The Sprint Cup events at Martinsville Speedway can be tricky for DraftKings players, simply because the margin of error is so much smaller than at other race tracks. Martinsville is a half-mile venue, which means if a driver (or team) makes a mistake on pit road or are plagued by some kind of misfortune on the track, it’s very easy to lose multiple laps. And once a driver gets three or more laps down here at “The Paperclip,” their day is pretty much over–no chance of really salvaging a good finish.
Another aspect to consider when it comes to Martinsville races is that, typically, those who start up front finish up front. So this limits our chance at place differential points compared to other tracks, because you need to pick drivers you can trust (and there’s not a whole lot at this track). So now that qualifying is complete (you can see the starting lineup here) let’s take a look at some of the DraftKings drivers that you should avoid for this week’s race at Martinsville. Remember: one bad driver on your DraftKings roster can ruin your entire week and stop you from winning money.
DraftKings Drivers to Avoid for the STP 500 at Martinsville
Chase Elliott ($8,000) – Anybody who watches NASCAR knows that Martinsville is a very tough race–especially for rookies. You have to complete 500 laps around this tiny race track just to stay on the lead lap, and that doesn’t even count fighting for position. Now, we agree that Chase Elliott is probably the best rookie we’ve seen in years–and he’s in elite equipment–but there are a few reasons why you should avoid him in DraftKings. He’s a decent option in other fantasy leagues, but not DraftKings. The main reason is his price. At $8,000, we believe Chase is quite overpriced, especially at a track like Martinsville. Are you really going to allocate 16% of your salary cap to a guy that has one Sprint Cup start here? And it was a 38th-place finish, for the record. Being able to put down a fast lap in qualifying (Chase starts 10th on Sunday) is much easier than putting together a full race. We want to see the #24 Chevrolet have another good run, but it’s not worth the risk putting Chase Elliott on your DraftKings team this week.
Kasey Kahne ($7,900) – Price-wise, Kasey Kahne is right there in the middle between the high priced drivers and the bottom dwellers, and typically that’s the area where you need to make the right decision to ensure a good roster. Unfortunately, Kasey threw all of his usability out the window on Friday when he qualified 2nd. When it comes to the DraftKings format, if you’re going to pick a driver who starts up front, you need to be absolutely certain that they’re going to finish inside the top 5–and even then it may not be worth it. As far as Kasey Kahne’s record here at Martinsville, he did finish 11th and 9th in the two races here last season, but he has just two total top 5 results in his last eighteen starts at “The Paperclip.” A good run for Kasey and the #5 team on Sunday would be around 10th, and that type of finish is only going to net you around 26 points in DraftKings. To top it all off, Kahne does have a tendency to wreck a lot of race cars, so you won’t find him on any of our DraftKings lists this week–well, except for this one.
Ryan Newman ($7,300) – It seems like “The Rocketman” has gotten back to his old ways of qualifying up front these past two races, and if that continues it means he’s probably going to end up on this avoid list more often than not. Price-wise, Newman finds himself on the lower end of the mid-priced drivers this week, but him qualifying 5th has to be a pretty big red flag for most DraftKings players. Consider this: Newman hasn’t ended up better than 11th in any of the five Sprint Cup races ran this season, and even if he does have a top 10 run on Sunday, you’re looking at a max of around 30 points or so. Now, that’s not terrible for Newman’s price, but you should really only put the #31 Chevrolet on your team if he fills out a perfect roster. He’s a more dependable pick than some of the other drivers around him (Kyle Larson at $7,400 and Clint Bowyer at $7,200). Newman does have runs of 7th and 3rd over the last two years here at Martinsville, so you don’t need to avoid him like the plague. But to that same point, don’t expect max points out of him, either.
Paul Menard ($6,500) – It’s pretty tough to lay off of Paul Menard at such a low price point, but let’s just look at the whole picture here and do some simple math. Through the first five races of the 2016 Sprint Cup season, Paul Menard–while being very consistent–hasn’t really had a “great” run. His best finish thus far has been 15th, and we honestly don’t see that changing here on Sunday. Yeah, he had a solid qualifying run of 4th on Friday, but that was qualifying. Looking at Menard’s history here at Martinsville (17 career starts), he has a grand total of one top 10 finish–a 10th-place result in this race two years ago. The #27 Chevrolet has came home inside the top 15 in three of the last four races here at “The Paperclip,” but that’s not going to cut it for us on Sunday. If Menard finishes 15th in this year’s STP 500, that means he’ll earn us a whopping 18 points in DraftKings. Yes, his low price makes him an attractive option, but we’d rather take a chance on some of the other lower-priced drivers this weekend.
Matt Kenseth ($9,700) – This is another driver that you don’t need to avoid like the plague, but let us ask you one question: when has Matt Kenseth been a solid Fantasy NASCAR pick in 2016? He finished 7th at Phoenix, but nobody expected that, so he wasn’t really considered by many fantasy players. Other than that, this #20 team has done nothing but make mistakes and run into odd problems (seriously, what’s with their luck this week?). Obviously this is going to change (soon), but when? It’s very possible that it could be this weekend at Martinsville–Kenseth has four finishes of 6th or better in the last five races here–but do you really want to commit 19.4% of your DraftKings salary cap to a team as unpredictable as this #20 crew is right now? We don’t. Matt Kenseth is one of the most overpriced drivers in the field this weekend, but with our luck he’ll probably go out and win the damn thing.