When the #FantasyCollegeWrestling season comes to an end, it’s usual to feel like you need a break. I get it; even WE took a little time for some needed R&R (fear not, though, the FCW Podcast returns later this month!). The amount of work and game planning is exponentially higher than Fantasy Football or other sports.
There is not much to do other than research in the off-season. But just like we say in training, it’s what you do when others are not looking that separates you from the pack.
We are left with a lot of raw data that needs to be filtered and sorted. The off-season is devoted to not only recording and organizing that data, but grouping, interpreting, and utilizing that data to forecast and strategize for the upcoming season. Sometimes the best way to prepare for the future is to look back on the past season and who is returning or names/data to remember come week 12 when you are struggling to find that 174 starter.
Usually, you have names like Spencer Lee, Shane Griffith, Aaron Brooks, and Tony Cassioppi that you think of to bring you success. Together this season, they combined for 84 Fantasy Points (Fpts).
Well, let me throw a couple other names at you: Codi Russell, Will Formato, Brit Wilson, and Michael McAleavey. This group totaled 185 Fpts this season.
As I say every year, that’s the beauty and frustration of Fantasy Sports. Sometimes your top performers are not “household names.”
Now, this year was definitely an “asterisk” type of year as there will be quite a few instances of skewing in one way or another (see the co-Hodge announcement). In past seasons, we have stressed that match count is not always a determining factor in actual or in Fantasy Wrestling success, but this year was different. Some teams were hit with COVID precautions or wrestlers actually got COVID making an imbalance of matches wrestled between wrestlers/teams larger than in years past and causing some big names to not make the Top 20 of their respective weights.
To compile these lists, we used WrestleStat Fantasy College Wrestling data. Just a reminder of how points were tallied in WrestleStat Leagues:
1) The scoring used was Standard Team Scoring across all competitions (+3 for a win by decision, -4 for a loss by Major, etc)
2) Scoring only counted against D1 competition
3) Wins via Forfeits (FFT) would count as +6 towards a wrestler’s point total
4) Wins or Losses by Medical Forfeit (MFF) did not count as + or – towards a wrestler’s point total
5) Points were only accumulated during the regular season
The 125 rundown of Top Fantasy Wrestlers probably doesn’t look the way you thought it would when you first clicked on the article link. In the Top 10 of this year’s list, there were only two All Americans (Brandon Courtney and Sam Latona), and only seven had 10 or more matches in the regular season.
Call me a pumper, if you must, but I have been one of the biggest pushers of Codi Russell since the 2020 season, where he finished as the #10 Fantasy Wrestler at 133. Moving down to 125, and a bonus rate of 42% from the 2020 season, made him one of my favorite sneaky draft picks this year. Russell would end up going 11-1 in the regular season, with his lone loss by Decision to Jakob Camacho (NCST).
Benefiting from 16 regular season matches, Danny Vega made the most of the last 12 to overcome starting the season with four straight losses ( -13 Fpts). On the flip side of that was Spencer Lee, who scored 24 Fpts with only 4 matches. If this were a “normal” season, chances are Spencer Lee would most likely be in the Top 10, if not higher, but because of certain precautions and things outside of his control, he lands at the #14 spot.
Last Season’s #1 Fantasy Wrestler at 125 was Drew Hildebrandt. He still was a top Fantasy option for this season, but a few spots down tied for 12th. Meanwhile, a couple wrestlers improved their place from last season, such as Jake Ferri (from #10 in 2020), Sam Latona (#14 in 2020), Logan Treaster (#19 in 2020), and Brandon Courtney (#15 in 2020).
There were three wrestlers at 125 who finished the regular season with 18 Fpts, but Eric Barnett used bonus points in his last 5 matches to power his way to the best PPM of the three.
The only non-starter to make this list was Caleb Smith, who upped his bonus rate from 25% in 2020 to 36.4% in 2021.
Who Missed The Cut:
The two remaining All Americans from the 2021 Season who didn’t make the Top-20 were Killian Cardinale (#28 ranked with 16 Fpts) and Pat McKee (#42 ranked with 9 Fpts).
While some wrestlers improved their Fantasy stock from 2020, some fell out of the standings, like Devin Schroder (#5 in 2020) and Gage Curry (#7 in 2020), but in all fairness to Curry, American did not wrestle any regular-season matches. The same goes for Luke Werner (#3 in 2020) and Lock Haven.
True Freshman phenom Dylan Ragusin fell just short of the threshold mainly because of his loss to Roman Bravo-Young during his quick stint at 133, and transfer Connor Brown (#30 at 125) lost two sudden victory matches which, had he secured those takedowns, would have been the #12 Fantasy Wrestler this season (winning only one of those matches would have made him #19 this season).
Some other notable wrestlers include Joey Prata (#26 this season), Dylan Ryder (#17 in 2020, #27 this season), and Ravon Foley (#49 this season).