Fantasy NASCAR 101: Handicapping Comes First

Fantasy racing trophies screenshot.

If you want to bring home a fantasy racing trophy, you must handicap, handicap, handicap.

Fantasy NASCAR success requires sound tactics and strategy regardless of the game, no doubt about it. But for each race, before you even think about saving starts, running off sequence, finding value, etc., you must know each driver’s predicted finish. If you don’t, you risk missing out on driver value. That may not kill you for a race or two, but consistently missing value over the course of a season will sink your ship.

So, either you must handicap the field each week, or you must rely on an outside handicapper. I certainly understand the allure of home-spun handicapping—I do it myself. Before you commit to that endeavor, however, know that successful handicapping takes a lot of time and significant knowledge and skills.

If you don’t want to commit to the weekly handicapping grind and/or question your handicapping skills, you have options. At the very least, you can check the betting lines at online sportsbooks such as Las Vegas Sports Betting or 5Dimes. I don’t know who’s creating those lines or how they’re doing it, but because they’re playing for money, I figure they’re motivated to do a decent job. And when I check sportsbook lines, they do generally seem to be in the ballpark. Bottom line: Sportsbook lines can give you a solid starting point each week. Oh, and they’re free.

Non-sportsbook handicappers can provide good driver rankings each week as well. I provide rankings for free, of course, as does TimersSports. If you don’t mind paying a little, you can also find weekly rankings by the guys at FantasyNASCARPreview.com, Cliff Dejong’s Accupredict at FantasyRacingCheatsheet.com, the guys at ifantasyrace.com, the guys at Pit Rho and others.

Some handicappers are better than others, so you should probably spend some time figuring out who you prefer by comparing different driver rankings, evaluating their methods, etc.

Whichever way you go, consistently start each race week with a solid set of driver rankings, week in and week out. Because if you begin making moves without first handicapping the field, you’re throwing darts in the dark.

DraftKings Driver Values: Bristol II, 2015

Here are my DraftKings driver points and price/point predictions for tonight’s race at Bristol. To predict how many DraftKings points each driver will score today, I plugged my driver rankings for tonight’s race into my projection model, and Friday’s qualifying results. Then, to calculate each driver’s price/point, I simply divided each driver’s price by their predicted points.

My points projection model is a work in progress, so don’t take the below info as gospel. Still, I think it can provide big-picture help when crafting DraftKings lineups.

Note: the below table lists all drivers running today, and it’s sorted from lowest price/point to highest. If you’re on a small screen device, scroll the table horizontally to see all the columns: Continue reading

Final Rankings: Bristol II, 2015

Kevin Harvick photo

Kevin Harvick remains on top in my final Bristol II rankings. (photo courtesy nascar)

Here are my final driver rankings for tonight’s race at Bristol. I compiled them by crunching the practice and qualifying data from Bristol on Friday, and then melding it with the historical data:

  1. Kevin Harvick
  2. Kyle Busch
  3. Denny Hamlin
  4. Brad Keselowski
  5. Joey Logano
  6. Carl Edwards
  7. Matt Kenseth
  8. Kyle Larson
  9. Jeff Gordon
  10. Kurt Busch Continue reading

Mid-Week Rankings: Bristol II, 2015

Kevin Harvick photo

Kevin Harvick tops my early Bristol II rankings. (photo courtesy nascar)

Here are my mid-week driver rankings for this week’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Bristol. I compiled them by crunching:

  • The loop data for the past 15 Sprint Cup races (excluding DaytonaTalladega, Watkins Glen and Sonoma;
  • the loop data for the past four races;
  • the loop data for the past four races at Bristol;
  • the loop data for the past six races at the other tracks in the Steeps track group (i.e., DoverDarlingtonLas Vegas and Homestead);
  • the practice and qualifying data for the past four races at Bristol; and
  • the practice and qualifying data for past six races at the aforementioned Steeps.

The results:

  1. Kevin Harvick
  2. Brad Keselowski
  3. Matt Kenseth
  4. Joey Logano
  5. Denny Hamlin
  6. Kyle Busch
  7. Jimmie Johnson
  8. Carl Edwards
  9. Martin Truex Jr.
  10. Jeff Gordon Continue reading

DraftKings Driver Values: Michigan II, 2015

Here are my DraftKings driver points and price/point predictions for today’s race at Michigan. To predict how many DraftKings points each driver will score today, I plugged my driver rankings for today’s race into my projection model, and Friday’s qualifying results. Then, to calculate each driver’s price/point, I simply divided each driver’s price by their predicted points.

My points projection model is a work in progress, so don’t take the below info as gospel. Still, I think it can provide big-picture help when crafting DraftKings lineups. Note: the below table lists all drivers running today, and it’s sorted from lowest price/point to highest: Continue reading

Final Rankings: Michigan II, 2015

Kevin Harvick photo

Kevin Harvick remains my pick to win tomorrow at Michigan in my final rankings. (photo courtesy nascar)

Here are my final driver rankings for tomorrow’s race at Michigan. I compiled them by crunching the practice and qualifying data from Michigan on Friday and Saturday, and then melding it with the historical data:

  1. Kevin Harvick
  2. Joey Logano
  3. Kyle Busch
  4. Brad Keselowski
  5. Carl Edwards
  6. Jimmie Johnson
  7. Kurt Busch
  8. Matt Kenseth
  9. Denny Hamlin
  10. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Continue reading

Early Rankings: Michigan II, 2015

Kevin Harvick photo

Kevin Harvick tops my early Michigan II rankings.. (photo courtesy nascar)

Update: I’ve now completed my final Michigan II rankings (click here to see them).

Here are my mid-week driver rankings for this week’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Michigan. I compiled them by crunching:

  • The loop data for the past 15 Sprint Cup races (excluding DaytonaTalladega, Watkins Glen and Sonoma;
  • the loop data for the past four races;
  • the loop data for the past four races at Michigan;
  • the loop data for the past eight races at other tracks in the Large Ovals track group (i.e., FontanaKansasTexasCharlotte, Atlanta, Chicagoland and Kentucky;
  • the practice and qualifying data for the past four races at Michigan; and
  • the practice and qualifying data for past eight races at the aforementioned Large Ovals.

The results:

  1. Kevin Harvick
  2. Joey Logano
  3. Brad Keselowski
  4. Kurt Busch
  5. Kyle Busch
  6. Jimmie Johnson
  7. Carl Edwards
  8. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  9. Jeff Gordon
  10. Matt Kenseth Continue reading

Final Rankings: Watkins Glen, 2015

Kyle Busch photo

Kyle Busch remains my pick to win today at Watkins Glen. (photo courtesy nascar)

Here are my final driver rankings for today’s race at Watkins Glen. I compiled them by crunching the practice and qualifying data from Watkins Glen on Friday and Saturday, and then melding it with the historical data:

  1. Kyle Busch
  2. Martin Truex Jr.
  3. AJ Allmendinger
  4. Jimmie Johnson
  5. Brad Keselowski
  6. Jeff Gordon
  7. Kevin Harvick
  8. Kurt Busch
  9. Carl Edwards
  10. Clint Bowyer Continue reading

Early Rankings: Watkins Glen, 2015

Kyle Busch photo

Kyle Busch tops my early Watkins Glen rankings. (photo courtesy nascar)

Update: I’ve now completed my final Watkins Glen rankings (click here to see them).

Here are my early driver rankings for this week’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Watkins Glen. I compiled them by crunching:

  • The loop data for the past 15 Sprint Cup races (excluding Daytona and Talladega);
  • the loop data for the past four races at Watkins Glen;
  • the loop data for the past four races at Sonoma;
  • the practice and qualifying data for the past four races at Watkins Glen; and
  • the practice and qualifying data for past four races at Sonoma.

The results:

  1. Kyle Busch
  2. Jimmie Johnson
  3. Martin Truex Jr.
  4. AJ Allmendinger
  5. Brad Keselowski
  6. Clint Bowyer
  7. Carl Edwards
  8. Kurt Busch
  9. Jeff Gordon
  10. Kevin Harvick Continue reading

Final Rankings: Pocono II, 2015

Kevin Harvick photo

Kevin Harvick remains my pick to win Pocono II. (photo courtesy nascar)

Here are my final driver rankings for today’s race at Pocono. I compiled them by crunching the practice and qualifying data from Pocono Friday and Saturday, and then melding it with the historical data:

  1. Kevin Harvick
  2. Kurt Busch
  3. Kyle Busch
  4. Brad Keselowski
  5. Joey Logano
  6. Carl Edwards
  7. Matt Kenseth
  8. Denny Hamlin
  9. Martin Truex Jr.
  10. Jimmie Johnson Continue reading