FREE NASCAR DFS Cup Series Talladega Breakdown, Cheat Sheet, and Cash Core

It’s DEGA baby! I am a huge fan of Talladega. This is easily my favorite track on the circuit. High banks, high speeds and huge packs where ANYTHING can happen. Drivers holding it wide open within inches of each other, 3 wide and 10 rows deep. There is not a better sight than that for a NASCAR fan on a Sunday afternoon.  But for a DFS player, it can be a mine filled nightmare. “The Big One” is always lurking, waiting to strike at any lap to wipe out half the field and all your line ups. When that happens, it’s all about hoping you’re lucky enough to have your drivers squeeze through the mess. I’m going to try to help you navigate through the carnage so that hopefully when the smoke clears, you see some green.


Pack racing has a larger impact on DFS games than just the possibility of a big wreck. For starters, there are only 188 laps. That’s only 131 dominator points on the slate. But it gets worse than that. 84 of those points are fast lap points. When you are in a pack, the cars in the draft and towards the back are running faster laps than the leaders. We see those fast laps get spread out amongst essentially the entire field. No one really accumulates a ton of fast laps. So that leaves 47 points for laps led that often gets split between a handful of drivers. In the last 5 races at Talladega, no driver has scored 15 or more dominator points. In those same 5 races, drivers scored 15 or more PD points 37 times! Position differential is king when it comes to tracks like Dega and it should be the major focus of roster construction today.

With PD being a main focus, a lot of who we are going to start is going to be determined by where a driver is starting. The concept is really simple. The further a driver starts towards the back, the higher their upside will be. The other bonus is the higher their floor will be if they get snatched by The Big One. The plays become more risky the closer the the front they start. Lower floor and lower ceiling. I really like the following visual. It shows the Avg. DK points scored, for each starting position in the last 5 Talladega races. I also added a line that represents an AVG score of 27 DK points.

This graph paints a pretty clear picture as to where points are being scored from and where we should be focusing when building line ups today. Drivers starting in the back half of the field are averaging well above the average points scored. While drivers starting in the front half are scoring an average well below average. You can find some upside in the 10-20 range but drivers starting inside the Top 10 are virtually unplayable. Even if those guys do manage to make it through the wreck they aren’t going to score as high as the guys that make it through who started behind them. I would only recommend using guys in the 10-20 range in GPP, and would limit it to 1, maybe 2 drivers per line up. For cash games I’m just focusing on guys starting in the back half of the field, closer to the back the better.

Look, stacking the back is not a secret or new concept. Everyone will be jamming in the guys from the back. Today’s race also presents us with a handful of obvious plays that are going to be super chalky. You know as well as I do that we can’t just jam in the chalk and expect to takedown a big tournament. What good is sneaking a guy through the big wreck if everyone else owns him too? We are going to need to find those guys that will go over looked that can still provide us with PD upside. To help us find those plays today, lets look at the top scoring, low owned plays in the last 5 Super Speedway races.

You can see that many of the top scoring leverage plays came from guys starting between 16th and 24th. These guys also provided the highest scores out of these plays because their upside can be Top 5 or even victory lane. Guys today that stand out the most in this range with low owned potential are Chastain, Briscoe, and McDowell. A few guys showed up on this list who started inside the Top 10. Still not enough to justify the risk, especially when you see how much lower their scores were than the other leverage plays that worked on this list. If your looking for leverage further back than P24, then your going to have to a shit box car, or Cole Custer. For some reason no one has been playing Custer on Super Speedways from the back and he has been performing.

If there ever was a day to play multiple line ups then its today. With so much variance you want to give yourself as many bullets as you can. Your driver pool should also be a lot larger than a typical week, playing more guys with lower exposures. I would not go higher than 35% exposure on any 1 driver on the slate today. When I’m building line ups, I like to split the field in half by starting positions. Then I’ll start building stacks; with either 6, 5, or 4 guys from the back half with 0, 1, or 2 guys from the front half. So 6-0, 5-1, and 4-2 stacks. I also pay attention to the chalk I’m using in each line up, refraining from using more than 2 of the chalk plays in each line up.

This is the strategy I’m rolling with today, but as I said earlier, anything can happen. Really everyone is in play and anyone can end up optimal. If you like someone, then play them. This is a week you can play your favorite drivers or even your favorite numbers and you probably would have just as much of a chance at hitting a big score than using any other strategy. Have your kids set a line up, have your dog make a line up, or pick names from a hat. Whatever strategy you use, your gonna need Lady Luck on your side when/if the big one happens.

My last important note is don’t worry about using all your salary. If your leaving thousands of dollars on the table in each line up, then your doing it right. Unlike normal weeks, we shouldn’t really look at guys based on the value they will return against their salary. The Raw score a driver score means way more today than how it compares to their salary.  I try to always shoot for 45 points from each driver in GPP. If you can build a line up of everyone scoring more than 45 points, then you are going to be in for a big pay day. So instead of asking yourself what a driver has to do to hit 5x or 6x value, you should be asking yourself what a driver has to do to score more than 45 points, regardless of their salary.

Cheat Sheet 

Below is my cheat sheet for today’s Cup Series race from Talladega. My driver pool is a lot larger than normal due to the nature of today’s race. I have included finishes and Driver Rating from the last 9 Super Speedway races. I also included the required finish for each driver to score our GPP goal of 45 points. I have the drivers sorted by starting position since that is the most important stat today. I highlighted all the guys in play for me today. Drivers shaded in blue are going to be super chalky, great for cash, but don’t load them up in GPP. Drivers in purple are in play as well,  but should carry low ownership

Positions 1-12

FADE!! I’m not interested in playing anyone in this range.

Positions 13-20

This range brings risk, but also a fair amount of win equity with guys like Logano, BK, and Cindric. There’s also a good chance that  Briscoe, Jones and Chastain come in with low ownership. I will be using mostly only 1 guy from this range in each line up, but will have some with 2 guys in this range. To give you a better idea of my thoughts on everyone I’m going to rank them how I prefer them in each range. I would rank this range as follows: Cindric, Logano, BK, Briscoe, Jones, Chastain, Dillon

Positions 21-30

This range is the home of the chalk today. Blaney, Bowman, Elliott and Buescher will all carry heavy ownership today. They all have had Super Speedway success and provide PD upside so there’s not a lot to argue against them here other than their ownership. McDowell is great on Super Speedways and no one will play him from P21. Almirola, Harvick and Stenhouse all have similar upside as the chalk 4some from above, but should be a little lower owned. Burton is a dart throw that no one will play, the Wood Bros do bring fast cars to Dega and Daytona. Custer always gets overlooked on Super Speedways, so another low owned option with 45+ point upside. I would rank this range Buescher, Elliott, Blaney, Bowman, Stenhouse, Harvick, Custer, McDowell, Almirola

Positions 31+

Lajoie is who I think will be the chalk in this range. He looks like the obvious play with his experience and history on Super Speedways. Gragson won the Xfinity race so he might pick up some steam. Gilliland was running great at Daytona before he had trouble. And Ragan is in shit equipment, but normally finds a way to make it to the end and moves forward when it matters. I’d rank this range Lajoie, Gilliland, Gragson, Ragan.

Cash Core

This core is intended for Cash games only. Do not play any driver starting inside the top 20 in your cash line ups.


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