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NASCAR DFS: Hellman's 500 Lineup Tips

Fantasy NASCAR Expert Brian Polking reveals his final DFS picks on DraftKings for the Hellman's 500!

Hellman's 500

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The Sprint Cup Series visits Talladega Superspeedway this weekend, and if you are looking for a perfect strategy to build a winning DFS NASCAR lineup, keep looking.

Restrictor-plate races like Sunday's Hellman's 500 are by far the toughest to predict, and with multi-car wrecks an unfortunate byproduct of plate racing, the race is more about survival for drivers than it is about speed. In fact, any driver who is still running at the finish has a decent shot at a top 10.

Despite the unpredictability, it doesn't mean you should just flip a coin to set your lineups. There are ways to increase your chances of cashing in, especially in cash games. Place differential is the key this weekend, and drivers who start deep in the field this weekend are your best friends.

Drivers who start in the back have the highest ceiling through place differential, and they also have the least to lose if they do get caught up in the carnage. The highest DFS scorers at Talladega are typically the drivers starting outside the top 25, and at the very least, all the drivers in your lineups need to be starting in the back half of the field.

Don't even take the fastest laps run category into consideration this weekend, and even if the laps led category is tough to predict. Don't worry about leaving a bunch of cap room on the table either. There is a good chance that the best lineup combination won't even come close to using up the allotted salary cap, and that's okay.

It's all about maximizing your upside in the place differential category and minimizing your risk, and to help you finalize your DFS NASCAR lineups, check out one last look at my top picks and lineup combinations. Don't forget to check out the action from Talladega Sunday at 2:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Building Blocks

Kevin Harvick ($10,500)

When building a lineup at a plate track, you ideally want a driver who has plenty of upside and limited risk. Starting 22nd, Harvick offers both. He has multiple wins at plate tracks, and he has six straight top 15s at Talladega with a +12.3 average place differential during the streak. He is the driver to build around in cash games.

Brad Keselowski ($10,300)

Any driver starting up front could torpedo your lineup, and starting second, Keselowski is no exception. However, Keselowski is also a four-time Talladega winner, and he has won two of the three plate races this year. He could dominate the race Sunday, and he has the upside to gamble on in GPPs.

Difference Makers

Jimmie Johnson ($9,900)

He tends to run hot and cold at the plate tracks, but Johnson offers some potential in multiple categories. He ranks second in laps led over the last ten plate races. By starting 17th, he also has some upside in the place differential category. If you like building around a big name, Johnson is a nice contrarian play to Kevin Harvick in cash games.

Kyle Larson ($8,600)

His 24.2 average finish at Talladega doesn't inspire a ton of confidence, but Larson is having his best season at the plate tracks. He has two top 10s in three races, and after qualifying back in 24th, he has more than enough upside in the place differential category to take a chance.

Ryan Newman ($7,800)

Several mid-priced drivers are starting deeper in the field who will likely garner more attention so that Newman could be a sneaky sleeper this weekend. He starts 20th, so he still has plenty of points available through place differential. He also has three finishes of 12th or better in his last four starts at Talladega.

Casey Mears ($5,900)

Mears has found trouble in his last three starts at Talladega, but over the last ten plate races overall, he still ranks 11th in points scored. He starts 29th this weekend, so place differential is very much in his favor. He could be a cheap, effective sleeper.

Ryan Reed ($5,600)

Unless you watch the XFINITY Series on a regular basis, you probably don't know much about Reed. He owns a restrictor-plate win in the XFINITY Series, but since he is somewhat of an unknown, his ownership should be low. It would be nice had he qualified deeper than 18th, but he still has some potential in the place differential category.

Bobby Labonte ($5,300)

He tends to have a conservative style at the plate tracks, but Labonte usually manages to stay out of trouble. He finished 23rd at Talladega last fall and 19th earlier this year, and a similar run this weekend would result in a decent point total since he starts back in 38th. The veteran part-timer probably isn't going to have a high ownership so that he could be an underrated sleeper.

My Favorite DraftKings Cash Game Lineup

Kevin Harvick ($10,500)
Kasey Kahne ($8,300)
Jamie McMurray ($8,100)
Clint Bowyer (7,400)
A.J. Allmendinger ($7,000)
David Ragan ($6,300)

The strategy behind this lineup is simple. All six drivers start outside the top 20, and three of them start outside the top 30. For what it's worth, Harvick, McMurray, Bowyer, and Ragan are all former winners at Talladega, but the strength of this lineup is its combination of upside and reduced risk through the place differential category.

If Sunday's race becomes extra chaotic, this is the type of lineup that can survive and cash even if a couple of drivers are involved in wrecks.

Checkers-or-Wreckers GPP Lineup

Brad Keselowski ($10,300)
Jimmie Johnson (9,900)
Kyle Larson ($8,600)
Ryan Newman ($7,800)
Chris Buescher ($6,000)
Bobby Labonte ($5,300)

Keselowski is all-or-nothing atop the lineup. He is either going to challenge for the win and solidify my lineup, or he is going to crash out and probably destroy it.

While I'm willing to risk a lot with Keselowski, the rest of my lineup still focuses on drivers starting deeper in the field. Johnson is the only driver other than Keselowski starting in the top half of the field, and Buescher and Labonte start outside the top 30.

Loading up on six drivers starting in or around the top 10 is lineup suicide at Talladega, so instead, I tried to make this lineup stand out by targeting drivers who should be less popular sleepers but still have similar upside to the obvious plays.

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