Breaking down UFC Fight Night 140 for MMA DFS contests on DraftKings (November 17, 2018).
Filling out the bottom of your MMA lineups.
When looking for value in all DFS contests, it is important to create lineups with potential from top to bottom. This is simple enough when selecting fantasy studs, but becomes a greater challenge when looking to fill out the last few spots on your lineup. As salary cap dollars run low, winning DFS players find players who can contribute by adding points to their contest totals.
In MMA, paying high salaries for those fighters who can land a first round KO at the top of your lineup will often leave you with minimal funds when selecting your last fighter or two. A winning MMA strategy reinforces fantasy studs with fantasy contributors. Let’s see how this applies to the upcoming UFC Fight Night 140 in Buenos Aires on November 17th.
Looking at DraftKings salaries we see that all the favorites range in salaries from $8,300 to $9,300. Here are those numbers.
- Alexandre Pantoja – $9,300
- Marlon Vera – $9,200
- Nad Narimani – $9,100
- Santiago Ponzinibbio – $9,000
- Humberto Bandenay – $8,900
- Khalil Rountree – $8,800
- Ricardo Lamas – $8,700
- Michel Prazeres – $8,600
- Jesus Pinedo – $8,500
- Cezar Ferreira – $8,400
- Poliana Botelho – $8,300
The average salary of these 11 fighters is $8,800. With a $50,000 salary cap, you have the potential to carry 4 favorites on your lineup for an average cost of $35,200. This would leave you with $14,800 in cap space for your final two fighters. It is important to score points with these underdog fighters. Remember that in fantasy sports, even losing players can contribute to winning lineups. Let’s look at DraftKings rules for scoring.
As you can see, the bonuses for wins are where big scores happen, but as we’ve discussed you must include underdogs in your lineups. Inevitably you will find yourself in a place where the odds of winning a match are reduced, and finding value in these spots requires relying less on conclusion bonuses and more on scoring moves. Although you must always be attempting to find upset potential in an underdog there is another thing you should be looking for in an underdog. You should also be looking for fighters that fight in longer matches.
Just as you would take into account an NBA player’s minutes per game stats, you should be looking at the average length of match for a fighter. The longer they are in the octagon, the more opportunity they have to score points through takedowns and significant strikes. Often the difference in tournament play comes down to fractions of a point. A few extra minutes in the ring give opportunity for fighters to score those crucial points. With this in mind, let’s look at my favorite bargains in this weekend’s UFC Fight Night.
GUIDO CANNETTI – DK $7,000 / average fight time – 10:24 / significant strikes landed – 2.67 per minute / takedown average – 2.52 per 15 minutes
Cannetti has the second lowest salary on the card, but boasts some of the best defensive stats in UFC. He boasts a rate of only 1 significant strike absorbed per minute on average. He also has an extremely impressive takedown defense number of 81%. Considering that his opponent Marlon Vera has only two victories by KO, it is important that Cannetti can fend off Vera’s takedown attempts where his grappling skills (and submission victories) are above average. These defensive skills translate to longer fights and more fantasy points. Perhaps the biggest advantage Cannetti has, however, is his by birthright. Fighting in his native Argentina will certainly increase Cannetti’s chances of finding victory against the Ecuadorian Marlon Vera on Saturday night. I rate Cannetti as solid value at the bottom of the card with a decent ceiling based on having the home crowd behind him. (As of the time of this writing, Guido Cannetti is +247 with the oddsmakers and has a projected value of 39.84 on Fantasy Cruncher)
DARREN ELKINS – DK $7,500 / average fight time – 11:39 / significant strikes landed – 3.29 per minute / takedown average – 2.64 per 15 minutes
When looking for an underdog that will give you maximum minutes in the ring, Darren Elkins is exactly that kind of fighter you’re looking for. The last time he lost by KO was in April of 2013. Since then the only fights Elkins had that didn’t go the distance were the ones he won by KO or submission. In addition, his opponent, Ricardo Lamas, has seen 11 of his 25 fights go the distance. I believe Elkins has a legitimate chance of winning this fight outright, but is just about a guarantee to contribute points to any lineup. Look for him to have the advantage over Lamas on takedowns where he averages double that of his opponent. I rate Elkins as very good value with a high floor for an underdog. (As of the time of this writing, Darren Elkins is +147 with the oddsmakers and has a projected value of 49.2 on Fantasy Cruncher)
AUSTIN ARNETT – DK $7,300 / average fight time – 11:54 / significant strikes landed – 2.31 per minute / takedown average – 0.63 per 15 minutes
Here we have another example of a fighter who rarely loses fights without hearing the final round bell. Arnett has only lost one fight that has not gone the distance in five years and his average fight time is nearly 12 minutes (including his 12 victories that ended before full time). With 6 KO and 6 submission victories in 20 fights, he also has potential to outright defeat the favored Bandenay prior to that final bell. I rate Arnett as a decent value with a respectable floor and a high ceiling. (As of the time of this writing, Austin Arnett is +206 with the oddsmakers and has a projected value of 43.63 on Fantasy Cruncher).
That’ll do it for this week’s edition. Best of luck in your contests!