NASCAR DFS: Big Machine Hand Sanitizer 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway DraftKings Lineup Plays
The Cup Series makes its annual visit to Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and one of the biggest races on the schedule has already made plenty of headlines. Seven-time series champ and four-time Indianapolis winner Jimmie Johnson will miss this weekend's Big Machine Hand Sanitizer 400 after testing positive for COVID-19. The good news is that Johnson has not experienced any symptoms, and in the meantime, his No. 48 Chevrolet will be piloted by Justin Allgaier on Sunday.
While you can't help but feel bad for Johnson, the addition of Allgaier to the mix means little when it comes to the NASCAR DFS side of things. Yes, he was added to the player pool at a cheap price, but he is going to be scored from the fourth starting spot. I don't see any situation where Allgaier ends up being a productive addition to lineups at DraftKings.
With NASCAR continuing to set the starting lineup with random draws based on owner points, I actually don't plan to roll the dice on many sleepers in general this weekend. Indianapolis is already a track where big names and big teams thrive, and passing is always difficult thanks to the flat, sweeping corners. Throw in the fact that there aren't a ton of laps on tap, and I don't think you need to be overly aggressive in rostering high-priced dominators.
Yes, I am going to have at least one driver who I feel can go out and dominate for long stretches, but in general, I am going to try to build balanced lineups. I want drivers who I know are likely to contend for Top 10s with a chance to run in the Top 5 and provide a few dominator points. If drivers who check that box also have a little place differential upside, they are going to find their way into my lineups.
I'm not going to be ignoring the bargain options completely this weekend, but you won't see many of my lineups have nothing but high-priced dominators and low-priced lottery tickets. More often than not, I am going to have one anchor and then try to find as much value as possible among the mid-priced options.
Kevin Harvick ($11,000)
Harvick has been fast all year, and he has actually led double-digit laps in eight of the 15 races this year, including both races at Pocono last weekend. I expect that trend to continue at Indianapolis where he led a race-high 118 laps in a win last year and owns a 4.7 average finish in six starts with Stewart-Haas. Starting 11th, Harvick even has a little place differential potential to go with his dominator upside.
Denny Hamlin ($10,100)
The flat track master is coming off a runner-up finish and a win in the Pocono doubleheader, and Hamlin has finished fourth or better in the last four races of 2020, winning twice and leading double-digit laps in all of those starts. He should continue to flex his muscles this weekend. He has finished sixth or better in five of his last six starts at Indianapolis, and rolling off sixth, he is positioned to pile up some dominator points early and often.
Joey Logano ($9,200)
Logano owns a solid record at Indianapolis, finishing eighth or better in six of his eight starts here with Team Penske and leading double-digit laps four times. Last year, Logano led 11 laps in a runner-up effort, and this weekend, he gets to lead the field to the green. Clean air is huge at Indianapolis, and at the very least, I expect Logano to lead for the early portion of the race. This is a great price for a driver who is in the best position to lead laps.
Clint Bowyer ($9,000)
Stewart-Haas Racing has been fast at Indianapolis for years, and Bowyer himself has back-to-back Top 5 finishes here. He also delivered Top 10 finishes in both races at Pocono last weekend. Starting 22nd, Bowyer has an easy path to 10-plus place differential points 40-plus fantasy points overall. He should be a strong addition to cash lineups.
Erik Jones ($8,100)
They say Indianapolis and Pocono are two tracks with a lot in common, and we know how good Jones has been at Pocono. He was also the runner-up at Indianapolis in 2018, and he was battling for a Top 5 spot here last year when he crashed out. Perhaps most importantly, he drew the 23rd starting spot, giving a driver with Top 5 upside plenty of place differential points at his disposal. Not to mention that you can easily fit Jones into a balanced cash lineup at this price.
Cole Custer ($6,300)
He will be making his first Cup start at Indianapolis this weekend, but Custer has the advantage of driving for Stewart-Haas Racing. As I already mentioned, SHR always seems to have speed at Indy, and Custer is coming off a pair of Top 20 efforts at Pocono last weekend. He has to start 30th Sunday, and I think another mid-pack finish and 10-plus place differential points are well within reason.
Ryan Newman ($5,900)
While he doesn't have a lot of place differential upside after drawing the 14th starting spot, this price tag is ridiculous for a driver who has been one of the most reliable at Indianapolis. Newman has finished 12th or better in eight of his last nine starts here, reeling off three straight Top 10s. Even if he loses a few spots, Newman can provide plenty of value at this price. This is a rare instance where you don't even need to roll the dice on a longshot in order to save cap space.
Christopher Bell ($11,500)
The unluckiest man in the history of random qualifying draws lived up to his reputation, and Bell is set to start 35th this weekend. All those place differential points caused DraftKings to massively increase his price tag, and as we have seen all year from Bell, you never know what to expect. Yes, he could finish in the Top 10 and end up being one of the top scorers, but there is a much better chance that he finishes in the middle of the pack and can't justify this hefty salary. I'd throw him in a lineup or two because of the enormous ceiling, but I wouldn't recommend a ton of exposure.
Ryan Blaney ($9,400)
Blaney quietly had an excellent run at Indianapolis last year, leading 19 laps and ranking second to Kevin Harvick in several of the scoring loop metrics. He has been even faster overall in 2020, and I expect him to be a factor for the win this weekend. Starting 12th, he also has a little more place differential upside than most of the big names. I like him as a pivot to either Kevin Harvick or Denny Hamlin Sunday.
William Byron ($8,700)
He has slowly been finding his footing after a slow start to 2020, and Byron heads to Indianapolis with seven Top 15s in the last eight races, including five straight. He also had a Top 5 run at Indianapolis last year in his second start at the track. Starting 18th, he has enough place differential upside to prop up his score a bit, and Byron could be a great contrarian to either Clint Bowyer or Erik Jones this weekend.
Matt DiBenedetto ($8,300)
Starting 15th, DiBenedetto doesn't jump off the page as a must-own driver this weekend, but there are plenty of reasons to be excited about his chances. He is coming off to solid showings at Pocono last weekend, and he actually earned points in all four stages during the doubleheader. Meanwhile, Woods Brothers Racing always ran well at Indianapolis with Paul Menard behind the wheel, and now the No. 21 bunch has an alliance with a Team Penske organization that has also been strong at the Brickyard. Add it all up, and I think DiBenedetto could be a Top 10 contender and under-owned DFS gem.
Ryan Preece ($5,800)
While Ryan Newman is the obvious play below the $6,000 mark, Preece is lurking as a potential pivot. He actually finished 16th in his Indianapolis debut last year, and while he has been anything but consistent in 2020, he has shown Top 20 potential on occasion. Starting back in 36th, Preece has a chance to far outperform this price tag if he can approach a mid-pack effort Sunday.