Daily fantasy MMA is still in its relative infancy, meaning players can expect some changes as the game attempts to expand. DraftKings introduced its first set of alterations to their MMA format a few months ago, which included a new scoring system and roster revamping. In this article, I will talk about how the updated format should affect our selections, as well as give a few general tips for picking the best team of fighters possible.
Players still begin with a budget of $50,000, but are now tasked with selecting six fighters instead of five. I have noted the original point values beside the current ones as a means of comparison.
- Significant Strikes (SS): +0.5 PTS - No change
- Advance (ADVC): +3 PT - Formerly +1 PT
- Takedown (TD): +5 PTS - Formerly +2 PTS
- Reversal/Sweep (REV): +5 PTS - Formerly +2PTS
- Knockdown (KD): +10 PTS - Formerly +3 PTS
Fight Conclusion Bonuses:
- 1st Round Win (1rW+): +90 PTS - Formerly +100 PTS
- 2nd Round Win (2rW+): +70 PTS - No change
- 3rd Round Win (3rW+): +45 PTS - Formerly +50 PTS
- 4th Round Win (4rW+): +40 PTS - No change
- 5th Round Win (5rW+): +40 PTS - No change
- Decision Win (WBD+): +30 PTS - Formerly +25 PTS
- Significant Strikes are any Distance Strike or Clinch/Ground Strikes that are considered "Power Strikes" by official scorers.
- Advances include: moving to half guard, side control, mount or back control.
1. When in Doubt, Choose a Wrestler
As you can see by the scoring chart above, the new system has been designed to make wrestlers and grapplers more attractive. While an attempt to even the playing field was probably warranted, there seems to be an overcorrection here that we can use to our advantage. Some may look at the hefty point total given to the knockdown and think that more power has been given to the dominant striker, but unless you are Conor Mcgregor fighting Eddie Alvarez, it can be difficult to chain knockdowns together. A good wrestler, by contrast, can comfortably land four or five takedowns per fight. Furthermore, they can rack up transitions that may take place while the fighter owns dominant position. It is also important to remember that every minute on top is a minute spent winning the round, which means that a control artist could potentially cobble together a strong score over the course of a fight without having to finish. This doesn't mean you should fill your cards with nothing but mat rats, but someone who is willing to go to the ground can be an excellent value play in order to make room for finishers.
2. Invest in five-round Fights
There is nothing revolutionary about the idea that more time to fight can result in more points scored, but picking fighters involved in these matches remains a solid way to run up totals. We can look towards the recent TUF 24 finale for a nice example of how selecting a fighter in a longer match can pay dividends, as Demetrious Johnson received 107 fantasy points for a decision victory, while Tim Elliot took home 41 in the loss. Elliot's score may not look like much in isolation, but his minuscule price tag ($5,400) would have allowed players a tremendous amount of flexibility in their overall budget. Finding finishes will always be the goal, but a compilation of points is the next best thing, and giving a main-event caliber fighter five rounds to work should generally afford us a nice result.
3. Watch the Weigh-ins
Most UFC events have two weigh-ins. One is an official measurement for the fight, while the other is basically a show event for the media. The latter (which is what we want to focus on) is streamed live on YouTube, and takes place the afternoon before the fight card. These are valuable to us because we get to see the fighters rehydrated and well fed after the weight-cut, which means the way they appear on stage is pretty close to how they will look in the Octagon. Look closely at the fighters when they square off to see if there is a noticeable size advantage, or if one competitor appears to be carrying their weight better than another. This could be important, as a fighter who has had a tough cut could gas easier, allowing his comfortable-looking opponent (and you) to reap the benefits.
4. Don't get too caught up in Scarcity
The concept of scarcity is important throughout DFS, but it comes with a few caveats. The first of these is that a player's focus on scarcity should correspond with how many games are on a given slate. The reason for this is fairly straightforward, as the more players there are to pick from, the more likely there is to be diversity within the picks. The second thing to remember is that we need to not only pick winners, but also find the fighters who will rack up the most points. This is a difficult enough task without having to wonder about the ownership percentage of each participant. Keep all those beautiful points to yourself if you can, but be sure not to sacrifice a high-scorer in the process.
5. Study Tape When Necessary
The unique thing about MMA is the amount of information we can gather from watching a fight. If I was going to play an NBA slate, I couldn't simply watch one or two Bulls games and know the intricacies of the offense or the full capability of the opposing defense. But viewing the most recent bouts from our potential selections can give us a real sense of what each fighter will attempt to do in the cage. This can be especially useful when dealing with fighters making their UFC debut, as it allows us to gain a sizable amount of information about a competitor that others may simply choose to pass on due to lack of knowledge.
6. Check the Fight Metrics
Fightmetric.com is one of the first real attempts to quantify what we see inside the cage. The site allows you to compare two fighters using information such as striking accuracy, defense and takedowns landed per 15 minutes. While the statistics aren't very advanced, they can still give you a good feel as to what a fighter's game plan might be, and where an opponent might be vulnerable. It is important to note that the database doesn't keep track of fights that occurred outside the UFC, so any given prospect could be made to look like a killer or a bum depending on how they fared in their first few fights.