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UFC 195 DFS Playbook: value picks, who to avoid

The UFC kicks off 2016 on Saturday with UFC 195 from Las Vegas. It also marks the second year of UFC action on DraftKings, and they are celebrating with a big contest. Below are our studs, value plays and fighters to avoid in helping you set your line-ups for this weekend's big event.


Michael McDonald ($11,000)

Michael McDonald is the biggest favorite and has the highest salary of all of the fighters on the UFC 195 card, and for good reason. Despite being out of action for just over two years, McDonald is still one of the best bantamweights in the world, with knockout power and good submission skills. He is still young at just 24-years-old. He gets a fairly beatable test in his return to action in Masanori Kanehara. Kanehara hasn't shown to be much of a threat at 135 pounds yet, and is a journeyman fighter of 42 career bouts, but just two in the UFC. He also doesn't have the most impressive record. This fight is set up as a perfect bounce back for McDonald, and we expect him to get the job done quickly.

Brian Ortega ($10,300)

Brian Ortega is a rising featherweight with an undefeated record, and he gets showcased on the main card of UFC 195 as the UFC looks to build his resume. It will be another tough bout for him as he takes on former TUF winner Diego Brandao. Ortega passed a tough test in finishing Thiago Tavares in his last fight, but he was pushed to the limit. Brandao will be a foe that pushes him to the limit too. However, Brandao tends to crack under pressure, and Ortega will bring the pressure. Brandao has never put it together against a top opponent, and while Ortega isn't there yet, he will be one day. I like Ortega's chances of finishing Brandao, and he's a good pick at his salary.


Dustin Poirier ($8,800)

It is surprising that Dustin Poirier is as big of an underdog as he is to Joseph Duffy, and his salary shows that. I actually think the betting line should be closer, but to his credit, Duffy is 14-1 in his career while Poirier is 6-3 in his last nine fights. Poirier has looked outstanding since making the move up to 155 pounds with two first-round finishes, and his striking has looked crisp. Poirier is a finisher and so is Duffy. It is rare for a higher-ranked fighter to be an underdog, and with Duffy being the one to pull out the last time they were scheduled to fight, that could provide Poirier more motivation to finish Duffy. I like Poirier at his salary.

Kyle Noke ($8,500)

This is one everyone should be taking advantage of. When the salaries were originally released for the event, Kyle Noke was scheduled to fight Kelvin Gastelum. He was a big underdog, and his salary reflected that. Gastelum, however, was forced out of the fight. Noke now fights Alex Morono, and DraftKings policy is to not change salaries after they are released, so Noke retains his low salary. With him fighting an opponent making his UFC debut on short notice, Noke is actually a big favorite in the fight. He is coming off a first-round finish of Peter Sobotta in his last bout. With his salary remaining low, Noke should be a must-play on your roster.


Sheldon Westcott ($10,200)

Sheldon Westcott is still in search of his first UFC win, and he finds himself in a must-win situation in the opener of UFC 195. His opponent, Edgar Garcia, is in the same position. The loser of the bout is likely cut from the promotion. Westcott hasn't been impressive during his time inside the Octagon and isn't a fighter who racks up a lot of points during his bouts. He may get the win over Garcia, but he doesn't strike me as someone who will maximize value at his salary. I will be avoiding him in my line-ups.

Nina Ansaroff ($8,700)

Nina Ansaroff has an umimpressive 6-4 record in her career, but she has won five of her last six bouts. She did lose her UFC debut to Juliana Lima, and had her last fight cancelled the day of the fight when she fell ill during rehydration. She missed weight for that scheduled fight against Rose Namajunas. She makes her return against Justine Kish, a 4-0 strawweight making her UFC debut after dealing with a knee injury. Kish is a solid fighter and a big favorite, and she should get the win. With that, I'm fading Ansaroff in my line-ups.


RYAN FREDERICK: Michael McDonald ($11,000), Stipe Miocic ($10,500), Brian Ortega ($10,300), Dustin Poirier ($8,800), Kyle Noke ($8,500)

I like Michael McDonald to get an impressive and quick finish in his UFC return. Stipe Miocic has a good salary and I think he finishes Andrei Arlovski. He is also a volume striker with good takedowns and will come at Arlovski a lot while the fight lasts. Brian Ortega should get the finish of Diego Brandao. I like Dustin Poirier against Joseph Duffy at his salary. Finally, I'm going with Kyle Noke. His salary is too good to pass up against a late replacement who will come in overmatched. I'm sensing all five of these guys winning, and winning by stoppage.

PAUL FONTAINE: Joseph Duffy ($10,600), Albert Tumenov ($10,100), Abel Trujillo ($10,000), Robbie Lawler ($9,800), Andrei Arlovski ($8,900)

Robbie Lawler and Carlos Condit should have a war with a ton strikes thrown and someone getting KO'd. My money's on the champion here. Arlovski is a bit of a chance but if he connects, Miocic could get dropped early and Miocic has had a tendency to choke when he gets close to a title shot, as he is now. Tumenov is one of the most underrated fighters in any weight class, although not here by the people that sest the Draft Kings salaries. I like the Russian to ring up his fifth straight UFC win as he marches toward the top 10. Trujillo is either going to get knocked out or knock someone out and I think this is his turn to do the latter. Sims looked good in his UFC debut against Steve Montgomery but not so much in his follow-up fight. I like Trujillo to come out with an early blitz and finish Sims. My last pick may be the fight I'm most looking forward to and that's Joseph Duffy. I love this fight and I think either guy could win but I think the extra size and power  of the Irishman is going to come into play here and end up with a 3rd straight stoppage win for the last man to beat Featherweight Champion Conor McGregor (couldn't get through this without saying that!). 

PEACH MACHINE: Scott Holtzman ($10,400), Albert Tumenov ($10,100), Abel Trujillo ($10,000), Robbie Lawler ($9,800), Dustin Poirier ($8,800)

I love Lawler to light up Condit big time and score mega points en route to a late stoppage. Poirier is gonna waffle this kid. Just because he's Irish, everyone's super into Duffy. DP is gonna stick a potato in his ear. Holtzman is a late replacement but he's been training solidly for a fight since his first tilt in August and actually asked for a match on short notice. I saw him live in August and just saw him train in Glendale. He's going to be too fast for Dober and get a finish. Tumenov is going to ground and pound Larkin for three rounds. Trujillo will bounce back from a loss and smash Tony Sims. I'm actually feeling pretty good about my picks this week.