Yahoo: Top 30 Drivers
Yahoo / Fox / NASCAR: Quick Picks
After a four-race stretch that featured three short track events, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series switches gears and heads to the biggest track on the schedule. Talladega Superspeedway will host Sunday's GEICO 500, and for fantasy owners, the race also means the return of restrictor plates.
Along with Daytona, Talladega uses the restrictor plates to control speeds. The unfortunate byproduct is pack racing, and with the field jammed together at speeds that hover around 200 mph, one wrong move quickly results in trouble for a whole lot of driver.
Restrictor-plate races are as much about survival as they are about having a fast car. You can study trends and practice times all you want, but at some point, a big wreck is going to erupt, and you just have to hope that your fantasy picks aren't in the middle of it.
While luck certainly does play a factor in fantasy success at Talladega, that doesn't mean you should just throw any four drivers out there when building your fantasy lineups in the Yahoo game. You can only use each driver nine times over the course of the year, and the last thing you can afford to do is waste a start from any of the top options.
With that in mind, I recommend deploying a sleeper-heavy lineup this weekend. I'm not even exaggerating when I say that most drivers have a 50-50 chance of being involved in a wreck this weekend. If I even think I might use a particular driver nine times over the course of the year, I'm not going to use them this weekend.
The odds of any driver crashing are exponentially higher at Talladega. By using sleeper options, you at least protect your long-term potential. If you use a bunch of big names and they all wreck, you've dealt yourself a double blow.
There is not a lot you can do to protect your lineup from the chaos of Talladega, but you can minimize the long-term ramifications.
1. BRAD KESELOWSKI, #2 MILLER LITE, TEAM PENSKE [YAHOO CLASS A]
Keselowski is the defending winner of this weekend's race, and he has already piled up four wins at Talladega in just 16 starts. He has three Top 5s in his last five starts at Talladega, and he is a five-time winner at plate tracks overall. Keselowski should bring a fast car to the track this weekend.
2. JOEY LOGANO, #22 SHELL-PENNZOIL, TEAM PENSKE [YAHOO CLASS A]
Team Penske has had its act together at the plate tracks in recent years, and since 2015, Logano has scored the most points of any driver in restrictor-plate events. He has also won two of the last three races at Talladega.
3. KEVIN HARVICK, #4 JIMMY JOHNS, STEWART-HAAS RACING [YAHOO CLASS A]
At a track where consistency is almost impossible to find, Harvick has managed to reel off seven straight Top 15s. He has been one of the most dependable options at plate tracks in general, ranking in the Top 5 in points scored over the last three years. Harvick showed a ton of muscle at Daytona to open the year, and I don't expect much to change this weekend.
4. DALE EARNHARDT, JR., #88 NATIONWIDE INSURANCE/MOUNTAIN DEW, HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS [YAHOO CLASS A]
It has been a rough year for Junior, but if there was ever a track for him to right the ship, it's Talladega. He leads all active drivers with six wins here, and he also ranks first with 10 total plate wins. This is a great week to use him as an A-List play.
5. KURT BUSCH, #41 MONSTER ENERGY/HAAS AUTOMATION, STEWART-HAAS RACING [YAHOO CLASS B]
Busch has been locked in at the plate tracks, logging a series-high six Top 10s since the start of 2015. He won the Daytona 500 to open the year, so he isn't slowing down, and Busch has finished 12th or better in his last five starts at Talladega.
6. DENNY HAMLIN, #11 FEDEX, JOE GIBBS RACING [YAHOO CLASS A]
He has been one of the stronger drivers at the restrictor-plate tracks the last few years, picking up wins at Daytona and Talladega. Since the start of the 2015 season, Hamlin is one of just three drivers who has led more than 100 laps at the plate tracks, and he ranks seventh in points scored in that span.
7. CLINT BOWYER, #14 MOBIL 1, STEWART-HAAS RACING [YAHOO CLASS B]
Among the drivers who have competed in the last 10 races at Talladega, Bowyer's 12.6 average finish is the best in the series. He has logged six Top 10s during that same stretch and has just two finishes outside the Top 20. Bowyer knows how to get the job done at the plate tracks.
8. KYLE BUSCH, #18 M&M'S, JOE GIBBS RACING [YAHOO CLASS A]
Busch was a boom-or-bust driver at the plate tracks early in his career, but he has become one of the steadier options recently. He ranks fifth in points scored at the plate tracks over the last three seasons, picking up three Top 3 finishes, including a runner-up effort at Talladega last spring.
9. RYAN BLANEY, #21 MOTORCRAFT, WOOD BROTHERS RACING [YAHOO CLASS B]
I already mentioned that Team Penske has been stout at the plate tracks, and Blaney is basically driving Team Penske equipment. He nearly won the Daytona 500 back in February, and he has finished 11th or better in three of his last four starts at Talladega. I think Blaney is a sleeper candidate to win Sunday.
10. AUSTIN DILLON, #3 DOW CHEMICAL/CHEERIOS, RICHARD CHILDRESS RACING [YAHOO CLASS B]
He has been a dependable fantasy play at the restrictor-plate tracks since joining the Cup Series, and Dillon is one of three drivers who is averaging a Top 10 finish at the plate tracks since 2015. In seven career Cup starts at Talladega, Dillon has five Top 15s, including a pair of Top 10s last year.