2014 PreSeason Nascar Rankings
Joey Logano, #22 Shell-Pennzoil, Team Penske [Yahoo Class B]
His first year with Team Penske proved to be a fruitful one as Logano had career highs in top-5s and top-10s while logging a career-best 14.1 average finish. He also made the Chase and ranked in the top 15 in a majority of the loop data categories. After failing to live up to the hype for the first four years of his career, Logano may finally be realizing his potential. Expect borderline top-10 production from him again in 2014.
Greg Biffle, #16 3M/Bondo, Roush Fenway Racing [Yahoo Class B]
While he made the Chase and posted a respectable 14.4 average finish in 2013, Biffle managed just 4 top-5s all season and ranked outside the top 10 in most of the scoring loop categories. More concerning is the fact that he has now had 4 or fewer top-5s twice in the last three seasons. Biffle should have no problem providing top-15 value, but his upside is very limited.
Tony Stewart, #14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1, Stewart-Haas Racing [Yahoo Class B]
Stewart's numbers from last year are fairly useless. After all, he was just in the middle of his typical midseason surge when he broke his leg in dirt track event and missed the final 15 races of 2013. Stewart remains on track to return for the start of the 2014 season, and when healthy, he is a lock to visit victory lane and make the Chase. However, the fact that he will be recovering from a major injury and trying to run a newly-expanded four-car operation could take a bit of a toll on the three-time series champ.
Ryan Newman, #31 Caterpillar, Richard Childress Racing [Yahoo Class B]
After five solid seasons with Stewart-Haas Racing, Newman moves to Richard Childress Racing in 2014, and moving from one multi-car powerhouse organization to another should mean more of the same for the solid but unspectacular fantasy option. In his five years with SHR, Newman posted a 15.1 average finish, had at least 14 top-10s each season and never finished outside the top 15 in points. Granted, he never won more than 1 race in any of those five seasons and never reached double-digit top-5s, but as long as you aren't expecting elite production out of Newman, he won't disappoint.
Brian Vickers, #55 Aaron's Dream Machine, Michael Waltrip Racing [Yahoo Class B]
Vickers has spent the past couple of seasons as a part-time driver, and when he has been on the track, he has been effective. However, fantasy owners may want to think twice before assuming he can sustain that level of production for an entire season. After all, his best full-time campaign included just 4 top-5s and a 17.3 average finish. Meanwhile, his recurring blood clots that have already sidelined him on two separate occasions make him a risky selection in fantasy drafts. Vickers will be a useful fantasy option in 2014, but he is still a top-15 driver at best.
Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., #17 Best Buy/Valvoline/Zest, Roush Fenway Racing [Yahoo Class B]
The two-time Nationwide champ had a quiet rookie year in the Cup Series, but a solid end to the season should have fantasy owners intrigued. Stenhouse piled up 11 top-20s in his final 15 races, collecting all three of his top-10s during the stretch. Throw in the fact that he actually completed the second-most laps of any driver last year, and the experience Stenhouse gained should pay big dividends in his sophomore year. Fantasy owners should tab him as a possible breakout driver.
Jamie McMurray, #1 McDonald's/Cessna, Chip Ganassi Racing [Yahoo Class B]
After two miserable seasons, McMurray got back on track in 2013. He finished 15th in the standings, compiling a 16.5 average finish and completing more laps than any other driver. He won't pile up a lot of top-5s or top-10s, but he should finish in or around the top 15 on a consistent basis in 2014.
Paul Menard, #27 Menards, Richard Childress Racing [Yahoo Class B]
On the plus side, Menard has averaged a top-20 finish in four straight seasons, proving he can stay out of trouble and deliver decent results. On the other hand, he has already reached his ceiling as a driver, and he has never had double-digit top-10s in a season and never leads many laps. For fantasy leagues that only take into account driver points, Menard's consistency makes him an asset. In all other formats, his lack of upside limits his value.
Martin Truex, Jr., #78 Furniture Row, Furniture Row Racing [Yahoo Class B]
The fallout from the Richmond scandal has Truex driving for Furniture Row Racing in 2014, and while the single-car team isn't going to have the resources of the Michael Waltrip Racing team he left behind, his days as a fantasy factor likely aren't over. After all, Kurt Busch made the Chase while driving for Furniture Row Racing last year and piled up 11 top-5s in the process. Truex isn't in the same class as Busch, but top-20 results aren't out of the question.
Austin Dillon, #3 Dow Chemical/Cheerios, Richard Childress Racing [Yahoo Class C]
On the heels of a Nationwide title, Dillon will jump to the Cup Series in 2014 and drive the No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing. While much of the talk has focused on Dillon bringing back the number of the late Dale Earnhardt, don't forget that this is a young driver that has won a Truck and Nationwide title in the past three seasons. Dillon has legit talent, and his grandfather Richard Childress is going to spare no expense to provide him the resources to be competitive. Look for Dillon to routinely finish in the top 20 in 2014. Dillon's an FFToolbox favorite. He loves fantasy football and his team did really well in Rotobowl this past season. Go Austin!
Aric Almirola, #43 Smithfield Foods, Richard Petty Motorsports [Yahoo Class B]
While he didn't have a great 2013 season, Almirola did take baby steps in the right direction in what was just his second full-time season at the Cup level. His 6 top-10s and 18.8 average finish were both career bests, and he finished a respectable 18th in points. Richard Petty Motorsports has extended Almirola's contract through 2016 so the organization is committed to developing him. A true breakout campaign may be another year away, but in the meantime, he should continue to provide top-20 finishes on a consistent basis.
Kyle Larson, #42 Target, Chip Ganassi Racing [Yahoo Class C]
His ascension through the ranks has been rapid, but Larson's all-around driving talent has made him one of the most-hyped young drivers in NASCAR. Fresh of Rookie of the Year honors in the Nationwide Series, he will replace Juan Pablo Montoya at Chip Ganassi Racing in 2014. Larson flashed top-15 potential in a handful of Cup starts at the end of last season, and while there is certainly going to be a learning curve, he should also have some brilliant performances.
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