Dan Beaver

NASCAR Fantasy Cheat Sheet

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South Point 400 Cheat Sheet

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Round 1 of the 2018 playoffs will be contested on tracks that have not yet had playoff races. Two of these tracks could be considered brand new for Cup competition.

Everyone knows the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval is going to be a wild card, but with incredibly hot and slick conditions, Las Vegas Motor Speedway is also going to be unlike anything the competition has faced before. Still, this is a variation on a theme and with seven races already contested on similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks – fantasy players should have plenty of data to dissect. 

1. Kevin Harvick
Harvick absolutely dominated this spring's Pennzoil 400. The field has caught up to a certain degree, but he should still be able to challenge for the win.

2. Brad Keselowski
Keselowski has gained momentum at just the right time. With back-to-back wins at the end of the regular season, he enters the playoffs on a track where he's won twice in the past five years.

3. Chase Elliott
Two of Elliott's three Vegas starts ended in major disappointment, but he stayed out of trouble in 2017 and finished third. This team tends to step up in the playoffs.

4. Kyle Larson
Larson has come close to winning the last two Vegas races with a second in 2017 and a third this spring. Unfortunately, he has not yet developed a reputation for closing the deal in big races yet.

5. Kyle Busch
Busch finished second to Harvick in the Pennzoil 400 this spring. He's been trailing the No. 4 for the past four months and that is going to be the slight difference that keeps him from being more popular.

6. Joey Logano
Logano finished second to his teammate Keselowski in 2016. That is part of a current, five-race streak of Vegas top-10s.

7. Ryan Blaney
With two different teams, Blaney enters the weekend with a three-race streak of results seventh or better at Vegas. That means it's the driver that makes the difference on this track.

8. Martin Truex Jr.
With no practice for last week's Brickyard 400, speculation about Truex’s brake failure centered on a lack of attention at the shop. We don't know if that's true, but it pays to be cautious.

9. Kurt Busch
Seven of Busch's last eight attempts this year ended in results of sixth through ninth - handicapping him is a fairly easy proposition so long as he stays out of trouble.

10. Erik Jones
Jones has as much or momentum than any of the frontrunners this week, but his sophomore status makes him hard to predict with accuracy.

11. Clint Bowyer
It seemed Bowyer was losing his momentum until last week. It's too soon to tell if his strong Brickyard 400 run signals a reversal of fortune or if it was an anomaly.

12. Denny Hamlin
Last week was the first time in a long while that Hamlin ran well on a track where he had a good record. That is a step in the right direction, but Vegas is not a course where he's shown a lot of success in the past.

13. Jamie McMurray
McMurray missed the playoffs this year, but as part of the strong Chip Ganassi Racing organization, that makes him increasingly valuable for the next three weeks in NASCAR Fantasy Live.

14. Aric Almirola
In his first knockout playoff in 2014, Almirola was eliminated at the end of Round 1. The smart money says that happens again in 2018.

15. Jimmie Johnson
Johnson is the only driver to have qualified for the playoffs in all 15 years of its existence, but he has not acquitted himself well in most of the seasons with the knockout formula.

16. Paul Menard
This spring, Menard was the only driver who did not ultimately make the playoffs to finish in the top 10 in the Pennzoil 400.

17. Alex Bowman
Disregard his two top-10s and two results outside the top 25 and Bowman's typical result on similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks is somewhere in the teens.

18. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
The similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks have been mostly kind to Stenhouse this year with five results of 16th or better in seven attempts.

19. Ryan Newman
Now that he has failed to make the playoffs, Newman and the No. 31 team can concentrate on improving their program for 2019.

20. Austin Dillon
Dillon has scored three top-20s on similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks. He's also finished outside the top 25 on three occasions in seven starts.

21. Daniel Suarez
There is a lot of uncertainty surrounding several drivers and their plans for 2019. This is one of the most active Silly Seasons on record.

22. Trevor Bayne
It was announced this week that Bayne will not return to the No. 6 in 2019. His opportunities to impress prospective car owners will come at a premium for the remainder of the year.

23. William Byron
With three of his teammates in the playoffs, there is a possibility that Byron could be overlooked by Hendrick Motorsports and his equipment might not be the best.

24. David Ragan
He hasn't made a lot of noise this year, but most of Ragan's results on similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks have ended in the top 25.

25. Michael McDowell
With the exception of a blown engine here at Vegas in the spring, McDowell has finished in the top-25 in all of his 1.5-mile starts this year.

26. Ty Dillon
In two starts at Vegas, Dillon scored a 21st last year and a 25th this spring. If he practices in that range, he could be a good bargain in salary cap games.

27. Chris Buescher
Buescher has a pair of top-15s on this track type in 2018, but no top-10s. That defines the upper limits of his potential and makes him a modest value.

28. Regan Smith
Battling a health condition that reportedly makes it difficult to regulate his body temperature, Kasey Kahne will turn the wheel of the No. 95 over to Smith at Vegas for the second straight week.

29. Ross Chastain
With a worst result of 30th on similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks, Chastain stands out as one of the better bargains among low-cost drivers in salary cap games.

30. Reed Sorenson
Sorenson has given way to several other drivers so far in 2018 on this track type, but when he is in the car, he's finished on the cusp of 30th.

31. AJ Allmendinger
Allmendinger has only one top-10 at Vegas to his credit. Since earning that result he has finished worse in each successive race.

32. Corey LaJoie
LaJoie's worst finish on a 1.5-mile track in 2018 was the 34th he earned at Chicagoland in July. As long as he stays out of trouble, this is a team that is not going to quit.

33. Bubba Wallace
A season that got off to such a great start with a runner-up finish in the Daytona 500 has left a lot to be desired for fantasy players who risk allocations on Wallace.

34. Matt DiBenedetto
The spring Vegas race was one of DiBenedetto's best efforts on this track type. He's been progressively slipping down the grid since then, however.

35. Landon Cassill
In his first three attempts with StarCom on this track type, Cassill finished in the 20s; his last two were in the 30s.

36. Kyle Weatherman
Similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks are not courses that typically reward lightly-funded teams, so Weatherman can be expected to lose several laps during the South Point 400.

37. BJ McLeod
The best news about McLeod is that he has been running at the end of all seven races he's made on this track type, which means he will pick up spots based on attrition.

38. Timmy Hill
This will be Hill's fifth start on one of the similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks. His best finish so far was a pair of 32nds at Kansas and Charlotte.

39. Jeffrey Earnhardt
Last week's accident at Indy showed a certain lack of something with Earnhardt - car control, judgment … something. Leave him in the garage for the time being.

40. JJ Yeley
Yeley has only gotten the opportunity to make two starts on similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks this year. He finished 38th both times with two different teams.

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.
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