Undervalued Fantasy NASCAR Drivers
by C.J. Radune
on February 6, 2008 @ 11:00:14
Analysis: A strong run in the Chase for the Championship ended Busch's final season with Hendrick Motorsports on a high note. In the 10-race Chase, he climbed from ninth to fifth in the standings. Busch has also been consistently fast in preseason testing. The change to Toyota at Joe Gibbs Racing appears to have been a very good decision, as Busch, along with Toyota, has been impressive during the three testing sessions. The distractions that many thought would be an issue for the 22-year-old appear to be nonexistent. Despite his age, Busch has proven over the last two years that he belongs in the upper echelon of drivers. His average draft position has him going as a No. 2 driver in fantasy drafts. That is a huge value for a driver that should be considered as a low-end No. 1 driver.
Analysis: Martin is slated to be starting 24 points races in 2008, with the remainder to be driven by rookie Aric Almirola. In the same number of races in 2007, Martin finished 27th in the points with five top fives and 11 top 10s. He came extremely close to winning the Daytona 500, but Kevin Harvick beat him to the finish by a tenth of a second. The bottom line is that Martin is a strong driver, even in a limited schedule. His average draft position has him going extremely late, and for a driver that is likely to earn top fives and top 10s on a regular basis, those results should equal out to Martin being a low-end No. 2 or high-end No. 3 driver.
Analysis: One top five, two top 10s and two DNFs in 2007 earned Gordon 26th place in the 2007 Cup standings. After searching for a way to compete with the multi-car teams that are standard today, Gordon appears to have found a way. He recently aligned his team with Gillett Evernham Motorsports, switching from Ford power to Dodge. The partnership will increase the amount of information available to Gordon, which will help him improve his Car of Tomorrow program. Gordon should get a boost with the alliance, which could result in him putting a more competitive car on the track. Gordon's average finish has been worse than 25.8 only once over the last seven years. While his aggressive driving style can be a liability at times, Gordon has proven he can win on short tracks and is always a threat to win on road courses. Gordon is a solid option for fantasy owners as their No. 3 driver.
Analysis: With a couple of turbulent seasons behind him, Mayfield finds himself in a secure spot to start the 2008 season. His results over the last two years were not good; he finished with no top fives or top 10s during that time. Over that time, Mayfield struggled to lift up sub-par teams that struggled to secure sponsorship and to qualify on a regular basis. Mayfield has secured a spot in the first five races this season, something that wasn't available the last two seasons. Another positive sign for Mayfield is that Haas uses Hendrick engines and, as a result of that partnership, he has a strong Car of Tomorrow program. Mayfield looks poised to return to his former self in 2008. He could make a strong addition to any fantasy team as a low-end No. 3 driver.
Analysis: McDowell is scheduled to drive the No. 00 Toyota after the first five races of the season. This announcement puts McDowell on an established Toyota team with strong sponsorship for the majority of the season. He had an impressive 2007 season, as he challenged for the ARCA RE/MAX Series championship. He ended the season in second place and finished with four victories and Rookie of the Year honors. As strong as Toyota has appeared in preseason testing and as fast as McDowell is, the pairing should be a formidable force in 2008. Drafting rookie drivers can be risky; however, McDowell seems to be coming in at the right time with Toyota looking stronger than ever. McDowell is getting overlooked in most drafts, and in some, not getting drafted at all. Fantasy owners might want to make McDowell a prime target to have as a No. 4 or No. 5 driver.
About C.J. Radune
Radune has been a KFFL contributor since January 2008.
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