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285: The Top 20 Fantasy Wrestlers of 2021

Michael McAleavey at the 2021 SoCon Championships (Photo/The Citadel athletics)

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)

165: Travis Wittlake (Oklahoma State)

174: Demetrius Romero (Utah Valley)

184: Brit Wilson (Northern Illinois)

197: Tanner Sloan (South Dakota State)


Notes:

If you pin more wrestlers than anyone in the league, chances are you will be among the upper echelon of fantasy wrestlers. Michael McAleavey comes in as the #1 Fantasy Wrestler at 285, by one point over national champ Gable Steveson, due in large part to his six pins during the regular season.

Even though Cohlton Schultz finished undefeated, he fell two points behind #3 true freshman Wyatt Hendrickson. Hendrickson finished his last six matches with five pins and one tech, which helped him get over the two losses (-7) he accrued.

Last season's #1 Fantasy Wrestler at 285, Mason Parris, fell slightly to #5 in 2021. Not because he wasn't as productive as last season (he was, with having a 100% bonus rate in the regular season), but because Michigan had to cancel three dual meets. At a minimum, 12 extra points (three Majors) would have put him at #3.

Three sets of starters/backups make the list, with all the backups placing and scoring more than their starting counterparts. The highest and biggest gap being Cale Davidson (#8 this season) outsourcing the Nebraska starter Christian Lance (Tied for #18) by seven Fpts. Three of the four NC State heavyweights make the Top-20, with Tyrie Houghton getting the better spot at #10 by one Fpt while Owen Trephan and starter Deonte Wilson tied for #11 with 22 Fpts. Finally, Edinboro True Freshman Max Millin beats starter John Spaulding by one Fpt.

In the past, when you thought of a Heavyweight pinner, you would think of Matt Stencel. This year, however, was not his year for falls. In the past three seasons (2020, 2019, and 2018), Stencel had a pin rate of 45%, 61%, and 32%, respectively. For the 2021 season, though, despite going undefeated, he did not have a fall against D1 competition. Had he recorded three pins (which would be in line with his average pin rate for the previous three seasons), he would have been this season's #6 fantasy wrestler at 285.

Tony Cassioppi caps the Top-20 with only five matches wrestled but made the most of them. He finished the regular season with three pins and a decision in the "win" column and a loss by major to Gable Steveson.

Who Missed The Cut:

While the top four All American placers made the Top-20, the lower four find themselves just on the outside.

Gannon Gremmel wrestled 12 matches this season, but only seven of them were against D1 competition and counted for fantasy wrestling scoring. He fell just short with 15 Fpts and the #29 spot. Greg Kerkvliet wrestled two regular-season matches (against two Maryland Terps) and scored 12 Fpts and was #34, Trent Hillger was #53 with six Fpts, and Tate Orndorff was #103 with -6 Fpts.

After finishing as the #12 fantasy wrestler in 2020, Nathan Traxler bumped up to 285 and fell one Fpt short of making the Top-20.

Seth Nevills had the starting role for most of the regular season, wrestling 5 matches, and finishes one Fpt more than Kerkvliet with 13 for and tied for the #31 spot. The other wrestler who matched Nevills was also the starter for most of the regular season. He was Virginia Tech's John Borst, though he gave up starting duties for a different set of circumstances.

After an impressive season where he took out would be All Americans Trent Hillger and Tate Orndorff, the #49 Fantasy wrestler Luke Luffman would go on to lose twice by pin (understandably to Steveson and Cassioppi in back-to-back weeks), which pushed him down to #49 and seven Fpts.

Some other notables to miss the cut include Jordan Wood (#26 with 15 Fpts), Sam Schuyler (#30 with 14 Fpts), Austin Harris (#33 with 13 Fpts), Max Ihry (#39 with 12 Fpts), and Brian Andrews (#45 with 8 Fpts).

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