Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500
Atlanta Motor Speedway
Sunday, March 21, 2021
Welcome, Speed Degens, to my weekly NASCAR Cup Series DFS preview! After a few weeks out west, the series returns to the east coast and one of my favorite tracks, Atlanta. One of the most important things to know is that this is the most abrasive track surface on the schedule, meaning that drivers who can manage their tires on long runs should see success. Also, though four tires will likely be needed on every pit stop to compete, pit strategy may be utilized by pitting before others to gain time on those new tires. Pricing is tricky this week in the lower salary ranges, but we’ll see what we can find. Let’s dig in!
NOTE: Most weeks, I will review the prior optimal lineups at the track and proper lineup construction, but due to work, I did not have time this week. I did, however, add them below for your review. If you have any specific questions, feel free to ask me in the Fantasy Sports Degens slack chat!
|Martin Truex Jr.||9600||91.75||9.6|
|Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||7600||41.5||5.5|
|Martin Truex Jr.||12200||81||6.6|
Drivers to Target
$10k and above
Kevin Harvick (7) – The undisputable “King of Atlanta” is the highest-priced driver, and for a good reason. In his last 4 Atlanta races, he has ranked 1st in DraftKings points scored in 3 of them and 3rd in the other. I fully expect him to be able to run his “Harvick line” against the apron and somehow run faster than most, if not all, of the others. The risk here is that he and his SHR teammates have not looked great this season, but if there was ever a place to turn it around, this is it. He has averaged 107 DK pts in his last 7 Atlanta races, over 50 more than MTJ, who has the 2nd most.
Kyle Larson (6) – This #5 car has been unbelievably fast so far this season, having chances to win every single week even on tracks we wouldn’t expect. In my opinion, he is the most talented driver in the entire field, but I digress. At the intermediate tracks this season (Homestead, Vegas), Larson has ranked 3rd and 1st in driver rating, respectively. The last time Larson raced here at Atlanta (in 2019), he scored the most Draftkings points, thanks to 63 hog points. Harvick had the 2nd most in that race with 30, the only time he had less than 50 in the past 6 Atlanta races. Did I mention that was in the #42 car now driven by Chastain, and he now drives for Hendrick Motorsports?
**Note: May consider Kyle Busch due to his starting position and top 3 potential or Brad Keselowski for the speed he’s shown this season. I like the two above much more, however.
$8k to $10k
Choosing the correct drivers in this range will likely make or break your chances of success. It’s loaded, and most drivers could be seen as good plays for various reasons.
Martin Truex Jr. (2) – MTJ has been strong at Atlanta but only has double-digit hog points in 3 of the past 7 Atlanta races. Now, coming off the win at Phoenix, he will be starting in the non-preferred groove on the front row. He hasn’t ranked lower than 6th in driver rating in the past 4 races this season, nor has he ranked less than 4th in DK points scored in the last 3 Atlanta races. MTJ should be considered, but I think Hamlin will likely lead to start the race, and it’s going to be hard to hold off Larson and Harvick.
Ryan Blaney (10) – There were glimpses of speed shown last week at Phoenix, but he faded down the stretch. At intermediate tracks in 2020, Blaney showed tons of speed and continually scored hog points but could not finish the races strong enough to maximize potential. It should be noted that some of his best performances have come at high grip tracks. While Atlanta is more of a high tire wear track, Blaney should be aided by the cooler temperatures that will increase grip.
Alex Bowman (14) – Bowman is a similar play to Blaney. However, at high tire wear tracks in 2020, Bowman ranked 3rd behind Harvick and MTJ in hog points. He also ranked 3rd behind Harvick and Hamlin in driver rating at these tracks. Bowman has 2 wins in the Cup Series, both of which came on abrasive surfaces in Chicago and Fontana. Given the hog points he scored last year and how much speed Hendrick Motorsports has shown this year, he is a solid contender to be the 3rd dominator option in my lineups.
Austin Cindric (39) – Simply put, Cindric should be in a top 15 car, which is exactly the finish we’d need for him to hit 6x value. He is the safest play on the slate and should be a staple in cash games. However, I’m not sure how much exposure I’ll have in GPPs. His high salary makes it tough to play him when we can play 2 to 3 dominators whose hog points can match or exceed Cindric’s place differential upside.
**Note: William Byron has ranked the fastest in central speed, per Motorsports Analytics, at the intermediate tracks this season. He is in play, but I think his runaway win at Homestead may skew that. Chase Elliott has been disappointing to start the season, but maybe that will lower his ownership. He ran the 4th most laps in the top 10 here last year and ranked 1st in laps in the top 15 at all intermediate tracks, but he was pretty unimpressive here.
$6k to $8k
This range will likely have a surprise finisher, but it’s difficult to know who that will be. There aren’t many that I’m even considering.
Ryan Newman (28) – Newman was terrible in 2020 after returning from his injuries at Daytona, making just one optimal lineup all season. However, he was still able to finish 14th at Atlanta despite struggling to finish top 15 in most races. If he does that today, he will hit 6x value. His best two finishes this season have come at the intermediate tracks, finishing 7th and 18th.
**Note: Cole Custer and Bubba Wallace could both be considered. Custer seems to be underpriced every week, but he continues to disappoint. On the other hand, Wallace is trending upward but is starting too high for my liking. To pay off their salaries, they need to finish 12th and 7th, respectively. If needing a lower-priced option in this range, Daniel Suarez is a possibility.
$6k and below
Ryan Preece (23) – He has been running much better this year than in 2020, when he seemed to be wrecking every week, as evidenced by his 3 top 15 finishes already. The most recent of these came a few weeks ago at Vegas, so I don’t think another top 15, which would pay off his salary, is out of the question. It’s hard getting used to Preece being a potential play, but times are changing.
Anthony Alfredo (32) – I certainly don’t think Alfredo is a great driver, at least not in his first Cup season and with no practice, but he’s cheap and provides someplace differential upside. We have seen these Front Row Motorsports cars be capable of finishing top 20 in this package, so we can’t rule him out. I have a feeling he finishes closer to 25th and doesn’t pay off, but at least he’d provide some salary relief.
Expert Picks and Final Thoughts
|Jeremy Radtke||Robert Riggs||Mike Tucker||Dustin Maybin|
|Top Punt Play||Alfredo||Lajoie||Alfredo||Preece|
The optimal lineup will likely feature 2 to 3 dominators, though a contrarian route could be to jam in 4 drivers who could score some hog points. If I had to rank my top dominators, I would go to Harvick, Larson, MTJ. For the second dominator (if not using 2 of the above), my interest ranking from high to low would be Bowman, Blaney, Keselowski, Elliott, Byron.
Cash Core: Cindric, Ky. Busch, Newman, Custer/Reddick
As always, best of luck this week, Speed Degens! As always, if you have any questions, feel free to join the FREE (see what I did there?) Fantasy Sports Degens slack chat or hit me up on Twitter (@dsmaybin0308). I am looking forward to seeing those green screens!