DRIVER FANTASY RANKING: 5TH
JIMMIE JOHNSON (HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS) CHEVY
2016 FANTASY LIVE POINTS: 1,721.5 (RANKED 4TH)
2016 YAHOO POINTS: 2,546 (RANKED 10TH)
The 2017 NASCAR season is right around the corner. In order to get fantasy teams ready for the new season I decided to recap the 2016 season for my top 30 drivers and preview how I think they will perform this year. Each day I will post two driver previews until my No. 1 fantasy driver is revealed. I will continue my rankings with Jimmie Johnson.
2016 RECAP: Jimmie Johnson had a historic season in 2016. He won his seventh championship, tying Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt Sr. with the most championships in NASCAR history. His stats were pretty impressive as well. Johnson won a series-high five races (Atlanta, Auto Club, Charlotte, Martinsville and Homestead), finished 11 races in the top five and finished 16 races in the top 10. Johnson also led 737 laps and won the pole at New Hampshire. He was one of the best drivers for your fantasy team last year.
As well as the season ended for Johnson in 2016, it wasn’t always rosy for the champ. Johnson won two races early in the season (Atlanta and Auto Club) and then the No. 48 team seemed to go into “test mode”. Johnson usually races hard early in the season to lock himself into the Chase and then test different setups during the season to prepare for the Chase. The No. 48 team usually catches fire once the Chase begins as a result of the testing they did over 20 weeks. That was the case in 2016. Johnson was great early in the season and at the end of the season. He was good but not great during races 8-26.
After Johnson won two races early in the season his price began to dip in Fantasy Live. Johnson went as low as $23.50 during the summer months. Fantasy teams who selected him at this cheap price reaped the rewards once the Chase began. He ended the season as one of the highest priced drivers in the game. Fantasy teams need to select Johnson early in the season and once he wins a race, sell him until the Chase begins.
2017 PREVIEW: Can Johnson win his eighth championship in 2017? That will be a popular question heading into the season. The answer is yes, he can… but the competition is a strong today as it has ever been in the sport.
One of the things the No. 48 team has going for them is consistency. Johnson will be paired with crew chief Chad Knaus for their 16th season. These two know how to work together better than any driver – crew chief combination in the garage. What is also surprising is that Lowes will serve as the primary sponsor for the 16th season. It is very rare to see a team stay together as long as the No. 48 team has. Maybe that is their secret to success.
Of course Johnson was placed into Group A of Yahoo Fantasy. The No. 48 team is one of the easiest teams to predict in this game. Fantasy teams need to use Johnson early in the season (preferably at Atlanta, Auto Club or Las Vegas). He will most likely win one of these races. Once he wins, fantasy teams need to save his allocations until the Chase begins. The only other non-Chase races I would recommend using Johnson at are Martinsville and Charlotte. He is the master at these tracks as well.
Johnson should start the season as one of the highest priced drivers in Fantasy Live. It would be a good idea to wait until after the Daytona 500 to select him for your team. Johnson usually qualifies to high to have much value in that race. If his price comes down after Daytona he will be a good pick heading into Atlanta and the races on the West Coast.
Fantasy teams need to understand the difference between a good fantasy driver and a good driver for the NASCAR Point Standings. Johnson is much better in real life because he is not penalized under the current points system for going into “test mode” during much of the season. This does not help your fantasy team. Be sure to use Johnson early and late in the season in 2017.
BEST TRACKS LAST 3 YEARS: ATLANTA (2.0 AVG Finish), HOMESTEAD (6.3 AVG Finish), TEXAS (7.1 AVG Finish), BRISTOL (9.8 AVG Finish), INDIANAPOLIS (10.6 AVG Finish), KANSAS (12.3 AVG Finish) AND EVERYWHERE ELSE
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