An Interview with Daily Fantasy MMA Expert Brett Appley
Brett Appley has been a force in daily fantasy MMA since its inception and has been providing MMA content at RotoGrinders for quite a while now.
Many of you have already benefited from his high-quality MMA Premium Package where he provides rankings, projections, and breakdowns of all the major MMA events. Recently, he was kind enough to sit down with us and share details about his introduction to MMA, his research process, some of his favorite MMA moments and more.
RotoGrinders: When did you first start watching MMA? Is there a particular fight/fighter that got you hooked?
Brett: I grew up on team sports, baseball and soccer mostly. I didn’t start following MMA religiously until college, when my roommate who wrestled in high school took me to a jiu-jitsu class. Once I grasped the concepts that being bigger and stronger weren’t as important as technique, I became obsessed, and that’s what ultimately led me down this path. That was during the time of GSP vs. Koscheck, who were coaching The Ultimate Fighter.
RotoGrinders: What makes fantasy MMA different from other fantasy sports and why should people try it?
Brett: For me it’s the sweat. Imagine an NFL Sunday where only one game happens at a time, and it builds and builds until the Sunday Night game. With MMA, you are able to watch every moment of the slate, and an entire lineup can cash or crash with a single punch. It’s the most intense sweat of any fantasy sport I have played and the swings from minute to minute are wild.
RotoGrinders: For players who have never tried fantasy MMA, do you have any recommendations on how to get started?
For new players, in terms of lineup creation, I generally advise making 5-10 lineups in low dollar contests. It’s a very difficult one-lineup sport, and it’s often easier to target certain fights you expect to score well, rather than one specific fighter. Using Vegas is as useful for fantasy MMA as most other fantasy sports. Maximizing win percentage and finishing percentage based on Vegas metrics is an easy place to start. Targeting wrestlers, high-volume strikers and high-paced matchups are important as well.
RotoGrinders: When picking a fighter for your DFS lineups, what is the first trait you’re targeting?
Brett: DraftKings rewards fighters who can land takedowns with volume, so that’s the No. 1 trait I will look for. Not only do high-volume wrestlers gain points from takedowns, but it also presents them with an opportunity to advance position, finish the fight or decisively win rounds with top control.
RotoGrinders: How often do you incorporate advanced stats in your research? Is there one stat you weigh the most heavily?
Brett: I incorporate stats into my research far more often than the average person, though they aren’t necessarily advanced stats. Two stats that are very important to me are Strikes Attempted Per Minute, and Takedown Attempts Per 15 Minutes, which can be calculated based on Sig. Strikes Landed + Accuracy, or Takedowns Landed + Accuracy. These stats tell me how willing fighters are to strike and wrestle, or in other words, produce offense. Offensive production is very important on a round-to-round basis, especially from a predictive standpoint.
RotoGrinders: What are your thoughts on stacking both fighters from a 5-round Main Event?
Brett: I believe I am the first person to employ this strategy in cash games. That was back in 2015 when there were only a handful of players, but it’s a very common strategy now. In cash games, stacking the Main Event can raise your floor dramatically, which is the goal in that format. In tournaments, however, I rarely use this strategy, if ever. Approximately once or twice a year a stack does win tournaments, but it can be very hard to predict. I generally advise not to stack in tournaments and would rather maximize my chances of securing six wins.
RotoGrinders: Who is your favorite MMA fighter of all time and why?
Brett: Chael Sonnen. Not only is a very skilled wrestler, but he’s also an incredible speaker. There are far more exciting fighters than Sonnen, but he was able to build storylines like no other, and it made for some exciting matchups, most notably the ones against Anderson Silva.
RotoGrinders: Since you come from a jiu-jitsu background, do you have a favorite submission for MMA?
Brett: My personal favorite is the Triangle or Japanese Necktie, but for MMA, I’d almost always recommend targeting chokes over arm locks and leg locks. Arm locks and leg locks have a certain level of pain tolerance to them, even when locked in, fighters can “tough” out of the position with a dose of adrenaline. There is no escaping from chokes. If it’s locked in properly, you will put your opponent to sleep.
RotoGrinders: If you were building a “super” fighter, what three skills/techniques would your fighter possess?
Brett: Wrestling is by far the most important skill that fighters can possess, as it allows them to control where the fight takes place. A fighter with a high-level wrestling pedigree, with strong submission grappling skills and cardio to work for a full five rounds is quite difficult to stop.
RotoGrinders: Fantasy MMA continues to grow rapidly. Considering the current game formats available, is there anything you’d like to see changed, added or removed?
To me, understanding the scoring system and using it to our advantage is the most important thing, but there’s always room for improvement. There are times when a fighter earns a quick first-round finish and gets beaten by a wrestler who takes a three-round decision, and that can be frustrating. So I would say adjusting the weight between grappling and finishing would be something to consider.
We appreciate Brett taking the time to share some of his vast MMA knowledge. Be sure to check out his premium offerings for the next big UFC fight card!