MMA DFS Core Plays & Cheat Sheet: UFC Vegas 45 – December 18, 2021
Fighter to Build Your Lineups Around
Before I dive in, a quick note: I like Gamrot and Daukaus as both a “Core” and “Value” this weekend. The pricing on DraftKings and FanDuel alternate a bit here, so I think Daukaus is the value on DraftKings, while Gamrot is more the “value” on FanDuel. I am confident enough to label both a “core” play for me this week, I just know the $20 price tag on FanDuel isn’t exactly a “value” in the conventional sense for Daukaus.
Mateusz Gamrot (DK: $8,500 | FD: $17) – While this isn’t usually the kind of fight I would say to build your lineups around and it is a little more expensive to call a “value”, I am willing to take the risk and say that Gamrot is not only one of the higher upside fighters on this slate but also feels a little too cheap on each site. The only worry here is Diego Ferreira is a very worthy opponent, but one who also enters this fight on a two-fight losing streak. Gamrot in total is 19-1 in his professional career and while he dropped his opening fight in the UFC he has gone on to win his last two fights in Performance of the Night fashions. One of those wins was a submission over Jeremy Stephens while the other was a KO of Scott Holtzman. The real upside to Gamrot is just how much he is able to do. Not only is he an aggressive striker, but he carries a super high takedown rate and is facing a guy in Ferreira who isn’t the best at defending them. While Ferreira comes in with a slight reach advantage, Gamrot comes in five years younger. This feels like a fight where Gamrot can accelerate his path to the top-10 in the Lightweight division while another loss for Ferreira could start his inevitable slide out. Gamrot is a double champion in the KSW and with all his accolades from striking to wrestling, the needle just feels like it is pointing in his direction heavily this weekend. Gamrot is a -195 favorite which is actually the 10th best odds on the slate. Due to there being some wider favorites, the price on Gamrot fell into the mid-range of the slate though he offers top of the slate upside in my eyes. If this fight stays on the feet, Gamrot has the striking ability to go blow for blow and favors Gamrot. If this fight goes to the ground, it will be interesting as Ferreira is certainly comfortable there but Gamrot is averaging over five takedowns per fight. I love feeling like I am getting a value on pricing and with two fighters currently pointing in different directions I am going to put my chips in on Gamrot.
Fighter with the Best Value
Chris Daukaus (DK: $8,300 | FD: $20) – Chris Daukaus is an absolute menace right now going 4-0 with four knockouts with all of them happening before the 2-minute mark in the second round. Daukaus has netted over 100 fantasy points in all four of his wins and is currently on a trajectory to the top of the division. But I will slow down here because Derrick Lewis is on the other side of the Octagon for this one – one of the division’s biggest names and biggest pulls in terms of name value. While Lewis lost his chance at a belt this past summer against Ciryl Gane, Lewis still offers some devastating power that can end any fight with one punch. This matchup is set for five-rounds in what could be five rounds of absolute blows being traded. But the edge here for me is Daukaus offers speed that Lewis just does not have. While Lewis has a ton of jab pressure, Daukaus offers some powerful kickboxing himself and quicker feet than Lewis. In four fights, Daukaus has never been taken down – or attempted a takedown for that matter. While people may focus on the striking power of Lewis, Daukaus offers the same level with a little bit quicker of a pace. Lewis always has kill shot potential, it has to be noted in any fight that he is in, but so does Daukaus – highlighted by his 4/4 knockout rate so far in the UFC. When I add in the kickboxing strength and the speed advantage, I feel Daukaus has the advantage both outside and inside in this fight. There is a little risk here, but I really think due to the DraftKings price this is a building block for me this week. When we talk about vicious strikers the range of outcomes always includes a potential knockout from the other side, but even if we want to say Lewis has more power than Daukaus here, Daukaus has way more athleticism. He will need to have his chin hold up here (evergreen statement for every fight and every fighter ever), but if so I love Daukaus here.
Fighter with the Best Upset Potential
Darren Elkins (DK: $7,400 | FD: $12) – This is a bit of a hybrid “upset potential” and “value” option for me as this card actually holds a lot of pretty heavy favorites so breaking down a value isn’t as easy as some other cards. However, we do get Cub Swanson against Darren Elkins here which combines two fighters with a cumulative age of 75. So we throw two UFC Veterans into the octagon against each other – each of which carries a pretty good legacy in their own sense. These two match up incredibly well with them both having similar styles at this point in their UFC journey and both have chins that have held up in striking matches. There is a grappling and wrestling edge here to Elkins, while Swanson gets a slight edge in the striking column. That isn’t to sleep on Swanson’s mat ability, I just think at this age these guys just want this fight to stay on the feet. This fight opened with Swanson as a -227 favorite, but heavy betting lines on Elkins have pushed that to -185 in some places. Swanson has a prolific number of wins to his name, including over Charles Oliveira and Dustin Poirier – though those feel a lifetime ago at this point (because they were). While I did say I think these two will want to box this out, Elkins has the #1 ranking in the featherweight division for top position time and control time. So which gap is wider for us here? Swanson’s striking vs. Elkins or Elkins ground advantage vs. Swanson? It is hard to say which way this fight will go, or as Elkins has stated he expects “a bloodbath” and Swanson is someone that he “always wanted to fight”. These are two guys at the latter stages of their career but a respect for each other at the same time. In the end, I view the gap between Elkins and Swanson’s salary just too wide for what we are getting with Elkins. The striking accuracy actually favors Elkins here and the ground favors Elkins. Swanson probably has the power/finish edge, but I think Elkins holds up here and has made a career out of his survivability. While Elkins was in a four-match losing streak in 2018-2020, three came by decision and one was a third round TKO. I think Elkins survives here and does enough to get the win.
Below you will find my Cheat Sheet for this week, this will include the fighters that I will have the most exposure to this week. Please note both fighters from a fight may be listed here, though it is not recommended to use both in the same fight.
$ Tier F High Amanda Lemos (9.5k / 76.09) (23 / 76.09) Ricky Simon (9.2k / 71.52) (21 / 71.52) Charles Jourdain (8.9k / 67.30) (19 / 67.30) Medium Mateusz Gamrot (8.5k / 67.12) (17 / 67.12) Chris Daukaus (8.3k / 76.00) (20 / 76.00) Derrick Lewis (7.9k / 61.84) (17 / 61.84) Low Melissa Gato (7.5k / 51.36) (14 / 51.36) Darren Elkins (7.4k / 50.13) (12 / 50.13)