NASCAR Fantasy 2015: Ford EcoBoost 400 Top Drivers and Sleeper Picks

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series travels to Homestead, Florida, this week for the Ford EcoBoost 400. The race can be seen this Sunday at 3 p.m. ET on NBC.

The best way to assemble a dominating DraftKings lineup is to select the perfect combination of top drivers and sleeper picks. A sleeper pick is any driver priced under $7,000 who has a legitimate chance of finishing in the top 10. Fantasy teams who can find the perfect sleeper picks to combine with the top drivers will be taking home the cash in their contest.

The final four drivers for the race for the 2015 Sprint Cup Championship have been decided. Fantasy teams must consider these drivers (Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr.) for their contest. They will get plenty of room on the track to make their way to the front and lead many laps in the race. The last thing the non-Chase drivers will want to do is to take out a driver competing for the championship. These four drivers will also receive a lot of help from their teammates to win the race Sunday.

Last year three of the four drivers competing for the title finished in the top seven. Kevin Harvick won the race, and Ryan Newman finished second. Denny Hamlin ran up front for most of the race, but finished seventh. Joey Logano was a serious threat to win the race until he had a problem on his final pit stop. I expect all four Chase drivers to finish in the top 10 Sunday.

Here are the top 10 drivers with the highest point totals from the last race at Homestead-Miami from ifantasyrace.com.

The strategy for the race at Homestead-Miami is to select two drivers who can score bonus points for leading the most laps and pair them with four drivers who can improve their positions during the race. Harvick has led 2,248 laps in 2015, and he is the best choice to score the most points in a DraftKings contest. Joey Logano (1,359) and Brad Keselowski (1,098) are the only other drivers to lead over 1,000 laps this season. These three drivers would be good choices for your contest Sunday.

 

Top Drivers

Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing, Chevy ($11,400)

Harvick should be the driver to beat Sunday. He enters the race at Homestead-Miami with a lot of momentum. Harvick has the second-best average finishing position in the last six Chase races and has finished 16 of the 23 races on intermediate tracks in the top five. The No. 4 team is almost a lock to finish in the top five this week.

Harvick does not dominate the races at Homestead-Miami like he does at Phoenix, but his stats are still pretty good. Harvick has the fourth-best average finish position in the last two races at the track and has finished 12 of his 14 races in the top 10. Harvick is the safest pick in the field for your contest.

Harvick is once again the highest-priced driver for DraftKings contests this week. He is the favorite to run up front and score multiple bonus points for leading laps, so it will be risky to build a lineup without Harvick as one of your drivers. I expect him to score 100 points for your contest Sunday.

One of the advantages that Harvick will have this week is that he has competed for a championship under the current format and won. He should know how to deal with the pressure better than the other three drivers he is competing against. If his pit crew can avoid mistakes, he should win the race.

 

Jeff Gordon, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevy ($9,700)

Some people may consider Gordon a long shot to win the championship this year, but when you crunch the numbers, Gordon has just as good of a chance of winning as the other three drivers in the Chase.

Gordon is racing better now than he has all season. He has a series-best average finish position in the last six races (6.7) and enters Homestead-Miami with the longest streak of top-10 finishes.

Homestead-Miami has been one of Gordon’s best tracks. He has the third-best driver rating in the last two years, and he won the pole for this race last season. Gordon will have the resources of his teammates (Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kasey Kahne) to help him get to Victory Lane Sunday. Do not count out the future Hall of Famer to get the job done.

Fantasy players will be able to select Gordon at a discount price this week. Hendrick Motorsports has won the last three races, and Gordon will have the best car in its garage. He is worth much more than $9,700 Sunday.

If Gordon does find a way to win the race Sunday and capture his fifth Sprint Cup championship, it may be the best story in the history of the sport. Whether you like him or not, it will be hard to cheer against Gordon in his last ride in the No. 24 car at Homestead-Miami.

           

Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing, Chevy ($10,600)

Busch may not be the popular pick to win the race and capture his first Sprint Cup championship, but the way he has been driving this season should give him a great chance to win the race Sunday.

Busch has been very good this season on the intermediate tracks. He has three wins and finished 10 of his 17 races in the top 10. He has been one of the best drivers in the last two races on tracks similar to Homestead-Miami. Busch finished fifth at Kansas and fourth at Texas. Busch should easily finish in the top five this week.

What hurts Busch this week is that he has not been very good at Homestead-Miami. Busch only has three top-10 finishes in his 10 races at the track. Two of his teammates (Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth) have the two best driver rankings at the track. His other teammate (Denny Hamlin) has two wins at the track. I expect Busch to lean heavily on his teammates this week to find his way to Victory Lane.

The price for Busch this week is a little more than I expected. His stats at Homestead-Miami are not very good, but he is the second-highest priced driver in DraftKings contests this week. If Busch runs well in practice Saturday, he will be worth every penny. If he is not in the top five, then it would be a good idea to find a driver with more value.

If Busch were to win the championship this week, it would come with some controversy. Some people would argue that a driver who missed 11 races should not be eligible for the championship. That is nonsense. Busch was able to win the fourth most races in 2015. A win by Busch would be the perfect ending to a controversial 2015 season.

 

Martin Truex Jr., Furniture Row Racing, Chevy ($9,600)

Do not forget about Truex Jr. this week. Although he does not drive for one of the powerhouse teams in the sport, Truex still has a great chance to win the race and the championship Sunday.

Truex has the best average finish position this season on the intermediate tracks out of the four drivers left in the Chase. He has led 397 laps on tracks similar to Homestead-Miami and finished in the top 10 in 16 of the races. Truex is a safe pick for your contest this week.

Truex has also had success at Homestead-Miami in his career. He has finished three of the last four races at the track in the top six. Fantasy teams can expect a top-five finish from Truex in the last race of the season.

Truex is the cheapest of the four drivers competing for the championship. He should not be, though. It would be wise to spend the $9,600 for Truex at Homestead-Miami.

Truex is the true underdog story this week. Not only does he drive for a single-car team, he competes out of a shop thousands of miles away from the other NASCAR teams. When the No. 78 team announced it was leaving Chevy for Toyota next season, some thought they were throwing in the towel on the 2015 season. Obviously that was not the case. 

 

Sleepers

Ryan Newman, Richard Childress Racing, Chevy ($6,900)

Newman almost won this race and the championship last year, and he should be good once again Sunday. It was the second time in the last three races at Homestead-Miami where he finished in the top three. I doubt he will be that good this week, but Newman should be able to add another top-10 finish to his resume.

Newman has been one of the most consistent drivers on the intermediate tracks this season. His average starting position is 15.3, and his average finishing position is 13.1. Newman has become very good at running in the top 15 and making his way inside the top 10 at the end of the race. Do not be surprised to see him up front Sunday.

Fantasy teams will be able to select a driver who finished two of the last three races at Homestead-Miami in the top five for under $7,000. It does not get any better than that. Newman should be used in every contest this week.

It has been 80 races since Newman went to Victory Lane at New Hampshire in 2013. His race at Homestead-Miami last season was the closet he has come to winning another race. The team should be able to use its notes from last season to help the No. 31 car run up front this week.

 

Aric Almirola, Richard Petty Motorsports, Ford ($6,700)

Almirola will have momentum heading into the race at Homestead-Miami after his top-10 finish last week at Phoenix. It was Almirola’s fourth finish in the top 10 in the nine Chase races this season.

Almirola has been very consistent in the last month of the season. He has finished all four races in the top 18 and will be looking to finish the season with a lot of momentum heading into 2016. Almirola has two finishes in the top 10 at Homestead-Miami, so it is possible that he finishes up front Sunday.

There are 19 drivers with a higher price than Almirola this week. He has good value because he usually finishes in the top 15 on the intermediate tracks. Almirola would be a good fifth driver for your DraftKings contest this week.

Richard Petty Motorsports has not been to Victory Lane since Almirola won the race at Daytona in 2014. It would be good to see the team have a good run this week and get the No. 43 car back to the front of the pack, where it used to run all of the time.

 

Ryan Blaney, Wood Brothers Racing, Ford ($6,800)

Blaney will be back in the No. 21 car this week for Wood Brothers Racing. Blaney has competed in 15 races this season in the Sprint Cup Series. He has two finishes in the top 10, but that does not describe how well he has run this year. If the team can avoid engine problems, Blaney could add another top-10 finish to his 2015 resume.

Each time Blaney is entered in a Sprint Cup race, DraftKings raises his price. I remember when his price was under $5,500. I wish fantasy players could select him for that price once again, but DraftKings realizes what kind of talent Blaney has. He is worth the money for your contest this week.

Blaney has never competed in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Homestead-Miami, but he has two starts in the Xfinity Series. Blaney was able to finish both of those races in the top 10. Fantasy teams can expect him to finish in the top 15 this week.

 

Ty Dillon, Richard Childress Racing, Chevy ($7,000)

Dillon will be making his fifth start this season in the Sprint Cup Series. He has improved in every start he has made. His last race was at Michigan, where he finished 14th. I would not be surprised to see him finish in the top 15 once again this week.

Dillon has competed in two races at Homestead-Miami in the Xfinity Series. He finished 14th in his first start and seventh last season. Dillon is a quick learner and should be able to take what he learns in the Xfinity Series race on Saturday and apply it to the No. 33 team Sunday.

When I first looked at the prices for this week, I was shocked to see Dillon priced at $7,000. I guess you get what you pay for. Dillon should finish in the top 15, and he has a top-20 price.

Dillon is currently third in the Xfinity Series standings, so much of his focus will be on the race Saturday. I doubt he will win the championship in the Xfinity Series, but that does not mean he is not ready to take the next step to the Sprint Cup Series. Dillon always performs well when given an opportunity in the top level of NASCAR.

 

DraftKings Picks for Homestead-Miami

Driver 1: Kevin Harvick ($11,400)

Driver 2: Jeff Gordon ($9,700)

Driver 3: Martin Truex Jr. ($9,600)

Driver 4: Ryan Newman ($6,900)

Driver 5: Aric Almirola ($6,700)

Driver 6: Michael McDowell ($5,400)

 

Advanced stats courtesy of Racing-Reference.info and Yahoo Racing Stats.

 

DraftKings has a NASCAR Sling Shot $100K contest running right now. Use this knowledge to help you win some of that cash. Play now for FREE at DraftKings.com.

 

If you need any further advice with your team, look for me on Twitter @MrFantasyNASCAR

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via November 19, 2015 at 08:18AM

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