December 17, 2009

2009 Fantasy Rankings

24. Casey Mears

Fantasy Power Average*: 24.52
Wins: 0
Top-fives: 0
Top-10s: 4
Top-15s: 12

The economy may yet be the undoing of Casey Mears in 2010 and that is a shame because this mid-range driver was finally beginning to gel with his Richard Childress Racing team. Like most of the drivers from that stable, he had an up and down year, but starting with the Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire, he showed remarkable consistency. In the final 10 races of the year, he finished on the lead lap eight times and improved his average finish by more than two positions over the first 26 events of the 2009 season.

Mears never cracked the top five and came close only twice with a sixth in the Michigan Carfax 400 in August and a seventh at Lowe's in October, which meant that he probably flew under the radar screen for most of the year. But he was often a good utility to driver that could be used to stretch your salary cap and allow you to load up on marquee drivers.

The best trait of Mears in 2009, however, was his ability to coax the car to the end of a race. He was one of only three drivers listed as running at the end of all 36 events alongside Juan Montoya and David Reutimann, so fantasy owners had a reasonable expectation that he would get every position out of the car that it was capable of giving.

*The Fantasy Power Average is a formula that consists of a driver's finishing result plus other intangibles such as average running position, laps in the top 10, speed in traffic and quality passes. Each intangible is "expressed" as a finishing position (e.g. the driver with the most laps in the top 10 is given a hypothetical first-place finish), so the lower the number, the greater the strength.

25. Joey Logano

N'Wide: Danica's first races

On Thursday, it was announced that Danica Patrick's first race will come at Auto Club Speedway in week two of the season; her next race will immediately follow at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Our View It certainly makes sense to debut her on tracks where car control—and not the whim of the draft—determines her success or failure. Until she posts practice times, however, it's hard to determine her fantasy worth.

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