Fantasy NASCAR: Let's make a deal!

by Brian Polking on April 13, 2012 @ 17:22:06 PDT

 


The 2012 Sprint Cup season is six races old, and although the sample size is still somewhat small, fantasy owners do have enough information to go on to try to make some trades. In fact, the best trades often come early in the year when you have the chance to shop drivers that are off to unexpected fast starts and to trade for some bigger names that have been slow out of the gate. As more and more races go by, there is a greater chance that every driver will begin to approach their typical numbers. Once this happens, it is much harder to make a move that will be looked back on as the steal of the season. For owners looking to wheel and deal in the coming weeks, here are a few names to consider trading for and trading away.

Drivers to Trade Away

Greg Biffle: Let me start by saying that I think Biffle is going to have a strong 2012 season. I tabbed him as my top bounce back driver before the start of the year, and he should have no problem making the Chase. However, his incredibly hot start probably isn't going to last. Biffle currently owns a 6.8 average finish, but his career-best mark is 11.9. He is also on pace for 18 top-five finishes, when he has managed just 15 total top-five finishes the last three years combined. His value is never going to be higher than it is right now, and with names like Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch and Jeff Gordon sitting outside the top 10, why not see if a fellow owner is already hitting the panic button and willing to deal one of these proven options. If not, stick with Biffle. He may not be the point leader much longer, but he should remain a top-10 option throughout the year.

Martin Truex Jr.: While the performance of Michael Waltrip Racing as a whole is an encouraging sign for Truex's long-term success, let's be realistic. This is the same driver that has underwhelmed his entire Cup career, and he is currently sitting sixth in points and is tied for the series lead with four top-10 finishes. To say that Truex is overachieving is an understatement. He currently has an 8.7 average finish in 2012, and his career-best mark for a season is 16.4. More importantly, he has just 19 top-five finishes in his entire Cup career. Carl Edwards had 19 top-five finishes last season alone. Even if Truex does end up having a career year, that isn't saying much. Ryan Newman, Clint Bowyer and Brad Keselowski are looking up at Truex in the standings, but all three have been far more dependable throughout their careers. Dangle Truex in a few trade offers before his inevitable fade and see if there are any takers.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Is there a better bargaining chip than Junior? Not only is he second in the standings, but he is by far the most popular driver in the series. It's like in fantasy baseball when an owner decides to pick a team name that is a dead giveaway to their favorite MLB team. You know they are going to overpay for just about any player on that team, and savvy owners can take advantage. The same holds true for Junior, and there is a good chance someone from Junior Nation is just dying to get their hands on him now that he is running well. However, he has just one win since the start of the 2007 season, and even when he finished seventh in the standings last year, he had just four top-five finishes. He already has three top-five finishes in 2012, and while he is likely to break last year's total, Junior has averaged just three top-fives per season from 2009-2011. He has shown he can be consistent, but he just isn't the type of driver that is going to deliver 10-plus top-five efforts and carry a fantasy team. If you can move him for a driver that can, do it.

A.J. Allmendinger

Drivers to Trade For

Jeff Gordon: Through six races, Gordon is 21st in the standings and has just one top-10, no top-five finishes and a 22.5 average finish. During the past 17 seasons, he has failed to reach double-digit top-five finishes only once, and he finished with eight that year. During the same stretch, the lowest he has finished in the final standings is 11th. Gordon's luck has been lousy, and once a few breaks go his way, his numbers will quickly rebound. He has been too good for too long, and you should be happy to take Gordon off the hands of any owner that thinks the four-time champ is suddenly over the hill.

Kasey Kahne: Just because Kahne is frantically trying to find the reset button on the 2012 season doesn't mean owners should be reaching for the panic button, but they are. Yes, it is a flat out embarrassment that he is 31st in the standings with a 28.5 average finish, but some of his issues have been out of his control. More importantly, his per-season career numbers show a driver that is good for around 7-10 top-five finishes, 15 top-10s and a win or two. Since he has done next to nothing so far, the odds say his good runs are still to come. Kahne is running so bad that it might not take much to pry him away from a fellow owner. Martin Truex Jr. could easily land Kahne, and maybe even Joey Logano or Paul Menard, who are both off to decent starts. If you go after Kahne, keep in mind that you have all the leverage. The price tag could be surprisingly cheap and make Kahne a steal over the course of the year.

A.J. Allmendinger: Big things were expected out of Allmendinger when he moved to Penske Championship Racing in the offseason, but his 2012 season got off to a rough start. Even after a second-place run at Martinsville, he is still just 20th in points with a 20.5 average finish. There could be a few owners out there that are already convinced Allmendinger was overhyped and destined to be a bust. Four straight years of steady improvement in both number of top-10s and average finish say otherwise, and he could make a big impact down the road for a potentially cheap price. Jeff Burton, Juan Pablo Montoya and Menard are all ahead of Allmendinger in the standings, and I would trade all three in a heartbeat to bring Allmendinger on board. If his runner-up effort at Martinsville didn't already spoil the chances of snagging him cheap, a few more top-10s will. This is probably the last chance to trade for Allmendinger before his value starts to really climb.

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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 Fanball.com. 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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