Rankings below are based on a mixture of expected output and DraftKings’ NASCAR salaries for that day. These are the drivers in the lowest tier of salaries that have the opportunity to score 30 to 40 DFS points. The information is not developed or provided by NASCAR, Inc., or its affiliates.
1. Casey Mears (7,500)
Over the last three months (8 races), Mears has solidly run in the top 20 each week (avg. position of 21.25). Mears is experiencing a late career surge and is the most consistent value play each week. At the last three Kentucky races, Mears has finished in the top half of DFS point totals (31.5, 41, and 30 fantasy points). This is quite a feat; value plays rarely pay off at Kentucky. This intermediate track heavily favors the big teams, and this week teams will be forced to use an untested rules package. The big teams have the resources to overcome this challenge. This will not hurt Mears because he belongs to the Richard Childress Racing technical alliance.
2. Aric Almirola (7,900)
The stats say he’s a better value pick than Casey Mears, but the price tag says otherwise. Almirola’s average finish is 18.1 and he has 13 top 20s (9th best). His Kentucky history is mixed: bad race, good race, and a crash (advantage Mears). Almirola has finished inside the top 20 in 4 of 5 intermediate track races this season. The tie breaker between Mears and Almirola will be decided friday during qualifying. How low can they go?
3. Austin Dillon (8,500)
How will the #3 respond to Daytona’s terrifying wreck? Some drivers are never the same, but usually the young ones forget it easily; the joys of youth. The fear with Dillon is always the same, if he qualifies too high, then the only direction to go is backwards. Last year, Dillon ran inside the top 20 all day. He has plenty of experience at Kentucky in the Xfinity and truck series (6 top 10s). At $8,500, DFS players get a piece of a big team. With the uncertainty of how to setup the cars for Kentucky, the bigger the team, the better.
4. Ryan Blaney (7,500)
The roller coaster season continued last week for Ryan Blaney. Every good race is followed by bad luck. Rain prevented Blaney from grabbing a spot at Daytona, a plate race where he could have been a contender. Blaney’s team (Wood Brothers) is a part of a technical alliance with Penske and are in a better position to deal with Kentucky changes than most small team drivers. In four Xfinity races at Kentucky, Blaney has 3 top 10s and a win. He has similar success in the truck series. It’s not a good practice to lean heavily on lower series stats, but Blaney has zero experience at Kentucky in the Sprint Cup series.
5. David Gilliland (7,400)
If you haven’t noticed, Kentucky is a tough track for value drivers. If Blaney makes the list, then it’s slim pickens. A lot can change after qualifying, but until then – it’s Gilliland, again. Every time he makes the value rankings, bad things happen. Three weeks on the list, three wrecks. He can’t do it again. Can he? Before Michigan, Gilliland was having the best season of the low tier drivers (25.6 avg. finish). At Kentucky, he has one of the best place differential averages (+8). Gilliland is a contrarian value play for GPPs. After the last three weeks, no one will be on him. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me thrice, play in GPPs.