2020 Fantasy NASCAR XFINITY Series Preview: Drivers to Know for NASCAR DFS
With all the driver turnover from one year to the next in the XFINITY Series, keeping track of which drivers are in which cars can be a little difficult. It is even tougher to figure out which drivers and which teams are actually bringing decent equipment to the track on a weekly basis.
You can't start assembling winning NASCAR DFS lineups at DraftKings for XFINITY races if you don't even know where to begin, and while I've already touched on the drivers and teams who should be elite fantasy options in 2020, it takes the more than a couple of studs to help you cash in.
This time around, I'm focusing on the other full-time series regulars who deserve your attention this year. Most of these drivers aren't likely to be must-own options every week in every format, but some can be great options in cash contests while others have the upside to be real X-factors in GPPs.
Series Regulars to Know
Gragson wasn't dominant in his rookie campaign, leading just 72 laps in the 2019 season. However, he did show impressive consistency for a young driver, finishing with 22 Top 10s and a 9.3 average finish. In fact, he finished outside the Top 15 just four times all year. Gragson will be back with JR Motorsports again in 2020, and with a full season of experience under his belt combined with several big names graduating to the Cup Series, he is well positioned to take a big step forward. I fully expect Gragson to start contending for Top 5s on a weekly basis, and don't be surprised if he begins delivering dominator points with regularity. If I had to bet one driver to make the leap to legitimate title threat in 2020, my money is on Gragson.
For a driver in Joe Gibbs Racing equipment, Jones definitely underachieves. However, underachieving in JGR ride still translates to fantasy-relevant production. Plus, he did win his first XFINITY Series race in 2019, and his six Top 5s were a career high. Jones was also one of just six series regulars to lead more than 100 laps. Granted, I don't see him ever developing the consistency he needs to become a staple of DFS lineups, but Jones has a high ceiling thanks to his equipment, and there are going to be a few races when he posts a big score. Keep him in mind as a high-upside, GPP-only option.
The son of former Cup driver Jeff Burton, Harrison enters his first full-time season at the XFINITY level as the driver of the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 machine. He was solid but not spectacular in the Truck Series last year, but he flashed his potential in nine XFINITY starts for JGR, logging six Top 15s and five Top 10s. On the flip side, he also showed some inexperience, finishing 29th or worse in his other three starts. The up-and-down production is likely to continue for Burton, at least in the early part of the season, but he is going to be a weekly Top 10 threat from Day 1. By the second half of the year, don't be surprised when the Top 5s start piling up.
After several seasons of pedestrian production, Annett enjoyed a career year in 2019. He picked up the first XFINITY win of his career when he won the opener at Daytona, and he went on to set new career highs with 19 Top 10s, 94 laps led and a 10.0 average finish. Annett also tied a career high with six Top 5s. Perhaps more impressively, Annett only finished outside the Top 15 twice all season, and both of his poor finishes came at the always unpredictable superspeedways. Back with JR Motorsports for 2020, Annett should once again have one of the highest floors of any driver. Expect t make him a staple of cash lineups this season.
I have my doubts about Herbst's natural ability behind the wheel. He's been elite equipment since jumping to NASCAR's top series, logging three Top 10s in seven Truck starts for Kyle Busch Motorsports and four Top 10s in 10 XFINITY starts for Joe Gibbs Racing. Those numbers aren't horrible, but in those same 17 starts, he has just a single Top 5, has led just one lap and has only eight lead lap finishes. The production hasn't matched the caliber of his rides, but he still has that financial backing. More importantly, he has himself a full-time gig with JGR for 2020. Simply being behind the wheel of a JGR car gives Herbst Top 10 upside on a weekly basis. I'm expecting inconsistent, frustrating results overall, but I also expect him to be a part of a few winning GPP lineups over the course of the year.
The highlight of Haley's 2019 season has to be stealing a win in the rain-shortened Cup race at Daytona in July. However, he also enjoyed an excellent rookie campaign at the XFINITY level. He finished the year with a 12.3 average finish at 20 Top 10s, and he only finished outside the Top 15 six times. Granted, he had just four Top 5s and led only 17 laps, so he's not someone you should look to for dominator points. However, he tends to be a steady, reliable mid-priced play, especially if he has some place differential points to gain. Haley should be high on your list of cash options on a weekly basis in 2020.
Prior to 2019, Sieg had five full seasons under his belt in the XFINITY Series, posting a career-best average finish of 17.8 and never logging than three Top 10s. What a difference some decent equipment can make. Sieg purchased Richard Childress Racing equipment for the first time last year, and it paid immediate dividends. He finished the year with 12 Top 10s and a 14.6 average finish, shattering his previous career bests. Sieg actually finished 12th or better 21 times, and he only had seven finishes outside the Top 20. He still doesn't have the resources to contend for Top 5s or lead laps, but he should be a weekly Top 15 contender again in 2020. Look to Sieg as an affordable addition to cash lineups, especially when he qualifies a little deeper in the field.