NASCAR DFS Picks and Projections for Talladega

Daytona 500 DraftKings

This weekend NASCAR heads to Talladega for the final restrictor plate race of the year. As usual, I’ll give my NASCAR DFS picks for Talladega, along with some slate strategy.

If you’re new to daily fantasy NASCAR, or simply need a refresher, check out the restrictor plate section of my track types article. Brush up on your general GPP strategy and game theory if you want to have a shot at taking down first place. If you’re more of a cash game player, check out how to target high floor drivers and remember, at a track as wild as Talladega it is not a requirement to find a race dominator.

NASCAR DFS Strategy – Talladega

Before we get to the NASCAR DFS picks let’s talk strategy. First thing’s first — this race is all about place differential. To show you why, I’m going to bring up my favorite graph that shows DraftKings points plotted against starting position for all the restrictor plate races since 2005.


That is about the most perfect linear trend you will ever see. We should absolutely be targeting drivers starting in the back for our lineups.

A few ground rules to making lineups with a reasonable chance of winning…

Rule 1: Don’t choose more than 1 driver starting 1st-12th. It’s extremely unlikely we get two dominators in this race, let alone one, and even then a dominant performance doesn’t guarantee DraftKings success, if that driver manages to get caught up in a late wreck. Using zero, or at most one driver from the top 12 starting positions is just sound strategy.

Rule 2: Pick no more than two drivers starting 20th or better. However, Rule 1 means you can’tt take two drivers starting 12th or better, so if you do pick two drivers inside the top 20, at least one of them needs to be outside the top 12.

Rule 3: Figure out who will be low owned from 26th on back, and go overweight on them, while going a bit underweight on the other drivers. I have ownership projections posted in the projections below.

Also, consider stacking teammates. They’ll tend to work together throughout the race, and late in the race to ensure a good finish. That’s about it. Restrictor plate DFS is all about leveraging ownership from drivers starting further back.

NASCAR DFS Projections – Talladega

The model projections assume that the driver finishes the race, hence why you don’t see any average finishing positions lower than 23rd. The Pts column shows the average DraftKings points for races when the driver finishes the race.

Here are the model projections for Talladega.

Dale Earnhardt Jr113.0818.512.1324.53920015.7%
Chase Elliott212.7516.982.3425.91900010.8%
Joey Logano312.5017.663.4328.131020011.0%
Kurt Busch410.732.332.2028.2283009.6%
Ricky Stenhouse Jr510.156.054.6132.51800011.5%
Brad Keselowski612.5921.082.7931.48980014.5%
Clint Bowyer710.933.846.6633.4381009.6%
Jimmie Johnson815.0410.542.1325.611000012.7%
Ryan Blaney913.724.782.2927.9187009.7%
Trevor Bayne1017.543.285.9422.7268007.7%
Kasey Kahne1116.093.843.8925.7276008.9%
Kyle Larson1212.324.902.6433.91940016.5%
Danica Patrick1319.641.643.8520.0562003.7%
Daniel Suarez1414.581.604.8131.65730010.9%
Denny Hamlin1512.5015.254.1139.86950022.4%
Kyle Busch1613.5416.255.5039.731040022.1%
Jamie McMurray1711.941.233.9339.39780016.6%
Austin Dillon1814.880.704.2134.52740011.5%
Matt Kenseth1915.0712.583.9437.98880017.1%
Paul Menard2014.370.595.6538.24700015.5%
Martin Truex Jr2112.443.972.1842.191010030.8%
Kevin Harvick2212.3012.512.9746.01970036.4%
Erik Jones2313.651.112.9341.44850020.2%
AJ Allmendinger2418.390.435.7534.2169009.7%
Ty Dillon2517.871.056.1036.57650011.8%
Aric Almirola2616.310.352.5238.72630016.5%
Ryan Newman2715.611.014.8042.43710019.7%
Chris Buescher2820.710.342.7932.0666008.7%
Michael McDowell2919.720.203.9335.58600020.6%
Landon Cassill3017.080.303.3041.57560014.7%
Justin Marks3121.830.173.8233.2946004.2%
Matt DiBenedetto3222.230.192.6232.90540011.0%
David Ragan3319.790.505.4940.29580029.0%
Jeffrey Earnhardt3422.500.295.7635.9549004.8%
Brendan Gaughan3517.590.375.6346.73530038.8%
Mark Thompson3622.340.133.8237.2745006.1%
Joey Gase3721.450.282.6939.51520010.6%
Cole Whitt3821.020.392.2841.19500030.4%
Gray Gaulding3922.900.334.8439.7148008.5%
D.J. Kennington4023.190.463.8239.6447009.3%

Now let’s get to the NASCAR DFS Picks for Talladega.

NASCAR DFS Picks – Cash Games

Cole Whitt ($5000) – Whitt is an excellent plate driver who has an average finish of 17.5 at Talladega in races he avoided crashes. He’s finished six consecutive races at Talladega inside the top 22, which would be just fine for cash games given his 38th place starting position.

Brendan Gaughan ($5300) – Gaughan is as experienced as they come when it comes to plate racing. He’s picked up two top-11 finishes already this year at plate tracks, and figured to ride around the back and make a charge late in the race. That puts him squarely in cash game contention from his 35th place starting position.

David Ragan ($5800) – Ragan won at Talladega in 2013 for the same team he’s driving for now, Front Row Motorsports. The veteran finished sixth and tenth in his last two plate races, and should hook up with teammate Landon Cassill late in the race if both are still in it for a push to the front.


Aric Almirola ($6300) – With plenty of big names in the 20-29th starting position, I think Almirola could go overlooked for drivers like Ty DillonRyan NewmanMichael McDowellA.J. Allmendinger, Erik Jones, Kevin Harvick, and Martin Truex Jr. But Almirola is a two time plate winner, and finished fourth in the Daytona 500 and the first Talladega race this year. He knows how to get the job done here.

Joey Gase ($5200) – Gase’s results at plate tracks in the Xfinity series are nothing short of amazing for a driver that normally races for back-marker teams. His three plate races this year in the second-tier series include finishes of 16th, 10th, and 7th, and he also has prior finishes of 5th and 11th at Talladega. His plate prowess hasn’t quite transferred to the Cup level, with finishes of only 21st and 23rd, but each bit of experience helps, and if he can replicate his plate finishes from the Xfinity series, he’ll be in the winning lineup for sure from his 37th place starting position.

Michael McDowell ($6000) – McDowell is another excellent plate racer, and he took home a fourth place finish at Daytona in July. This has been McDowell’s best season in Cup to date, and the Leavine Family Racing team is as strong as it’s ever been. McDowell has a shot at another top-five finish for sure.


Kurt Busch ($8300) – Really you should be heavily fading most of the drivers starting up front, with no more than one starting inside the top 12 in your lineup. But the one I’m really fading is Kurt Busch. I think he’s far less likely to wind up with a bunch of laps led and the win than the other drivers starting inside the top six, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Chase ElliottJoey Logano, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. or Brad Keselowski. Kurt is a great 100 percent fade.