DraftKings MMA Mixed Martial Arts DFS Analysis Picks Plays Advice Strategy

UFC FIGHT NIGHT – December 15, 2018


This week I will discuss leverage and where to implement it for UFC Fight Night in Milwaukee on Saturday.

When playing multi-entry DFS contests, the edge you have versus the field is what makes you profitable. To assert your edge you must identify situations where the field is missing value and take advantage. I will be looking at this week’s MMA contests on DraftKings and identify situations where the field is likely undervaluing fighters. Increasing the usage of these fighters in contests will give you leverage over the field and increase your bottom line. When a fighter that is undervalued posts a big score in DFS competitions, every lineup you have over the field’s average usage for that fighter becomes an increased opportunity to make money.

Let’s look at a couple of fights on this week’s card.

DAN HOOKER (DK $8,200) vs EDSON BARBOZA (DK $8,000)

This fight looks to be the most exciting one of the night. UFC is pitting two top notch strikers against one another in what figures to be an action packed fight. Edson Barboza is coming off back to back losses. His stock is down and is the slight underdog in this fight. However, when given proper consideration, these losses can be identified as quality fights against great opponents. Losing to Kevin Lee in the middle of the fifth round and to Khabib Nurmagamedov by decision, Edson fought two of the best his weight class have to offer. The short-sided public often overlooks these factors when judging fighters and finding homes for them in their lineups. Barboza will be the most underrated fighter on this entire card.

The oddsmakers make Dan Hooker the slight favorite here. Hooker is a great fighter and has some of the best striking in the UFC. At six feet tall, he has used his length to dominate his competition. He is 5-1 in his last six fights. In those fights, he has had an average reach advantage of nearly three inches. This will not be the case on Saturday. Both Hooker and Barboza as listed at a 75″ reach. Hooker and Barboza are very evenly matched fighters. Hooker will have his hands full with a premier striker with lightning quick high kicks he must be careful to avoid.

I fully expect these fighters to trade high volume strikes with each other. Hooker will avoid going to the mat. Barboza may want to force the issue, but both fighters boast excellent defense against takedowns. In the end, this fight will be decided by striking and looks to be a high scoring fantasy bout. Over half of their combined bouts have ended by knockout. This matchup is loaded with scoring potential and both fighters need to be used in multi-entry contests. Barboza, however, is the leverage play here.

Caveman’s advice: Use both fighters heavily in your lineups, but not in the same lineups. The winner of this fight has a great opportunity to post a high score and they both have modest salaries. Barboza looks to be under used in DFS contests and presents an opportunity to leverage the field. I would use Hooker in 30-35% of your lineups and Barboza in 35-40% of your lineups.

(As of the time of this writing, Dan Hooker is -122 with the oddsmakers and has a projected score of 57.42 on Fantasy Cruncher. Edson Barboza is -102 with the oddsmakers and has a projected score of 53.96 on Fantasy Cruncher.)

KEVIN LEE (DK $9,000) vs AL IAQUINTA (DK $7,200)

In his first UFC bout, Kevin Lee lost a unanimous decision at he tender age of 21 to a fighter by the name of Al Iaquinta. That was nearly five years ago. In that fight both fighters had their moments. Both missed submission opportunities. This time around, Lee is now the significant favorite with the oddsmakers. He is a dominant fighter with excellent striking and wrestling skills. He deserves to be favored. However, Al Iaquinta is a great fighter as well. In his last six fights, he is 5-1 with his only loss coming from the current champ, Habib Nurmagomedov. The public has a short memory, however, and as the fight against Habib was his last, many will see him as a scrub going against the 4th ranked contender in a loaded lightweight division. Iaquinta has skills and should not be overlooked. After all, he has beaten Lee before.

When playing multi-entry contests, underdogs with a chance to win and score big are opportunities that cannot be passed on. Al Iaquinta is understandably an underdog in this fight, but should be given consideration as an opportunity to leverage DFS contests against the field. Kevin Lee will be used extensively, but his opponent will not be used enough. Leveraging an under appreciated fighter like Iaquinta presents opportunity to separate from the field. His low salary demands that he be used as a value play. Use him cautiously, however. Even fighters with under-realized value need to be used in moderation.

Caveman’s advice: Use Lee. Use him a lot. When you aren’t using Lee, however, consider using Iaquinta for both his value and his opportunity to leverage the field in DFS contests. I would use Lee in 60-70% of your lineups and Iaquinta in 20-30% of your lineups.

(As of the time of this writing, Kevin Lee is -323 with the oddsmakers and has a projected score of 89.96 on Fantasy Cruncher. Al Iaquinta is +257 with the oddsmakers and has a projected score of 48.40 on Fantasy Cruncher.)


I had originally intended to write on the Andrea Lee/Jessica-Rose Clark fight. Unfortunately, this fight was cancelled and obviously both fighters need to be removed from all your lineups. When constructing lineups, bargain fighters like Clark (DK $7,000) are valuable because they make room for more big favorites in your lineups. She is now unusable, however, and bargain fighters will go up in value as JRC is no longer in play.

Caveman’s advice: At a salary of DK $6,700, Chris de la Rocha is tempting, but use him cautiously. Fighters with better chances and small salaries are Michael Rodriguez (DK $7,500) and Bobby Green (DK $6,900). Use them in moderation to fill out your lineups under the salary cap.

That’s all for this week. Good luck with your lineups!

About Rob

Since getting out of the casino business, Rob has been playing DFS regularly with a focus on MMA and NASCAR. He now lives in Denver, CO.

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