Fantasy Nascar: Indianapolis Value Start Rankings

Fantasy Nascar Value Start Rankings Indianapolis

By Bill Hnat


We are coming off a one week break from Fantasy Nascar. With only a few races left until the Chase, the stakes are getting higher for NASCAR drivers and in our fantasy leagues. For the players who chose Jimmie Johnson at New Hampshire, we are looking forward to the opportunity to make up some of the lost points. There is still plenty of time to gain or lose the points lead, and also the opportunity to take a few risks to try to win your league. How we choose over the next few weeks will have a strong impact on our ability to win down the stretch. The goal is to put yourself in a position to win.

Indianapolis has not been particularly kind to the “A” tier as only one driver from this tier has led more than fifty laps over the last five years. Despite this statistic, there are multiple options available from the “A” tier, and most of them have seen success. If you have more than five starts remaining, Jimmie Johnson could be a solid option. Johnson has a ninth place average since 2008 and has led 198 laps in the same time span. He is also the only driver who has led a lap in each of the last five races. The Brickyard is not one of Johnson’s nine best tracks so only use him if you have been saving his starts.

Jeff Gordon is another great option out of the “A” tier. Gordon has an eighth place average over the last ten years and has led laps over the last three races. Gordon is one of the most consistent drivers in 2014 and is a good pick this week. If you are sliding behind the frontrunners in your league, you may consider alternate options to gain points. Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick could provide the opportunity to gain points if Gordon or Johnson experience bad luck. Kyle Busch, with a twelfth place average, has the second-best average finish in the tier since 2004. Kevin Harvick has an eleventh place average over the last five years. Other below-the-radar options include Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth, and Clint Bowyer. History is not on the side of Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kurt Busch. I would suggest choosing another option this week.

The “B” tier has two drivers with the best average finish over the last five years. Tony Stewart has averaged a sixth place finish. Although he has only led a total of 12 laps in that span, Stewart is worth starting in Indy. The driver with the second-best average finish is Greg Biffle. With an eighth place finish since 2009, Biffle is a solid choice this week. The 16 team has been average in 2014, and will need to win in order to make the Chase. Ryan Newman led 45 laps on his way to victory last year. He has high upside, but has only led a lap in one of the last five races. His ten-year average of 18th is not impressive, making Newman a high-risk high-reward pick.

For dark-horse candidates, Jamie McMurray has a 12th place finish since 2008 and has led laps in two or the last five races. Paul Menard won the race in 2011 and has upside. Like Newman, he does not project long-term historical success. I would not start Keselowski, Logano, Hamlin, or Edwards. They can win anywhere, but you have better tracks later in the season to use these drivers. No other drivers should be considered in the “B” tier.

Surprisingly, the driver with the most laps led in the last five years comes from the “C” tier. Juan Pablo Montoya has led 203 laps in this time span. His average finish position is only 20th place, which is impressive enough for the bottom tier. Austin Dillon finished 26th last year at Indy, and should improve upon that number this week. Landon Cassill, though he does not have an impressive history at Indy, has led a lap in three of the last five races. Many fantasy managers have used most of their Dillon and Larson starts to climb to the top of the standings. The managers who have saved their starts should jump in the standings down the stretch of their season.

The Fantasy Nascar value start rankings determines a drivers average finish at Indianapolis in relation to his or her average finish at all 36 tracks in the season. The formula also compares a driver’s performance in relation to all the drivers in the tier. The goal is to identify the best races to use the best drivers in each tier as well as discover under-the-radar drivers who can outperform their expectations. For additional details on the Fantasy Nascar Value Start Rankings, please visit


Tier A

Best option: Jeff Gordon

Solid choices: Kyle Busch, Kasey Kahne, Kevin Harvick, and Jimmie Johnson

Below average: Matt Kenseth, Clint Bowyer, and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Stay away from: Kurt Busch


Jeff Gordon 14.96

Kyle Busch (-1.16)

Kasey Kahne (-2.77)

Kevin Harvick (-7.77)

Jimmie Johnson (-12.73)

Matt Kenseth (-22.28)

Clint Bowyer (-24.38)

Dale Earnhardt Jr. (-24.97)

Kurt Busch (-58.54)


Tier B

Best options: Tony Stewart and Greg Biffle

Solid choices: Jamie McMurray, Paul Menard, Ryan Newman, Brian Vickers, Brad Keselowski, Aric Almirola, Martin Truex Jr., and Carl Edwards

Below average: Joey Logano, AJ Allmendinger, Denny Hamlin, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Stay away from: David Ragan, Marcus Ambrose, Casey Mears, and David Gilliland


Tony Stewart 38.25

Greg Biffle 18.14

Jamie McMurray 16.66

Paul Menard 15.39

Ryan Newman 14.13

Brian Vickers (-0.12)

Brad Keselowski (-6.27)

Aric Almirola (-8.9)

Martin Truex Jr. (-16.29)

Carl Edwards (-19.88)

Joey Logano (-23.8)

AJ Allmendinger (-24.64)

Denny Hamlin (-31.59)

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (-38.4)

David Ragan (-42.55)

Marcus Ambrose (-43.46)

Casey Mears (-49.24)

David Gilliland (-52.6)


Tier C

Best option: Juan Pablo Montoya

Solid choices: Austin Dillon, Trevor Bayne, Kyle Larson, and Landon Cassill

Below average: Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier, and Michael Annett

Stay away from: All others


Juan Pablo Montoya (-1.7)

Austin Dillon (-6.2)

Trevor Bayne (-6.7)

Landon Cassill (-12.9)

Danica Patrick (-25.7)


Fantasy Football: “You’re Putting Frank Gore’s Age On A Pedestal”

By Vince Stroup (@304boysfantasy)

In many ways, the fantasy football community is like a stubborn old man. We become stuck in our ways, choosing to live by a set of age old laws etched in stone long ago. Rules like, “draft a RB in the first round”, and “don’t draft defenses until late”are strategies most every fantasy manger abides by. We choose to adhere to these rules, falling in line without ever really questioning if they actually hold any merit. Such is the case with the “rule of 30”; the preconceived notion that once a RB turns 30 years old his fantasy production will fall off dramatically. The research suggests that a RB usually reaches his potential for peak production between ages 26 to 28 and drops off by age 30. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not implying that the rule of 30 is bogus. There is definitely some validity to this theory, but like the rest of the “laws” of fantasy football, I feel it should be used more as a guideline than actual law.

I’ve seen the historical data, the graphs, and the countless pages of analysis supporting such a decline, but it’s igno- rant for us to assume all backs creeping up in age will suddenly fall off the fantasy map simply because they had a birthday. Some of the best fantasy seasons ever have been turned in by backs in their 30’s. Age is not the end all be all. The rule of 30 should be just one of the many variables we take into account when trying to predict player regression. Blindly applying the rule of 30 to all older backs, without considering all angles, is close-minded and just plain irresponsible.

This is especially true for Frank Gore this season. According to, Gore’s current ADP is in the late 7th round and he’s the 29th back coming off the board.

I can understand the logic in no longer considering Gore a 2nd, 3rd or even 4th round pick. But when you look at the running backs being taken ahead of him this year, I think It clearly shows just how carried away we all can get when considering backs in their 30’s. Gore’s ADP is a typical case of the fantasy community recklessly applying the rule to a player who has been one of the most consistent backs in fantasy for the past 10 years. Gore has posted 3 straight seasons of at least 8 TD’s and 1,100 yards; yet we choose to turn up our nose and write off this production strictly because of his age. In our attempt to always be ahead of the curve in predicting a player’s demise, we use age as a weak excuse to write them off.

We are in such a hurry to jump ship on a player so we can be the first to say “I told you so”, that we ignore the factors that actually matter when evaluating a player. The rule of 30 was developed for RB’s from a different era. In the 80‘s, 90‘s and early 2000’s it was not uncommon for a RB to have 350+ carries a year. This heavy workload led to obvious wear and tear on backs and consequently they rarely lasted into their 30s. Those days are no more. We are entering a era full of pass happy offenses, where many backs are lucky to see 350+ carries in two seasons.

The truly “forward thinking” fantasy manager recognizes these changes in the game, and is not afraid to buck the trends. We need to acknowledge that the game is not the same game it was 20 years ago and adjust accordingly. We need to evaluate each individual player objectively, regardless of age, taking all factors into account before placing value on them. Who cares if Gore is 31! You should care way more about his production last year and his role within the offense than when his damn birthday is!

Critics of Gore will point to his heavy workload, and the expected decrease in carries, as additional reasons to avoid him this season. I understand those concerns and agree they should be considered when drafting Gore. As I mentioned before, I don’t take issue with Gore being taken later in the draft. What I have a problem with is the backs being drafted ahead of him. Are people seriously taking Ray Rice, Trent Richardson, Knowshon Moreno, and Pierre Thomas over Gore? Each of these backs are in a time share of their own, and all of them have far more serious question marks as to what their role will be in their team’s offense. I get it, Gore is old in running back years, but have we all forgotten that Gore plays for the San Francisco 49ers? Jim Harbaugh runs the ball, and when he’s done running the ball, he runs it some more. The 49ers finished 3rd in rushing attempts last year and if there was ever an offense where a time share backfield can be a positive for a back, it’s in San Francisco where there are more than enough carries to go around. Gore will most likely lose a few carries this year; I think we can agree on that. The funny thing is, people assume he didn’t share carries at all in past seasons. When in reality, Gore has been sharing the workload for some time now. Gore accounted for just 66% of 49ers’ RB carries in ’12, and 70% last season.

Regardless of the youngsters behind Gore on the depth chart, it’s hard to imagine a scenario where Gore gets less than 60% of the carries. Less carries for Gore is not necessarily a bad thing either. I’m of the opinion that a lightened workload for Gore could work to his benefit, making him more effective with the carries he does get. At the end of the day, Gore is still the focal point in one of the NFL’s premier rushing attacks. Barring injury, he should continue to see the bulk of the work, especially on the goal line when it matters most.

We need to learn from our mistakes. Everyone jumped off the “Gore-train” last year for the same reasons we’re jumping off this year. In return, all Gore did was make us look stupid. He finished 17th in PPR in yet another solid fantasy season. Gore is one of the most underrated backs to play the game today. Regardless of age, there is no denying that Gore is still in one of the best situations for a RB to have for success.

There will once again be plenty of opportunity for Gore to make a significant fantasy impact. But don’t let me stop you, if you wanna be cute and shuffle through the mine field of running backs going ahead of Gore, be my guest! Go ahead… take your chances on Pierre Thomas (who turns 30 this year) catching 70 balls again; take Ray Rice and pray he gets get his starting job back after his suspension; take your chances on Trent Richardson regaining his 2012 form. Meanwhile, I’ll be sitting back collecting my 1200+ all-purpose yards and 8 TD’s from Mr. consistency……old man Gore.

You can follow Vince Stroup on Twitter @304boysfantasy and check out his website at

Fantasy NASCAR: New Hampshire Value Start Rankings

By Bill Hnat

New Hampshire Fantasy Nascar Value Start Rankings

After an underwhelming rain-soaked Daytona weekend, we are reminded why Fantasy NASCAR players dislike restrictor plate tracks. My hats off to you if you were wise enough to select Aric Almirola, Brian Vickers, or Casey Mears. Most of our picks ended up in one of the two huge accidents during the race. For those of you who are frustrated at last week, we are lucky to be returning to a more predictable track in New Hampshire. For this week, we can return to picking frontrunners in each tier in New Hampshire.

The “A” tier provides us with multiple options to start. A case could be made to start every driver in this tier. The driver you choose depends on how may starts you have remaining for your top drivers. The top choice in the “A” tier is the obvious one, Jimmie Johnson. Johnson has averaged a top eight finish over the last ten summer races in New Hampshire. He has also led at least one lap in four of the last five races. Johnson has the highest probability of a top finish this weekend.

Kurt Busch and Kyle Busch have led the most total laps out of the tier over the last five years. Kurt Busch led the most laps in last year’s race with 102. Drivers who led the most laps in New Hampshire have a 55% chance of finishing in the top ten the following year. The only drawback to the Busch brothers is that they have finished with a worse final average than the rest of their tier. Jeff Gordon is a consistent driver at the track with a seventh place finish and 90 laps led since 2009. Every driver in the “A” tier has averaged a twelfth place finish or led 100 laps over the last five years. Chances are your driver will finish strong this week.

The “B” tier is not as consistent of a group, but has a couple of top drivers to pick. Tony Stewart has averaged a top ten finish at New Hampshire over the last five years. He is also the only driver to lead laps in all five races. This statistic is valuable because it reveals Stewart’s consistency at the track. With the most total laps led in this time span, the historical data points to starting Stewart this week. The other “B” driver who has consistent success here is Denny Hamlin. Hamlin won the race is 2012, leading 193 laps. He also boasts a ninth place average over the last ten years. Besides a dominating effort in 2012, Hamlin has only led one lap over the last four races.

If you are running low on Hamlin or Stewart starts, there are some other options available. The New Hampshire summer race is Joey Logano’s ninth best track over the last five years. He is one of the best drivers in 2014 and has potential at every track. For dark-horse candidates, Brian Vickers won last year and Ryan Newman has led the fifth-most laps over the last five years. Many of the other drivers have an average between 15th and 20th place. They may not win your league for you this week, but they will not lose it either.

No driver in the “C” tier has the historical data to predict success at New Hampshire. Because of this, I would suggest starting Kyle Larson or Austin Dillon. Most of us are running low on Dillon and Larson starts, but this is a week to use one anyway. If you have five starts or more, then you are in good shape. If you absolutely cannot start Larson or Dillon, you can try another rookie like Justin Allgaier or Michael Annett.

The Fantasy NASCAR value start formula compares a driver’s historical data at a given race in relation to the driver’s performance in all 36 races of the season. The formula all takes into account a driver’s performance in relations to the other drivers in the tier. The goal is to identify the nine best races to start your top drivers in each tier in order to be effective in all 36 races of the season. For additional details on the value start formula, please visit


Tier A

Best option: Jimmie Johnson

Solid options: Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth, Clint Bowyer

Below average: Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch

Stay away from: None


Jimmie Johnson 14.43

Jeff Gordon 10.40

Kasey Kahne 3.73

Dale Earnhardt Jr. (-7.09)

Kevin Harvick (-9.61)

Matt Kenseth (-11.92)

Clint Bowyer (-16.57)

Kyle Busch (-25.40)

Kurt Busch (-26.04)


Tier B

Best options: Denny Hamlin and Tony Stewart

Solid options: David Gilliland, Joey Logano, Martin Truex Jr., Aric Almirola, Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards, Ryan Newman, and Brad Keselowski

Below average: AJ Allmendinger, Brian Vickers, Marcus Ambrose, David Ragan, Jamie McMurray, and Paul Menard

Stay away from: Casey Mears and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.


Denny Hamlin 23.43

Tony Stewart 11.63

David Gilliland 3.06

Joey Logano 0.87

Martin Truex Jr. 0.80

Aric Almirola (-4.48)

Greg Biffle (-6.50)

Carl Edwards (-8.22)

Ryan Newman (-10.37)

Brad Keselowski (-17.51)

AJ Allmendinger (-20.14)

Brian Vickers (-20.36)

Marcus Ambrose (-20.76)

David Ragan (-30.85)

Jamie McMurray (-34.10)

Paul Menard (-34.70)

Casey Mears (-65.98)

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (-70.30)


Tier C

Best Option: Kyle Larson

Solid Options: Austin Dillon and Reed Sorenson

Below Average: Justin Allgaier, Cole Whitt, JJ Yeley, and Landon Cassill

Stay Away From: Joe Nemecheck and Danica Patrick


JJ Yeley (-28.94)

Landon Cassill (-31.89)

Joe Nemecheck (-43.81)

Danica Patrick (-67.47)