Wednesday, December 6, 2017

MMA DraftKings Picks - Saturday December 9th 2017

UFC Fight Night 123 Swanson vs Ortega. Here is my full card breakdown of the fighters that will be appearing on this card on DraftKings.

Picture By Rushmoore (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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It's UFC Fight Night 123 live from Fresno, California! In the Main Event we have a very exciting Featherweight top contender's contest in which Cub Swanson takes on Brian Ortega!

Last weekend I did pretty good on The Ultimate Fighter finale card. However, I got crushed on the Pay Per View. I did get most of the fights right on the PPV. I nailed the bottom and the top of the card. However, it was the middle of the card that would be my undoing and I had too much exposure to the middle of the card in my lineups so that ultimately killed me.

In taking a look at this card, most of the card seems pretty straight forward. The bottom of the card there is a very clear consensus of who is going to win most of the fights. Where the uncertainty lies is in the top of the card. For cash games, I would focus on building my lineups with mostly fighters on the bottom of the card. The Main Event is certainly stackable in cash as well. In fact, the last time Swanson fought, I stacked his fight and was able to get over 200 points. The top of the card is where you can take your shots in GPP lineups.

I have divided the fighters into 3 tiers based on pricing. They are as follows:
  • Top Tier - $8,600 and Above
  • Mid Tier - $7,700 to $8,500
  • Value Tier - $7,600 and Below
Let's begin!

Top Tier Fighters - $8,600 and Above

Jason Knight $9,300 (Cash & GPP) - Knight is an aggressive fighter with power in his hands and a solid ju-jitsu ground game. That's exactly the type of fighter I like to target on DraftKings. It's great to build your lineups with fighters who have multiple paths to victory. He's a sizable favorite (-310). He has good odds to finish this fight (+145). He's scored over 100 in 2 of his last 5 fights and over 70 in 4 of his last 5 fights. He is a huge favorite among UFC fans (86% predict he will win). The only concern I have with him is he is very hittable on the feet and we found that out in his last fight when he got knocked out by Ricardo Lamas in the first round. Lamas though is a much better fighter than Benitez and that fight was basically a pickem by Vegas. I like Knight in all formats this weekend.

Eryk Anders $9,200 (GPP) - I was all over "Ya Boy" when he made his UFC debut in July against Rafael Natel. He was a late replacement in that fight, but he came through in a big way getting the knockout in the 1st round. I like Anders because he's an excellent athlete (played football for the Alabama Crimson Tide) he's strong and he hits hard. With that said, he's still a very inexperienced fighter in the MMA world. His opponent is undefeated and does have wins over UFC fighters. I like Anders and will definitely have exposure to him in GPPs. However, there are much safer options for cash, especially when you have to pay $9,200 for him.

Trevin Giles $9,100 (GPP) - Giles is an excellent athlete with a solid gas tank and one punch power. He was impressive in his debut fight back in July racking up 5 takedowns and 6 advances. He's in the opening match, which usually goes low owned so that makes me like him even more as a GPP Play. He can finish with his hands and on the ground as he currently sports a 90% finish rate in his undefeated career. If he keeps this fight on the feet, he should have no problems with picking up the win. However his opponent is no joke on the ground, a black bet Jiu-Jitsu so Giles is not as safe as his odds may indicate and for the price, I'm going to stay away from him in cash.

Luke Sanders $9,000 (Cash & GPP) - Sanders is coming off his first loss and it was a tough one. He was dominating Iuri Alcantara in a pickem fight but got caught in a knee bar and it was a wrap. He's a good fighter though and I feel like this is a good spot for him to get back on track. I like him for DraftKings purposes because he is aggressive and throws a lot of significant strikes. This gives him both a decision path to victory as well as a knockout path to victory (+220 inside the distance odds). His opponent doesn't throw at a high volume, has zero ground game and has lost all of his fights in the UFC in a decision. Sanders should safely win by decision and score DraftKings points for his significant strikes giving him 100+ decision upside making him a good play in all formats.

Alex Perez $8,900 (Cash & GPP) - Perez is one of the top prospects out of California earning his way into the UFC on Dana White's Contender series picking up a 1st round submission victory. He landed some nice punch/kick combinations in that fight as well. He has a solid wrestling background and you know we love wrestlers in the DraftKings format. His opponent got completely dominated in a clean sweep 30-26 decision loss and I feel Perez should be able to dominate him as well as he is the highest favorite on the card. Although I generally don't like targeting debut fighters in cash, it's hard to pass up on the odds value that you get from the heaviest favorited fighter with only the 5th highest price on the card.

Iuri Alcantara $8,800 (Fade) - Iuri Alcantara burned me in a big way back in June. He was a pretty big favorite (-272) against Brian Kelleher who was making his UFC debut in Alcantara's home nation of Brazil. Kelleher pulled out the upset submission. I don't like Alcantara as a play on DraftKings for several reasons. The loss against Kelleher shows that he can't be trusted. Also, his DraftKings logs are very telling. He doesn't throw a lot of significant strikes. He doesn't get a lot of takedowns. So really his only path to scoring a lot of points is a submission victory. There's much better plays above and below him so he's a hard pass for me.

Davi Ramos $8,700 (Cash & GPP) - I like Ramos in all formats for this fight. He is an excellent submission grappler who can score takedowns in a variety of different ways. He has never been finished, both of his losses have come by way of a decision. So that makes him safe for cash. He is a huge favorite (-360) and we are getting great pricing on him because he's the 2nd biggest favorite but the 7th highest price. His opponent has 2 losses as well but both losses came by way of submission which is great for Ramos. I like him more for cash than I do for GPP because I'm concerned that if it goes to decision there is definitely a path to a low fantasy scoring decision win. However, I'm fine with him in either format.

Marlon Moraes $8,600 (Fade) - I have ZERO interest in Moraes. He's not a bad fighter. He dominated the World Series of Fighting Bantamweight division going undefeated However, so far in the UFC he has not looked like a good DraftKings fighter. He landed 44 significant strikes in his debut fight, a decision loss. In his decision win against Dodson he landed 45 significant strikes and 1 takedown. He is only a slight favorite in this fight. Not only that, but he just fought a month ago. He's a clear cut fade for me.


Mid Tier Fighters - $7,700 to $8,500

Merab Dvalishvili $8,500 (Cash & GPP) - Dvalishvili is making his UFC debut currently on a 6 fight winning streak. His last fight he scored a 15 second spinning back fist knockout over previously undefeated Raufeon Stots. He's taking on Frankie Saenz is coming off a 3 fight losing streak. I think he's safe for cash as his fight is currently -210 to surpass 2.5 rounds so that gives him a good floor to get 3 rounds in. Sanez has not scored a finish in his UFC career. He also has knockout upside as shown in his last fight as well as the Vegas inside the distance odds of +255. He's not somebody that you HAVE to play. However, if you got room in your lineup, I have no problem with playing him.

Liz Carmouche $8,400 (Fade) - Why Carmouche is the favorite in this fight blows my mind. Carmouche fought Alexis Davis back in 2013 and she was dominated. She couldn't stop Davis' leg kicks. She did get a hard shot against her in the 2nd round that cut her open but still got dominated. Since then she has gone 2-1 both wins decision victories as well as a decision loss to Meshia Tate. This fight has the 2nd highest odds to go pass 2.5 rounds (-270) and if as expected this fight goes to a decision, her ceiling is probably 60 points in a decision win and her floor is 30 points in a decision loss. At that price going up against a woman who has already beaten her, she is unplayable for me.

Scott Holtzman $8,300 (Cash & GPP) - I like Scott Holtzman in all formats this weekend. He's a great athlete having played baseball, football and hockey. He hits hard and is dangerous on the feet. He's got good cardio. He's great for cash because his fight is likely to go to a decision (-245 Over 2.5 odds). He throws a lot of significant strikes (averages 4.55 significant strikes landed per minute) so that increases his DraftKings points floor as well as his odds to score round points. He can also land takedowns, reverses and advances as you can see in his DraftKings logs. At $8,300 I believe he is one of the best values on the entire card and I will have a lot of exposure to him.

Benito Lopez $8,200 (GPP) - Lopez is an undefeated fighter coming out of Team Alpha Male making his UFC debut this weekend. He earned his contract by scoring a split decision victory over Steven Peterson on Dana White's Tuesday Night Contender series. In that fight he showed powerful striking but was definitely losing when the fight was on the ground. He's even odds and he throws a lot of significant strikes but I don't like the matchup against a solid Ju-Jitsu fighter. I wouldn't touch him in cash and wouldn't force him in GPP lineups but I don't mind playing him in some GPP lineups.

Cub Swanson $8,100 (Cash & GPP) - Swanson is an elite UFC fighter who is explosive and unpredictable. Since 2011 when he made his UFC debut he only has 3 losses, all to other elite level fighters. Ricardo Lamas who's #3 ranked in UFC featherweights. Frankie Edgar who is a former UFC Lightweight Champion. Max Holloway who is the current UFC Featherweight Champion. That's it. Everyone else he has defeated. I played him back in April against Lobov (stacked the fight in cash) and he scored an incredible 157 fantasy points on DraftKings with a 5 round decision victory. His style does open him up to be susceptible to submissions and his opponent like himself is a black belt Gracie Jiu-Jitsu specialist and is no joke. However, I think Swanson gets the decision win and I will have exposure to him in all formats. You can play him in cash by himself, stack him in cash with Ortega or play him in GPP. I'm locking the Main Event in 100% of my lineups, which means I'll have him, Ortega or both in every lineup I make this weekend.

Brian Ortega $8,100 (Cash & GPP) - Brian Ortega is one of the top up and coming fighters in the UFC. He's undefeated and sports the longest active winning streak among UFC featherweights. He's a black belt Gracie Jiu-Jitsu specialist who can win by knockout as well as by submission. However, he's not a fast finisher. All of his finishes in the UFC have come in the 3rd round. He has a dangerous ground game and while I don't believe he is as good of a striker as Swanson, he can certainly hold his own in that department. I like Swanson in this fight so I will definitely have less exposure to Ortega. However, I like Ortega in both formats, cash and GPP and I'm not opposed to a Main Event stack in cash.

Albert Morales $8,000 (Cash) - Morales has 9 fights on his resume going 7-2 with 1 No Contest. Both of his losses have come in the UFC but he was a big underdog in both of those contests. He is a powerful striker and has an aggressive style both standing up and on the ground. I like him in cash and you get a slight discount in odds value because he has even odds to win but you get a $100 discount. Between the slight discount and the odds to go the distance (-170 Over 2.5) he's fine as a cash play. I don't like him in GPP though because I am concerned that he may not have a lot of upside. He doesn't have good odds to finish (328 inside the distance) and if his DraftKings logs are any indication he doesn't have much decision win upside. So I will only be playing him in cash if I play him at all.

Darrell Horcher $7,900 (Fade) - Horcher is a decent fighter but I don't really like him in this matchup. He has the worst significant strikes defense percentage on this card (35.87%) and he's going up against an opponent who lands 4.55 significant strikes per minute. While he does defend takedowns well if a good wrestler gets him down he doesn't have much to offer in the way of a ground game. His upside is also very limited. I really don't see him getting more than at most 70 points in a decision victory as his upside and I personally have him losing this fight. So I have no interest.

Alexis Davis $7,800 (Cash & GPP) - If you tell me I can have a fighter who has already defeated his/her opponent before and I can have that fighter at a discount, you can sign me up for that. That's basically what you're getting with Davis. She's only $7,800 but she's already beaten Carmouche before. She's a great cash play because her fight has heavy odds to go the distance (-270 Over 2.5) and she lands a lot of significant strikes (4.5 SS per minute). She's also a great GPP play because more people like Carmouche both at Vegas (-175 favorite) and UFC fans (75% are picking Carmouche). So she should be much lower owned. A 70+ point decision win is certainly in play and at that price, I'll take it.

Frankie Saenz $7,700 (Fade) - Sanez has struggled in his most recent UFC fights. Out of his last 5 fights he's 2-3 with three consecutive losses including being knocked out. He's taking on a good prospect with a 6 consecutive win streak. Plus he's getting up their in age. That's not a strong recipe for success. There's other places that I would much rather like to spend my DraftKings salary.

Value Tier Fighters - $7,600 and Below

Aljamain Sterling $7,600 (Cash & GPP) - Sterling is in play for me in all formats and I will have good exposure to him. He has one of the best odds to price values on the entire card (currently only a 130 underdog). He's fighting an opponent who JUST fought a month ago. In 16 fights in his MMA career he has NEVER been finished and has only lost twice. He throws significant strikes at a good rate (lands 3.63 per minute) and has wrestling upside as well (averages over 2 takedowns per fight). He just screams PLAY ME so I'm going to do just that.

Chris Gruetzemacher $7,500 (Fade) - He's unplayable at this price. He's the 2nd biggest underdog on the entire card but he's priced at the 7th lowest price. All of his losses have come by way of submission and his opponent is an excellent submission grappler. Next!

Alejandro Perez $7,400 (GPP) - He's a somewhat big underdog (170) in a fight that only has small odds to go past 2.5 rounds (-120) against an opponent who has decent finishing odds (160 inside the distance). However, his opponent has been known to lose heavily favorite fights in the past. So while I certainly wouldn't play him in cash, I have no problems with taking some shots with him in GPP.

Carls John De Tomas $7,300 (Fade) - He got dominated in his debut fight against Nakoi Inoue. This fight will be no easier as he's getting one of the top prospects coming out of the West Coast USA. I'm not convinced he's UFC level so I will have no shares of him in my lineups.

Andre Soukhamthath $7,200 (Fade) - He throws a low rate of significant strikes. He has zero ground game. He's lost all of his fights in the UFC by decision. He's an easy pass for me this weekend.

Antonio Braga Neto $7,100 (GPP) - He his a solid Ji-Jutsu black belt specialist and while he is the clear underdog in this fight, he absolutely has a chance to win. His grappling skills would normally give him a high floor making him playable even in cash. However, he lacks a standup game and has been battered before in fights. Getting knocked out is a very real possibility making him a fade in cash. However, his grappling upside and the low ownership he will have as an opening card fighter makes him someone you definitely want at least some exposure to in GPPs.

Markus Perez $7,000 (GPP) - He's an undefeated skilled Brazilian fighter making his UFC debut. He won his most recent fight in impressive fashion scoring an arm triangle submission against a previously unbeaten fighter in the first round. He has a tough test against Anders and he's not somebody that you have to play. However, if you are looking for a punt to make room in your lineups, he is definitely worth consideration.

Gabriel Benitez $6,900 (GPP) - I really like his opponent and I also have plays that I like down in this price range so I will have no ownership of Benitez. However, I wouldn't be doing my job as a fantasy MMA writer if I told you to fade Benitez straight out. Knight is a very aggressive fighter and that absolutely opens the door for him to get hit. Benitez packs power especially with his feet and can strike all parts of the body. He's also a submission threat as well. So while I personally won't be playing him, if you want to play him as a GPP play, I don't have a problem with that.

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