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 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.

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