2013 Preseason NASCAR Rankings
Kevin Harvick, #29 Budweiser/Rheem, Richard Childress Racing [Yahoo Class A]
His status as a lame duck driver isn't exactly conducive to a monster fantasy season, especially after his numbers declined pretty much across the board for the second year in a row in 2012. Still, Harvick finished outside the top 20 only three times last year, and he should grind out enough solid finishes to remain a top-15 option in 2013.
Martin Truex, Jr., #56 NAPA Auto Parts, Michael Waltrip Racing [Yahoo Class B]
On the heels of a year when he set career-highs in top-five finishes and top-10s and posted a career-best 12.1 average finish, Truex' value has never been higher. However, a little regression isn't out of the question for a guy with more career DNFs than top-five finishes. Expecting him to duplicate his top-10 production from a year ago could be asking a bit much.
Joey Logano, #22 Shell-Pennzoil, Penske Racing [Yahoo Class B]
A change of scenery could be just what the doctor ordered for Logano. After dealing with the pressure of being the next big thing throughout his four years at Joe Gibbs Racing, he finds the lights a little less bright with his new Penske Racing teammate Brad Keselowski deflecting the attention. Lowered expectations could mean bigger numbers for Logano.
Ryan Newman, #39 Quicken Loans/Haas Automation, Stewart-Haas Racing [Yahoo Class B]
In four years with Stewart-Haas Racing, Newman has averaged 15 top-10s and a 14.8 average finish. Fantasy owners should expect more of the same in 2013, and while those numbers aren't spectacular, Newman certainly has a place on fantasy rosters. In leagues that factor in qualifying results, feel free to bump him up a few spots.
Paul Menard, #27 Menards, Richard Childress Racing [Yahoo Class B]
He is never going to be a superstar, but Menard has molded himself into a serviceable fantasy option. He finished the 2012 season with a career-high nine top-10s, and his 15.5 average finish was a career best as well. Not to mention the fact that he actually completed more laps than any other driver in the series. Owners could do a lot worse than a guy that stays out of trouble and lands in the top 20 most weeks.
Mark Martin, #14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1, Stewart-Haas Racing [Yahoo Class B]
The veteran is slated for part-time duty again this year, but as he showed in 2012, he doesn't need a full season to be an effective fantasy option. He actually finished 26th in the points (despite sitting out 12 races), and he notched 10 top-10 finishes as well. He is back with Michael Waltrip Racing this season, and owners should expect Martin to continue to churn out top-15s in 2013.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr., #17 Best Buy/Valvoline/Zest, Roush Fenway Racing [Yahoo Class C]
Fresh off his second Nationwide title in as many seasons, Stenhouse will make the jump to the Cup Series. He lands in a prime spot as he is set to replace Matt Kenseth at Roush Fenway Racing, and he has already managed three top-15s in five Cup starts. Stenhouse has the talent and equipment to be a top-20 driver immediately, and he should only get better as the year goes on.
Kurt Busch, #78 Furniture Row, Furniture Row Racing [Yahoo Class B]
No driver stands to improve more in 2013 than Busch. He was basically a fantasy afterthought with Phoenix Racing last year, but he landed a ride with Furniture Row Racing with six races remaining and closed 2012 with four straight top-15s (including three straight top-10s). A full year in the No. 78 could do wonders to revive his career and his fantasy value.
Marcos Ambrose, #9 Stanley/Dewalt Power Tools, Richard Petty Motorsports [Yahoo Class B]
Ambrose is a road course stud, and he continues to tease owners with his potential. For example, he scored more points than any other driver in the series in the month of August in 2012. However, consistency remains a constant issue, and at this point, it is fair to ask if he will ever put it all together. I wouldn't blame owners for reaching for Ambrose a bit given his upside, but he is far from a safe bet outside of Infineon and Watkins Glen.
Aric Almirola, #43 Smithfield Foods, Richard Petty Motorsports [Yahoo Class B]
Considering 2012 was his first full-time season at the Cup level, Almirola held his own. He finished 20th in the standings and got better as the year went on. In fact, his best stretch of the year came during the Chase when he posted eight top-20s and compiled a 14.2 average finish. Almirola isn't going to be piling up top-10s in 2013, but he could be a sneaky source of top-20s.
Brian Vickers, #55 Aaron's Dream Machine, Michael Waltrip Racing [Yahoo Class B]
He will run a very limited schedule for Michael Waltrip Racing again in 2013, but Vickers is still plenty valuable. After all, he had as many top-five finishes in eight starts as Carl Edwards had in 36, and his 13.3 average finish was the 11th-best in the series. Granted, Vickers' value is tied completely to the format, but he is a strong option in any league that puts emphasis on per-race production rather than total points.
Jamie McMurray, #1 McDonald's/Cessna, Earnhardt Ganassi Racing [Yahoo Class B]
Since his magical 2010 season when he won three races, McMurray has looked a lot like the driver that underwhelmed from 2006-2009. After not managing a single top-five finish last year and having more DNFs than top-10s, it is tough to expect much out of McMurray in 2013.
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