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.)

RankDriverSalary
1Kurt Busch$9,100
2Kevin Harvick$10,300
3Dale Earnhardt Jr.$10,600
4Denny Hamlin$9,800
5Jimmie Johnson$10,100

1. Kurt Busch ($9,100) – It will be tough to predict the winner this week. So, pick drivers that will finish, and drivers that will finish inside the top 15. Kurt Busch leads NASCAR in top 10s and he has finished 12th or better in his last 7 plate races. (5.0 fppk)

2. Kevin Harvick ($10,300) – His teammate, Kurt, has the top 10s, but Harvick has all of the fantasy points. Just like last season, no one is in Harvick’s universe in terms of fantasy points per race. Harvick has finished inside the top 15 in 11 of the last 12 plate races. (7.0 fppk)

3. Dale Earnhardt Jr. ($10,600) – The King of Plate Racing has fallen on hard times. When Junior runs upfront, he’s the driver to beat, but he’s been mired in the draft in the last two plate races and the results were not pretty. The last two plate races have been hard for fantasy NASCAR fans, but no one complained last summer at Daytona when Dale scored his 10th plate track win. (4.1 fppk)

4. Denny Hamlin ($9,800) – The Daytona 500 was Hamlin’s first win at the legendary track. Hamlin has always been considered a great plate racer, but it’s strange that he only has 2 career plate wins. Hamlin got caught up in the Talladega mess, but his numbers are still impressive. He has 7 top 10s in the last 10 plate races. (2.9 fppk)

5. Jimmie Johnson ($10,100) – This is a play it safe pick. That’s not to say Jimmie can’t win, he won two plate races in 2013. It’s safe because Jimmie has just one bad race in the last 4 years at plate tracks. (4.3 fppk)


RankDriverSalary
6Austin Dillon$7,900
7Martin Truex Jr.$9,500
8Kyle Busch$9,900
9Joey Logano$9,700
10Clint Bowyer$6,900

6. Austin Dillon ($7,900) – Since becoming a full time Sprint Cup driver at RCR, Dillon has been a plate racing superstar (9 top 15s in 10 races). He always ran well in the Xfinity series, and now he’s showing off in the Sprint Cup series. Dillon is due for a win; he’s due for a bad finish too. (3.8 fppk)

7. Martin Truex Jr. ($9,500) – In several of the last plate races, Truex had monster fantasy days. Thanks in part to starting position. It’s unlikely that Truex starts in the back (each time it has been an odd circumstance), but the fact that Truex has the ability to weave through the draft to the front is special. (6.1 fppk)

8. Kyle Busch ($9,900) – Kyle doesn’t jump to the top of the list when we think of plate racers. The stats tell a different story, Kyle has back-to-back top 5s in plate races and 8 top 20s in the last 10 races. (4.8 fppk)

9. Joey Logano ($9,700) – Last year, Logano won the two plate races that Junior didn’t win. He wrecked at Talladega, but everyone wrecked at Talladega. (4.1 fppk)

10. Clint Bowyer ($6,900) – At Sonoma, Bowyer was in a great mood and happy with his race car, then it blew up. Being on a small team does matter. You’re just never safe. This week, it really shouldn’t matter. Bowyer has always been a top plate racer (2nd best top 10% at plate tracks), and his small team finished 7th at Talladega. (4.1 fppk)


RankDriverSalary
11Ryan Blaney$6,800
12Brad Keselowski$8,900
13Carl Edwards$9,300
14Matt Kenseth$8,600
15Chase Elliott$8,800

11. Ryan Blaney ($6,800) – You’ll never see Ryan Blaney this cheap ever again. As a part time driver for the Wood Brothers, Blaney was full time at plate races. In his 6 plate races, he has two bad ones, two average ones (19th and 22nd), and two good ones (9th and 4th). (3.8 fppk)

12. Brad Keselowski ($8,900) – With two top 5s in the last 3 plate races, Brad seems like a great pick. If you dig deeper into BK’s history, it isn’t that good. Three top 20s in the last 10 plate races doesn’t sound safe and consistent. (4.7 fppk)

13. Carl Edwards ($9,300) – At a plate track, you never know what can happen. On paper, Edwards is not a great play. He only has 3 top 20s in the last 10 plate races. Only at a plate track is one of the best drivers of 2016 a contrarian pick. (5.8 fppk)

14. Matt Kenseth ($8,600) – In his last year for Roush (2012), Kenseth was a beast at plate tracks (two wins, two 3rd place finishes). Since joining JGR, plate races have not been kind to Kenseth. In 15 plate races with Toyota, Kenseth has 6 top 20s (average finish of 22nd). (3.9 fppk)

15. Chase Elliott ($8,800) – Last time at Daytona, Elliott won the pole for the Daytona 500, and he won the Xfinity race. The firsts didn’t stop there. Elliot was also the first car to wreck. At Talladega, Elliot survived the mayhem and finished 5th. (4.7 fppk)


RankDriverSalary
16Ryan Newman$7,600
17Casey Mears$7,000
18Landon Cassill$5,600
19David Gilliland$6,100
20AJ Allmendinger$7,200

16. Ryan Newman ($7,600) – Sometimes I try to write the Ryan Newman blurb as boring as his career. Boring still wins money for drivers, however. (3.9 fppk)

17. Casey Mears ($7,000) – The Daytona wreck messed things up. Going into the Daytona 500, Mears had a streak of 5 top 15s at Daytona. The reality is that Mears has finished outside of the top 30 in each of the last 3 plate races. In the end, starting position means just as much as stats. (2.4 ppk)

18. Landon Cassill ($5,600) – Cassill is a great pick because he has the second worst average starting position at plate tracks (30th). The name of the game is place differential. Cassill is averaging 35 fantasy points over his last 4 plate races. (4.4 fppk)

19. David Gilliland ($6,100) – His 17th place finish at Talladega was nice for a guy that hasn’t driven all season. It was a little more than nice for the DFS players that rostered him starting 39th. Front Row Motorsports is not a dominant force at plate races, but they have had some good years (2011 and 2013). (5.0 fppk)

20. AJ Allmendinger ($7,200) – The Dinger is having a very good season, even if it last week was a disappointment (he would have one, if his pit crew didn’t lose control of a tire). Surprisingly, Allmendinger has been safe at plate races. He only has two wrecks in the last 10 and his average finish when he doesn’t wreck is 18th. (4.4 fppk)