We’re at Talladega Superspeedway this weekend for the final restrictor plate race of the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season. As far as DraftKings goes with these particular races, there’s a couple things to remember: place differential (and finish) points are everything, and–most importantly–you don’t have to use all of the $50,000 salary cap. Dominator points are kind of pointless to think about, too, as it is rare for any one driver to have 10+ fastest laps at a plate track, and there’s only going to be 47 total FPTS up for grabs for laps led on Sunday. From a strategy perspective, you need to be thinking about the drivers that most other players are overlooking.

DraftKings GPP Plays for the Alabama 500

Photo Credit: Drew Hallowell/NASCAR via Getty Images

Kevin Harvick ($9,700) – This may be a bit of a chalk pick this weekend, but Kevin Harvick should be one of the highest-scoring DraftKings drivers here on Sunday. “Happy” is an established restrictor plate racer and does have one trip to victory lane here at Talladega (back in 2010). The #4 Ford is going to be rolling off the grid from 22nd when the Alabama 500 goes green on Sunday, and with the way this team is running right now, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Harvick challenge for the win. He has posted four top 10 finishes in his last seven starts here at ‘Dega and has just one result worse than 15th over that same time frame.

Paul Menard ($7,000) – When it comes to racking up place differential FPTS, starting from 20th isn’t the ideal spot to be in. However, if the driver starting from 20th is able to post a top 10 result on race day, the finish points make up for some of the lost place differential points. And when it comes to differentiating your lineup in GPPs, these are the types of drivers you need to take a shot on. Menard has been one of the best on the restrictor plate tracks this year, as he has an average finish of 5.7 in the three races thus far. He’s also averaging 4.3 fastest laps per race on these big superspeedways. Finally, Talladega is actually one of Paul’s best tracks on the circuit, and over the last eight races here he has finished 9th or better five times.

Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images

A.J. Allmendinger ($6,900) – For the record, I really like Aric Almirola ($6,300) in this price range, but let’s talk about A.J. Allmendinger, especially as a GPP play. Allmendinger isn’t the most trustworthy driver in the Cup Series garage, but he’s pretty good at staying out of trouble on these plate tracks, and that usually pays dividends at a track like Talladega. So far in 2017, A.J. has an average finish of 14th on the superspeedways, and he’s also averaging just over 5 fastest laps per race. This weekend, the #47 Chevrolet will start from back in 24th, which is right on the edge of where other DraftKings players will question whether or not The Dinger starts too far up. He’s not going to go out and win, but A.J. does have five finishes of 17th or better in his last eight Talladega starts.

Brendan Gaughan ($5,300) – Most DraftKings players are going to gravitate toward David Ragan ($5,800) this weekend, and for good reason: he qualified back in 33rd for Sunday’s Alabama 500, and he’s one of the better plate track racers in the garage. Ragan is also a previous winner here at Talladega and has an average finish of 13.7 in the three plate races we’ve ran this year. With that being said, Brendan Gaughan is a nice pivot option here, as he too has been solid on the superspeedways in 2017; after finishing 11th in the season-opening Daytona 500, Gaughan followed that up with a 26th-place effort at Talladega and a 7th-place run in the second Daytona race. Even more noteworthy, though? He leads the series in average number of fastest laps on the plate tracks this year with 6.3 per race.


DraftKings GPP Fades for the Alabama 500

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Dale Earnhardt, Jr. ($9,200) – This should be a no-brainer–never take the pole sitter at a restrictor plate track!–but this is Dale Earnhardt, Jr. we’re talking about so his ownership percentage is going to be decently high no matter where he starts. And honestly, I don’t hate Junebug in other Fantasy NASCAR leagues. He seems to like his car this week, and we all know how much talent he has at tracks like this. However, when is the last time we’ve seen the #88 Chevrolet really dominate and contend at a plate track? Yeah, the Hendrick cars are able to put down fast laps in qualifying, but having a good car during the race is an entirely different story. I’d be thoroughly shocked if Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was in any winning GPP lineup on Sunday.

Martin Truex, Jr. ($10,100) – There are a lot of good low-dollar options in DraftKings this weekend, and because of that, it’s going to be quite easy to fit a guy like Martin Truex, Jr. in your lineup. And why wouldn’t you pick him? The #78 Toyota is up front almost every single week, and after qualifying back in 21st, there’s plenty of room for Truex to earn some significant place differential points on Sunday. Well, as mentioned before, your GPP strategy this weekend should be looking at drivers that other players are overlooking, and with that comes avoiding drivers that other players are high on. Truex is an easy pick for most people, but it’s not like he’s guaranteed a good finish. Additionally, the #78 Toyota has finished 35th and 40th in the last two Talladega races, and Truex has an average finish of 27.3 on the restrictor plate tracks this season.

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.