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NASCAR DFS Picks, Fades, Projections for Pocono

NASCAR heads to Pocono Raceway, AKA the Tricky Triangle this weekend for 160 laps at the 2.5-mile circuit. As always, I’ll give you my NASCAR DFS picks, fades, and projections for this weekend’s race. Also, the NASCAR DFS Multi-Lineup OptimizerSim Scores, and Splits apps are updated for your NASCAR DFS needs.

Because there was no NASCAR podcast this week thanks to my tooth extraction, be sure to check out my Pocono preview article which has all the info I’d normally give on the podcast in article form, as well as early week thoughts on drivers post-qualifying. RotoViz Live will be in written Q+A form as well. Get me your questions on Twitter using #RVLive and Saturday night I’ll write up an article answering the best questions.

For betting insights into the race, be sure to check out PJ Walsh’s piece at The Action Network as he fills in for me this weekend. In that article, PJ will highlight his favorite NASCAR bets for Pocono. Also, be sure to check out Matthew Freedman’s article on the top prop bets for Sunday’s race.

If you’re new to daily fantasy NASCAR, or simply need a refresher, check out the large oval 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 to find any potential race dominators.

Let’s get to the NASCAR DFS picks and projections for Pocono!


The model projections assume that the driver finishes the race – hence why you don’t see any average finishing positions worse than about 32nd. The Pts column shows the average projected DraftKings points for races when the driver finishes the race.

Ryan Blaney18.9722.8211.5438.54870025.4%
Kevin Harvick27.2425.614.1745.021160049.4%
Jamie McMurray313.1613.434.8926.4874008.3%
Martin Truex Jr48.159.5212.4440.31090019.8%
Kyle Busch57.313.9312.5144.151130030.2%
Kurt Busch69.115.584.4435.485009.5%
Joey Logano78.555.614.5437.57101009.2%
Ryan Newman813.63.252.5426.8875009.3%
Clint Bowyer98.895.216.5439.79950017.0%
Denny Hamlin108.456.096.3441.79910011.4%
Chase Elliott1111.913.574.3934.27930013.2%
Austin Dillon1217.192.942.7123.777008.0%
Kyle Larson139.536.539.3344.231040028.9%
Alex Bowman1412.824.172.434.59790012.4%
Jimmie Johnson1513.362.13.0734.35890011.5%
William Byron1616.022.720.9929.13630011.5%
Brad Keselowski1711.783.067.3241.86980027.8%
Daniel Suarez1815.151.571.332.75730012.4%
Bubba Wallace Jr1918.911.560.4525.79610012.7%
Paul Menard2015.461.31.5334.17660014.7%
David Ragan2119.011.10.7927.65560010.6%
Kasey Kahne2219.862.251.5127.61670013.7%
Ricky Stenhouse Jr2315.54.042.4638.25690025.2%
AJ Allmendinger2419.110.721.0330.47650013.3%
Erik Jones2514.813.653.742.15840045.8%
Matt Kenseth2617.512.051.1536.06710011.3%
Chris Buescher2719.861.520.8632.1590016.0%
Cole Custer2824.840.660.5122.73
Ty Dillon2921.890.381.0929.87530032.9%
Michael McDowell3025.020.660.9824.6258009.6%
Ross Chastain3128.190.490.518.9951004.3%
Matt DiBenedetto3225.830.40.2724.5757007.9%
Landon Cassill3328.930.220.2719.3354005.2%
Aric Almirola3414.320.171.1649.99820052.9%
Cole Whitt3528.210.31123.1650003.5%
Gray Gaulding3629.80.310.3920.6746002.6%
JJ Yeley3730.730.220.4119.847001.5%
Derrike Cope3830.750.310.4620.844001.2%


Kevin Harvick ($11,600) — Harvick starts second at Pocono this weekend and has the car to beat — as usual. He just needs to get around Ryan Blaney and he’ll be the early dominator. In the preview article, I said pick your top dominator and play them in cash, and Harvick is easily the top dominator candidate this weekend. He posted the fastest 10-lap average by over 0.6 MPH, which is a very large gap for NASCAR standards. Don’t overthink this one just because Blaney is on the pole, the lower number of laps, or Harvick’s price tag.

Aric Almirola ($8200) — Almirola had a poor qualifying lap which relegates him to a 34th place starting position. That means his floor is the highest this week of any driver. He has the highest DraftKings upside this week as well of any non-dominator driver with the combination of place differential and finishing position. Almirola’s has the 11th best driver rating this year, but is priced only 14th among all drivers, providing value as well.

Erik Jones ($8400) — Like Almirola, Jones had a poor qualifying lap, as the team just missed the setup for qualifying, meaning Jones will start 25th on Sunday. Jones wasn’t super happy with his car early in final practice, but later in practice he put up some faster times as he got more comfortable with the car. Jones had the fifth-best average finish at Pocono last year, averaging a finish of 5.5 over the two races while leading 7.5 percent of the laps between those two races. Jones has the 14th-best driver rating this year, but has the upside of a driver even better than that.

Cash Game Ranks:

Here are my top 20 cash game ranks, which ranks each driver based on cash game playability factoring in expected performance, floor/safety, and salary.

  1. Aric Almirola
  2. Erik Jones
  3. Kevin Harvick
  4. Kyle Larson
  5. Brad Keselowski
  6. Matt DiBenedetto
  7. Kyle Busch
  8. Martin Truex Jr.
  9. Ryan Blaney
  10. Ty Dillon
  11. Denny Hamlin
  12. Chris Buescher
  13. Alex Bowman
  14. Daniel Suarez
  15. Ricky Stenhouse Jr
  16. Chase Elliott
  17. Clint Bowyer
  18. Cole Whitt
  19. Michael McDowell
  20. Jimmie Johnson


Kyle Larson ($10,400)  — Larson thinks his car is second-best to Harvick this weekend, and was extremely happy with his car in practice. Larson is priced lower than Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr., but probably has a car that’s as good or better than both. Busch stated in practice that he thinks he has a top five car, but didn’t sound like he had a winning car, while Larson sounded much more confident. I even have no problem playing Larson in cash this weekend if you want to go that route.

Brad Keselowski ($9800) — Keselowski didn’t post the fastest practice times which could keep people off of him. However, Keselowski has all the other things going for him. He has the fifth-best driver rating at incident-free, non-plate races. He’s strong at Pocono, posting the fourth-best driver rating and third-best average finish in the two races last year. He’s finish inside the top five in each of his last five Pocono races. He’s been surprisingly low owned lately, and if that trend continues, he’s a strong driver to be overweight on.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($6900) — Stenhouse spun out in final practice battling a loose condition, but track temperatures are expected to be cooler on Sunday during the race than they were Saturday in practice. That will tighten up the car, and should be favorable for improvement in the 17 car. Stenhouse is priced 21st, but has the 19th-highest driver rating this year at non-plate races. He practiced 18th out of 21 cars in 10-lap average, but that should improve if his handling improves Sunday. Finally, he has a crew chief that likes to take gambles at a track where strategy definitely comes into play. That gives him more upside than normal. That helped Stenhouse lead laps at Pocono last year, where he also posted the 15th-best driver rating over the two races. Sure he has downside, but with a higher ceiling than normal, that’s what we want in GPPs.

Here are my top 20 GPP ranks, which ranks each driver based on GPP playability factoring in expected performance, upside, salary, and ownership.

  1. Kevin Harvick
  2. Kyle Larson
  3. Aric Almirola
  4. Erik Jones
  5. Brad Keselowski
  6. Martin Truex Jr.
  7. Kyle Busch
  8. Ryan Blaney
  9. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  10. Denny Hamlin
  11. Ty Dillon
  12. Clint Bowyer
  13. Alex Bowman
  14. Chris Buescher
  15. Daniel Suarez
  16. Paul Menard
  17. Matt DiBenedetto
  18. Chase Elliott
  19. Jimmie Johnson
  20. Kasey Kahne


Jamie McMurray ($7400) — FADE OF THE YEAR! Among all of my NASCAR DFS picks, this is easily the safest fade call ever. McMurray starts third, but has never finished inside the top five at Pocono in 30 (THIRTY!) career races at the track. In fact, he has only seven top-10 finishes (all between sixth and 10th, obviously) at Pocono over those 30 races, which means he’s essentially a mortal lock to get negative place differential. He practiced 10th in single lap and 11th in 10-lap average, and may have missed a shift in final practice, so there’s some concern about the transmission in his car. I can’t wait for the standard six to 10 percent of people to play him in GPPs this weekend and have no shot at winning.

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