Surprise, surprise, surprise: Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski, and Kevin Harvick are the four most expensive drivers in the Draft Kings game this week. The finale has been won by a Championship contender every year this current format has been employed.
Of course, records are made to be broken.
Equally unstartling is the fact that Truex’s value is $1,400 more than that of Harvick’s $9,700 and that reflects just how dominant Truex has been all season long. His worth to a fantasy roster is limited to a player’s appetite for taking several drivers who are much cheaper than the other choices surrounding them.
The fact that every Championship race has been one by a contender is essentially meaningless. The data pool is too small to make sweeping generalizations.
And this could be the year that a Championship driver does not win the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Chase Elliott, Kyle Larson, Denny Hamlin, and Joey Logano are all overdue and could steal the show. All of them are above the average-per-player rate of $8,333, but they each seem to be better value anchors than the top four.
Elliott came up 10 laps short of being one of the Finale contenders. Dropping to second at Phoenix International Raceway was the fourth time during the playoffs that he came up one position short—and the Can Am 500 was just as disappointing as his Dover International Speedway effort when he was passed on the final lap. To be a good fantasy value, it really doesn’t matter if he wins or finishes in the top five; he’s worth $9,400.
At $100 more, Larson is also worth taking a risk on. He now has four consecutive DNFs, but his luck is going to have to change sometime and there is only one more race in the season. Like Elliott, he is unlikely to win, but that is not of primary concern. The competition has feared him getting into the finale for the past two seasons because of how well he runs Homestead and that is good enough to put him back on the radar screen.
Fantasy players now have to look for someone a little lower on the price list in order to offset the two moderately expensive drivers. The two primary rookies remain strong contenders, but Erik Jones has crept up in value to a point that he becomes a risky proposition at $8,100. For that reason, we will activate Daniel Suarez at $7,000 and hope that he stays out of trouble. This is a new track for him, but he has been running well on similarly-configured, 1.5-mile courses and Homestead has many of those same characteristics.
Taking one bargain is not enough to start looking at the top again, so Aric Almirola pops up on the screen with a very affordable $6,200 price tag. Richard Petty Motorsports is a strong team and Almirola is finally finding his rhythm. It took a while to get back to the leaders after returning from injury, but he has three top-10s in his last five races and a worst of 18th in that span. His latest 1.5-mile attempts ended in a ninth at Kansas Speedway and a 15th at Texas Motor Speedway. Another result in that range will serve his owners well.
Now we are back in a position to look at the more expensive drivers. Like Elliott and Larson, Logano has a lot to prove this week. He has not been stellar overall since getting penalized for his encumbered win, but he has shown flashes of speed. He is racing primarily in support of Keselowski this week and that could either help or hurt, but with one race remaining Logano is going to drive like mad to get another win. His price tag of $9,200 is $700 less than Kez, and leaves a perfect slot open for next year’s teammate.
Ryan Blaney takes the final position – and with a value of $8,700, he uses up the cap perfectly. Last week was a disaster for the team. After seemingly going for broke in qualification, their race trim was not at all up to par and the No. 21 dropped like a stone when the green flag waved. That was a short, flat track, however, and it was not entirely unexpected they would struggle. The Wood Bros. and Blaney are better on 1.5-milers and should easily contend for a top-10 at Homestead.