DraftKings Rankings: Chicago

Rankings below are based on a mixture of expected output and DraftKings NASCAR salaries for that day. The ordering is not based on highest projected fantasy totals, but rather by the value of each driver. FPPK = Average fantasy points per $1,000 of salary.

1. Martin Truex, Jr. ($10,700) – The biggest dig on fantasy NASCAR is that it’s volatile. Anything can happen. Anyone can wreck. An ambulance took out one the best cars last week! Is Truex volatile? He’s scored over 60 points in each of the last nine intermediate tracks races (an average of 98 pts per race). That doesn’t sound volatile. (6.3 fppk)

2. Kyle Larson ($10,400) – Last year, Larson had to start from the back at Chicago. With only four cautions during the entire race, Larson never had a chance. In the two previous Chicago races, Larson finished with top-five scores. That was with inferior equipment. (5.6 fppk)

3. Kyle Busch ($10,600) – In the last five Chicago races, Kyle Busch has five DraftKings top-10s. Finishing position points have helped, but the main reason for his success is elite speed. This car consistently scores fast lap and laps led points every year at Chicago. (5.5 fppk)

4. Jimmie Johnson ($9,100) – Last year at Chicago, a distance of one foot allowed Johnson to stay on the lead lap during the first caution. The leaders pitted and he took the lead. His luck ran out when he was nailed with a pit road penalty near the end. Johnson scored the third most fantasy points. (3.7 fppk)

5. Denny Hamlin ($9,700) – His Darlington win was taken away because his car failed the post-race inspection. When Hamlin won at New Hampshire, he employed a very strange burnout. At any rate, he’s fast. (4.2 fppk)

6. Brad Keselowski ($9,400) – This looked like a Ford year back in March. Keselowski busted out of the gates at the 1.5-mile tracks in Atlanta and Las Vegas. However, as quickly as the speed appeared, it vanished. BK flashed some speed at Michigan, but it was ephemeral. (4.1 fppk)

7. Kurt Busch ($8,100) – Last season, Denny Hamlin won at Daytona. For most of the regular season, Hamlin’s team experimented. At the end, of the regular season, they turned it on. Kurt followed the same pattern. He enters the playoffs with three straight top-five finishes. (3.3 fppk)

8. Joey Logano ($9,000) – There are a lot of really good cars this season, but there are only a few great cars. Unfortunately for Logano, he’s one of the really good cars. He’s a consistent top-10 driver, but he has not led a significant amount of laps at an intermediate track since April. (3.1 fppk)

9. Matt Kenseth ($9,300) – Fantasy football has nothing on Fantasy NASCAR. An ambulance took out one of the top fantasy picks last week. That’s like a cheerleader concussing Tom Brady with a karate kick. Kenseth should run around 10th, but he doesn’t have the speed to lead the pack at an intermediate track. (3.5 fppk)

10. Clint Bowyer ($8,200) – Points no longer matter. Bowyer can take chances and race for wins. A change of strategy will not make his car faster than the JGR cars. When Bowyer was running his best with his former teams (MWR and RCR), he earned five straight top-10s at Chicago. (3.5 fppk)

11. Ryan Newman ($7,500) – This is a great time to be on a hot streak. Newman has four consecutive top-10 finishes heading into the playoffs. Over that span, he’s averaging 56 fantasy points per race. In his last 10 Chicago races, he has seven top-10 finishes. (4.5 fppk)

12. Kevin Harvick ($10,100) – It’s all about comparisons. Harvick is having a good season, but not when you compare it to previous seasons. He set the second place finish record in 2015. Compared to the JGR Toyotas, he’s not a Xfinity car, but he’s not in JGR’s league either. (4.2 fppk)

13. Chase Elliott ($9,900) – The #24 car has been strong at Chicago. Gordon passed the torch to Elliott last season, and Elliott responded with 86 fantasy points. The #24 car scored over 50 fantasy points in each Chicago race from 2013 to 2015. (3.7 fppk)

14. Aric Almirola ($6,000) – He’s still too cheap. His results at Chicago are mixed. Two of his races are outside of the top-30. Three of his races are top-20s. That’s fine for a $6,000 driver. The #43 car is strong this season. Bubba Wallace finished 11th in this car in his first Monster Cup intermediate track race. (4.4 fppk)

15. Erik Jones ($8,400) – This summer at the intermediate tracks, Jones has been fast in the practices and fast in the races. Having a fast car helps, but not all rookies can translate one fast lap in practice into 300 fast laps in traffic. (4.2 fppk)

16. Jamie McMurray ($8,500) – One part of fantasy NASCAR is identifying the fast cars. The other part is figuring out how to get those cars into your lineup. McMurray is always fast, but he never fits. He’s averaging 37 points at intermediate tracks, but rostering him makes it difficult to afford an elite driver. (3.4 fppk)

17. Ty Dillon ($6,900) – Throw out the two intermediate track duds (that’s not very many), and Dillon averages 35 fantasy points per race. Duds asides, his lowest score is 25 fantasy points. He’s safe, and he’s cheap. (4.6 fppk)

18. Ryan Blaney ($8,700) – The Wood Brothers’ #21 car is fast. It excels at the intermediate tracks. The two times that Blaney started on the front row, he scored fast lap and laps led points. In the other intermediate track races, Blaney was a top-10 contender. (2.7 fppk)

19. Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. ($7,400) – In eight of the 10 intermediate track races this season, his average running position is 17th or better. In six of those eight races, Stenhouse has finished better than 17th. It’s too early to dub him “The Closer,” but he can be “The Good Finisher.” (3.9 fppk)

20. Daniel Suarez ($7,800) – Richmond was a nice bounce back week for Suarez, but the fear of a wreck still looms. Suarez had avoided trouble for most of the season, but his last two intermediate tracks races have ended in DNFs. (3.9 fppk)