Here's some advice for who to pick in your DraftKings lineup for Saturday's UFC 205 event in New York City, New York, headlined by UFC Lightweight Champion Eddie Alvarez defending against Conor McGregor on pay-per-view.
Top Target: Joanna Jedrzejczyk ($9,300)
Joanna Jedrzejczyk is the biggest betting favorite on the UFC 205 card as she defends the UFC Women's Strawweight Championship against Karolina Kowalkiewicz. She also has the highest salary of all the fighters on the card, but that still makes her our top target for your fantasy line-ups at UFC 205. Jedrzejczyk is the most polished striker, not only out of all womens fighters, but perhaps in the entire sport.
She racks up a lot of points with significant strikes, so that is where she will excel in getting fantasy players points. She is also a finisher, and if she finds an opening, there is no doubt she will be going for the kill. The biggest key for Kowalkiewicz is to get ahead early. Jedrzejczyk can start off slow, but she has shown to have a never-ending gas tank, and she gets much stronger the later the fight goes. Kowalkiewicz fights at a fast pace, but Jedrzejczyk can match it, and her counterstriking will slow Kowalkiewicz down.
A key to the standing battle is that Jedrzejczyk has a punishing jab, and her technique on the feet is unmatched. Jedrzejczyk also trained for this camp with American Top Team, which will be her new home, so she won't have to adjust due to traveling from overseas. It shouldn't affect her power or speed.
This is a bad match-up for Kowalkiewicz, but anyone going against Jedrzejczyk is going to be a bad match-up for the opponent, as Joanna is the best in the world at 115 pounds. I expect her to score a lot of points and to get a finish late, and she is definitely the top play on this fight card.
Value Target: Eddie Alvarez ($7,600)
Eddie Alvarez is the underdog as he defends the UFC Lightweight Championship against the biggest star in the sport, Conor McGregor, in the main event of UFC 205. McGregor is looking to make history in becoming the first fighter to hold titles in two weight classes at the same time, and Alvarez is looking to play the spoiler. Alvarez is going to be giving up some length and reach to McGregor, and that is going to come into play.
McGregor likes to keep his opponents on the outside where he can set up leg kicks, spinning kicks and set up his straight left hand. Alvarez fights better inside the pocket where he can start a brawl, so he is going to have to navigate himself inside that five inches of reach that McGregor has the advantage of. Alvarez has talked of how this is an easy fight, and I hope he truly doesn't believe that, because he's in for a rude awakening if he does. It's easy to knock McGregor, but he may truly be the best fighter that Alvarez has fought, and that spans a lot of high-level territory. Alvarez is very quick on his feet and with his hands, and he has solid takedowns.
He may utilize a wrestling-based attack, and takedowns score a lot of fantasy points. He could end up getting into a brawl with McGregor on the feet, and both can take a lot of punishment and dish it out. We've never seen McGregor knocked out, nor have we Alvarez, but Alvarez has been in a lot of trouble. I expect to see McGregor use a strategy similar to the one Donald Cerrone had against Alvarez, and that would spell trouble for Alvarez.
However, this is a very winnable fight for Alvarez, and for fantasy reasons, his salary is very valuable. It really is a tough fight to pick, but if you're looking for someone to use on your roster, Alvarez is a solid selection.
Target To Avoid: Miesha Tate ($9,100)
Miesha Tate returns to the Octagon for the first time since losing the UFC Women's Bantamweight Championship to Amanda Nunes at UFC 200 in July. Tate fights an opponent she has some familiarity with in Raquel Pennington, who she coached on The Ultimate Fighter. When you look at this fight, from an outside perspective, this looks like a rebound fight for Tate. Pennington is only 8-5 in her career. However, don't let that record fool you.
She has won three straight fights and four of her last five, and the improvement has been very clear. She also has a style that could give Tate a lot of trouble. Pennington has some solid striking, but she tends to fight without a clear gameplan. She's only lost to top-level opponents, and Tate is a top-level opponent. Tate is better all around, but it remains to be seen if she is over losing the championship. She is also coming back sooner than she anticipated as she was expecting to return in December.
Tate will be best served to make this a battle on the mat as her wrestling and ground game is light years ahead of Pennington. Where Pennington could give Tate fits is inside the clinch. She makes good use of dirty boxing and her elbows, and she is good at finding openings. Tate is a big favorite when it comes to fantasy value, but this fight is a lot closer on the betting odds than their salaries show. I do expect Tate to win, but Pennington is going to make her work for it.
I don't see Tate finishing Pennington, so that takes her value down a little. With Tate having the third-highest salary on the card, without the sure thing of her getting a finish, it's tough to justify having her on your roster. I'm saying avoid her just because of her salary, but I do think she will win this fight, but it won't be easy.
Underdog Target: Tyron Woodley ($7,400)
Tyron Woodley is making his first defense of the UFC Welterweight Championship as he defends against Stephen Thompson on Saturday night. If you look at the betting odds and the fantasy salaries for this fight, Woodley is clearly getting no respect as it seems everyone is expecting him to lose the championship. It wouldn't be a surprise as Woodley's only fight in 19 months was hist first-round knockout over Robbie Lawler to win the title.
In that same time frame, Thompson has won three fights, and he has won seven straight overall to earn his title opportunity. Woodley and Thompson have completely different styles, and it makes for an interesting match-up. Woodley is a strong wrestler with heavy hands, and Thompson employs a unique karate-style striking attack. Thompson is crafty on his feet and knows how to keep a distance, and Woodley fights badly from the outside. Woodley also has a questionable gas tank, while Thompson can go a full 25 minutes.
Everything being said favors Thompson, so why should Woodley be considered an underdog target? It is because of that knockout power. Thompson is very hard to hit, and we haven't seen his chin tested yet, but if Woodley can land that right hand, it could be lights out. Woodley also will test the wrestling of Thompson, who has improved his takedown defense, but he hasn't been put to the test in recent fights. Woodley is also strong in the clinch, but Thompson isn't easy to keep there.
You have to have underdogs on your roster, and honestly, the pickings are slim on this card. Woodley is going to have a tough time getting a win, but he has that equalizing right hand. He's the best underdog target bet.
Ryan Frederick: Joanna Jedrzejczyk ($9,300), Stephen Thompson ($8,800), Conor McGregor ($8,600), Chris Weidman ($8,500), Jim Miller ($7,800), Jeremy Stephens ($7,000)
I have Joanna Jedrzejczyk on my roster for all of the reasons she is my top target, and I am confident that she will finish Karolina Kowalkiewicz. I have Eddie Alvarez and Tyron Woodley as targets above, but I have their opponents, Stephen Thompson and Conor McGregor, in my line-up. I just have more confidence in them getting the win and am not taking the risks and am going for the win. I have Chris Weidman, Jim Miller and Jeremy Stephens rounding out my roster.
Finally fighting in New York will give Weidman some added confidence, and he wants an impressive showing to get that title shot. He's going to bring a fight to Yoel Romero. Miller gets Thiago Alves debuting at lightweight, and it is a tough fight. I need underdogs on my roster, and Miller has a good chance. Stephens is the best that is left with what I have, and if he can connect on Frankie Edgar, he can finish him. I'm hoping so for fantasy sake.
Paul Fontaine: Joanna Jedrzejczyk ($9,300), Donald Cerrone ($8,900), Chris Weidman ($8,500), Belal Muhammad ($8,300), Eddie Alvarez ($7,600), Tyron Woodley ($7,400)
My top pick is the strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk. I believe that she is far and away the best in her division and should handle her challenger with ease, either scoring a quick KO or an extended beatdown. Either is good for a lot of points. Donald Cerrone is next up for me. I see this fight going similar to the Joanna fight in the sense that Cerrone is very prolific on his feet. If it goes to the ground he has an underrated submission game. I think that age is finally going to catch up to Yoel Romero when he gets into the Octagon with former world champion Chris Weidman, allowing the All American to score a KO win.
I'm going with Belal Muhammad as one of my picks as I think he's one of the better guys in the division and under a lot of people's radar. His opponent, Luque, has shown to be vulnerable to submissions in the past and Muhammad should take advantage of that. My last two picks are the other two title holders on the card, Eddie Alvarez and Tyron Woodley. Alvarez hits harder, in my opinion, than anyone Conor McGregor has faced to date and the featherweight champion has shown in the past that he'll eat a lot of punches. Woodley just needs to catch Thompson one time and I think he can do it. I'm glad I can get the two champions in under budget and really like my team here.
Peach Machine: Joanna Jedrzejczyk ($9,300), Frankie Edgar ($9,200), Miesha Tate ($9,100), Eddie Alvarez ($7,600), Tyron Woodley ($7,400), Kelvin Gastelum ($7,300)
I love Eddie in this match up. He's too fast AND he can take a monster beatin'. T-Wood will simply outclass Thompson. He may be an awesome kick boxer, but he's never wrestled a Mizzou Tiger. Joanna Champion is my current favorite fighter since Hendo retired. I just named my newest dog, Miesha, so I'm going with her. Gastelum could win this match with wrestling. I think he'll decide to do that, since getting kneed in the mouth by Cerrone is bad for business. Frankie is gonna stomp Stephens, and he'd better, since he's being screwed on title contention.