DFS: Richmond (Summer)
Erik Jones did not get a chance to show his strength this spring at Richmond International Raceway. Still very inexperienced at the time, he qualified 20th and crashed barely four laps into the Toyota Owners 400. He earned minimal points for the effort, but he has logged a lot of laps since and enters this weekend with more momentum than he’s ever had—and yet he is still priced below the midline at $8,300. The Federated Auto Parts 400 could showcase a surprise winner that upsets the playoff picture and it could be either of the rookies.
In fact, this would be a good week to take a risk on both of the fastest freshmen. It is well within the realm of possibility that Daniel Suarez could join Jones in the top 10. For $7,600—which makes him about the 16th-most expensive driver in the game—he has the capacity to earn top-10 points.
Ryan Newman just keeps getting better as the season rolls around. Yes, he won at Phoenix International Raceway this spring to punch his ticket to the playoffs early, but he was far from a dominant driver after that event. In the past several weeks, he has earned four top-10s and a 14th in five oval track races. This spring, he was seventh in the spring race and has finished on the lead lap in 10 of his last 12 attempts. Newman can be added to the roster for $7,200.
Chris Buescher is this week’s longshot, dark horse. He has not yet earned a top-15, but he has gotten progressively better in each attempt at Richmond. He debuted with a 34th in spring 2016, improved 10 spots to 24th last fall, and seven positions to 17th this spring. Fantasy owners should be comfortable in taking a gamble on his improving by another few positions to finish in the low-teens this week and that will make him well worth a $6,200 price tag.
That moves the needle so players can take just about anyone they want. Kyle Larson falls within the range of possibilities with a price of $10,200 and he is a driver who likes running the preferred high groove. He is comfortable up there, and while he has not yet won on this three-quarter-mile bullring, his worst result is a 16th. Last fall, he secured the runner-up position and earned near-maximum points.
The only driver players cannot take with those five on the roster is Kyle Busch—and that’s ok because his teammate Denny Hamlin is well within range. The Virginia native is a flat track master who elevates his game in front of the home state crowd. Hamlin won last year’s edition of the Federated Auto Parts 400, finished third this spring, and has a four-race top-10 streak going. He is an easy pick to headline the roster at $10,000.