MMA fights are notoriously hard to draft for when playing daily fantasy tournaments, mainly because many of the fighters on the card have never had a professional match before. It’s a difficulty that needs to be overcome, but once you do, it’s something that you can use to your advantage. You need to aim for a win, first and foremost, but looking at technical skills can give you a tiny edge. So, if you think that your fighter has a 50/50 shot of winning the match, but is technically superior, that makes them a risk that could be worth taking. If they are fighting someone with a bit of experience, all of a sudden, their value skyrockets as the established fighter usually has a steeper price tag.
UFC Fighters are broken down and priced by fight. The two fighters are paired together, the favorite being more expensive than the underdog, with the price difference usually relative to the degree of the advantage. So, Ronda Rousey is going to be way more expensive than Bethe Correia. The $5,000 price difference is no surprise simply because Rousey has proven to be nearly unstoppable so far. There’s a very good chance that Rousey will win, but will she win quickly enough to make her worth the huge cost? That’s another big consideration you need to make: is the steep price of a big favorite worth the negative impact it will have on the rest of your lineup?
Because of the limited salary at Draftkings, that you have to work with, you cannot pick 5 favorites. You have $50,000 to work with and 5 fighters to choose and the favorite is always worth more than $10,000. If you pick 4 slim favorites, you can choose one borderline dog. If you choose a heavy favorite, suddenly you need to choose a less reliable fighter as your dog, or even two or three dogs.
So, what’s the best way to approach this?
One way is to look at average points per fantasy matchup. Choosing Rousey will hurt your remaining salary, but she currently has a fantasy value of 103.1. If you jump down to the Bruno-Franca fight, a fight where no one has established fantasy points, you can potentially balance this out by picking Bruno. He’s $1,000 cheaper than Franca, and this is a fight that has much more potential to go either way than the other fights on this weekend’s card. There’s a strong chance that at least 40 points will be contributed by him, which puts your average up to over 70 per fighter. That’s already higher than 2 average fighters would contribute, so it seems like we’re on the right track. It also boosts your average remaining salary from $9,450 to $9,533.
Remember where your value is in MMA fantasy leagues. You want wins, and the quicker the better. If you jump to the Hester-Miranda fight, you will see that Hester is the favorite, but his most current wins come later in matches. Vitor Miranda had a recent win in the first round. The difference in fantasy point potential is small, and Miranda has more upside than normal. And at $9,100, he’s a great value. Average remaining price per fighter is now $9,750, and you have more point potential per fighter at right around 68 points than if you had picked 3 slim favorites.
We need at least one more dog before we can pick a final fighter as a favorite. The Alves-Taleb fight is intriguing because Alves is the favorite, but Taleb has a better fantasy point average. Plus, Taleb is super cheap at $8,300. Now, you have an average point value per fighter of about 65, and $11,200 to spend on your final fighter. It gives you the ability to pick any fighter other than Dileno Lopes for your last spot, who is priced just $100 out of your range.
It’s not a strategy that will work every single time, but it will work often enough to put you in the money on a regular basis. You are giving yourself two huge favorites, and three fighters that stand a realistic chance of winning, or at least scoring a lot of points. It’s a very easy way to boost your fantasy performance and start winning more money.