DraftKings Fantasy NASCAR advice for 2018 season

I’ve made my picks for Sunday’s free, $10,000-in-prizes DraftKings contest (the link to enter is here), but I’m certainly not an expert.

Actually, most of the tips I’ve picked up over the last year of playing fantasy racing comes from DraftKings expert Pearce Dietrich.

So I hopped on the phone with Dietrich again this weekend to get some more advice that I could pass along to you guys — not just for the 500, but for the season as a whole.

A few pointers:

When everyone else zigs, you zag. Don’t pick all of the obvious drivers for a couple reasons: 1) It’s unlikely to be the right lineup at a plate race and 2) Your lineup is going to be the same as everyone else’s.

For example: In the Duels on Thursday, 87 percent of DraftKings players picked Brad Keselowski. And then he wrecked.

“At the plate races, no one is safe,” Dietrich said. “Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Larson are going to be heavily owned in the 500. So you don’t want them in every lineup, because then all those lineups are dead if something happens.”

Look at the ceiling. The winning lineups at plate tracks need to have drivers who average 55 points for you. So a driver who starts in the top 11? Unless they lead a bunch of laps, it’s not worth it.

“Look at a guy like Darrell Wallace Jr.,” Dietrich said. “He’s a great story and might have a great race, but even if he finishes second, that’s not going to be enough points for you.”

It really comes down to position differential, which is why it’s more important than ever to pick drivers outside the top 30 at plate tracks.

“Gray Gaulding scored the second-most points at Talladega!” Dietrich said. “That is unbelievable. But only 12 cars finished on the lead lap. If it’s going to be a mess, play people in the back and hope they avoid the wrecks.”

If you think you have a great lineup, you’re probably not going to win.

“Your lineup should make you sick to your stomach,” Dietrich said. “It should not make you feel good.”

To wit: Last year’s best possible lineup for the 500 was Ryan Blaney, AJ Allmendinger, Paul Menard, Kasey Kahne, Brendan Gaughan and Michael Waltrip.

Some logical picks, to be sure. But would you have felt good about the lineup as a whole?

How about last fall’s Talladega race? The best lineup had Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski, yes — but it also had Ryan Newman, Aric Almirola, David Ragan and Gaulding.

“You may need to take a Corey LaJoie and a Gray Gaulding,” Dietrich said. “If they can just stay away from Ricky Stenhouse, maybe they can make it happen.”

For intermediate tracks, fast cars are fast. Most of the time, Dietrich said a fast car on a long run in practice is going to be the same in the race. It’s rare to see a guy practice in the middle of the pack and then get you points leading laps and running fast laps.

“Starting position doesn’t necessarily correlate as much, but practice speed does,” he said.

If two drivers are going to dominate the race and lead the most laps, you’ll need both of them in the lineup. If it’s three drivers, you need all three. Because if you don’t, someone else will. So you’ve got to predict correctly on that part.

Beyond the fastest cars, try to get a decent return out of every person. If you sacrifice too much — even for one spot by going with a super-cheap driver — it’s probably not going to be a winning lineup.

I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is jeff_gluck) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.