Pure Michigan 400
Yahoo: Top 30 Drivers
Yahoo / Fantasy Live / Fox: Quick Picks
The Sprint Cup Series is back at Michigan International Speedway this weekend, and with the Chase for the Sprint Cup just three races away, it is time to start evaluating your strategy in season-long fantasy leagues.
By this point in the year, you are either positioned well in the standings, or you have some work to do. If you fall in the latter group, it is time to start looking for chances when you can go against the grain with your picks. If you are lagging behind in your league, picking the popular lineup isn't going to help you close the gap. Granted, a contrarian strategy could put you further behind, so it's up to you to decide if you are happy with a mid-pack finish or want to try to make a push to the front.
In the NASCAR.com game, I'm going with somewhat of a balanced approach. With just 200 laps on tap, I'm targeting just two drivers who I believe can dominate the laps led and fastest laps run categories, and the rest of my lineup has upside through place differential.
In the FOX game, I'm taking advantage of a handful of big names that qualified outside the top 10 but inside the top 20. These drivers should still be able to challenge for top 10s, and potentially top five finishes, while also boosting their scores through place differential.
Check out a complete look at my season-long fantasy NASCAR lineups, and make sure to check out the Pure Michigan 400 Sunday at 3:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN.
Yahoo! Sports Fantasy Auto Racing
Joey Logano (A)
Logano is an easy choice as my A-List play. He has been the most reliable driver at MIS since joining Team Penske, compiling a series-best 5.0 average finish in seven starts. Meanwhile, he will lead the field to the green Sunday, and Logano won his two previous starts at MIS from the pole, including a dominating showing back in June.
Kyle Larson (B)
His boom-or-bust tendencies make him a risky play in this scoring format, but Larson has had one of the best cars. He finished third at MIS in the June race, and he looks poised to contend for the win again. There aren't many B-List drivers with top five upside, but Larson's ceiling is sky high this weekend.
Jamie McMurray (B)
He has been reeling off solid finishes at Michigan recently, finishing 16th or better in five straight starts and cracking the top 10 in two of his last three starts here. He starts eighth this weekend, so another top 10 could be on tap. At the very least, McMurray should be able to provide a solid top 15.
Alex Bowman (C)
Subbing for Dale Earnhardt Jr., Bowman is a quality C-List option that no one expected to be available when the season began. Take advantage of him while you have the chance in order to save Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney for the weeks when there is no decent alternative. In addition to being a smart play, Bowman starts in the top 10 and has shown a ton of speed all weekend.
NASCAR.com Fantasy Live
Kevin Harvick ($28.00)
He has been piling up top five finishes at Michigan, logging a series-best six in the last seven races here. Harvick actually has five second-place finishes during that same stretch, ranking third in laps led. Starting fourth, I expect Harvick to deliver another top five while notching some critical bonus points in the laps led and fastest laps run categories.
Joey Logano ($26.75)
Logano was the top scorer in the June race at Michigan, winning from the pole and leading 138 of the 200 laps in the process. He starts from the pole again Sunday, so a repeat performance could be on tap. Since joining Team Penske, he has a series-best 5.0 average finish at MIS, and he has led more than twice as many laps as any other driver. I expect a dominant showing from Logano.
Kyle Larson ($23.00)
Larson has been blazing fast all weekend. He topped the charts in the first two rounds of qualifying, and he was a top five car in practice Saturday. He finished third at Michigan back in June, and he looks like a real threat to contend for the win Sunday. Starting 12th, he has a little bit of upside through place differential, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him do some damage in the laps led and fastest laps run categories, as well. As a bonus, his mid-range price tag allows me to fortify the bottom of my lineup.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($13.00)
I don't love Stenhouse's inconsistent record at Michigan, but since he starts way back in 29th, he is a low-risk option with decent upside for the price. He has a 22.4 average finish in seven starts at MIS, so he should move forward and deliver a decent point total. If he happens to push for a top 25, he will be a steal.
David Ragan ($8.25)
Ragan has always had a decent feel for Michigan, and he has eight top 25s in his last 10 races here, including finishes of 18th and 22nd in his last two starts. He starts 35th, so at the very least, he can't hurt your lineup with a big negative score. If he delivers another top 25, he will end up providing a useful score while freeing up plenty of cap room.
FOX Fantasy Auto Racing
Brad Keselowski ($12,000)
He won't come cheap, but Keselowski is the safest bet to deliver a big score this weekend. He starts 18th, but over the last 10 races at Michigan, he leads all drivers with a 7.2 average finish. Keselowski hasn't finished worse than 13th during that stretch, and he has reeled off five straight top 10s. Expect 30-plus points for his finishing position and another 10-plus for his place differential.
Kurt Busch ($10,400)
Busch has been boom or bust at Michigan, but his three wins here are evidence of his upside. He starts 19th with a car that was one of the best during practice Saturday, so he could easily gain 10-plus spots and eclipse 40 fantasy points.
Kyle Busch ($9,300)
His recent results at Michigan leave a lot to be desired, but everyone knows the defending champ is capable of a top five finish at any track on the schedule. Starting 16th, Busch has more upside through place differential than most of the other big name drivers, and a 50-point performance isn't out of the question.
Martin Truex Jr. ($9,300)
He qualified 14th, and while he doesn't have a huge ceiling through the place differential category, he does have more upside than most of the other high-end drivers. Truex finished third in both races at Michigan last year, so a top five finish and 40-plus fantasy points aren't out of the question.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($7,900)
I could afford a more expensive option, but I like Stenhouse's upside through place differential after he qualified 29th. Granted, he has been up and down at Michigan, but if he can approach the top 15, he will make a push for 40 fantasy points. At worst, he should sneak into the top 25 and finish with around 25 points.