Fantasy NASCAR: Polking's Picks for Talladega

by Brian Polking on May 1, 2014 @ 12:45:29 PDT


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My recent run of bad luck continued last weekend at Richmond, leading to yet another mediocre week in just about every fantasy format. Granted, there were some bright spots. I took a chance on Joey Logano in Fantasy Live, and he responded with a victory. Meanwhile, my sleeper A.J. Allmendinger delivered a season-best sixth-place finish, while Carl Edwards logged a solid top-10 for several of my lineups and started my streak in Streak to the Finish.

David Ragan, NASCAR
Ragan is a star at plate tracks

On the flip side, my top pick Kevin Harvick lost the handle on his car midway through the race and finished unspectacular 11th. More damaging was the horrible night for Clint Bowyer. After being tabbed as one of the drivers to beat by the competition, Bowyer struggled from the drop of the green, eventually suffering a pair of tire failures and finishing dead-last. Needless to say, it really doesn't matter how well your other picks do when you get saddled with a 43rd-place finish.

Things aren't going to get any easier this weekend at Talladega, but if there is a bright side to heading to one of the most unpredictable tracks on the schedule, it's the fact that I am heading into the race with lowered expectations and will be pleasantly surprised if all my picks make it to the checkered flag in one piece.

I'll also head into the race with a very conservative strategy, especially in the Yahoo! Sports Fantasy Auto Racing and FOX Fantasy Auto Racing games that limit the number of times each driver can be used. I'm not going to risk wasting a start from one of the big names when I can still put together a big score using a lineup that would be considered a joke most weeks.

Realistically, any lineup that I use has an equal chance of getting wiped out in a heartbeat, but at least by saving starts from the top-tier drivers, I have a better chance of making up any ground I might lose if my lineups do indeed fall victim to the "Big One" at Talladega.

Yahoo! Sports Fantasy Auto Racing

Dale Earnhardt Jr. (A): Junior's consistency at the superspeedways makes him tough to pass him up in a format that relies mainly on where a driver finishes. Over the past two years, his 8.4 average finish in restrictor-plate events is by far the best in the series, and during that time, he is the only driver to finish on the lead lap in all nine races.

Greg Biffle (B): He isn't known for his restrictor-plate racing skills, but Biffle actually has been very reliable at the superspeedways. In fact, he ranks third in the series in points scored at plate races since 2012. Meanwhile, Biffle has finished in the top 20 in nine of his last 10 starts at Talladega, and he has seven top-15s during the stretch.

David Ragan (B): Ragan is a no-brainer pick in this format. Not only has he finished seventh or better in the last four races at Talladega, but he gives me chance to get a great finish this weekend while saving a start from another driver that could actually be useful at another track.

Michael Waltrip (C): With Austin Dillon and Kyle Larson establishing themselves as the clear C-List studs, any opportunity to get a decent finish while saving a start from them has to be taken advantage of. With that in mind, I'll take full advantage of Waltrip, who finished fourth at Talladega last spring and has three top-20s in his last five starts at the track.

What did Brian play in other formats?

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About Brian Polking

Racing has been part of Brian's life ever since he can remember, and he spent his childhood at dirt tracks throughout Ohio and Kentucky watching his father race. NASCAR naturally became his favorite sport, and he has been following the Cup, Nationwide and Truck Series for most of his life. Brian majored in journalism and economics at Ohio State University and becoming a sports writer has always been his dream. Although he has covered everything from minor league baseball to the NCAA tournament, his passion has always been NASCAR. Brian has served as a NASCAR writer for a variety of sites, eventually becoming head editor of the NASCAR section for His knowledge of NASCAR comes from his life-long love of racing, and he tries to add a personal touch to every article he writes. Brian is always up for talking NASCAR with anyone that wants to. Brian joined KFFL's team in 2011.

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