M&Ms 400 DFS Gems

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A 400-mile race at Pocono Raceway gives drivers and teams a long time to make adjustments that will get them to the front, but that doesn’t mean track position isn’t important. Races on this tricky triangle are won by the fastest cars and the fastest cars typically start up front.

Place-differential points in the DraftKings game are important, but they are offset by other factors. This is especially true for moderately priced drivers below the $10k mark. This week, you will want to set your lineup from the inside out. Start with some value picks just under the average-cost-per-driver $8,333, identify your bargain pick, and then see how much you have remaining.

A couple of spins in practice among cars with the fastest laps resulted in modest qualification efforts for Ross Chastain and William Byron. Kevin Harvick also rolls off much deeper in the field than we expected, but with a great record at Pocono, he should be able to overcome that deficit.

Group A: Most Expensive (>=$10,000)

Chase Elliott ($10,100)
Elliott’s Pocono record in the DraftKings game is erratic. In his last four starts, he lost points twice and scored among the top-five in his other two efforts. His recent record trumps that, however. He’s earned top-five points in his last four races this year with his lowest production being 58.8 last week at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. And yet, his salary cap continues to be the barely above the $10k mark. In the past 45 days, his average points-per-thousand is 30.03, which easily outpaces Martin Truex Jr.’s 23.54.

Ross Chastain ($10,000)
Chastain’s loss is your gain. His spin at the end of practice did a little damage to his car and he rolls off the grid 21st, but that only means he will earn a lot of positive place-differential points. The cap managers discovered Chastain’s potential at World Wide Technology Raceway and priced him in the five-figure range for the first time in his career. Since then, he’s been that expensive on three other occasions leading into this race, but he has earned top-10 points in this game for eight consecutive weeks.

Group B: (Between $9,900 and $8,000)

Kevin Harvick ($9,000)
Harvick has been in the Group B range for the last 24 races and while DraftKings continues to put him there, he is an attractive proposition. He has outperformed his salary cap in more than half of those races, including top-three performances at Sonoma Raceway (61.3 points), Road America (52), and last week in New Hampshire (59.3). Each of these tracks have a little similarity to Pocono in that drivers must back up the corner to accelerate at the apex. In his last six Pocono races, he’s earned top-five points three times and the seventh-most on another occasion.

Kyle Larson ($9,800)
My, how the mighty have fallen. Last year Larson was the most expensive driver for both Pocono races with astronomical salary caps of $12,500 for Saturday’s race and $12,800 on Sunday. He was an inconclusive value in both with 41.1 and 53.8 points earned respectively, but for the past two weeks, he has been under the $10k mark. It’s hard to imagine that he will stay down for long and Pocono is a track that has always been kind to Hendrick Motorsports (HMS) drivers.

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Group C: (Between $7,900 and $6,500)

Austin Cindric ($7,200)
The only driver in the field who has outperformed Elliott in terms of points-per-thousand during the past 45 days is Cindric. Compared to Elliott’s 30.03, Cindric has a 34.21. That is five points greater than the next closes driver at this level. Daniel Suarez has earned 29.37-per-thousand. Since he has not yet run at Pocono, we don’t have any numbers for Cindric to evaluate there, but he has outperformed his salary cap in the last six races and earned top-15 points in the last five. Included in this list is a 10th-best performance last week on a similarly-flat track in New Hampshire.

Erik Jones ($7,600)
Jones was fast in practice with the sixth-best speed of 167.004 m.p.h., but he scraped the wall on his qualification lap and rolls off the grid deep in the field. There is a lot of room for him to improve with the 34th grid position, and while that is not the only factor to consider, this has been a strong track for him in the past with five top-fives and an eighth in 10 starts. He was in better equipment at the time, but in his current ride, he has five top-10 finishes in his last 18 starts this year.

Group D: (Less than or equal to $6,500)

Justin Haley ($6,100)
Haley will not anchor your roster, but he is one of the worthiest drivers at this level. He has outperformed his salary cap in 15 of 20 races, including at Gateway (43 points), Phoenix Raceway (37), and last week at New Hampshire (28). Putting him on the roster frees up about $450 for each remaining driver and considering that he has scored fewer than 20 points only four times this year, he is one of the week’s hidden gems.

Todd Gilliland ($5,300)
Gilliland has outperformed his salary cap in all but one race this season and earned 20 or more points 14 times. If you are inclined to building from the bottom up, choosing Haley and Gilliland means that you can almost skip over Groups C and B and take pretty much anyone you like because the average cost-per-driver for the remaining four is $9,650.

The top-10 points’ earners from the 2021 Pocono races were:
Saturday’s race 1. Alex Bowman (64.15), 2. Ryan Blaney (61.45), 3. Kyle Busch (60.15), 4. Denny Hamlin (49.2), 5. Chase Elliott (48.45), 6. William Byron (48.2), 7. Kurt Busch (47.05), 8. Brad Keselowski (43.8), 9. Joey Logano (43), 10. Kyle Larson (41.1).

Saturday’s race 1. Kyle Busch (79.05), 2. Brad Keselowski (65.75), 3. Alex Bowman (56.3), 4. Ryan Blaney (53.85), 5. Kyle Larson (53.8), 6. Ryan Preece (51), 7. Kevin Harvick (49.9), 8. William Byron (49.7), 9. Bubba Wallace (42.2), 10. Joey Logano (39.35).

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Last 45 Days

Driver

Avg.
Rank

Total
Points
Earned

Avg.
Points

This
Week's
Cap

Points
Per K

Group

Group A

Chase Elliott

3.20

303.35

60.67

$10,100

30.03

A

Martin Truex, Jr.

12.00

242.50

48.50

$10,300

23.54

A

Ross Chastain

7.40

231.45

46.29

$10,000

23.15

A

Denny Hamlin

17.20

166.05

33.21

$10,400

15.97

A

Kyle Busch

21.20

121.45

24.29

$10,600

11.46

A

Group B

Kevin Harvick

8.00

239.85

47.97

$9,000

26.65

B

Ryan Blaney

11.20

194.25

38.85

$9,400

20.66

B

Christopher Bell

15.60

179.65

35.93

$8,900

20.19

B

Kurt Busch

17.00

167.05

33.41

$8,500

19.65

B

Kyle Larson

14.00

167.80

33.56

$9,800

17.12

B

Chase Briscoe

20.60

123.10

24.62

$8,700

14.15

B

William Byron

19.20

110.80

22.16

$9,200

12.04

B

Joey Logano

25.20

79.10

15.82

$9,600

8.24

B

Group C

Austin Cindric

7.40

246.30

49.26

$7,200

34.21

C

Daniel Suarez

8.60

232.05

46.41

$7,900

29.37

C

Erik Jones

14.60

185.50

37.10

$7,600

24.41

C

Bubba Wallace

18.20

136.75

27.35

$7,500

18.23

C

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

19.20

119.95

23.99

$6,600

18.17

C

Brad Keselowski

19.00

125.25

25.05

$7,300

17.16

C

Chris Buescher

20.80

100.00

20.00

$6,800

14.71

C

Aric Almirola

20.40

109.20

21.84

$7,800

14.00

C

Austin Dillon

21.80

96.85

19.37

$7,000

13.84

C

Tyler Reddick

24.00

62.45

12.49

$8,300

7.52

C

Alex Bowman

27.60

24.60

4.92

$8,100

3.04

C

Group D

Justin Haley

15.00

168.05

33.61

$6,100

27.55

D

Todd Gilliland

19.80

125.35

25.07

$5,300

23.65

D

Michael McDowell

17.40

139.70

27.94

$6,500

21.49

C

Harrison Burton

20.40

128.50

25.70

$6,000

21.42

D

Cody Ware

24.20

88.45

17.69

$5,100

17.34

D

Ty Dillon

23.80

91.35

18.27

$5,800

15.75

D

Cole Custer

24.20

95.50

19.10

$6,300

15.16

D

Corey LaJoie

26.00

70.55

14.11

$5,500

12.83

D

JJ Yeley

25.50

35.00

17.50

$5,000

7.00

D

Josh Bilicki

31.00

24.00

6.00

$4,800

5.00

D

BJ McLeod

30.00

17.00

5.67

$4,700

3.62

D

Noah Gragson

31.00

2.00

2.00

$5,600

0.36

D

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