Preseason NASCAR Rankings
Cars are hitting the track at Daytona International Speedway, and that can only mean one thing – NASCAR is back. The 2017 Monster Energy Sprint Cup Series season officially kicks off next week with the Daytona 500, but before the green flag waves on "The Great American Race," it's time to take a look at how the top drivers stack up heading into the season.
These rankings are how I view the overall value of each driver. Think of it like a draft board for a fantasy league. If I had to pick one driver for the entire year, the driver atop these rankings would be my No. 1 pick. Obviously, certain drivers perform better at certain tracks, and when a salary cap and other rules come into play, a driver's value is constantly changing.
Check out a complete look at the drivers who crack the Top 35 in my preseason rankings, and make sure to check back all year for rankings, strategies and advice for both season-long leagues and DFS NASCAR.
Joey Logano, #22 Shell-Pennzoil, Team Penske [Yahoo Class A]
He has become a perennial title contender since joining Team Penske, and Logano shows no signs of slowing down. He has won at least three races in each of the last three seasons, and after ranking first in Top 10s and second in Top 5s in 2015, Logano ranked second in both categories last year.
Kyle Busch, #18 M&M's, Joe Gibbs Racing [Yahoo Class A]
There was no championship hangover for Busch last year. He tied a career high with 17 Top 5s in 2016 and logged a career-best 25 Top 10s. He also ranked third in laps led. Busch is an dangerous as ever, and he is one of the few drivers who can deliver a Top 5 finish at any track on the schedule.
Kevin Harvick, #4 Jimmy Johns, Stewart-Haas Racing [Yahoo Class A]
I'll drop Harvick just a bit in the rankings because of Stewart-Haas Racing's offseason switch to Ford, but I don't expect his numbers to suffer much. He has been the ultimate blend of reliability and upside since joining SHR, and his last two years have produced averages of 20 Top 5s and 27.5 Top 10s. Pencil him in for another year of elite production.
Brad Keselowski, #2 Miller Lite, Team Penske [Yahoo Class A]
Keselowski is the total package as a fantasy option, and he is capable competing for a solid finish at any type of track. He is a safe bet to finish in the Top 5 in most statistical categories, and you can expect multiple wins and 20-plus Top 10s once again in 2017.
Matt Kenseth, #20 DeWalt, Joe Gibbs Racing [Yahoo Class A]
Even in a year when he was plagued by bad luck, Kenseth still managed deliver 19 Top 10s in 2016. He also ranked fourth in laps led, which means there is a great chance he piles up a lot more Top 5s this season. His high floor makes him one of the more dependable options week in and week out, and he is a stud at short tracks.
Jimmie Johnson, #48 Lowe's/Kobalt Tools, Hendrick Motorsports [Yahoo Class A]
It's hard to knock a guy that just tied Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty with seven championships, but Johnson won his title a year ago with his fewest Top 5s since his rookie season and the fewest Top 10s of his career. In fact, Johnson is in the middle of the worst three-year stretch of his career when it comes to consistency. Granted, Johnson at his worst is still better than what a lot of drivers have to offer, but he isn't the No. 1 fantasy option by any means.
Martin Truex, Jr., #78 Furniture Row, Furniture Row Racing [Yahoo Class A]
Make no mistake. Truex has been excellent the last two years, and he led the most laps in the series last year while absolutely dominating at the 1.5-mile ovals. However, bad luck and mistakes limited him to just eight Top 5s, so his high ceiling comes with some risk. I will be targeting at him at his top tracks, but he is a notch below the elite fantasy elite options.
Denny Hamlin, #11 FedEx, Joe Gibbs Racing [Yahoo Class A]
He'll frustrate fantasy owners with the occasional poor run, but Hamlin is still a no-doubt Top 10 fantasy option. His floor is multiple wins, double-digit Top 5s and 20 or so Top 10s, and Hamlin has become a stud at restrictor-plate tracks, road courses and flat tracks.
Chase Elliott, #24 NAPA Auto Parts, Hendrick Motorsports [Yahoo Class B]
Replacing a legend is never easy, but Elliott sure looked like a star in the making last year. He made the Chase as a rookie, finishing with 10 Top 5s and 17 Top 10s and challenging for wins on several occasions. He should only get better in 2017 and establish himself as one of the better fantasy plays.
Kurt Busch, #41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation, Stewart-Haas Racing [Yahoo Class B]
Landing with Stewart-Haas Racing has saved Busch's career, and he has become surprisingly consistent. Busch has 21 Top 10s in each of the last two seasons, and he his versatility is underrated. He can provide a solid finish at almost any track on the schedule.
Kyle Larson, #42 Target, Chip Ganassi Racing [Yahoo Class B]
Larson finally go the monkey off his back and reach victory lane in 2016, and more importantly, he also logged a career-best 10 Top 5s. His talent and upside are off the charts, and if he ever puts it all together, he is going to contend for titles. I still expect hot and cold stretches from Larson this year, but overall, I expect more Top 5s and more wins than ever before.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., #88 Nationwide Insurance/Mountain Dew, Hendrick Motorsports [Yahoo Class A]
I don't really know what to expect from Junior this year. Not only did he miss the second half of the season dealing with concussion symptoms, but he had just six Top 10s in 18 races before being sidelined. I think he will end up as a borderline Top 10 driver, but I will be taking a wait-and-see approach with him early in the year.