Edge of the Autojohn - A DFS Love Story and UFC 260 Preview

As this is my first blogpost for Rotogrinders I will formally introduce myself, as is customary in these circumstances. My name is John Ashbrook and I am currently studying for my MBA at Southern New Hampshire University and I love fantasy sports! Good enough, right? Well if not, just a little more background before I get into it. I started out at a young age as my Dad would be reading his morning newspaper going through box scores during baseball season (yeah I’m THAT old). I was interested because even as a young tot, I knew I was going to be a professional athlete or head coach in pro sports and I wanted to know “how my guys” were doing at all times. More on my delusions of grandeur later but growing up watching more than a few bar room snake drafts in multiple sports, even managing my step-dad’s fantasy football team in his office league he had no interest in back in 7th grade (Donovan McNabb broke his leg and my heart that season), and then running or helping to run my own leagues in high school and then college has now led me to this point. Fantasy Sports became a daily sensation back in 2007 and back then I was still running year long leagues but as time went on and my friends had other priorities, mainly starting their own families and being adults, I still needed my fantasy sports fix. I began rummaging through DFS lobbies, playing on multiple sites, and quickly fell in love with the game I could now play everyday and also win everyday!

10 years later, I would say more than anything, DFS has increased my knowledge of the sports I loved playing growing up, and even gotten me into some new ones. Ok maybe actually just one, I certainly never played NASCAR growing up but I love being down on the racetrack just as much as anybody as long as I have a dog in the hunt. The grind of putting lineups together for every event makes the thrill of watching it live that much more exciting and it’s something I live for. Without actually being in sports, there’s nothing quite like making your lineup and then being in the lead for an NBA event worth $100,000 on a Tuesday night while studying Bertrand Russell (true story). I’ll be the first to say that I haven’t made my living in DFS up to this point but Rotogrinders has really kept my passion for fantasy sports alive and now, through this blog, I would like to return the favor.

We’re going to get started boys and girls with my preview of this weekend’s UFC PPV and I’ll also include my picks for each fight, as well as my anticipated finishes with round selection. This should help get you not only your fantasy fix, but also help the sports betting degenerates pay their bills for the month so plan accordingly. As always, I couldn’t write this post without making it at least a little more personal so here is my MMA background. I wrestled starting in middle school after a friend from the football team told me I could use it as an off-season workout to stay in shape until the summer when football was back in season. I loved it and stuck with it through my sophomore year of college and that was about the time that DFS was just getting started and in a lot of ways, so was the UFC. Dana had just put on TV a little reality show called “The Ultimate Fighter” and my wrestling buddies and I were hooked. It was great seeing this testosterone pumped up version of MTV’s “The Real World” and it was equally as dramatic watching the interactions between the coaches of that season and the fighters at the end getting the UFC contract from Uncle Dana and seeing firsthand how their lives would change in a sport that was still developing. Now Dana White’s “Tuesday Night Conteder Series” has ruined all of that drama but I digress. This show lead me to think that even I could be apart of this growing phenomenon, and I was until I got put in a perfectly executed armbar in Toledo, Ohio that changed my mind. After all was said and done though I had a 2-2 amateur record and a love for this new sport that will continue with me for the rest of my life.

I know, I know. Stick to the fantasy sports blog, leave the anecdotes for my therapist. Bad news for you guys is that I don’t have a therapist so you will have to bare with me while I constantly justify my presence here on this glorious website. Now without further adieu, my picks and plays for this weekend’s heavyweight championshp PPV, UFC 260!

This Saturday’s PPV has everything I need to enjoy from the expected redemption songs of “Suga” Sean O’malley and Tyrone Woodley, to the historical promise of a truly undisputed heavyweight champion that we haven’t EVER seen in this division if I’m being honest. But this is not a sports betting blog, it is a fantasy grind blog so that means this event is won and lost for all of us on the event’s undercard so let’s start there. Makes for a better buildup anyhow.

MARC-ANDRE BARRIAULT VS. ABU AZAITAR:

Barriault is the the slight favorite here at (-124) but the French Canadian has proved so far in his UFC career that George St. Pierre’s do not grow on trees and that he has a lot of work to do if he wants to be a factor in the weakest division in the promotion (Middleweight). He has 8 professional wins by KO so the potential for a big DFS payday is there, but not without risk. He has only knocked out one opponent in the UFC but that fight was ruled a no-contest after Barriault failed his post-fight drug screening. Azaitar is the more vetted UFC fighter and is even more interesting to me as an underdog (+100). “Captain Morocco” has not been in the octagon in almost 3 years but his last fight was a win, even if only via decision. I believe Barriault lacks the ground game to be able to capitalize and I think Azaitar wins this fight via UD after 3 rounds and is the value play we need here to win BIG this weekend. I will add Barriault should also be more highly owned since he is the betting favorite. Azaitar will play in my optimized lineup but consider Barriault’s KO upside potential for GPP’s as well.

SHANE YOUNG VS. OMAR MORALES

Two featherweights battle it out here in a fight that shows little promise in my eyes as Morales (-177) is way over priced for my liking, especially after dropping his last fight though he does have a quality win over the Korean Zombie, at $8,700 I will look elsewhere. Shane Young at $7,500 is more interesting on the sports betting side (+145) for those of you that are late on the rent this month, as stylistically he could prove to be a 3 round problem for Morales, but once again I am looking elsewhere for value and will avoid this fight altogether. Picks are picks though so I will take Morales via Split Decision.

MODESTAS BUKAUSKAS VS. MICHAL OLEKSIEJCZUK

Well this one is a complete mouthful before we even get started. I know I said earlier that Middleweight is the UFC’s weakest division but I lied, it’s light heavyweight. Especially now that Jon Jones has moved up to heavyweight in anticipation of facing tonight’s main event winner but as always, I get ahead of myself. This fight immediately shows no promise on the sports betting side as Oleksiejczuk is a huge favorite at (-167) though BOTH of these fighters are rebounding after being knocked out by the same guy, Jimmy Crute. Bukauskas (+135) has a quality win over Andreas Michailidis, as recently as last year, so I will actually pick him to win this fight but not without going to the scorecards via UD. Another snoozer for me in regards to fantasy as both seem over priced, Oleksiejczuk at $8,500 and Bukauskas at $7,700.

JARED GOODEN VS. ABUBAKAR NURMAGOMEDOV

And here we go! This fight is one I’m willing to risk my lineup on and it has EVERYTHING to do with Abubakar’s cousin, Khabib Nurmagomedov. All Khabib bias aside, because it has certainly led to a higher price tag ($9000) and higher betting line (-250) than I would like for a guy that hasn’t won in the octagon yet, we are dealing with a small sample size. I am willing to to jot his first loss via submission down to UFC premiere jitters, but he has to bring it this weekend if he’s going to be able to keep the hype alive. If you are desperate for an upset and need value, Gooden at (+195) and $7,200 is a fair value for a guy that could take this fight to the scorecards. That being said, I always trust in the family and see Nurmagomedov as having a spot on my optimized lineup and winning big this weekend via 2nd round stoppage (submission).

ALONZO MENIFIELD VS. WILLIAM KNIGHT

This is a tough one for me to gauge from a sports betting and fantasy prospective. Once again, the lightweight division doesn’t have the names or resumes of any of the the other divisions in the UFC and even Vegas doesn’t have a true favorite for this one. This what I would call a “mirror bout” with Menifield favored at (-116) and Knight being also being favored at (-106). Bottom line is both of these guys have punching power and should be considered in your GPP lineups. I’m a fantasy guy here and all fantasy guys rely on empirical data so when I here Menifield leveled a guy in 8 seconds on DWTNCS, I’m immediately intrigued. Wait a minute. Oh well, my point is that Knight, while he is on the momentum train as of late, is sure to have to hit the brakes at some point even in this weakened division so I say, why not this weekend? I will pick Menifield via 1st round knockout but despite that pick, he will not make my optimized lineup for this weekend just because he has lost his legs before and this fight is too volatile to me for my optimized lineup but much like Barriault, consider both of these fighters for upside GPP potential.

KHAMA WORTHY VS. JAMIE MULLARKEY

Another fight I will skip for my optimized lineup. This fight wreaks of desperation for two lightweights who haven’t been able to get into the elite category and mediocrity breeds more mediocrity here. Go ahead and count me out as Worthy’s 7 losses seem way too high at $8,700 and he is only a slight betting favorite at (-137). Mullarkey at 12-4 and a $7,600 price tag is an interesting sports bet at (+126) but once again, I am not a degenerate and my bills have already been paid this month. This a fight that seems unexciting to me but I will pick Mullarkey via SD.

GILLIAN ROBERTSON VS. MIRANDA MAVERICK

Hey, let’s go! I’m back in the driver’s seat on this one and Miranda Maverick is making my optimized LU for this weekend’s PPV. Favored at (-167), this women’s flyweight bout features Maverick and there is no reason to think she doesn’t have what it takes to be a rising star in this division. While Robertson (+134) is more experienced in the octagon and at 25 years old still has a lot in the tank, she has yet to impress and at $7,400 doesn’t show enough promise to edge out Maverick ($8,800) who has accumulated a stoppage in the octagon as recently as last year and at 23 years old, could really make a name for herself with a KO this weekend. I’ll take Maverick via 3rd round TKO.

SEAN O’MALLEY VS. THOMAS ALMEIDA

Now we are getting to the nitty-gritty and for those of you keeping track at home, I’ve still got 3 spots left in my lineup with 3 fights left so let’s make this PPV worthwhile for everybody. For those of you on the “Suga Train”, this is not the blog for you. I’ve seen less hype for better fighters in my experience watching MMA and while I understand how O’Malley (-335) has the personality of that guy named Connor (at this point you can probably see my anit-connor, pro-khabib bias), he does not have his ability! Sean O’Malley at $9,200 is a good striker but he is not a great striker so while some may see his last fight against Vera as a fluke because of injury, I see it as a sign of things to come. Although his knockout of Eddie Wineland is a quality KO and less than a year out, he is about to learn what real hype is all about. Thomas Almeida earned his title shot at 135 against Cody Garbrandt back in 2016 before being KO’d and then bumped up a weight class where he struggled to make a name for himself. Rest assured Suga Train passengers, Almeida is back where he belongs and while I don’t see Almeida (+250) getting the finish, his $7,000 price point is making my lineup and my pick to win via 3rd round UD.

TYRON WOODLEY VS. VICENTE LUQUE

This is the toughest fight to pick for me because although I am a huge Tyron Woodley fan, I don’t believe he will be getting his name called at the end of this one. Woodley is a championship caliber wrestler who has fallen on some tough losses to some TOUGH opponents. I think at (+200) and his $7,100 price point his worth a look for those of you on your last unit of your bankroll or needing a big GPP play. That being said, Luque’s dominant performances over his last two opponents, although admittedly against weaker competition than Woodley’s, can’t be ignored. I believe Woodley is just proving to be a bit undersized at this point and Luque exposes Woodley again, winning by 2nd round TKO. Luque makes the optimized lineup.

STIPE MIOCIC VS. FRANCIS NGANNOU

And now, IT’s TIME! The main event features two of the biggest names in the sport and I can’t wait to watch this rematch. Miocic (+110) has the chance to prove that he is without a doubt the greatest heavyweight of our generation. Not Lesnar, not Cormier but this humble guy from Independence, Ohio who has already proven time and time again, he is not your typical underdog. After watching their first fight I can’t see how Ngannou (-130) is favored and while I think his price point at $8,400 is more than fair for a fight that could easily go 5 rounds, I don’t see how he could outlast Stipe and we already know Stipe is an absolute master at dodging the big punch. When Stipe got stopped by Cormier, it was an oversight. No one thought Cormier had that kind of power at heavyweight and so Miocic got caught napping (literally and figuratively) but that has not been his story for any of his previous fights. He is a master technician on his feet and can grapple with anyone in his weight class. I do believe there is one striker Miocic should be afraid of but Jon Jones is not fighting this fight, Francis Ngannou is and while he is easily the most powerful puncher in the division, I think we will see the same result as the last fight. Miocic outpoints Ngannou for 5 rounds and is the biggest value on this docket at $7,800.

For those of you who got bored and just skipped to the end, shame on you, but here’s my Optimized Lineup for this weekend’s UFC 260 PPV.

1) V. Luque $9,100
2) A. Nurmagomedov $9,000
3) M. Maverick $8,800
4) A. Azaitar $8,000
5) S. Miocic $7,800 #AndStill
6) T. Almeida $7,000

Enjoy and follow me @Ashbrook423 on twitter for more sports!

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