NASCAR DFS: GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway Fanduel Lineup Plays

Brian Polking

Talladega Superspeedway is always a tough track no matter what form of Fantasy NASCAR you are playing, and with this year's rule changes leading to higher closing rates, I don't expect the action to be any calmer in Sunday's GECIO 500.

Trying to build a winning lineup at Fanduel for a track like Talladega is a particular challenge because although you can protect yourself through the place differential category to a degree by using drivers starting deep in the field, you still have the laps completed category to worry about.

With that in mind, I try to balance all the categories the best that I can when constructing lineups. I still like to target drivers starting in the back half of the field, but I will also sacrifice a few place differential points to roster a driver who has been much more dependable at the superspeedways.

I am also a little more cautious about using sleepers from the smaller teams, especially teams that tend to have "mechanical" issues more than other. Yes, these drivers may be starting so far back that they don't lose any spots, but if they only run half the laps, they are still going to cost you a lot of valuable points.

I do limit how often I use drivers starting up inside the Top 10, but I will make a few exceptions for drivers with elite resumes at the superspeedways. Like I said, strong finishes are huge in Fanduel's scoring, so if a driver leads some laps and finishes in the Top 5, they don't necessarily have to gain a lot of spots to post a big score. They are definitely riskier plays, but the risk can be worth the reward in GPP contests.

Check out all of my top DFS plays for Fanduel, and make sure to lock in your lineups for the GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.

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Must-Own Drivers

Kyle Busch ($14,000)

While he doesn't have the cleanest record at the superspeedways, Busch is no stranger to strong runs at these tracks. In fact, he went from 31st to second while leading 37 laps in this year's Daytona 500. He has plenty of differential points to gain again Sunday after a 22nd-place qualifying effort, and it's hard to pass on an elite driver like Busch when he has such a high ceiling.

Denny Hamlin ($12,800)

With seven Top 15s and five finishes of sixth or better in the last 10 superspeedway races, Hamlin meets my consistency requirement. He has also led double-digit laps six times in that same stretch, and he has differential points to gain after qualifying 23rd. Hamlin checks every box you look for in a building block for your Fanduel lineups.

Chris Buescher ($6,200)

It's weird to call Buescher a must-own option, but at Fanduel, solid finishes and place differential points are the best ways to post big scores. He has been doing both at the superspeedways lately, gaining at least 11 spots and finishing 17th or better in six of the last eight races. He's actually gained 19 or more spots three times in that same stretch. Buescher qualified way back in 31st, so he is positioned with similar upside this weekend.

Cash Plays

Kevin Harvick ($13,000)

Like a lot of drivers, Harvick runs hot and cold at the superspeedways. However, he always seems to have a strong car, and he has led double-digit laps in three of the last four races at Talladega. He also qualified 19th, so this is a chance to get exposure to an elite driver in elite equipment with some legitimate place differential upside. Harvick will be a popular pick and a great option to build around for cash games.

Jimmie Johnson ($9,5000)

He might not be a dominant force at the superspeedways, but Johnson has been staying out of trouble, finishing 12th or better in six of the last eight races. More importantly, he has a solid floor in the place differential category after qualifying outside the Top 20. Johnson looks like one of the safer mid-priced plays this weekend.

Erik Jones (8,500)

After a horrible start, Jones has been on a roll at the superspeedways, posting three straight finishes of eighth or better and winning the July race at Daytona last year. He qualified back in 27th this weekend, so not only does he have a safe floor, but he is positioned for a big point total if he keeps the momentum going.

Ryan Newman ($7,300)

Even before joining a Ford team this offseason, Newman had been one of the better fantasy plays at the superspeedways. After his 14th-place finish in this year's Daytona 500, he has seven Top 15s in the last 10 superspeedway races, including five Top 10s in the last seven races alone. He qualified back in 24th, so Newman also has the place differential numbers you look for.

Matt DiBenedetto ($7,000)

Prior to this season, DiBenedetto had managed some solid finishes at the superspeedways despite some low-budget equipment. In his first superspeedway start in the No. 95 back in February, he ended up leading a race-high 49 laps in the Daytona 500. Yes, he ended up crashing late, but he doesn't have as much risk this weekend because he starts outside the Top 25. There's no reason not to take a chance on his upside.

Ryan Preece ($6,000)

We don't have much data to go on, but in his superspeedway debut, Preece went from 21st to eighth in this year's Daytona 500. He qualified back in 30th for Sunday's race, so even if he finds trouble, he is not going to ruin your entire lineup. Preece is another low-risk pick with some upside.

Bubba Wallace ($4,500)

If you need a little cap space, Wallace should be one of the safest ways to get it. In six starts at superspeedways, he has five Top 20 finishes and a 17.3 average finish overall. Starting back in 28th, he should be able to use the place differential category to his advantage.

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GPP Plays

Joey Logano ($13,500)

Yes, Logano carries plenty of risk since he is starting in the Top 10, but nobody has been better at the superspeedways lately. In the last 10 races, his six Top 5s and seven Top 10s both rank first, and he has also led the second-most laps during that stretch. He has five Top 5s in the last six races alone, logging Top 5s in all three starts at Talladega. If he wins and leads a chunk of laps, the lack of differential upside won't matter at all.

Brad Keselowski ($13,200)

Keselowski is another driver who qualified in the Top 10 that I'll still consider using this weekend. Nobody has been able to dominate long stretches at the superspeedways better than he has, and he's been a stud at Talladega. His five wins here are the most among active drivers, and he has led laps in each of the last six races here, leading 20-plus laps five times.

Paul Menard ($7,800)

I like Menard as a contrarian play for GPP lineups because I don't expect him to be heavily owned after he qualified 17th. However, he has a 14.4 average finish over the last 10 superspeedway races to go along with five Top 10s. He had a strong car throughout Speedweeks, and I could see him coming away with another Top 10 finish this weekend.

William Byron ($7,200)

Byron has yet to show he can stay in one piece at these superspeedway races, and in five starts, his best finish is 20th. On the flip side, he has led laps in four of those five starts, leading double-digit laps three times. Starting 25th, he won't destroy your day if he has trouble, and he could end up with a big point total if he can actually make it to the finish. I think it's a gamble worth taking in a lineup or two.

Ross Chastain ($4,000)

There is always some risk using drivers from smaller teams, but you can't argue with Chastain's superspeedway numbers. He has compiled a 20.0 average finish in four starts while gaining an average of 15.0 positions per race. Back in February, he gained 26 spot and finished in the Top 10 in the Daytona 500. Chastain rolls off 34th this weekend, so he has nowhere to go but forward.

Corey LaJoie ($3,000)

You don't necessarily need the cap space LaJoie provides, but starting 36th, he has a ton of differential upside and a car that typically can make an entire race. He was able to gain 14 spots and finish 18th in the Daytona 500 earlier this year, and if he just stays out of trouble, he could end up with another sizeable point total this weekend.

Starting Lineup for the GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway

No. 1 Austin Dillon
No. 2 Aric Almirola
No. 3 Clint Bowyer
No. 4 Brad Keselowski
No. 5 Daniel Hemric
No. 6 Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
No. 7 Ryan Blaney
No. 8 Joey Logano
No. 9 Alex Bowman
No. 10 Kyle Larson
No. 11 Chase Elliott
No. 12 Michael McDowell
No. 13 Ty Dillon
No. 14 Kurt Busch
No. 15 David Ragan
No. 16 Daniel Suarez
No. 17 Paul Menard
No. 18 Matt Tifft
No. 19 Kevin Harvick
No. 20 Martin Truex Jr.
No. 21 Jimmie Johnson
No. 22 Kyle Busch
No. 23 Denny Hamlin
No. 24 Ryan Newman
No. 25 William Byron
No. 26 Matt DiBenedetto
No. 27 Erik Jones
No. 28 Darrell "Bubba" Wallace Jr.
No. 29 Tyler Reddick
No. 30 Ryan Preece
No. 31 Chris Buescher
No. 32 Landon Cassill
No. 33 Jeffrey Earnhardt
No. 34 Ross Chastain
No. 35 Parker Kligerman
No. 36 Corey Lajoie
No. 37 Reed Sorenson
No. 38 Justin Haley
No. 39 Stanton Barrett
No. 40 Cody Ware

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