While NASCAR DFS is already in full swing, season-long Fantasy NASCAR leagues will officially get rolling this weekend with Sunday’s Daytona 500. This year, I will once again be providing lineup strategies and picks for NASCAR.com Fantasy Live, the Fantasy Racing Cheat Sheet Driver Group Game and Slingshot Fantasy Auto through Fantasy Racing Online.
If there are any other fantasy formats you are playing in 2019, don’t hesitate to reach out to me by e-mail at email@example.com or on Twitter at @BPolking.
As for Daytona, I tend to use the restrictor-plate races as an opportunity to use some middle-tier and sleeper drivers for Fantasy Live and the Driver Group Game. I do plan on being a little more aggressive in Fantasy Live this year, but since both these formats limit how often you can use each driver, I don’t like rolling out a bunch of elite fantasy options at a track known for big, multi-car wrecks.
For the Slingshot game, I focus my attention on place differential points for the plate races. Stage points have been added this year, but those are harder to predict at Daytona, and there are still two points up for grabs for a spot gained and two points at stake for each spot lost. Loading up on drivers starting on the pick gives me a great chance and posting a big point total, and it also prevents me from starting the year in a colossal hole, even if my picks have trouble.
Let’s dive into my Daytona 500 picks, and good luck in all your 2019 season-long Fantasy NASCAR leagues.
NASCAR.com Fantasy Live
I feel like I played things slightly too conservative at the restrictor-plate tracks in this format last year. With 10 starts for each driver over the 26 regular season races, I can afford to roster a couple of big names and not worrying about running out of quality options later in the year. Logano has been the best in the business at the plate tracks over the last couple of years, scoring more points than any driver in the last 10 races. Following his win in his qualifying race, I like his chances of picking up a stage win and potentially earning the most stage points in this race.
Hamlin is an elite but inconsistent talent, and as a result, I found myself leaving a few of his starts on the table in this format last year. I’ll use him a little more freely this time around, starting with Sunday’s opener. Hamlin ranks in the Top 5 in points scored over the last 10 plate races, and he is on the short list of drivers who always seems to be around the front. He starts 10th, and I’m expecting some stage points.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
He won’t even be on my radar most weeks, but his second-place run in his qualifying race was a reminder that Stenhouse has been absolute force at the restrictor-plate tracks. He has piled up six Top 5s, two wins and the second-most driver points over the last 10 races, and I could see him piling up stage points and contending for the win again Sunday.
As good as he was in his first season with Stewart-Haas Racing, Almirola didn’t pile up stage points like the elite options. I don’t think he is someone I need to use 10 times, and as a result, I’ll try to take advantage of his prowess at the plate tracks. He has six Top 10s in his last nine plate starts, including his win at Talladega last fall.
While I will be hard pressed to use him 10 times this year, he’s been relatively dependable at the plate tracks, notching seven Top 15s in his last 10 starts while ranking sixth in driver points scored. Menard has been near the front of the field throughout Speedweeks, and after securing a Top 10 starting spot with a third-place run in qualifying race, stage points and a strong finish could be on tap Sunday.
Garage Driver – Austin Dillon
Dillon always seems to be in the mix at Daytona. He has seven Top 10s in 11 starts at the track, including his win in last year’s 500, and he only has two finishes outside the Top 15. He seems like a safe option to have available in case one of my starters goes out early.
Fantasy Racing Cheat Sheet Driver Group Game
Joey Logano (A)
Since there is so much talent in Group A, there’s no reason not to go after the driver I have No. 1 in my Daytona rankings. Logano’s blend of consistency and upside at the plate tracks has been unmatched in recent years, and over the last 10 superspeedway races, he leads all drivers with two wins, six Top 5s and seven Top 10s. After winning his qualifying race, I don’t expect him to slow down.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (B)
He has developed into one of the top plate racers in the series, and Stenhouse’s two wins and six Top 5s in the last 10 restrictor-plate events are both tied for the most in the series. Fresh off a runner-up finish in his qualifying race, it looks like he has a strong car once again with the potential to deliver a few stage points and maybe the win. Throw in the fact that I doubt I’ll come close to using all eight of his starts over the course of the year, and this is an easy pick.
Paul Menard (B)
Menard’s first season with Wood Brothers Racing was a solid one, but I still don’t think I’ll need all eight of his starts this year. With that in mind, I’ll gladly take advantage of his success at the restrictor-plate tracks. Menard has seven Top 15s and five Top 10s in the last 10 plate events, and he has shown plenty of muscle throughout Speedweeks, dominating most of the Clash and finishing third in his qualifying race.
Jamie McMurray (C)
With Ryan Preece and Daniel Hemric joining the mix and Matt DiBenedetto moving to the No. 95, I actually think Group C has decent depth in 2019. However, I’ll still take advantage of McMurray’s only scheduled start to preserve my long-term roster flexibility. Not to mention the fact that he is one of the more successful restrictor-plate racers in the field this weekend, owning two Cup wins at Daytona and two at Talladega.
Fantasy Racing Online Slingshot Fantasy Auto
Brad Keselowski ($11,200)
He will be a chalk play now that he starts 35th, but with two points up for grabs for every spot gained, you have to roster the guy who leads all active drivers with six restrictor-plate wins.
Kyle Busch ($11,000)
Busch will be another popular play, but again, you have an elite driver starting outside the Top 30. There’s nothing but upside with this pick, and Busch could easily finish as the top scorer.
Erik Jones ($9,600)
Most of his restrictor-plate starts have ended with wrecks, but Jones went to victory lane at Daytona last July and followed the win with a Top 10 at Talladega in the fall. Starting 28th, he has plenty of room to pad his score with place differential points, so I’ll take a chance that his recent momentum at the plate tracks continues this weekend.
Michael McDowell ($6,400)
McDowelll is normally just a source of cap relief, but I think he’s a legitimately strong fantasy play this weekend. He has six Top 10s in 285 Cup starts, and five of those have come at Daytona. In fact, McDowell has finished in the Top 15 in five of his last six starts here. After qualifying 34th, he’s positioned to pile up differential points.
Tyler Reddick ($6,000)
I debated a number of drivers for my final spot, but in the end, I decided to take a chance on Reddick in his first Cup Series start. He starts 39th, so at the very least, he isn’t going to lose me any points. He also won the XFINITY opener at Daytona last year and is driving a Richard Childress Racing entry in the 500. This is a low-risk gamble in my eyes.