Wisconsin's 2x NCAA All-American Trent Hillger (Photo/Tony Rotundo; WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
Week 1 is always the hardest.
There are wrestle-offs going on so you don't technically know who the starter is for the week, weights are not solidified, and tournament entries are hidden behind an inaccessible wall.
This article is to give you a little insight (forecast) to the early matches in the week, as a few teams (Buffalo, Campbell, The Citadel, Gardner-Webb, North Carolina, and Wisconsin) will lock in Wrestlestat Leagues by Thursday before our main article and podcast get posted. The meat and potatoes of scoring will happen on Saturday (11/6) and Sunday (11/4), but some roster decisions need to be made well in advance.
This will be noted in the main article, but these are VERY important rules and procedures to remember:
The wrestler will lock at 9am EST on the first day of the week where that team competes (against D1 competition or other).
Once a wrestler's actual team competes, that wrestler will be locked in the week and cannot be moved until the next scoring week.
Points will only count for matches against D1 competition
So let's get to it. Here are the teams locking by Thursday 11/4:
Monday 11/1: Buffalo, North Carolina, Wisconsin
Wednesday 11/3: Campbell, The Citadel
Thursday 11/4: Gardner Webb (only wrestling a non-D1 team this week)
Now, in a normal Weekly Outlook, there would be an accompanying podcast with reasons why some wrestlers made the list and why others did not. We don't have that luxury right now, so each weight will have a short reasoning. Don't expect it in the main articles, I ain't no Billy Shakespeare.
Things can change on a whim, especially with tournament entries. Keep an eye out on our twitter (@FantasyD1Wrestl) for any updates, which I will also be posting in the comments section of this article.
Wrestlers I Like This Week (the early locks)
Wrestler (School)- competition for the week [Proj Score]
Eric Barnett (Wisconsin)- Vs Buffalo [+3], Michigan State Open
The dual result may verge on potentially a Major, but the real points are to be had at the Michigan State Open. With Rayvon Foley rumored to be moving up to 133, Barnett becomes one of the top contenders in the bracket. Top 4 finish is very possible.
Some more "solid" (there's no such thing as a sure thing) out there, but Barnett is a solid option to roll with for week 1.
Derek Spann (Buffalo)- @ Wisconsin [+4], Clarion Open
Has a very winnable match in the first match of the 2022 D1 Season, and had a bonus rate over 40% in 2019 and 2020. Buffalo looks to be sending the whole squad to the Clarion Open, but I'm not sure if Spann is registered. Either way, Spann is a good start for Week 1.
Joey Zargo (Wisconsin)- Vs Buffalo, Michigan State Open
This is more of an optimistic pick. He greyshirted last season, and didn't wrestle in any matchesâ€¦ not like there were any Opens for him to wrestle in, but I digress. He's going to be weighing in for the Buffalo dual and would be going against a winnable opponent. Also, 141 at the Michigan State Open has the potential for Zargo to make a run.
Ausin Gomez (Wisconsin)- Vs Buffalo [+4], Michigan State Open
Josh Heil (Campbell)- Vs Oregon State & Lehigh (@ORST) [+6]
Coach Bono has been very happy with Gomez this preseason per the video updates. In the back of your head, you're worried about previous injuries. But sometimes you gotta have faith, faith, faith. Gomez set up well in the dual to score bonus, but I'm a little more worried about the Michigan State Open. He enters a bracket with (potentially) Yahya Thomas (NW), Mitch Moore (OU), Kanen Stoor (MICH), and a returned Mike Carr (ILL). At 100% healthy, I put him as a potential champ.
Heil was not part of the Intra-Squad matches, but there isn't really a doubt of him starting this season (to me, anyways). Campbell has a dual against a non-D1 team on Wednesday, and if he wrestles on Saturday he is favored to win against a newly transferred Cory Crooks (ORST) and against either Lehigh's Jimmy Hoffman or Manzona Bryant (who just beat Hoffman in their Intra-Squad dual). Not saying it will be easy, but he's got the best matchups of the Camels this coming weekend.
Austin O'Connor (North Carolina)- Vs Ohio State [+4]
If he's facing Paddy Gallagher, then this is probably a Decision. If Paddy sits this one out, I see it as at least a Major. North Carolina faces some non-D1 duals on 11/1 which will lock any North Carolina wrestler on that day. This dual with Ohio State wouldn't be until the end of the week, so you'll have to make that trusting decision soon. Personally, I don't see any way O'Connor doesn't wrestle, if that helps.
Dean Hamiti (Wisconsin)- Vs Buffalo, Michigan State Open
Dazjon Casto (The Citadel)- Citadel Open
I'll be honest, I'm having a hard time even finding where the brackets for The Citadel Open will be. However, even though there are some tough teams registered/scheduled to be at The Citadel Open, 165 has an opening for Casto to make some waves. I would consider this a deeper dive for a Starter/Floater.
The #6 recruit by MatScouts will be weighing in for the Buffalo dual, just like Zargo at 141. And like 141 at the Michigan State Open, there's an opportunity for Hamiti to place high (potential Top 4) in a bracket that has Evan Wick (CP) and Cam Amine (MICH).
Andrew McNally (Wisconsin)- Vs Buffalo [+5], Michigan State Open
He's been a Fantasy Wrestling staple the past couple years, and the move to Wisconsin wont stop that. He'll have a bonus buffer entering the MSU Open most likely, and might even get the #1 or #2 seed. He's lost twice to Anthony Mantanona (OU) twice in his career, so maybe we see the third match in the finals since he's favored over the other entrants and has beaten the other top competitors that will potentially be in the bracket.
Chris Weiler (Wisconsin)- Vs Buffalo [+4], Michigan State Open
Weiler should have some buffer going into the Michigan State Open, but the bracket is going to be a dog fight with All Americans Myles Amine (MICH), Brit Wilson (NIU), and Bernie Truax (CP). Wiler will have a shot at top 4, but again, it's going to be a dog fight.
Not a bad option to roll with this week, but there may be better matchups to go with instead.
Braxton Amos (Wisconsin)- Vs Buffalo [+4], Michigan State Open
It's not the Buffalo dual I am worried about, but more about the potential monster that is the 197 bracket at the Michigan State Open. Cam Caffey (MSU), newly 'stached Pat Brucki (MICH), and Jake Woodley (OU) will be a really good test for this highly touted, (and World Champion) Amos. I don't doubt that points will be scored.
Trent Hillger (Wisconsin)- Vs Buffalo [+4], Michigan State Open
Yes, Hillger lost to Luffman (ILL) by Pin last season. He also avenged that loss by Pin as well (tit-for-tat, as they say). He'll be seeded behind Mason Parris (MICH), and maaaaybe Matt Stencel (CMU), but Hillger has top 3 finish at the MSU Open written all over him. 285 is a deep weight class, but Hillger is a solid option this week.
Think there is someone I missed from these early locking teams? Let me know!
Good luck this week and keep an eye out for the full Week 1 Outlook and Podcast coming next week!