Fantasy lessons learned from the 2013 Sprint Cup Series season
RELATED: Play NASCAR Fantasy Live!
The flagship fantasy game for NASCAR.com, NASCAR Fantasy Live is now open. While the basic functionality remains the same, there have been a few changes to enhance the gaming experience. This year, scoring will be based on four categories: laps led, the number of fastest laps recorded in a race, place differential between where a driver starts compared to how he finishes and his finishing position.
One of the changes this season is a player's finishing position within a league will no longer convert to league points like in 2013, which means every race point counts toward the overall points total. In 2014, bonus points will continue to be awarded for picking the best pit crew and manufacturer each week.
NASCAR Fantasy Live has also simplified the makeup of leagues. A league must have 25 entries to qualify for prizes this year. To keep prizing competition fair, the league maximum is set at 25 as well, instead of up to 43 persons. The game has kept all of the attributes that make it mimic NASCAR's rules. The same number of points is awarded for a driver's finishing position as NASCAR awards in a race, and with the added bonus categories, the game reflects the importance of the entire team: pit crew, manufacturer and driver.
As always, the game designers have set the salary cap to be challenging. With a budget of $100, players need to manage their team in such a way as to capitalize on the most expensive marque drivers while looking for less expensive options with potential. As careful as the designers are, there are always bargains to be had.
Players who participated in the 2012 game watched Greg Biffle's value skyrocket in the middle portion of the season. Last year, Kurt Busch was one of the best values in the game. Someone else will arise in 2014 and the key to success could be in identifying him early. Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth will probably pick up in 2014 where they left off in 2013, but they are not going to catch anyone by surprise. On the other hand, rookies are hard to handicap and as a result will begin the season with modest prices. If Austin Dillon and Kyle Larson have the kind of spirited competition media anticipate, they could quickly become place-and-hold drivers as their values rise. Last year, Kenseth and Joey Logano put to rest the notion that switching teams means a driver will struggle. Kevin Harvick, Busch and Ryan Newman expect to restate that point in 2014.
To keep players abreast of driver news throughout the season, updates from RotoWire.com can now be found on the fantasy front page.