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DraftKings Chalk Board: UFC 294
Magomed Ankalaev

I almost made the mistake of reserving Terrance McKinney for tournaments only last week, but then when his projected ownership came in at over 50%, I re-evaluated my opinion and locked him into my cash lineup. That decision along with the stacking of the main event fighters made for an outstanding base for my cash lineup. This week we look to do it again on a card with a complicated structure due to nearly every line being incredibly wide. You will be able to get fighters in the mid-eight thousand range who are favored at -250 or more. That will make this slate tough to navigate. 

This week we are headed to Abu Dhabi for UFC 294, and you know that means an early start time as well. Our main event was shaken up at the last minute and is now a rematch between lightweight champion, Islam Makhachev, and featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski. The rest of the slate is loaded with fighters from Russia and the Middle East, but many of them are quite obviously match-ups designed to see the fighter from that part of the world see victory. I am a fan of wrestling and grappling, so I expect this card to be very fun to watch. The 9K range of the DraftKings slate is also loaded beyond belief, so let’s get into it!

For anyone that hasn’t read this article before, The Chalk Board is a DraftKings Daily Fantasy Sports article where I attempt to navigate the $9000+ salary range by offering you insight into who I will be using, considering, or fading from my personal lineups. In turn, this can help navigate the lower salary range as well by design. If you choose to alter your lineups based on my statements in this article, please understand that I am not a professional gambler or DFS player, so that decision is yours. Live with the results YOU get from the decisions YOU make.

 

$9600 – MUHAMMAD MOKAEV (-430)

Muhammed Mokaev is set to match up against veteran Tim Elliot at UFC 294. Mokaev is one of the most touted young prospects and is most well known for his incredible grappling skills. Within the realm of grappling, his ability to control his opponent is one of the most impressive aspects of his grappling. Mokaev routinely beats his opponents from position to position, extending his control time throughout the fight. We also know he is tough after witnessing the knee bar that he gritted though and refused to tap to against Jafel Filho. 

Tim Elliot is a savvy veteran who can make things happen in scrambles or through sheer determination. He isn’t especially powerful, or overtly talented in the wrestling or grappling department…but he is capable everywhere. Personally, I love Tim Elliot, and I have been looking for a place to fade Mokaev. Unfortunately I don’t really think this is the spot. If Elliot was a better striker I would consider it, but I think this is going to be a wrestling match for as long as it lasts. 

The one red flag I have here is the betting line, which is far less impressive than a couple of the less expensive fighters below Mokaev. I wouldn’t be opposed to using Mokaev in cash games as I am sure he will be very popular, but I also wouldn’t be opposed to moving down from him to a more favored fighter at a discount. Mokaev is capable of monster ceiling performances with non-stop wrestling and control time though, so make sure to understand what moving away from means. It is a risk for sure.

 

$9500 – IKRAM ALISKEROV (-650)

Ikram Aliskerov is back for his second official UFC fight following his knockout of Phil Hawes his last time out. For this fight Aliskerov is going to be fighting Warlley Alves, a veteran UFC fighter who is rapidly approaching the twilight of his career.

Ikram Aliskerov is capable of winning this fight nearly everywhere. His striking would be his weakest area, but he does have great power in his hands. Beyond that Aliskerov possesses solid wrestling, and impressive grappling once the fight is on the mat. His ability to control his opponent on the ground is similar to Mokaev in the sense that he is fluid from position to position, making it very difficult to find your feet again. Warlley Alves is not exactly impressive, especially at this point in his career, and is coming off two consecutive losses. Alves does have decent takedown defense though, and that might be his only hope to survive this one. Ultimately I think Aliskerov will find the takedowns and bring Alves into deep grappling waters. Alves does have numerous submission wins early in his career, but it has been a while, and I wouldn’t be expecting much here.

Aliskerov is less proven than Mokaev, but is capable of just as high of a ceiling. The concerns are there with Alves takedown defense being solid, but I doubt it holds up through the whole fight. For me I will likely be taking Aliskerov for cash over Mokaev – unless of course I can manage to cram them both into a lineup that doesn’t look terrible.

 

$9400 – JAVID BASHARAT (-550)

Javid Basharat is another fighter with a better line than Mokaev, and comes at a $200 discount. He is fighting Victor Henry in this fight, who is a fighter with decent power and one that is capable of pushing at a very intense pace. 

Basharat is one of those exceptionally well rounded fighters, who is so good everywhere, that he can use whichever skillset he needs to so that he gets his hand raised at the end of the fight. Basharat is a very technical striker, but also can be an impressive wrestler should the need arise. Generally speaking he competes with most opponents standing, but does manage a takedown or two in most of his contests. Maybe the most important aspect of his skillset is his striking defense which sits at an incredible 66%. On the other side, Victor Henry is a wild man who is averaging over 8 significant strikes per minute and has a very good 79% takedown defense. That tells me that this fight most likely plays out on the feet, but I wouldn’t put it past Basharat to secure a takedown or two should Henry overextend in the striking.

The only thing stopping me from playing Basharat is the depth of the salary range and his history of not being a consistent scorer. I firmly believe that Bashrat wins this fight, but unless something with ownership comes in much different than I am expecting it to, this fight is just a tournament play in my opinion, and even then Basharat would carry the underperformance risk of a low score.

 

$9300 – ANSHUL JUBLI (-285)

I am going to keep this one short in the interest of focusing on what I believe to be better plays. Take a look at the betting line here, and compare it to quite literally everyone else in this salary range. That should be setting off the stay away alarms in your head. Jubli could win this fight for sure, but the betting line says that he shouldn’t be $9300, and with that I am in 100% agreement.

For me this fight is Mike Breeden as a punt or nothing. About the only place I could see playing Jubli is in large multiple-entry contests, which I don’t personally play. If ownership comes in saying he will be incredibly popular, then I may amend my position, but for now I will be avoiding this fight unless I am punting with Breeden somewhere.

 

$9200 – VIKTORIIA DUDAKOVA (-525)

The next fight features prospect Viktoriia Dudakova and veteran Jinh Yu Frey in a Women’s MMA fight. Dudakova is making her second official appearance in the UFC here after an unfortunate injury of her last opponent when Istela Nunes broke her arm trying to post during a throw. To be honest I don’t understand this line at all. I agree that Dudakova should be the favorite here, but being over 5-1 is something close to insanity in my opinion.

Dudakova does have very solid grappling skills assuming she can get this fight to the ground, but Frey has 89% takedown defense and I think that might be a tall task for her. If this is a striking match I think the side would actually be the Jinh Yu Frey side, as she is the much more accomplished boxer. If Dudakova can get Frey to the ground however, then she will steamroll her with a massive score. Dudakova does have a safe floor however as I do not see a world where Frey finishes Dudakova.

Ultimately I don’t feel like I have enough quality tape on Dudakova to lock her into a cash lineup, but if the ownership is high enough I would consider it. The betting line is surely supportive of that play, with Dudakova the third most favored fighter on the slate currently – and once again, a big discount from Mokaev. I just don’t understand how people have the confidence they do in her here, and for my personal lineups I will be using her in tournaments only. I do believe that Jinh Yu Frey could have some merit in cash or small field single-entry contests because I think she could survive to see the scorecards here and that might be enough on a slate with such unappealing underdogs.

 

$9100 – MAGOMED ANKALAEV (-350)

Just like the Jubili fight, we are going to keep this one short and sweet. The better side of this fight is the dog, Johnny Walker. Ankalaev does win this fight most likely, but he NEVER scores an appropriate amount of points because of the somewhat boring style he approaches all of his fights with. Walker at least is athletic and dynamic, willing to take chances, and I would not be opposed to using Walker as a salary saver in cash or tournament lineups. Again, I don’t really believe Walker will win, but I also firmly believe that he will not be finished.

 

$9000 – NATHANIEL WOOD (-330)

The final fight in the 9k range is an interesting one. We have Nathaniel Wood taking on Mohammed Naimov. Wood is a very well rounded fighter who generally scores pretty well. Wood is coming off a dominant win over Andre Filli, and in my opinion this fight against Mohammed Naimov is a step down in competition. That being said, Naimov has power, so he isn’t without a path to victory. It just happens to be a very narrow path in my opinion.

Wood should be able to use the depth of his skill set here to achieve victory, but what score comes with that remains to be seen. With all of the top tier wrestling and grappling talent on this slate I would find it hard to find a place for Wood. He does put up great scores from time to time however, so if you get a ceiling performance for him, he could be a great leverage play in big tournaments. For cash and the smaller tournaments though, unless he is one of the most heavily owned fighters on the slate, I will likely be staying away.

 

FINAL THOUGHT

This is probably one of my favorite events of the year, so I am very excited to see it happen. I am a bit let down by the changes for the main and co-main event, as I believe the originally scheduled fights were more appealing for an exciting main event. Both of those fights are now closer and more competitive in my opinion though, so they should work out just fine. This entire slate is going to come down to the navigation of the 9k salary range, and which dogs you take a stand on.

Hopefully, this Chalk Board article has helped you at least reduce the number of options in the upper salary range, and in turn isolate a few dogs you feel good about. I would like to take this time to again remind you to make YOUR OWN decisions. Don’t buy into anything I say unless it makes sense to you as well.

Good luck this week! If you need any help with your DraftKings entries you can join the free Discord server which has loads of very capable DFS players and I am sure you will find an opinion that will give you the confirmation bias that most people seek. If you need additional help then reach out to @WeWantPicks on Twitter, or you can shoot me questions as well if you like @WebGuyWWP. Thanks for reading, see you guys next week.

Josh Allen

Josh Allen

Hey everyone! My name is Josh. I am a proud father, freelance web designer, and future gulag spades champion. I am a fan of the NFL and the UFC. I do a little part time analysis work for the latter. Take whatever you read from me with a grain of salt as I am far more fan than anything else. Do your own research and make your own decisions. I am not a financial advisor and take no responsibility for your plays.

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