The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs are in full swing, and and some fantasy owners are along for the ride.
Drivers are set to compete in Sunday’s Apache Warrior 400 at Dover International Speedway, as the quest for the Cup championship marches on. Following Martin Truex Jr.’s win at Chicagoland Speedway and Kyle Busch’s victory at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, 14 other playoff-eligible drivers are ready to put it all on the line in the first elimination race of the postseason.
Given the circumstances, anything could happen at the “Monster Mile,” which could make life difficult for fantasy owners. But that’s where we come in.
Whether you need help picking an A-List driver who has a shot at winning or an up-and-coming C-List racer who could help steal you some points, we’ve got you covered for the first round of your NASCAR fantasy playoffs. Here are the drivers you should give seats to, and the ones you shouldn’t, for Saturday’s race at Dover:
Must pick: Jimmie Johnson
Johnson hasn’t had his normal championship-level speed for most of the season, but we expect him to have a big day at Dover because, well, he usually does.
The seven-time Cup champion won at the mile-long track in June, giving him 11 career victories at Dover. Furthermore, Johnson has an absurd 16 top-fives in 31 stars at the “Monster Mile.” Listen, Truex obviously is the safest A-List play in the game, but you probably need to bench him at some point, and this probably is the best time to do it.
Stay away: Kurt Busch
Since winning at Dover in 2011, Busch has cracked the top 10 only once in 11 starts. And we don’t expect things to get much better Sunday.
Busch will be in desperation mode, as he needs a strong finish to advance in the playoffs. That could be a good thing, if the race were on a track that Busch has had success on. There are far better B-List plays this weekend.
Sleeper pick: Jamie McMurray
McMurray has been a lock for the top-16 for nearly two months, and that consistency makes him an intriguing B-List play Sunday.
The Chip Ganassi Racing driver has three top-10 finishes in his last five starts at Dover, including a seventh-place finish in June. If you’re looking to sit Chase Elliott or Kyle Larson, then give McMurray a shot.
Value pick: Erik Jones
Daniel Suarez has raced his way into being a more than viable C-List option, but we’re still going with Jones.
The rookie driver finished 15th at the “Magic Mile” in June, but really deserved a better fate. He’s been awfully impressive in the second half of the season, and should be in all fantasy lineups until his starts are exhausted.
Thumbnail photo via Mike DiNovo/USA TODAY Sports Images
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