When you search the internet on race day, there are a bunch of DraftKings Fantasy NASCAR articles that have recommendation on the drivers you should pick. Hell, even we publish one (read here). But it’s not very common to see an article that lists the drivers that you should not pick. Specifically those drivers that look like good picks, but, in reality, probably aren’t. Let us explain what we mean by that.

DraftKings is one of those Fantasy NASCAR games that award points based on place differential–that is, plus or minus the number of spots where a driver finishes compared to where he starts. Therefore, qualifying is more important than ever in these types of games, and it brings with it a whole lot of strategy when forming your rosters. For example, a lower-tier driver that starts inside the top 5 and may have a shot at a top 15 finish on Sunday would be a great value pick in some Fantasy NASCAR leagues, but typically is not what you’re looking for in DraftKings.

So we’re out to weed these drivers out for you. Remember, one bad driver on your DraftKings roster can ruin your entire week. So let’s avoid some of those “on the fence” picks that are out there for the Auto Club 400 so we can focus on the ones that will help us win money. In case you’d like to see the starting lineup for Sunday’s Auto Club 400, you can do so by clicking here.

DraftKings Drivers to Avoid for the Auto Club 400

Austin Dillon ($6,700) – Austin Dillon would have been a great fantasy pick for DraftKings at his price point if he wouldn’t have qualified on the pole. Let’s just do the quick math here. I think we can all agree that the #3 Chevrolet isn’t a race-winning car heading into Sunday. We believe that Austin Dillon isn’t even a top 5 pick for the 2016 Auto Club 400, and while another top 10 finish is well within reach for this team, it’s nowhere near a certainty. So, conservatively, let’s say Austin Dillon finishes 12th on Sunday. That’s 32 points for the finish, minus 11 points for place differential, giving us a total of 21 points. So, Austin’s going to need to lead a bunch of laps from the pole on Sunday (0.25 points per) to make him a worthwhile pick. We’re not saying avoid Dillon like the plague this week–and if he fits in a roster or two because of his low price, you might roll the dice–but that pole win on Friday really hurts his DraftKings playability in our book.

Credit: Matt Hazlett/Getty Images
Credit: Matt Hazlett/Getty Images

Ryan Newman ($7,300) – Here’s another driver in the mid-range price position that is probably not going to be that great of a pick for DraftKings players on Sunday. Ryan Newman qualified 4th for Sunday’s Auto Club 400, which is good, but the chances of him finishing that high are pretty slim. While he does have five top 10 finishes in the last six Fontana races, let’s not forget that Newman hasn’t ended up better than 11th in a Sprint Cup event thus far through the 2016 season, and he has disappointed more often than not–including last week’s blunder at Phoenix. This #31 team just hasn’t seemed to really catch on to the low downforce package, and until they do, we just don’t feel comfortable running them in DraftKings if Newman starts up front.


Chris Buescher ($5,700) – Okay, here’s a great example of a driver that looks like a great DraftKings fantasy option on Sunday, but in reality he’s probably going to do more harm than good. Chris Buescher qualified 16th for Sunday’s Auto Club 400, which is great news for Fantasy NASCAR players looking for a “diamond in the rough” pick–and that’s exactly what Buescher will be…in some leagues. However, let’s take a step back and analyze this from a numbers perspective. Realistically, Buescher is going to finish in the mid-20s on Sunday. The #34 team isn’t that great, and Chris hasn’t had a result better than 26th thus far in the 2016 season. But he finished 20th in this car in this race last season, so hypothetically let’s just say he ends up 22nd this year. That’s a nice finish out of a low-priced driver like Buescher. However, in DraftKings, that means he’s going to only score 16 points, assuming he doesn’t lead any laps. Yes, the $5,700 price point is enticing, but when you look at someone like Brian Vickers at $5,400 (who starts 24th), there are safer options available. Even Matt DiBenedetto ($5,700) and Landon Cassill ($5,500)–who have outperformed this season–might be better options than Buescher on Sunday.

Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images
Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images

Denny Hamlin ($8,900) – Denny Hamlin is the 2nd-lowest-priced driver among the “top, elite” picks this week, and while that may make him a popular pick among other DraftKings users, we wouldn’t recommend falling for the trap. Denny is fresh off of a 3rd-place finish at Phoenix, but then again he ended up 16th at Atlanta and 19th at Las Vegas before that. So, among intermediate tracks in 2016, the #11 team isn’t performing so hot. Add to that the fact that Hamlin has ONE top 10 finish in the last seven Fontana races and you have the second nail in the coffin. He has started 6th or better in each of the last four (now five in a row after Sunday), too, with a best finish of 11th over that span. And the final nail in the coffin? Hamlin will roll off the grid from 3rd on Sunday, which means he’s going to have to lead quite a few laps and finish inside the top 5 to justify that price tag. We just don’t see that happening.

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As someone who has always been obsessed with numbers, Fantasy NASCAR has been the perfect fit with me. I pride myself on the quality of my analysis for each race, and am glad that I have been able to help others along the way. I've been a serious Fantasy NASCAR player for over 10 years now, and I'm just getting started.


  1. I have never spent an dime at DK. Just feel I lack what it takes to out think the best. I have entered a free game and always been glad I did!. Ugly at best.
    I do enter a Fantasy Live league that I see uses place differential also. Doing poorly. using qualifying as a basis, I chose 41 42 88 10 and a shakey 34. Now awaiting final practice to reconsider.
    Great analysis,Jordon. How much time this article take, including reading the research for values,Q’s, and so forth. Guessing 3 hours.

    • Between the 5 to 7 articles I post here, and the one that I post on ifantasyrace, it typically takes a few hours Friday night and all day Saturday. I’d estimate between 10 and 12 hours for all of them.

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