Yahoo: Top 30 Drivers
Yahoo / Fox / NASCAR: Quick Picks
After a run of short track racing, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Talladega Superspeedway for the second restrictor-plate event of the 2017 season. The massive, 2.6-mile track will play host to Sunday's GEICO 500, and the race promises to be one of the most unpredictable of the season.
If you plan on playing NASCAR DFS this weekend, you need to be prepared to completely alter the typical strategies and approaches to building a winning lineup. For the first time since Daytona, it is all about the place differential category.
With restrictor plates keeping the field bunched together and the running order constantly changing, cars will be gaining and losing tons of spots each and every lap. As a result, the value of the dominator categories declines dramatically. In fact, the fastest lap run category is useless.
On the flip side, there are a ton of points to be had in the place differential category. Drivers starting at the rear have no issues getting to the front, and in this year's Daytona 500, three drivers who started outside the Top 30 finished in the Top 5 and six drivers who started 25th or worse finished in the Top 10.
Historically, drivers starting at the back have been the most productive at DraftKings. They also tend to be the safest plays. Big wrecks are the norm at plate tracks like Talladega, and there are many plate races where half the field fails to make it to the finish.
If you pick a bunch of drivers starting up front, there is a good chance that at least a couple are going to crash and end up posting negative scores. If a driver starting near the back wrecks, they at least break even in the scoring department and still give you a chance to cash. With that in mind, many of my lineups will feature six drivers who are all starting outside the Top 30.
Needless to say, qualifying means everything this weekend, so make sure to check back for updated picks following Saturday's time trials. In the meantime, here is a closer look at the drivers I'll be keeping a close eye on heading ahead of Sunday's GEICO 500.
Joey Logano ($10,700)
Since the start of the 2015 season, no driver has scored more points at the plate tracks than Logano. He has also won two of the last three races at Talladega, leading a combined 65 laps in those victories. Logano finished sixth at Daytona in February, so his recent run of success shows no signs of coming to an end.
Brad Keselowski ($10,500)
Fast have been the norm for Keselowski at the plate tracks, and no driver has led more laps in plate events over the last two years. He has wins at both Daytona and Talladega during that span, and Keselowski has already amassed for four career wins at Talladega. He has to be considered one of the favorites to win Sunday, and he could win in dominating fashion.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. ($9,400)
It has been a frustrating year for Junior, but you can never write him off at a plate track. He is a six-time winner at Talladega and a 10-time winner at plate tracks overall. He also ranks second in laps led in plate events since 2015. I wouldn't be a surprise to see him go out and dominate Sunday, and even if he qualifies well, Junior would still be worth considering in GPPs.
Kurt Busch ($8,000)
Busch won the Daytona 500 to open the year, continuing an impressive run of consistency at the plate tracks. He now has six Top 10s in his last seven plate races, and he has finished 12th or better in his last five starts at Talladega. He has a chance to be a bargain at this price depending on how qualifying shakes out.
Michael McDowell ($5,900)
His Top 15 finish in this year's Daytona 500 continued an impressive stretch at the restrictor-plate tracks. He has finished 21st or better in his last five plate races, gaining seven-plus spots in every race and posting an average place differential of +15.6.
(Editor's Note: Most of the driver recommendations have been removed from this free preview article. For full access to the article and all of Scout Fantasy's premium content, sign up now!