Once upon a time – in a section of fantasy sports sites far, far away – lived the world of NASCAR fantasy/DFS. It isn’t a dusty space; there is a ton of activity there from February to November. It’s just tucked away, nice and neat, for people looking for something different than what they’ve always done. NASCAR DFS provides a weekly opportunity to connect with other race fans, set your lineups, and have an entirely different vested interest in every race.
The 2023 Primer is here to look at the different things you need to know and things you want to know. When you’re done, you’ll be an official member of a small-but-growing club of fantasy NASCAR fans. And nobody has you covered like Fantrax. Let’s enter the acceleration zone, shall we?
NASCAR Fantasy/DFS: 2023 Primer
We’ll break this down into different digestible parts with an eye on not using too many car metaphors.
Learn the Lingo
When I first told my dad that I was covering NASCAR fantasy/DFS, he asked if the drivers got points for left turns. While I appreciate the joke from a man who has never watched the sport, people obviously can only be successful if they understand how and where the points come from. Here is an overview of the basic terms and ideas you need to know.
Both DFS sites that feature NASCAR – DraftKings (DK) and FanDuel (FD) – and most season-long fantasy formats will include a scoring category called “position differential” or “place differential.” (The words are interchangeable for this purpose.) This number is figured quite simply: If Driver A qualifies to begin 10th and he ends up 18th, then he will have a position differential of -8. On DK, that will subtract eight points from your overall score; on FD, it will cost you four points. However, the opposite is true, too. If Driver B qualifies for 18th and ends up in 10th, he will gain eight points on DK and four on FD. This is what we talk about when we say “movement points” in our weekly articles.
DraftKings offers bonus points for one driver per lap in the forms of “fastest lap” and “lap led.” The driver who collects the fastest lap receives +0.45 points and whoever leads at the end of the lap picks up +0.25 points. Since only one driver can get the bonus per lap, they’re considered “dominator points.” FanDuel is a bit stingier with their bonuses, offering only a +0.1 bonus per lap led. In season-long formats, check your scoring to see what kind of bonuses you receive in these (or other) areas. It’s important to keep this in mind as you set your rosters each week.
Average Driver Rating
Average Driver Rating (ADR) is a complex formula that takes eight different stats into consideration to produce an ADR for each racetrack, type of racetrack, etc. A perfect driver rating is 150 and is meant to serve as a snapshot of the driver’s form and ability. While it is not a perfect system, it certainly gives some great insight into any given race and is always a helpful piece of information when selecting drivers.
Know the Set-up
There are some consistencies in both DFS formats and things to keep an eye on in season-long leagues.
Finishing Position Reward
While so many of the above elements take place during the race, all fantasy NASCAR formats reward winning and finishing positions. Let’s say Driver A starts a 200-lap race in 10th and finishes in 10th with no other scoring events during the race. DraftKings awards him +34 points. FanDuel gives him +31 for the finish plus 20 more for completing 200 laps (+0.01 per lap). The higher the finish, the higher the reward, so it’s not all about these other nuances.
Season-long leagues will have their own roster requirements. Many of them have a maximum number of races a driver can be started in a year, but check your scoring settings for this. In DFS, DraftKings uses six drivers, while FanDuel uses five. Both formats have a $50,000 salary cap, and the drivers’ prices change weekly.
In my NASCAR Driver Primer (to be released next week), I will cover who drives for what team, but aside from a few tracks, stacking teammates isn’t particularly helpful.
The Cars Themselves
Before 2022 and the arrival of the Next Gen car, there was a stronger correlation between make (Chevrolet, Ford, or Toyota) and racetrack that would often give DFS players better insight into how to structure their lineups. However, much of this went out the window last season as the teams adjusted to the vehicles. There were a lot of tire issues (and more car fires than seemed reasonable), so mixing and matching the historical information with what we learned last year makes 2023 a new DFS frontier of sorts.
Season-long fantasy NASCAR contests differ from the other sports in that, technically, everyone can roster the same drivers every week. There is no “draft” that allows you to pick a guy, so your opponents can’t have them. There are numerous ways to set up leagues that emphasize strategy with your budget and your selections.
For instance, one format I play in here on Fantrax only allows me to use a driver 12 times in one season. With 36 races on the docket, it’s important to create an outline of which drivers you might want to use at which tracks. To use a football analogy, it might seem easy to win if everyone can roster Josh Allen at the same time, but what if you could only use him for six NFL games?
I encourage you to find at least one league and give it a shot in addition to playing DFS. More types of games make for happier days.
Even if you’ve accidentally ended up here, welcome to NASCAR fantasy/DFS, one of the most fun, niche, enthrallin fantasy sports there is. I’m excited about the new season and look forward to having you along for the ride! If you want to talk about racing or anything else on your mind, hit me up on Twitter at @thewonkypenguin or shoot me an email at [email protected].
Check back next week for my picks for the preseason Clash at the Coliseum as well as more preseason fantasy NASCAR primers to get your engines started.
There. I made it all the way to the end with only two car puns. Whew.