The NASCAR Cup Series heads to Talladega Superspeedway this weekend for the second superspeedway race of the year–or third, depending on how you classify Atlanta now. Let’s split the difference and call it two and a half. Anyway, races at Talladega are fun to make lineups for because almost every driver is on the table to be picked, but are also frustrating because the race is so unpredictable.

Jordan is going LIVE on YouTube on Sunday morning to build DraftKings lineups and answer questions about the race. It is planned to start at 11:45 am ET. Visit his YouTube channel (click here) on Sunday at that time and tune in!

DraftKings Fantasy Strategy To Profit At Talladega

Big wreck in the 2022 Daytona 500 with Kyle Larson, Kyle Busch
Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images

We’re trying to avoid “The Big One”–a large wreck that takes out 10+ cars–with our DFS lineups this weekend, and unfortunately, it’s something that is impossible to predict when it will happen. Notice I didn’t say if it will happen. It is extremely like that “The Big One” is going to happen on Sunday. These drivers are going full throttle, inches away from each other, and one or two are eventually going to make a mistake–and it’s going to cause a pileup wreck that could take out anywhere from 5 to 30 cars. Not joking.

While it can definitely be frustrating when your DFS lineups are ruined by something like that, it’s simply a way of life at these superspeedway race tracks (Talladega and Daytona). So now, you may be wondering then, “so how can you predict which drivers will be good picks on Sunday?” And honestly, you can’t.

What you can do with your DraftKings lineup, though, is strategically pick these drivers. DFS success at Talladega has a lot more to do with understanding game theory than it does which actual drivers you pick.


The most important thing you need to pay attention to for this race when building DraftKings lineups is starting position, and typically this is the type of formula I use to build a lineup:

  • Top 6 starting spot: sparingly, absolute max of one
  • Top 15 starting spot: one driver, maybe two
  • 16th-30th starting spot: two or three drivers
  • 31st-40th starting spot: remaining spots left
  • And don’t forget, it’s perfectly fine to let plenty of salary cap on the table. In fact, it’s encouraged!

Now you may be thinking, “But what about laps led points? And fastest laps points? Those are important in DraftKings!” And yes, they are. But not as important as finishing position and place differential at these big superspeedways. Plus, when it comes to fastest laps, they are completely spread out all over the board; it’s unlikely any driver has more than 10 on Sunday.

Now let’s quickly talk about finishing position and place differential for a second. Take a look at this chart below (click to make it bigger). It shows each driver’s base DraftKings scored by simply taking into account their starting position (top row) and finishing position (left column).

As you can see, it rarely pays off to take the guys starting up front! A driver that starts 35th and finishes 12th scores more DraftKings points than a driver starting 10th that finishes 2nd!

DraftKings NASCAR Picks for the GEICO 500 at Talladega

Joey Logano, Kyle Larson, and Kyle Busch practicing at Atlanta Motor Speedway
Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Please note: I’m not going to waste my time or your time in this article talking about the “obvious” and chalk place differential plays this weekend, such as Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott, Alex Bowman, Chris Buescher, Landon Cassill, etc. Instead, the picks below are the guys that I think are going to be under-owned compared to their upside, which makes them great GPP / tournament plays, in my opinion.

Harrison Burton ($6,500) – Nick and I talked about this exact scenario on the Stacking Dennys podcast this weekend (listen below). Harrison Burton hasn’t had a good finish all season long, and when you pair that with his 25th-place starting spot this weekend, his ownership in DraftKings isn’t going to be as much as it should. But the fact of the matter is you basically have a Penske Ford starting 25th, so the upside is definitely there. For what it’s worth, Matt DiBenedetto led at least one lap in this #21 Wood Brothers Ford in each of his four Talladega starts.

Todd Gilliland ($6,200) – I’m very curious to see what Todd Gilliland’s ownership is this weekend. Obviously I have him projected for around 15%, but it could end up being higher than that simply because this car was running so strong at Daytona earlier this year, plus the NASCAR DFS player base is starting to come around more and more on how good Gilliland is. As long as Gilly stays under 20% ownership this weekend, though, I really love going heavy on him. #GillyGang

Cole Custer ($5,600) – This guy is becoming a staple in my DFS articles whenever we come to superspeedways, simply because nobody is really playing Cole Custer. The guy did get 19.94% ownership in this year’s Daytona 500 (started 31st), but last year, Cole averaged 17.59% ownership on superspeedways despite starting between 25th and 28th each race. I like Custer’s price point this weekend, too, because if DraftKings players are digging down this deep into the pool, they’re more likely to roll with the drivers directly under Custer in price, who all start further back.

Stacking Dennys Podcast with Jordan & RotoDoc

Talladega GEICO 500 DraftKings Driver Projections

The following chart takes into account the very basics: the starting position and the projected finish of each driver. The projected finishes are averaged from six different ranking systems. Also factored in are projected laps led and fastest laps for each driver. You can click the headers below to sort the chart by that attribute. By default, it is sorted by average projected FPTS.

DriverDK SalaryAvg Proj FPTSProj OwnStarting PositionAvg. Projected FinishDollar Per FPT
Ryan Blaney$10,50056.2835.87%2205.8$187
Chase Elliott$9,90055.1355.97%2808.5$180
Denny Hamlin$9,10051.5025.57%707.0$177
Brad Keselowski$8,90050.9719.43%1506.5$175
Ricky Stenhouse Jr$7,60049.9036.91%2611.0$152
Joey Logano$10,30047.3518.52%1306.0$218
Kevin Harvick$8,60047.1219.83%2411.3$183
Chris Buescher$6,90044.5730.89%3014.8$155
Bubba Wallace$8,10041.3211.07%909.3$196
Kyle Busch$9,40040.5212.94%1209.8$232
Cole Custer$5,60039.3515.79%2917.0$142
Aric Almirola$7,50038.9718.81%2315.8$192
Austin Cindric$7,90035.8014.69%1812.8$221
Ross Chastain$7,70033.6313.60%1915.3$229
Chase Briscoe$8,80032.8212.73%1716.5$268
Alex Bowman$9,20032.2334.59%2718.7$285
Ty Dillon$6,10031.577.27%2015.7$193
William Byron$9,60031.4311.01%811.0$305
David Ragan$5,90029.9010.55%3625.3$197
Austin Dillon$7,20028.6310.48%1415.3$251
Todd Gilliland$6,20027.5814.71%3223.7$225
Corey Lajoie$5,20026.4221.92%3326.0$197
Erik Jones$6,60026.036.12%1618.3$254
Landon Cassill$4,90025.9725.17%3928.5$189
Noah Gragson$5,40024.7020.98%3125.8$219
Kyle Larson$10,10023.5513.12%516.7$429
Kurt Busch$7,40023.305.78%614.7$318
Tyler Reddick$9,70022.807.97%1016.5$425
JJ Yeley$5,00022.236.66%3829.8$225
Harrison Burton$6,50021.8011.43%2522.8$298
Martin Truex Jr$8,30021.406.00%214.2$388
Michael McDowell$6,80020.2210.61%2123.3$336
Greg Biffle$4,80016.633.32%3531.8$289
Cody Ware$4,70016.506.73%3429.7$285
BJ McLeod$4,60014.674.90%3732.5$314
Christopher Bell$8,40014.035.36%118.3$599
Justin Haley$5,80011.753.95%1123.0$494
Daniel Hemric$6,30001.484.98%323.5$4,247
Daniel Suarez$7,00001.133.77%425.2$6,176
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.