By Jordan McAbee
The FOX Fantasy Auto Racing game is one that is similar to many others yet has it’s own twist. You have to assemble a roster of 5 drivers while staying underneath a salary cap, and you earn points based on their finish. However, you also earn points based on place differential. This means that that if a driver starts 21st and finishes 11th, he or she receives an additional 10 points that week because he or she improved 10 positions. This is somewhat like NASCAR.com Fantasy Live, except for the fact that you don’t lose points if a driver finishes lower than he or she starts. This is a major point to consider. You also only get one bonus point per lap led and one bonus points for the most laps led with FOX, and that’s it. Having success in this game is pretty much picking the drivers that start further back yet will probably finish up front. That should be your strategy every week, and that’s how you’re going to win. Now, let’s get to the best choices for Atlanta.
FOX Fantasy Auto Picks for Atlanta
Kyle Busch ($11,000) – Here’s your must pick driver of the week–at least for the FOX Fantasy Auto game. For some reason, Kyle Busch is only the 10th-highest-priced driver for Atlanta, which means there’s a bunch of potential points there for not an incredibly large amount of money. Add in the fact that Rowdy is starting at the back of the field due to his qualifying time being disallowed, and you have the driver that should be on every single FOX roster on Sunday. Seriously. If you don’t understand why, you’re probably new to this game. The Fox Fantasy Auto Racing league is all about place differential points, and trust me, Kyle Busch isn’t going to finish anywhere near the back of the pack on Sunday (unless, of course, he wrecks or something). The fact that he should have won the pole for Sunday’s QuikTrip Folds of Honor 500 shows that the #18 Toyota is fast enough to win this race. Kyle has finished 6th or better in three of his last five races at Atlanta and that includes his win here in 2013. Put Kyle Busch on your FOX roster and start building around that #18 car. You can thank me later.
Jimmie Johnson ($11,400) – Remember, you don’t get many points for the most laps led, so I think putting someone like Kevin Harvick in this spot isn’t the right choice. I thought about it, but decided on the cheaper option of Jimmie Johnson. Also, “Six Time” will be starting the QuikTrip Folds of Honor 500 from the 19th-place starting spot, so there’s the potential to pick up quite a few bonus points for place differential there. Finally, I thought the #48 Chevrolet was one of the best cars on the track during Saturday’s Happy Hour practice session, and Jimmie Johnson is my pick to win on Sunday. Why wouldn’t you put the potential race winner on your roster, especially considering he’s just the 6th-highest-priced driver for the week? Exactly.
Matt Kenseth ($10,800) – Our third “heavy hitter” driver of the weekend is Matt Kenseth, who ran the most laps in Happy Hour of all drivers. Typically this is something that Matt only does when he is very happy with his race car, so that might not be very good news for the competition. Kenseth has never won here at Atlanta but it’s only a matter of time before he gets to victory lane. He currently has back-to-back top 5 finishes at this track and hasn’t finished worse than 13th here since way back in the 2005 season. When you consider all of that with the fact that the Gibbs Toyotas have been running super fast thus far in 2016, you have a great pick in Matt Kenseth–and at a great price point as well.
Chase Elliott ($5,000) – Our low-priced driver of the week (you always need one) is going to be the rookie Chase Elliott. I don’t see many great picks under $7,000 besides him and Ryan Blaney. I’m expecting both of these rookies to have similar runs on Sunday, and they will both start the QuikTrip Folds of Honor from the 12th row. I’m going with Chase Elliott simply because he looked better in practice on Saturday and I trust the Hendrick Motorsports equipment (and team) more than I do that of the Wood Brothers. Flip on coin on who you want to pick between these two, they should both score a similar amount of points. And for those wondering, I see no other driver in this price range worth considering for Atlanta. Maybe Brian Scott just because he starts in the top 10 (remember you don’t lose points based on place differential) and the Richard Petty Motorsports Fords have actually been pretty decent here at Atlanta recently.
Brad Keselowski ($11,100) – Here’s where things get a little tricky. We have $11,800 worth of cap space left with this pick, which is $100 short of grabbing Denny Hamlin. If we were able to make that work, I would in a heartbeat. I won’t give up Kyle Busch or Jimmie Johnson on this team, so that means the only way we could get Denny Hamlin on here is if we dropped Matt Kenseth for someone else (because there’s no salaried drivers lower than Chase Elliott). Dropping the #20 Toyota would simply be a foolish move. Of the drivers that are available for us to pick, the only one that has top 5 potential is Kurt Busch, but he starts on the pole and that throws place differential points out the window. So we’re looking at a max points range from Kurt of about 35 points on Sunday. So I’m going to take my chances here with Brad Keselowski, who struggled quite a bit on Saturday in Happy Hour practice. However, the #2 team seemed to improve as Saturday went on, and Keselowski starts 17th, so if he makes it to 11th or so we’ll have a decent amount of points out of him. Other popular options here include Carl Edwards, but he starts 7th, as well as Kyle Larson who qualified 20th. Larson hated his car on Sunday, though, and that’s not a risk I want to take.