Punches to the face: Are they worth it? Basic MMA DFS strategy
Understanding the subtle scoring differences on the two main MMA DFS sites, DraftKings and Kountermove, will be key to a prosperous career in MMA DFS. As the title says, are punches to the face worth it Fantasy wise? Such punches are categorized under significant strikes on both sites, which is half a point per strike. Some people gloss over that detail, but it is a crucial part of choosing the right fighter in the right matchup. For example, a guy like Nick Diaz is very proficient in his style of striking, which he has adorably called “The Stockton Slap”. He can amass over 100-plus significant strikes in a three round match, which for you math wizards is 50-plus Fantasy points right off the bat. That means if he wins a decision on DK, he’s getting at least 75 points for his efforts. It also means if he loses the fight, he’s still going to get 50-plus points! So even if a fighter may be a big dog in a fight, if the matchup calls for three rounds of battling on the feet, choosing the loser probably isn’t such a bad idea.
Continuing on that last point, such an idea can increase the chances of getting in an expensive fighter without sacrificing the integrity of your lineup. This is probably one of the more viable strategies on DK since their pricing is very constrictive for lineup building. Most of the favorites are usually at bloated prices and some underdogs may be incredibly underpriced. Obviously, choosing a dog that can actually win is the best way to go, but like I mentioned before, it all depends on the matchup. Choosing an underdog who may be $1k less than another dog can make all the difference in the world if it means you can add in a fighter who can hit the holy grail of 100-plus points, even if the higher priced underdog has a much better matchup. Deciding on whether or not a salary dump is worth it or not will come down to several factors, with significant strikes being the main sticking point. That’s where the fight breakdowns will come in handy!
Looking up past fight history for a fighter can help get a sense of how many significant strikes they average under normal circumstances, as most strikers generally average 60-80 significant strikes per three rounds. Chins and gameplans can be a factor as well if you’re choosing a fighter based on striking scoring. Lawler and Hendricks were two of the tougher welterweights in the division chin wise, and Lawler’s great takedown defense caused Hendricks to have to keep the fight standing for the majority of the match. Both men essentially jabbed and prodded their way to the judges, with very few breaks in the fight. Their first fight broke the record for the most combined significant strikes as well as Hendricks getting the most significant strikes in the history of UFC title fights, amassing an astonishing 158 significant strikes! Lawler was not too far behind with 150 of his own, effectively making Lawler a fantastic salary play as he still received 90-plus points in a losing effort. Of course, that fight can be seen as an outlier, but that’s not the only fight that had big implications for significant strikes scoring and won’t be the last.
Significant strikes are much more prevalent as a stat in main event/title fights as those are five round matches. Finishing in the fourth/fifth round is a great opportunity for scoring as a fighter could get in 60-80 significant strikes to go with the finish, which is plus-50 on KM and plus-40 on DK for both round 4/5 finishes. It just adds up in the end for the final score tally, which is why I usually target the main event/title fights as I build my lineups. I want my fighter to have ample opportunities to stockpile Fantasy points as much as possible within the time frame given without worrying about the judges. Five round fights have had the most Fantasy points scored in the past and could be the deciding factor for a first place lineup. There have been several occasions where the winner of the main event fight actually got 120-130-plus points, which is absolutely insane! More rounds also means more chances for both fighters to nab a finish as well as making cardio a big factor for either fighter involved. Cardio can make or break a fighter and if the underdog has considerably better cardio than his/her opponent, then having more rounds to exploit that advantage makes me feel better about inserting that same underdog into my lineups. There are other inherent advantages in choosing a fighter involved in a five round match, and each advantage can have drastically different final scores between DK and KM.
Another factor in gauging a fighter’s potential scoring is wrestling/grappling. One of the major disadvantages of playing on DK is the fact that they do not give points for submission attempts and only give one point for advances, while KM gives two points per advance (called dominant positions on KM). DK also only gives 25 points for any decision win, no matter what. Meaning if a fighter wins an unanimous decision (all three rounds), that fighter gets 30 points on KM (10 points per round won) compared to only 25 on DK. Going further on that point, a five round decision win would be plus-50 on KM but only plus-25 on DK, making the main event/title fights have far less of an impact on DK as compared to KM. As some of you may know, wrestlers have a tendency to take the fight to the judges rather than finishing it inside the octagon. Coupled with the lack of sub attempts scoring and less of a reward for winning decisions, a fighter who typically wrestles and grinds out a win may be a deterrent on DK even if he has a fantastic matchup.
The same thing can be said for grapplers and BJJ specialists who hunt for submission attempts. Case in point: Liam McGeary recently fought for the light heavyweight title in Bellator, winning a tight five round decision win over Emmanuel Newton to become the new LHW champion. McGeary also broke the record for most submission attempts in a fight, amassing 11 such attempts! On KM, he had a fantastic score as he received 33 points for those attempts, while on DK he would have received zero points for those very same attempts. See the problem here? Understanding the differences of potential scoring on both sites can dramatically change your lineups on both sites, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Just be sure to realize the risks of rostering a wrestler/grappler on DK versus using them on KM.
As you can tell, it’s a little bit harder to gauge the potential scoring of wrestlers/grapplers on DK, so let’s move on to KM scoring. A wrestler can have a bigger impact on KM simply with dominant positions and takedowns and can be a safer pick versus someone who might be involved in a fiery stand up battle. Even an underdog who has solid wrestling skills can be a better percentage play than an atypical striker underdog just off the chance for a grinding decision win. Again, and I keep stressing this, it is all about the matchup and flow of the fight. Apart from being a usually safe pick, wrestlers can also be one of the highest scoring fighters of the night, as wrestlers with a vicious ground and pound game can get both dominant positions and significant strikes at the same time. A first round finish for a wrestler generally involves a takedown into a GnP TKO win, with a final score that can get upwards to the high 110’s! The same can be said for a grappler/BJJ specialist that notches a first round submission win, since they most likely would get both dominant position and submission attempt scoring along with the plus-100 for the first round win.
Finishing up some of the basics, what you really want most out of the fighters you roster is a finish. Plain and simple. Sure, getting in 50 significant strikes and a first round finish would be the best case scenario, but you simply want the FINISH! That is your main objective when you build your lineups, choosing the best matchups/probability of finishing success. Of course, we all can’t be Nostradamus, which is why you have to look at the overall picture as well. Always think of a best/worst case scenario for every fighter, using their ability to strike, wrestle, grapple, cardio, their chin, and whatever else may come to mind. Just because a fighter might be infinitely better than their opposition doesn’t mean it will translate into Fantasy success. That’s why I will always go by fighter ability rather than black and white analysis that some people like to put out, calling out a fight as an easy pick with the winner getting an effortless finish, adding nothing else to the breakdown. MMA DFS is more than meets the eye, and like any sport if you don’t put in the research, you are destined for failure. Thankfully for all of us, DailyRoto is around to help our lazy selves get rich!