Daily Fantasy MMA Picks for UFC on Fox 18 - 1/30/2016
Editor's Note: Welcome MMA contributor Shaun Ihasz. Give him a follow on Twitter @ShaunEyeHas
The card for UFC on FOX 18 at the Prudential Center is not filled with flashy names or a title bout (the main event is expected to produce a #1 contender), so we'll have to dig a little deeper. Usually Fantasy MMA is all about finding the underdogs who will put up points along with the one or two favorites you expect to take care of business. But on this card, there is a surplus of value plays and a real struggle to find your dominant fighter.
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I know, I know this card has the incredibly talented and future face of the UFC in 19-year old Sage Northcutt. He was my top pick heading into the week until he got a new, more experienced, opponent on eight days notice AND stopped his weight cut as his bout will now be at welterweight rather than lightweight. Northcutt will probably win but an $11,000 price tag is just too high for someone I'm not all-in with. I won't consider using him, hopefully I don't regret that.
Oh...and for those clamoring for an Anthony "Rumble" Johnson pick. I can't do it. Ryan Bader is too good and (trust me) too underrated. I expect Rumble to be heavily owned and for a lot of people to pay dearly with his $10,900 salary.
Vegas Favorites ($10,500+)
Randy Brown ($10,500)
There's a reason this kid is a big-time favorite in his UFC debut: six fights, six finishes, and no one has gotten to the third round with him. He matches up with Matt Dwyer, 1-2 in the UFC and aside from William Macario, has beat a bunch of guys who bag groceries in their spare time. This is the opening bout of the event and Brown is also a relative unknown...for now. No big wins on his resume either, but he has a reputation as an aggressive fighter and it's hard to argue with all those finishes. Brown is probably better suited for GPP play but I'll have him in a few cash game lineups as well.
Tarec Saffiedine ($10,600)
I told you this card was light on favorites. Saffiedine is vanilla as vanilla gets. "The Sponge" has five wins in his last six fights, all by decision. This is a stronger play if you think the fight will go the distance, and it very well could with eight straight Saffiedine fights reaching the final round. On the other side of the octagon, you'll have a badly slumping Jake Ellenberger, whose only win in his last five fights came against a former shell of a fighter who still goes by Josh Koscheck. You'll know a lot about this fight in the first 90 seconds, because it could be a snooze fest. But the points could be there for Saffiende if he dominates a decision or if we learn that Ellenberger's body has finally reached its limit in his 41st pro fight.
Mid-Range Targets ($9,000-$10,400)
Olivier Aubin-Mercier ($10,400)
"The Quebec Kid" also fights a short notice replacement, but I don't think I'm being a hypocrite by taking him here. Aubin-Mercier has bounced back from a loss in his UFC debut with three straight wins, including two finishes by submission. But what I really like about this pick is his match-up against Carlos Diego Ferriera. Loser of his last two fights, Ferriera was knocked out in the first round by Dustin Poirier in April. Even when Ferriera gets it going, he seldom finishes fights, meaning that Aubin-Mercier should rack up the points even if he has a sub-par night.
Kevin Casey ($9,500)
Kevin Casey rarely lets the judges decide his fights with only 25% of his bouts go to the scorecard. I don't expect this one to be any different. "The King" has not lost since April 2013 and I expect him to come out swinging after his last contest ended after only 11 seconds due to an accidental eye poke. While his opponent Rafael "Sapo" Natal has won three straight, all came via decision (two split decisions) with one against a slumping Tom Watson and another versus the schizophrenic Uriah Hall. Casey is a slight underdog who could score you a first round finish or rack up plenty of significant strikes if Natal drags his man out into a war.
Upset Alert (Under $9,000)
Masio Fullen ($8,600)
I can't figure out the line on this fight. For me, Fullen is the best value on this card with a 3-1 record in his last four fights. I admit, he was submitted via RNC in the first round of his last fight. But it was the first time since 2008 he was finished and does anyone really think Alex Caceres can pull that off? Caceres has lost three straight, including a 21 second mauling at the hands of Francisco Rivera in June. If you want to plug-in Northcutt or another big-time favorite, Fullen is where I would go to makeup the salary.
Ryan Bader ($8,500)
What?! How can I recommend you take Bader in the Main Event as a HUGE underdog? Let's start with the fact that Bader is 5-0 and most recently defeated the former champ Rashad Evans and the rising Phil "Mr. Wonderful" Davis. On the intangible side, something feels off with Johnson. Recently, news broke that he already has plans to walk away from MMA in three years, not a mindset I'd recommend walking into the Octagon with. On the other hand, Bader also has a huge carrot dangling in front of him as everyone expects Dana White to make the winner of this fight next in line for a shot at gold. The #4 ranked fighter in his division has the second lowest price tag on the card so if you're lineup is cash-strapped, I would strongly consider "Darth" Bader.
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- UFC_74_Respect_Bout: By Lee Brimelow (cropped from DSC_0029) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons