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165: The Top 20 Fantasy Wrestlers of 2021

Travis Wittlake the 2021 NCAA Championships (Photo/Tony Rotundo; WrestlersAreWarriors.com)

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

Here are the previous #FCW 2021 Season weight class Top-20 Lists:

125: Codi Russell (Appalachian State)

133: Daton Fix (Oklahoma State)

141: Clay Carlson (South Dakota State)

149: Boo Lewallen (Oklahoma State)

157: Jacob Wright (Wyoming)


Notes:

This is the first and only weight to be an all-starter card and tied for the most All-Americans in a Top 20 (seven). The 165 Top 20 can also boast that they have the most wrestlers with 40 or more Fantasy Points this season.

Leading the 165 class this season was, for the third time, an Oklahoma State Cowboy: Travis Wittlake. Wittlake secured the #1 spot with a 0.5 Fpt difference in PPM away from App State Mountaineer Will Formato (despite both having the same number of techs and majors, 4 & 3 respectively).

Keegan O'Toole finished #3 at 165, but had the most Fantasy Points out of any true freshman across all weights. Seven of his nine matches in the regular season were won by tech or pin.

Originally, Ethan Smith was not supposed to be in the Ohio State lineup, but due to an unfortunate injury to star Freshman Carson Kharchla, Smith found himself starting for the Buckeyes. Despite this, and losing his first match of the season, he would go on to rattle off eight straight wins and finish fifth at Nationals. Smith finishes as the #10 Fantasy Wrestler at 165.

Despite beating him via injury (+6 for the winner, -6 for the loser), Jake Wentzel finished one spot (and one point) behind Mekhi Lewis. To show how every match and every point matters, had Lewis lost that match by only Decision, he would have been the #10 Fantasy Wrestler at 165 this season.

Last Season, Shane Griffith was the #1 Fantasy Wrestler at 165 and the number 2 Seed at 2020 Nationals. This year, even with limited match time for Stanford, Griffith came in at the #19 spot in Fpts but ended as a National Champion.

Who Missed The Cut:

The only All American to miss out on Top 20 was Cam Amine, who finished the season at #25 with 13 Fpts. He went 5-1 with only one bonus win (major).

Kennedy Monday (#23 with 15 Fpts) had three losses this season which ate into his five victories, but if he had pulled out just one of those wins, he would have taken Griffith's #19 spot with 21 Fpts. The same could be said for Peyton Robb (#24 with 14 Fpts) if he had finished that match against Andrew Sparks to start the 2021 season.

True freshman and number 10 overall 2020 recruit, Gerrit Nijenhaus finished with 12 Fpts which was good for 30th place,

Maybe most surprising, Alex Marinelli finished at #42 with 6 Fpts. He only wrestled two matches and (against Andrew Sparks and Peyton Robb) and won both by Decision. Last season, he was the #7 Fantasy Wrestler at 165 and #54 overall across all weights. If he had the opportunity for at least six matches, chances are he probably would have broken the Top 20 threshold.

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