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  • Photo: Sam Janicki

    Photo: Sam Janicki

    Fantasy College Wrestling - 2023 Season Top-20 (149 lbs)

    We are just about at the turning point where last season’s results and memories start to fade into the WrestleStat archives and the general wrestling community ramps up the interest and speculation of the upcoming season. And when it comes to Fantasy College Wrestling, drafters need to start thinking about who they want to pick in their 2024 draft.

    One way to do this is to look at the results of the 2023 season. The 2023 FCW Top-20 at each weight can give you a good idea of who the top Fantasy wrestlers in the country are. Seeing who returns, who leaves, who outplaced who, what teams made these lists more than others… all important information and data to digest.

    Of course, things can change quickly in college wrestling. Wrestlers can transfer, injuries can happen, and new stars can emerge. But the 2023 FCW Top-20 is a good starting point for your fantasy draft preparation, as you will see some (many, actually) repeat names from the 2022 Top-20 articles and even 2021 Top-20 articles.

    Take for instance: Pat Glory (PRIN), Yianni Diakomihalis (COR), Keegan O’Toole (MIZZ), and Carter Starocci (PSU). That championship group scored 223 Fpts in the 2023 season. How about these names though: Caleb Smith (APP), McKenzie Bell (RID), Evan Barczak (DREX), and Tyler Stoltzfus (LHU). That group scored 313 Fpts, and none were All-Americans.

    As you look at the list, keep in mind that not all of the top performers are household names. Some of the wrestlers who scored the most points in 2023 were not All-Americans. This is just one of the things that makes fantasy sports so exciting and unpredictable.

    So start your draft preparation today by taking a look at the 2023 FCW Top-20. You might just find some hidden gems that can help you win your league in 2024.

    To compile these lists, we used standard WrestleStat Fantasy College Wrestling Data & Scoring. 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



    Appalachian State's favorite wrestler, and a FCW favorite as well, Jon Jon Millner finishes his career as a four-time Top-10 wrestler in Fantasy Wrestling with this past season culminating in being the #1 Fantasy Wrestler at 149 and #3 overall wrestler. The 2022 season was his “worst” placing (6th at 149), and he was 3rd and 4th in the 2021 and 2020 seasons, respectively. Despite all that info, he had an Average Draft Position of 26.48 and averaged as the fourth wrestler from 149 to be picked in WrestleStat drafts. 

    Who was picked at 149 ahead of Millner? Well, Yianni Diakomihalis was the 1st (averaging as the #2 overall pick in drafts), Sammy Sasso was the 2nd (with an ADP of 21.16), and then Austin Gomez (WISC), who averaged only 0.32 better in draft position than Millner. 

    Surprisingly, Millner and Sasso have been attached to the hip these past four years in Fantasy Wrestling, with Millner always finishing one spot better than Sasso since the 2020 season. This season, Miller 1 & Sasso 2. In 2022, Millner 6th & Sasso 7th. In 2021, Millner 3rd & Sasso 4th, and finally in 2020 with Millner finishing 4th & Sasso 5th. It’s no surprise then that they would have an ADP one pick apart (with Sasso winning that one, at least).

    One half of Maryland’s Miller-Time duo, and who was a part of one of the wildest opening round matches at NCAAs with #11 on this list Shayne Van Ness, finishes at #3 and Yahya Thomas makes his second Top-20 team, outshining his 2022 season by 14 spots.

    Although he didn't make it out of EIWA, Army’s Trae McDaniel takes the #6 spot in this year’s 141 Top-20 by way of having the most matches wrestled at 38 (with four of those not counting as they were not D1 competition). 

    The only non-starter to make the Top-20 was true freshman, and now former Wolfpack member, Finn Solomon. Solomon finished five Fpts higher than starter Jackson Arrington with four less. He wasn’t the only true freshman to make the list, though. Caleb Henson can thank his early season upset win over Sammy Sasso for being #4 on the Fantasy Top-20. Had he lost, he would have been 7th. Jackson Arrington tied Yianni Diakomihalis with 48 Fpts, but took different paths to get there. Yianni wrestled only 13 regular season matches compared to Jackson’s 25, which is why Yianni got the #15 rank and Jackson with his 1.9 PPM got the 16th.

    Max Murin, who in the previous three seasons had not cracked even the Top-35, finished his AA season at #7. Had he scored one takedown in any of his three losses (granted the match with Gomez would have taken it to overtime…), he would have moved up to #4.

    An early season weight switcheroo for two Quakers help both of them make their respective Top-20s, with Doug Zapf making his second Top-20 in four years (#12 at 141 in 2020 and just missing out in 2022 being #21 at 157, losing out by 0.3 ppm). More on the second Quaker in the next article…

    By the way, all eight All-Americans made the Top-20. No other weight can claim that in 2023.


    Who Missed the Cut:

    Colin Realbuto of UNI was the first man out of the Top-20 finishing with 43Fpts. He separated himself from two others who tied him in Fpts with the slight PPM advantage of 2.2 compared to Virginia’s Jared Verkleeren who was #22 with 1.7 PPM and Lock Haven’s Nicholas Stonecheck at #23 with 1.3 PPM.

    Now-former Iowa State Cyclone Cameron Robinson put together a 14-3 season against D1 competition. Had he reversed one of those losses to a win, he would have finished at #16.

    The third highest drafted 149 lber, Austin Gomez (WISC) only wrestled 12 matches in the 2023 season due to a non-contact injury against Yahya Thomas at the end of January. He has the best PPM of any wrestler at 149 that did not make the Top-20, and if he had only lost to Yahya by Decision and won the last three Wisconsin duals by Decision as well, he would have finished 17th instead of #29.

    Graham Rooks (IND) wrestled 31 matches, seven of which were not D1, and finished with 1.1 PPM and 33 Fpts. That was good for the #30 spot. Meanwhile, Paniro Johnson (ISU) made waves to start the season knocking off highly-ranked Austin Gomez on the first weekend of the season, but only having three bonus wins (all Majors) and a loss by Pin held him back to #35 with 27 Fpts.

    Other notables include Chance Lamer (MICH), now a Cal Poly Mustang, finishing #32 with 30 Fpts, Victor Voinovich (OKST), now a Hawkeye, finishing at #51 with 20 Fpts, and Ridge Lovett (NEB) who finished at #69 (nice) with 10 Fpts.

    Don't see your favorite wrestler on the list? Let me know @FantasyD1Wrestl for the full stats.

    Previous 2023 Top-20 Articles:

    Top-20 Fantasy Wrestlers at 125

    Top-20 Fantasy Wrestlers at 133

    Top-20 Fantasy Wrestlers at 141

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