NASCAR DFS Picks: Top Value Plays for YellaWood 500 at Talladega (October 2)

The field is set for Sunday’s race at Talladega with Christopher Bell and Kyle Larson on the front row. Let’s delve into this week’s top Fantasy NASCAR DFS picks and value plays for DraftKings and FanDuel NASCAR DFS lineups for the YellaWood 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.

NASCAR DFS Game Theory for Talladega

One of the basic ideas about NASCAR DFS that people tend to glaze over, and thus why the general DFS population will only stick with NASCAR DFS as long as they’re profitable, is the concept of adjusting rosters to the type of race or track that NASCAR is at in a current week. The more laps and the shorter the track, the greater the need for anchor drivers there is, as these drivers are prone to take advantage of starting position and clean air. These types of drivers accumulate hundreds of fantasy points via laps led and fastest lap points.

On the other end of this scale exist tracks like Talladega where the laps are fewer and the racing has a penchant for chaos. Anyone and everyone can wreck out at any time in a superspeedway event like the YellaWood 500. Therefore, building lineups with an eye toward place differential and finishing position points tends to be the path that not only has the safest floor, but also the highest ceiling.

With that in mind, the following criteria are for drivers recommended in cash games:

  • Access to double-digit place differential (the number of positions they gain from start to finish)
  • Start 20th or worse
  • Exhibit a history of finishing well/surviving chaos in superspeedway events
  • Should be able to finish in the top 12

The past four optimal lineups from Talladega

Above are the past four optimal DraftKings and FanDuel lineups from Talladega. Hitting multiple, or even all of these factors will give drivers a floor that is needed in cash games. Furthermore, for those that are new to superspeedway NASCAR DFS, don’t be shocked if lineups leave several thousands of dollars in salary cap on the table. That will just be a natural result when creating lineups this way.

The following blurbs are not going to be their typical deep dives into the statistical analyses behind playing a particular driver. Instead, more drivers will be addressed with shorter bylines explaining the rationale behind them in cash games or tournaments.

Fantasy NASCAR DFS Value Picks: YellaWood 500

Ryan Blaney, 19th ($10,400 DraftKings, $13,500 FanDuel)

Dating back to 2014, Team Penske has won at least one, sometimes even both, of the season’s two races at Talladega. With Ross Chastain having won the Spring race here, the pressure is on Blaney, as well as Joey Logano and Austin Cindric, to keep this streak rolling. Besides continuing this streak for the ninth-straight year, a win would set up Blaney for a guaranteed spot in the third round of the playoffs.

Besides a narrative that Blaney can fully capitalize on, his recent history at Talladega has been pretty good as well with a win back in 2020 and 21.4 laps led, on average, over the past five events here. Due to his lap-leading potential, Blaney barely squeezes in as a cash game play. However, don’t feel locked into playing Blaney as there are several more drivers with better place differential upside on this slate. Furthermore, in tournaments, don’t be shocked if Blaney ends up with one of the highest rostered percentages on the slate due to his starting position and name value in superspeedway races.

Martin Truex Jr., 22nd ($9,700 DraftKings, $8,500 FanDuel)

Dating back to this race last year, Truex has failed to finish outside of the top 13 in six-straight superspeedway races. With nothing left to lose, Truex could make it five-straight victories, in the playoffs, for non-playoff drivers.

Bubba Wallace, 27th ($8,900 DraftKings, $10,500 FanDuel)

A staple of cash games this week, Wallace has been a King of consistency at superspeedway races with nine-straight top 20 finishes since joining 23XI Racing. Furthermore, in the past five races at Talladega, Wallace owns the highest average running position (7.4) in the final 10% of the race. Not only does Wallace offer place differential upside but he gives that top 12 finishing position upside that is so valuable as well.

Corey Lajoie, 32nd ($6,000 DraftKings, $3,500 FanDuel)

Anytime Lajoie starts in the latter half of the field at a superspeedway race, he becomes an automatic play in all formats. He started off the season with finishes of 14th at Daytona, fifth at Atlanta, and 14th at Talladega. However, in the last two races, his finishes have dipped with 21st at Atlanta (a last-lap wreck fighting Chase Elliott for the lead) and 30th at Daytona but remember that only a quarter of the field finished that particular race. Superspeedway races present Lajoie’s best opportunity to win and he’s shown a willingness to push his car, in these races, in pursuit of that first victory.


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Landon Cassill, 33rd ($5,800 DraftKings, $3,000 FanDuel)

Some DFS players would assume that Cassill should belong to the group below due to the car he’s in. However, Cassill seems to play by a different script than the rest of the typical punt plays. His script, while not as aggressive as his Spire Motorsports teammate Corey Lajoie is still actionable enough where Cassill isn’t just riding around trying to avoid the carnage. Much like Lajoie, his average running position suggests that he situates himself in the middle of the pack, avoids trouble, and then grabs what position he can as the checkered flag waves. In his previous two starts at Talladega, that has resulted in finishes of 19th and 24th.

The Punt Plays

After watching drivers like Cody Ware, BJ McLeod and JJ Yeley finish in the top 10 at the Coke Zero Sugar 400; the temptation may be to succumb to recency bias and just jam these three drivers in hoping for chaos to reign supreme once again. While it’s inevitable that these drivers will gain place differential, as all three of them start 35th or worse, the chances that they exceed 25th is shallow.

In order for these drivers to really peak, they’ll need a slew of wrecks catapulting them up the standings so that they rise via attrition as they’re not going to force their way through the field like Corey Lajoie or Ty Dillon might. This isn’t to say that these three drivers can’t be a part of a cash build but utilizing all three might be stretching a lineup too thin.

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Phillip Bennetzen
Phill Bennetzen is the creator of the RaceSheets; all-inclusive stats and data NASCAR DFS spreadsheets for the Trucks, Xfinity, and Cup Series. Phill and the RaceSheets can be found at racesheetsdfs.substack.com

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