Ford EcoBoost 400
Yahoo: Top 30 Drivers
Yahoo / Fox / NASCAR: Quick Picks
The Sprint Cup Series season comes to a close this weekend, and when the checkered flag waves at Homestead-Miami Speedway Sunday, the 2016 champion will be crowned. The title fight is certain to provide plenty of real-life drama, but it could also have a significant impact on the fantasy world.
In the two years since the current elimination format was adopted, the four drivers in the Chase have largely delivered in the finale. In 2014, title contenders finished first and second, and three of the four title hopefuls finished seventh or better, with two leading 50-plus laps. Last year, two title contenders again finished first and second while all four led laps and finished in the top 12.
Granted, you can't ignore the other drivers on the track, and there are going to be a few drivers outside of the title fight that post big scores. That being said, you probably want to have at least a couple of the championship drivers in your DFS NASCAR lineups if you want to cash in.
Check back after qualifying and practice for updated picks and lineup strategies, and make sure to watch the Ford EcoBoost 400 Sunday at 3:00 p.m. ET on NBC.
Jimmie Johnson ($10,800)
Johnson has been preparing for this race since he won at Martinsville, and there is no denying that the No. 48 bunch has flipped a switch since the Chase began, particularly at the 1.5-mile tracks. He led a race-high 118 laps at Chicagoland, led 155 laps and won at Charlotte and finished fourth at Kansas. With a chance to tie Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty with seven championships, I expect Johnson to deliver.
Kyle Busch ($10,500)
In a winner-take-all race, I'm not sure there is any driver I would rather have than Busch. He is the quintessential wheelman, and with a title at stake last year, he came up with his first career win at Homestead. He has finished in the top 10 in three of his last four starts at Homestead, leading a combined 232 laps in that span. Busch is more than capable of defending his crown, and he could do so in impressive fashion.
Joey Logano ($10,200)
Logano has never had a dominant run at Homestead, but he seems to be peaking at the right time. He has led 20-plus laps in each of the last four Chase races, and he has finished third or better in three of the four races at 1.5-mile tracks during the Chase, leading 178 laps at Texas. With a championship on the line, a career-best performance at Homestead could be on tap for Logano.
Carl Edwards ($9,700)
Homestead has been one of his best tracks throughout his career. In the last ten races alone, Edwards has nine finishes of 12th or better, including a pair of wins. More importantly, he has led more laps than any driver in that stretch, leading more than 100 laps three times. He is the only title contender priced below $10,000, but he could end up dominating the race and walking away with the title.
Denny Hamlin ($8,600)
He isn't running for the title, but I'm still surprised to see Hamlin priced so far below the other big names. His 8.5 average finish over the last ten races at Homestead is the best in the series, and during that span, he has a pair of wins and has finished worse than 12th just once. Hamlin is flat out underpriced. Take advantage.
Austin Dillon ($7,900)
Dillon finished 14th at Homestead-Miami last year, and he has remained a consistent top 15 driver with top 10 upside at 1.5-mile tracks throughout the 2016 season. A mid-pack qualifying run would be ideal, but I'll be keeping an eye on Dillon all weekend, particularly for my GPP lineups. He has a higher ceiling than most drivers in this price range.
Alex Bowman ($7,400)
With six drivers battling for the final two spots in the title race last weekend at Phoenix, it was Bowman who dominated most of the afternoon. He has surpassed every reasonable expectation as Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s substitute, and he has finished 13th or better in three of the four races at 1.5-mile tracks during the Chase. At this price, Bowman should be able to provide great value based on his finishing position alone. If he happens to have some upside through place differential after qualifying, it only adds to his appeal.
Aric Almirola ($6,900)
Almirola has been decent since the Chase began, posting a 20.8 average finish and a +5.8 average place differential. He doesn't have a lot of upside, but if he qualifies outside the top 25, you can pretty much pencil him in for 25-plus fantasy points. His decent, steady results should make him a valuable addition to cash games.
Ty Dillon ($6,600)
He will make his 11th Cup start of the season this weekend, and Dillon has shown throughout the year that he can flirt with the top 20 at just about any track. His fantasy value is tied to his starting spot, but if he qualifies toward the back of the field, the part-timer should be a reliable, low-priced play.
Chris Buescher ($6,300)
He has found some speed at the 1.5-mile tracks down the stretch of the season, finishing 21st or better at Charlotte, Kansas, and Texas. Equally, as important, Buescher has gained nine or more spots in all three races. If he qualifies outside the top 30 again this weekend, he should be a bargain at this price tag.
Michael McDowell ($6,000)
McDowell has built a little momentum late in the year, logging five top 25s in the last six races. More importantly, he has been delivering decent results at 1.5-mile ovals. He started 22nd and finished 14th at Charlotte, started 33rd and finished 22nd at Kansas and started 28th and finished 23rd at Texas. As long as he qualifies deeper in the field, he should be a safe source of cap relief this weekend.