DRIVER FANTASY RANKING: 8TH
CHASE ELLIOTT (HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS) CHEVY
2016 FANTASY LIVE POINTS: 1,314.5 (RANKED 11TH)
2016 YAHOO POINTS: 2,445 (RANKED 11TH)
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 Chase Elliott.
2016 RECAP: Chase Elliott had one of the best rookie seasons since Tony Stewart in 1999. Elliott did not win a race but he had 10 finishes in the top five and 17 finishes in the top 10. Elliott was also able to lead 358 in 2016. He made the Chase and finished 10th in the Point Standings.
Elliott came close to winning his first race in the Sprint Cup Series last year. He finished second in both races at Michigan, and he finished third in both races at Dover. These two tracks were his best tracks and he should have a good chance to win one of these races in 2017.
Elliott was the best pick in the Yahoo Fantasy game last year. He was the class of the field in Group C and it was not even close. Elliott was so good that he could have been placed into Group A and still had a lot of value. Fantasy teams who used up their allocations early in the season reaped the rewards because Alex Bowman became a great option in Group C later in the season. This is a learning experience for fantasy players. It might not be a good idea to hold your allocations with Erik Jones (He should have similar value to what Elliott had last year in Group C) because other options “may” become available later in the season.
Elliott was a great value early in the season in Fantasy Live. His price quickly rose to about $25. Elliott was at his best on the steep oval tracks (Dover and Bristol) last year. He scored the fifth-most points at these tracks in Fantasy Live. His average finishing position at these tracks was 6.25.
It was a great season for Elliott and the No. 24 team has a lot to build upon heading into 2017.
2017 PREVIEW: Everything will be the same with the No. 24 team in 2017. Alan Gustafson will once again be the crew chief and NAPA Auto Parts will serve as the primary sponsor. Elliott and Gustafson worked well together last year and an improved pit crew could lead Elliott to Homestead to race for the championship.
The Hendrick Motorsports cars really picked up speed once the Chase began last year. I expect the HMS cars to be the class of the field early in the 2017 season. I would not be surprised to see Elliott win the pole for the Daytona 500 again. The No. 24 car has won the pole five of the last seven races on Superspeedways.
I really thought Elliott would be one of the first drivers to make the jump from Group C to Group A after one season in the Sprint Cup Series. That did not happen. Yahoo Fantasy placed Elliott into Group B and he will have tremendous value in 2017. Fantasy teams will want to avoid using him at the Superspeedways (Daytona and Talladega) and the road courses (Sonoma and Watkins Glen) because his allocations will be so valuable at the down-force tracks. Elliott will be at his best at Michigan, Dover, Chicago, Texas and Phoenix.
I expect Elliott to be highly priced in Fantasy Live this season. He should start out at around $26 and increase in price if he starts off the season as well as I think he will. He probably will not be a good value pick in the Daytona 500 because he has a great chance to start up front and will not earn many points for position differential. Elliott will be a good second or third driver for your Fantasy Live team in 2017.
BEST TRACKS LAST YEAR: MICHIGAN (2.0 AVG Finish), DOVER (3.0 AVG Finish), CHICAGO (3.0 AVG Finish), TEXAS (4.5 AVG Finish), AUTO CLUB (6.0 AVG Finish), PHOENIX (8.5 AVG Finish)
*Stats from Driveraverages.com, Racing-Reference.Info and NASCAR Media
Follow me on Twitter: @MrFantasyNASCAR