Tuesday, January 31, 2017

How To Build Successful Fantasy MMA Lineups

UFC Fight Night was this past Saturday. Shevchenko successfully defended her title.

Week 4 is in the books. Last week I finished with a very tiny loss. Let's see how I did this week!

Tuesday January 24th to Monday January 30th.

Sports Played: NBA, MMA, NHL, PGA

Now that football season is over, the vast majority of my contests are going to be in the NBA. This week was no exception. However, UFC had a Fight Night event, so I had a decent amount of contents that I played in fantasy MMA as well. I also played two NHL contests and 2 PGA contests. The NHL contests were free entries that I won. The PGA contest was a special offer that DraftKings made me. They gave me the opportunity to play in a contest with a $3 entry fee. If I lost, they would return my $3 back. I would play fantasy figure skating if you guaranteed me that I would win money or give me my entry fee back so that was a no brainer!

On Tuesday, I started off with a winning night. Wednesday I had a pretty decent night that put me even further in the profit column. Thursday and Friday were both losing nights and I pretty much gave back all of the money I won on Wednesday. However, on Saturday I made back everything I lost on Thursday and Friday and then some! Sunday, I finished with a small win and on Monday I took a loss. All in all I finished in the profit column, my first winning week in 2017!

Here were my results for week 4:

NBA Week Results = 0.99% ROI
MMA Week Results = 51.43% ROI
NHL Week Results = 0% ROI
PGA Week Results = 0% ROI
Total Weekly ROI = 14.47% ROI

January ROI = -15.08%
2017 ROI = -15.08%
Lifetime ROI = 9.13%

This week I want to talk about how to build successful lineups playing fantasy MMA. There is a lot of information out there on how to build lineups for the major sports. However, there isn't a whole lot of information out there on how to build lineups for the sports that aren't as popular. Since MMA is the only smaller sport that I play, I thought I would share with you my routine for how I go about building fantasy MMA lineups.

While I enjoy watching MMA I am by no means an expert on the sport. Even if I was, there are still people out there who know a lot more about the sport than I do. So I have a simple strategy that I utilize to figure out which fighters to pick.

The first step I take is I identify the fighters on the card and what their prices are for that particular event. Prices are one of the most important elements to playing fantasy MMA. A fighter could be the greatest fighter that ever existed with the easiest opponent of all time. However, if the price does not allow me to build a team of fighters that can compete and win, I will not be able to select that fighter.

Once I know the prices, that gives me an idea of what type of score I'm going to need from that fighter to hit my goal for that particular lineup. There are two types of lineups that I build. I build one cash lineup and several GPP lineups.

My cash lineup, my overall goal is safety. I want that lineup to be just good enough to win. My cash lineup is the lineup that I am going to enter into head to head contests, 50/50 contests, double up contests, triple up contests and 3 man contests. So I'm looking to build a team that is safe and has a great shot at scoring a minimum number of points. My experience tells me that generally speaking, I'm going to need my team to score 375 points in order to win most of my cash contests. So on average, I need to get a score of 62.5 from each fighter.

With my GPP lineups, my overall goal is to win and take home a top cash prize. I want my lineup to be the top lineup of the night. My experience tells me that generally speaking, I'm going to need my team to score 600 points in order to have a realistic shot at winning a top prize in a guaranteed prize pool tournament. So I'm looking for fighters who can score 100 points.

For example, Valentina Shevchenko was priced at $8,400 this weekend. So how do I know how many points I need from her? DraftKings gives us a total team salary of $50,000. The amount of points that I'm going to need from her is going to depend on what type of contest I am entering.

If I am entering a cash contest using Shevchenko, I need 375 points for my team. $8,400 represents 16.8% of my total team budget. That means I need Shevchenko to score at least 16.8% of my goal of 375 points to justify her salary. That means I need her to score at least 63 fantasy points.
If I am entering a GPP contest using Shevchenko because my goal is to score 600 points, at a salary of $8,400, I need her to score 16.8% of my 600 points. That means I need her to score at least 100 points. If I don't feel confident that she can score 100 points, the only way I can take her in a GPP is if I feel like another fighter can score more than the minimum to make up what she doesn't score.

After prices, the next thing I look at are the betting odds. Casinos have built a substantial income on their ability to accurately reflect how they see the fight playing out and handicapping it so that they get enough betting action on both sides. They know a LOT more about mixed martial arts than I do, so I trust what they put out to accurately reflect what is most likely to happen.

One of my favorite sites to check out the betting odds is Best Fight Odds. They show odds from a wide variety of different betting sites and casinos. 

There are three key odds that I look at for every fight.

The first odds that I look at is the fighter's odds to win the fight. I go based on the American odds system. In the American odds system an even fight has an odd score of 100. That means if you bet $100 in a casino and you win, you win $100 in profit. 

A fighter that is a favorite will have an odd score with a negative. For instance, if a fighter has an odd score of -150, that means you will need to bet $150 in a casino on that fighter, just to make the same $100 in profit.

If the fighter is an underdog, that fighter will have a plus odd score. For instance, if a fighter has an odd score of +150 that means that you would win $150 in profit for a $100 bet.

So what I do is I look at the odd scores. The more heavily favorite the fighter is, the more likely that fighter is going to win the fight. When you compare the odds to win with the salary on DraftKings, sometimes values can be discovered. A fighter could have the 4th highest odds to win, but only the 7th highest salary on DraftKings. That means that fighter has a good price value compared to his/her odds to win and that's a fighter that I'm likely to target more in my lineups.

The second odds that I look at is the over/under odds for what round the fight goes to. On DraftKings, a fighter receives 90 points for a first round finish. For a decision win, a fighter receives only 30 points. This is very important because it can help you decide which fighters to target and what fighters to avoid.

For example, a lot of players liked Donald Cerrone at $8,900. However, if you looked at BOTH the odds to win and the over/under odds, you will see that he wasn't one of the better fighters to target on this card. His odds to win closed at -175 which is very good. However, his over/under odds closed at -185 to go longer than 2 1/2 rounds. That means that according to the betting, the most likely win outcome for Cerrone was a win by decision. A decision win only gets you 30 points. That means he would really need to dominate this fight and score enough points in the other categories to make up for it.

Meanwhile Francis Ngannou was $9,600 which was $700 more. However, if you look at BOTH the odds to win and the over/under odds, you will see that he was worth the higher price. His odds to win closed at -420 which is INSANE! You would have to bet $420 just to win $100, that's how confident people were that he was going to win this fight. His over/under odds closed at -225 to go shorter than 1 1/2 rounds. That means that the people betting were very confident that he was going to win and that he was going to finish this fight fast. A first round finish gives a fighter 90 points.

What this means is that Ngannou's most likely scenario guaranteed you 90 points, and in actuality, it guaranteed you 100 points because he was going to win by knockout and you get 10 points for a knockdown. Cerrone's most likely finish was 30 points. Therefore Ngannou was the MUCH better play on this card.

The third area that I'm looking at is inside the distance odds. Inside the distance odds is a bet on whether the fighter will finish the fight. So if the fighter wins by knockout, submission, technical knockout, doctor stoppage or the corner throwing in the towel, that is considered an inside the distance win. This is important for fantasy purposes because the scoring dictates that a fighter gets more points for a finish win than he/she gets for a decision win.

Going back to the Cerrone vs Ngannou comparison, Cerrone closed with a +350 inside the distance odds. That means that it was very unlikely that he was going to finish this fight. Meanwhile, Ngannou closed at a -275 inside the distance odds. That means that it was very likely that he was going to finish this fight.

By the way, in case you didn't see the card and you are wondering what happened, Ngannou got a first round knockout victory. Cerrone got knocked out in the 2nd round!

There are two other resources that I look at as well after looking at the Vegas odds. The first resource is UFC.com. They have a wealth of information available on the fighters. They have a profile on each fighter where you can look at their record, their striking and grappling statistics as well as a full history of their fights. They also have a fantasy UFC section where you can pick for each card who you think will win and how you expect them to win. The fantasy section is also helpful because it shows you who other UFC fans are picking. That is beneficial for fantasy purposes because it can give you an idea as to which fighters are going to be more higher owned.

The other resource that I look at is Cagerank.com. They have an algorithm where they predict who they believe will win a fight between two fighters. Each fighter is assigned a cagerank based on the ELO rating system, which has been used for sports like tennis and chess for years. It works well for MMA as well since it is an individual sport.

The final thing that I will do is take a look at some of the expert fantasy MMA players and see what they have to say. I like to look at the fantasy MMA section at rotogrinders. I also like to watch the Daily Fantasy MMA channel on YouTube.

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