Rankings below are based on a mixture of expected output and DraftKings’ NASCAR salaries for that day. The ordering is not based on highest projected fantasy totals, but rather by value of each driver.
(fppk = average fantasy points per $1,000 of salary. The typical median fppk for a 2016 race was in the 3s. Plate tracks tend to be lower and short tracks tend to run higher due to the amount of laps.
1. Martin Truex, Jr. ($9,700) – Last year, Truex was a killer at intermediate tracks. He’s well on his way to regaining that status this year. Truex led the most laps at Las Vegas and the third most at Texas. In the 2016 Kansas night race, Truex scored the most fantasy points (102.5 points). (5.7 fppk)
2. Kevin Harvick ($10,400) – In the last six Kansas races, Harvick has a win and three second-place finishes. He scored 94, 82, 75 and 102 fantasy points in those contests. Harvick scored the sixth-most fantasy points in week seven (most recent intermediate track race). (4.2 fppk)
3. Kyle Larson ($9,900) – A different driver has won each intermediate track race this season, but one driver has finished second in all three of those races. Obviously, it’s Kyle Larson — the paragraph started with his name. This is his year, fade him at your own risk. (6.3 fppk)
4. Chase Elliott ($9,100) – At the three intermediate track races, Elliott’s lowest score was 55 fantasy points. He finished with a top-five DFS score in all three races. Elliot did all of this without leading a single lap in those races. What happens when he gets out front? (4.7 fppk)
5. Brad Keselowski ($10,700) – At Las Vegas, Keselowski qualified first and scored 55 hog points (laps led and fast lap points). At Texas, he qualified fifth and scored 10 hog points. The difference between starting first and fifth is enormous. (6.0 fppk)
6. Jimmie Johnson ($10,100) – What slow start? Johnson is well on his way to his eighth NASCAR championship. Daily fantasy NASCAR players cannot depend on Johnson to hog all the fast lap and laps led points, but he routinely piles on place differential and finishing position points. (5.2 fppk)
7. Joey Logano ($9,500) – The good news is that Logano’s worst finish at intermediate tracks this season is sixth. The bad news is that Logano has not scored more than 15 hog points in a race this season. If he qualifies upfront, then expect big things. (5.0 fppk)
8. Kyle Busch ($9,400) – We’re going back to “real” racing this weekend, so it’s time for Rowdy to prove himself. It’s not going to be easy, Busch has been less than impressive at intermediate tracks this season with finishes of 16th, 22nd and 15th. (4.6 fppk)
9. Ryan Blaney ($8,000) – If you can deal with negative place differential points, Blaney serves as a cheap way to earn fast laps and laps led points. At Texas, Blaney started second behind Kevin Harvick and went on to lead almost 150 laps and run 50 fast laps. (3.1 fppk)
10. Denny Hamlin ($8,800) – If it’s a short track or plate track, then I’ll plug him in. At intermediate tracks Hamlin has been average. Throw in the fact that JGR appears to be a step behind the Fords and Hendrick, and Hamlin is a hard pass for me this weekend, unless he qualifies terribly. (3.3 fppk)
11. Kurt Busch ($8,200) – It’s hard to say whether Kurt’s bad luck has expired. The reality is that the team switched cars this season and there will be gremlins. Busch isn’t elite, and likely will not lead laps, but he can earn DFS players a top-10 at a discount. (2.9 fppk)
12. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. ($8,300) – The lone bright spot this season for Junior was his fifth-place finish at Texas. Hendrick won that race and placed three cars inside the top-10. The best intermediate track cars this season belong to Hendrick. (1.7 fppk)
13. Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. ($7,400) – Give a lot of praise to Stenhouse, but don’t forget his crew chief, Brian Pattie. This is Pattie’s first season with Stenhouse and the effect is clear. Pattie almost won a championship with Clint Bowyer at MWR. (5.0 fppk)
14. Trevor Bayne ($7,100) – When we hear the word downsize it invokes cringes. From the perspective of a worker losing a job, it’s a terrible experience. From the perspective of Roush, they’re focusing their resources on two cars and it’s been successful thus far. (4.5 fppk)
15. Aric Almirola ($6,400) – Richard Petty downsized this year. Not the dreaded D word again! Guess what? It’s working for Roush and it’s working for RPM. Almirola has finished better than where he runs throughout the races. (5.7 fppk)
16. Clint Bowyer ($8,600) – It’s safe to pencil him in anywhere between fifth to 15th. Don’t expect hog points from him, but if he’s in a position where he can score at least seven place differential points, then he becomes an excellent play. (4.2 fppk)
17. Ryan Newman ($7,600) – He’s never an exciting pick unless he starts further back than 15th, but this week is a little different. Newman typically produces above-average results, but at Kansas, he’s been above, above-average with finishes of 12th or better in the last six races. (3.5 fppk)
18. Matt Kenseth ($8,400) – Based on name, history and team, Kenseth remains inside the top 20. His career isn’t over, but some drivers have closed the gap or surpassed Kenseth. Right now, Kenseth is grouped with the place differential and finishing position drivers. (2.5 fppk)
19. AJ Allmendinger ($6,200) – This pick will test your core daily fantasy NASCAR beliefs. Do you favor current form or track history? Allmendinger looks mediocre at the 1.5 mile tracks this year. However, in four of the last five Kansas races, he has finished 11th or better in fantasy points. (3.8 fppk)
20. Jamie McMurray ($8,100) – No one wants to pay above $8,000 for McMurray, but this is a new McMurray. Ganassi is building fast race cars. McMurray has a top-10 finish in every intermediate track race this season. (3.8 fppk)
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is greenflagradio2) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.