2018 NASCAR® FANTASY DRIVER RANKINGS: Bojangles’ Southern 500

Fantasy driver rankings for Sunday’s Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway 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.)

RankDriverSalary
1Kevin Harvick$11,400
2Martin Truex, Jr.$10,900
3Kyle Larson$12,100
4Denny Hamlin$9,900
5Kyle Busch$12,400

1. Kevin Harvick ($11,400) – This is a weekend to use track history, but as always, DFS players must be careful with Harvick. Last year was a lost season due to his manufacturer switch. In 2016, Harvick scored the most fantasy points at Darlington (118.5 points). (6.2 fppk)

2. Martin Truex, Jr. ($10,900) – He has not completely failed to replicate his 2017 dominance this season. In the night races at odd tracks this season (Richmond and Kentucky), Truex had the car to beat. (4.7 fppk)

3. Kyle Larson ($12,100) – Darlington’s strange dimensions have created an unconventional racing line. The fast groove is not near the wall; it is the wall. This is the epitome of a Larson track, proven by his 57 hog points (fast laps and laps led points) at Darlington last year. (4.1 fppk)

4. Denny Hamlin ($9,900) – A case can be made Hamlin is the best Darlington racer in NASCAR. The wins, the top-5s, and the top-10s all back it up. Last year, Hamlin won and scored the most fantasy points at Darlington. (3.8 fppk)

5. Kyle Busch ($12,400) – It’s a bit of a mystery that Busch is the most expensive driver. He’s been one of the two best drivers this season, but Darlington is unique. Track history plays a large role this week, and Busch has not been elite at Darlington over the past four years. (6.0 fppk)


RankDriverSalary
6Brad Keselowski$9,300
7Aric Almirola$8,100
8Kurt Busch$8,500
9Joey Logano$9,100
10Chase Elliott$10,200

6. Brad Keselowski ($9,300) – In the past four Darlington races, Keselowski’s average running positions were eighth, sixth, second and seventh. In the race where he averaged a second-place position, he scored 111 fantasy points. That’s great, but that was in 2015 before the low downforce era. (3.3 fppk)

7. Aric Almirola ($8,100) – In terms of intermediate tracks, Almirola has the 12th-best average running position. His best finish was fifth in the Kentucky night race a little over a month ago. At his price, any finish inside the top 10 is acceptable bearing he does not lose place differential points. (4.8 fppk)

8. Kurt Busch ($8,500) – The Bristol win is great, but it doesn’t matter this week. Bristol and Darlington aren’t the same. The off week following his Bristol win likely helped his team get their celebrations outs of the way. Busch should be his normal top-10 self. (4.7 fppk)

9. Joey Logano ($9,100) – When the season began, Logano had a top-five car each week. Now, he’s closer to a top-10 car. At Darlington over the past five years, Logano has had a top-10 car, not a top-five car. (3.8 fppk)

10. Chase Elliott ($10,200) – He’s arguably the hottest driver in NASCAR. Over the past five races, Elliott has four top-five finishes. That list of top-fives includes a road course, a short track, an intermediate track and whatever Pocono is. (4.0 fppk)


RankDriverSalary
11Erik Jones$8,700
12Ryan Blaney$9,600
13Ryan Newman$7,000
14Jimmie Johnson$8,300
15Paul Menard$6,400

11. Erik Jones ($8,700) – Was last year’s Darlington race beginner’s luck? Is that even a thing in NASCAR? How can a driver get lucky for 367 laps? A driver can hang on for 367 laps and benefit from strategy at the end. That’s not what Jones did; his average position was ninth. (4.0 fppk)

12. Ryan Blaney ($9,600) – The good news is Blaney should be very low owned this weekend. He’ll make for an interesting GPP play. Blaney’s price has swelled due to recent success, but Blaney struggles at Darlington. In three races his average running position is 25th. (4.0 fppk)

13. Ryan Newman ($7,000) – Most DFS players can assume what Newman’s career numbers are at every track. The educated guess would be Newman has earned a high percentage of top-15 finishes at Darlington. In 19 races, Newman has 15 top-15 finishes. (3.5 fppk)

14. Jimmie Johnson ($8,300) – Here is his 2018 season in a nutshell: He’s too old; Hey, Jimmie’s back; He’s old again! In his past 10 races, Johnson’s average finish is 17.9. He’s not going to turn it around this week. Johnson hasn’t earned a top-10 at Darlington in the past three years. (3.8 fppk)

15. Paul Menard ($6,400) – A playoff berth is a longshot, and it’s meaningless. Making the playoffs and getting eliminated in the first round does not help a team. Maybe it helps with sponsorship, but Menard doesn’t need help. Menard should cruise to his normal 15th- to 20th-place finish. (3.4 fppk)


RankDriverSalary
16Alex Bowman$7,600
17Clint Bowyer$8,900
18Austin Dillon$6,600
19Ty Dillon$5,400
20Jamie McMurray$7,400

16. Alex Bowman ($7,600) – His strength goes out the window this week. Bowman has been a solid top-15 driver all season, but he needs a win to make the playoffs or possibly point in by earning two top-fives. Either way, Bowman is an intriguing GPP play because he will be gambling on pit road. (4.3 fppk)

17. Clint Bowyer ($8,900) – In 11 Darlington races, Bowyer only has one top-10 finish. His average finish is 22nd. This is not one of his favorite tracks. His price has been discounted, but it’s hard to imagine Bowyer is going to figure out Darlington at this stage in his career. (5.3 fppk)

18. Austin Dillon ($6,600) – He won the Daytona 500 and has stunk ever since. It’s possible Dillon’s team has been experimenting because it was locked into the playoffs after Race 1. Supporting that theory is that the RCR cars are getting faster as the playoffs approach. (3.7 fppk)

19. Ty Dillon ($5,400) – Quietly, Dillon has snuck back into the fantasy NASCAR scene. Last year, he was a DFS go-to as a rookie. This season started horrendously, but he has rebounded. Dillon has a top-25 finish in six of his past seven races and 14 of his past 18 races. (3.6 fppk)

20. Jamie McMurray ($7,400) – The typical McMurray 15th-place finish applies to Darlington. McMurray has been unusually inconsistent this season, but that happens as drivers age. With Kurt Busch rumored to take over the No. 1 car, this could be Jamie Mac’s last race at Darlington. (2.9 fppk)


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