Fantasy NASCAR Tips and Picks for Michigan

Curtis HiggsContributor IAugust 17, 2011

Fantasy NASCAR Tips and Picks for Michigan

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    Fantasy sports are one of the most popular activities among sports fans, and NASCAR has it own fun fantasy sports system.  In many of the leagues, drivers are given a monetary value and the team owner only has $100 to pick five drivers to fill out his or her team.  It can be tricky picking the right five drivers each week, but I thought I could offer some advice for tips and drivers to use for this weeks race in Michigan.   All of the driver values come from the league run by ESPN.

Tip No. 1: Don't Ignore Qualifying

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    Qualifying in NASCAR is not always as important as it is other series such as F1, but there are certain tracks where qualifying can be important.  Michigan, in recent history, has shown that good qualifying position can lead to good results.  

    Over the last three races at Michigan, over half of the drivers that started in the top 10 end there as well, so before picking your team for this week, make sure to take a quick glance and see who is starting where for the race this weekend because it could pay dividends.

Tip No. 2: Look at Practice Times

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    This is kind of like looking at the qualifying speeds, but I find that the practice speeds are a more valuable tool.  When teams are in practice, they are looking for the best set up for the car in race trim.  These times can be a tricky thing to sift through at times, but once you find what you are looking for, they can be extremely useful.  

    If you look at practice times at the first race at Michigan, things are a little confusing, because the top three drivers in second practice were David Stremme, JJ Yeley and Travis Kvapil.  These were just single lap times, but where the good information lies in the 10 lap average speed.  This gives a better idea of how quick a driver and car really are and the top two drivers, Clint Bowyer and Mark Martin, both found there way into the top 10 on race day.  These practice times can provide very useful fantasy information if the times can be properly interpreted.  

Tip No. 3: Look at What Vegas Is Saying

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    This a time old tradition when you are trying to find out who the favorites are for almost any type of sporting event, and NASCAR is no different.  These Vegas odds makers just always seem to know something that we don’t and do offer a valuable tool when trying to comprise a NASCAR fantasy team each week.  When looking at odds, you should only really use them to pick out the top two drivers for your team each week.  

    Trying to find a sleeper pick with odds is just a good way to rack your brain because you can’t make up your mind of which 50/1 driver you should pick for you team.  The best way to utilize the odds is to look at guys who are anywhere from 5/1 to 10/1 and build your team around these drivers.  This week, Carl Edwards and Jimmie Johnson are both at 7/1, so picking either of these two drivers as your lead driver could be seen as the safe pick.   

Lead Driver: Denny Hamlin

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    Now we can actually look at which drivers you should look at picking up this week before the race. The first pick every team should make this week is to pick up Denny Hamlin.  In his last five races at Michigan, Denny Hamlin has been the most dominant of any driver in the Sprint Cup series. He has never finished worse then 10th and only finished out of the top three once, with two of the those races being wins for the No. 11 Toyota.

    These kind of results make Denny a must have for almost every team in this week's upcoming race, and he comes in at a good price this week at 21.6.  Picking Denny Hamlin for your team will not guarantee a win in your fantasy league, but picking him will help your chances of not losing since most of the other team owners will more than likely have him as well.

Chase Drivers to Avoid and Pick

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    The top 10 in drivers standings is a great place to start looking for drivers for this weeks race.  Buyer beware, though, that even though a driver is in the top 10 in points doesn’t always guarantee success at certain tracks.  

    Of all the drivers currently in the top 10 in points, the driver to avoid at Michigan is Ryan Newman.  Over the last three races ran at Michigan, Newman has an AFP(average finishing position) of 20.3. With an AFP this poor and a cost of 23.1, Newman would just a poor place to invest almost one-fourth of your budget.

    For a slightly lesser cost, you could fill you teams spot with Newman’s teammate and boss, Tony Stewart.  Over the past three races at Michigan, Smoke has had an AFP of 6.0, and when his price is 22.4, it is hard not to put the two-time champion on your team.  It only takes one poor finish to ruin your week in fantasy NASCAR, and by steering clear of Ryan Newman, this should help your chances of avoiding a poor finish.  

Sleeper Pick

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    The fifth and final spot on a fantasy team may not seem that important, but I believe selecting a good fifth driver is what separates good teams from bad teams.  This week's sleeper pick is Brian Vickers, and adding Vickers would be a smart pick up for almost any team owner.  

    Michigan has been on of Vickers best tracks, with the last three races resulting in three top 10s, including one win and an AFP of 6.67.   He is also one of the cheaper drivers with a cost of only 16.4, and adding Vickers allows for a little more room to spend on your third and fourth driver.  With these strong finishes and extremely good price, every team owner should consider adding Brian Vickers to their team.  

Potential Lineup

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    Lead Driver: Denny Hamlin (21.6): Hamlin is one of the safest picks Michigan, with two wins in the last three races, and is a must have for each team this week.

    Second Driver: Tony Stewart (22.4): Smoke has an AFP of 6.0 at Michigan, and at a cost of 22.4, he is an ideal candidate for another top point scorer.

    Third Driver: Joey Logano (19.0): With two top 10’s in the last three races at Michigan and having a similar car to that of teammate Denny Hamlin, Logano should be a top 10 contender.

    Fourth Driver: AJ Allmendinger (20.0): With an AFP of 13.67 over the last three races at Michigan, The Dinger is a fairly safe and affordable pick for the fourth driver this week.  

    Fifth Driver: Brian Vickers (16.4): Rounding out the team with Vickers offers the best chance for a scoring a top 15 finish for driver in this price range.

    Total Team Value: 99.4