammate at Talladega in 2013.

36. Corey LaJoie
The plate tracks are host to a lot of Cinderella stories. LaJoie almost cracked the top 10 last July in the Coke Zero 400 when he finished on the lead lap in 11th.

37. DJ Kennington
Anything can happen on restrictor-plate, superspeedway, but it's going to take a lot of attrition for Kennington to be a good value in the 500.

38. Mark Thompson
Last fall, Thompson made his first Cup start on a plate track at Talladega. He didn't exactly set the world on fire with a retirement on lap 25 and a 39th-place finish.

39. Justin Marks
The No. 51 Rick Ware team has not yet completely firmed up their 2018 plans and that uncertainty is going to make it difficult to risk starting Marks.

Dan Beaver has been covering fantasy NASCAR for more than 12 years with a little help from his >500,000 record database. He can be found on Twitter @FantasyRace.
Email :Dan Beaver

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