Feature

Winter Wildcard Strategies

Following Friday’s 7pm Fantasy Premier League deadline for Gameweek 19, we will be handed a second “Winter Wildcard” chip as a means of shaking up our squads.

This also means that, if you’re yet to play your first Wildcard, you only have until Friday 7pm to make it active.

The first Wildcard cannot be carried over beyond Friday’s deadline, so, in the unlikely event that it’s still burning away in your pocket, you’d best get busy.

I’d wager that many of us are not in that position. I’d also hazard a guess that the majority of us will be unmoved by the possibilities presented by the second Wildcard being available from Friday evening.

Although there is a school of thought that argues against preserving the “Winter” or second Wildcard to use around Double Gameweeks, following last season’s experience, this appears to be an accepted and almost preferred strategy.

Certainly, having used this tactic with last season’s chips, that will likely be the route explored by many who visit these pages.

However, let’s examine the Wildcard strategies on offer and attempt to weigh up the merits of the options available.

Playing It Early

The urgency to instigate a refresh of our squads will, of course, be dictated by current rank, injuries and doubts and a general lack of so-called “essential” assets.

Certainly, with the Africa Cup of Nations imminent, there could be some FPL squads hit hard who now face a run of transfer hits.

Couple that with talk of Jordan Pickford’s long-term injury, Sergio Aguero’s return, and a relentless shift in midfield heavy-hitters and there are clearly factors at play that could influence our decision.

The Aguero situation, in particular, is intriguing in this respect.

Currently owned by just 17.9% of FPL managers, those who can bring him in and effectively model their squad around his hefty price tag could reap big rewards should the City striker explode and outpace rival forwards. Arguably, that’s a big ‘if” given recent form from Diego Costa and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

But for some, there could be overwhelming evidence to take the plunge and put this second Wildcard to immediate use.

While we can’t categorically write this off as a bad strategy, in previous seasons we’ve made the statement that “there’s no strict right or wrong time to play the Wildcard”.

However, the addition of the Triple Captain and Bench Boost chips for last season did change the landscape and cast doubts over such a statement. More on that to come.

Even so, if your squad and rank are floundering to the extent that you feel there is little hope of making up ground without major surgery, the Wildcard obviously allows for this to take place without the cost of transfer hits.

The ability to completely reconstruct your squad without cost certainly affords the opportunity to gain ground on rivals and, by also playing to the upcoming fixtures, there’s a good chance that you can close a mini-league gap.

As a rule, if you are able to deploy an effective Wildcard, targeting players that come into form and rise in price, you will gain an advantage by playing it early since the positive impact of the chip will have longer to take effect over the coming Gameweeks.

It’s a principle argued by those who throw in the first Wildcard in the opening month and, to a lesser extent, this still rings true for this second chip. But, of course, it relies on acquiring the most effective targets.

In addition, it may also be possible to use the extended gap between Gameweek 20 and the January 14 deadline for Gameweek 21, to play the market and reap some extra funds.

By activating the Wildcard early, you can transfer in assets that are likely to rise in price over this 12-day period, in an attempt to gain from 0.2 rises.

This relies on committing to the Wildcard as early as possible after the Gameweek 20 deadline on January 2, and also demands some extreme diligence when it comes to timing transfers and monitoring rises.

That’s no easy task and, in all honesty, there is no guarantee that it can be effective.

Much depends on the extent of the bandwagons created by the Gameweek 19 results and activity in the market over the FA Cup break. Based on previous international breaks, the transfer numbers have slowed dramatically heading into the second week.

One major downside to deploying early, aside from the possibilities around Double Gameweeks, is the potential of missing out on new arrivals in the Premier League January transfer window.

If you’re trailing your rivals and therefore considering differentials, this could be key.

The January 31 transfer deadline may well deliver a whole batch of differentials and, by playing your Wildcard now, you could be restricting your ability to reshuffle should new attractive assets arrive on the scene.

More significantly, you have to consider that any ground you make up now by deploying the Wildcard, could be eaten up by rivals who bank theirs and preserve them for the Double Gameweeks.

Finally, if you’re considering an early Winter Wildcard, try to commit to it.

If you can be certain on activating the chip in Gameweek 21, for example, you can use your transfer for Gameweek 20 to acquire a risky differential which can then be cleared using the Wildcard. In this way, you could eke out a further advantage.

The Pros
It can provide an instant boost for those suffering red arrows.
You can catch the current market trends and jump on the Aguero “differential”.
You can avoid the AFCON fall-out.
You can make a risky differential transfer prior to the Gameweek of activation.

The Cons
It’s easy to fixate on bandwagons.
You lose the ability to build around new player list additions.
You potentially gain ground now to lose it later.
You miss out on exploiting the potential Double Gameweeks.

Playing it Late

Arguably, the later you leave your winter Wildcard, the more data you have available to shape your decisions and, with new arrivals due at the end of January, the landscape could change dramatically.

But having more information extends beyond team and player form – it’s inevitable that we will see Premier League postponements that could then lead to potential Double Gameweeks.

The EFL Cup semi-finals in January will reveal the clubs involved in the Wembley showpiece on February 26.

This will create two postponements in Gameweek 26 which could then create a Double Gameweek to follow. At present, Southampton, Liverpool, Manchester United and Hull City are in the last four.

Should Manchester United overcome Hull in their semi-final, they could bring Manchester City into a double Gameweek situation since they are due to meet on February 26. That may give us four sides supplying some major assets in a Double Gameweek scenario.

Then there are the FA Cup Quarter-Finals and Semi-Finals to come. These will clash with Gameweeks 28 and 34, potentially causing multiple postponements and further Double Gameweeks.

For the last two seasons, we have seen Double Gameweeks scheduled in 34 and 37 as a result of domestic cup postponements.

In the previous campaign, with the chips introduced, this put even greater emphasis on these events.

One popular strategy was to utilise the Winter Wildcard prior to using the Bench Boost chip for a Double Gameweek.

This enables FPL managers to stock their squad with assets that enjoy two fixtures, before deploying the chip which can also bring four substitutes into the equation. Do this effectively and you can feasibly have a 15-man squad each with two fixtures in a single Gameweek.

There are many arguments surrounding the effectiveness of this tactic.

Clearly, if used in this way, a squad is entirely warped and shifted to accommodate those teams granted two fixtures. However, to counter this, the theory is that if this is carried out for Gameweek 37, then there remains only a single Gameweek to absorb any potential damage.

It is assumed that the positives vastly outweigh the negatives involved and, in general, last season’s experience provided enough evidence to suggest that this is indeed the case.

However, we have just that one season to go on and the configuration of the Double Gameweek fixtures, plus the teams involved, could certainly adjust the balance somewhat.

The Pros
You give yourself the opportunity to pair the Wildcard with other chips around potential Double Gameweeks.
You will have more data and information at your disposal.
You can exploit any new players that arrive in the Premier League window.
You may be able to react to your rivals’ Wildcards should they play it early.

The Cons
You forgo the potential to immediately revive your squad.
You are reliant on the Double Gameweeks delivering fixtures that create major profits.

Mark Mark created the beast. He's now looking to tame it.”

1,495 Comments Post a Comment
  1. OneDennisBergkamp
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 4 Years
    3 years, 4 months ago

    QUESTION:

    If you could have a front line of Ibra, Costa and Aguero with a relatively decent rest of your squad (due to good profits raised over the last few months on price rises), BUT you have to use your winter wildcard right away to do it, would you?

    1. OneDennisBergkamp
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 4 Years
      3 years, 4 months ago

      to expand on that it has to be wildcarded right away as Aguero is 12.8 and he will go up. The squad also has Sanchez and Hazard, the rest of the players are all starters at least.

    2. OneDennisBergkamp
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 4 Years
      3 years, 4 months ago

      anyone care to give their opinion? 🙂

    3. Skloppy Kops
      • 4 Years
      3 years, 4 months ago

      All depends on your current team.
      The article details it, if your team needs a major surgery, then you may play it instead of constantly taking hits.
      But if you already have a good team, but trying to force the 3 strikers, we doubt it's a good idea..
      2 of the big hitters should be ok. Hauls can come from the MID also, and by opting for the front 3, you will ignore the big hitters from the MID!

  2. Trovsmash
    • 6 Years
    3 years, 4 months ago

    sorry to ask a noob question, but this wildcard can only be played in January right? already played the first one

    1. Wolves Ay We
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 4 Years
      3 years, 4 months ago

      It can be played any time until the end of the season. Best time to use it is normally is in a Double Game Weeks where some teams play twice as a result of re-arranged matches.

    2. Kiwivillan
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 6 Years
      3 years, 4 months ago

      No. Rest of the season. They changed it last season

      1. Trovsmash
        • 6 Years
        3 years, 4 months ago

        thanks for your help 🙂

  3. The CHAMPION
    • 3 Years
    3 years, 4 months ago

    Can i use wildcard and bench boost at the same gameweek at the same time?

    1. Juhlers
      • 7 Years
      3 years, 4 months ago

      I dont think so, no.

    2. gingerhero
      • 4 Years
      3 years, 4 months ago

      No, only one chip can be used each gameweek.

  4. colmbarrett83
    • 3 Years
    3 years, 4 months ago

    GK: Foster
    DF: Alonso/Walker/Ake
    Mf: Sanchez/Hazard/Lallana/Erickson/Philips
    Fw: Costa/ Ibra
    bench: Jak/ Jones/ holgate/ barnes
    been playing 3-5-2 every week. Tempted to play wild card to improve bench defence and forward but it will be to the detriment of midfield to give me the option of 3-4-3. Thoughts??

    GK: grant/Heaton
    DF: Baines/walker/Brunt/pieters/ake
    Mf; Sanchez/alli/lallana/phillips/snodgrass
    Fw Costa/Ibra/Giroud

  5. goran23
    • 4 Years
    3 years, 4 months ago

    What to change:
    Randolph-Manone
    Alonso,bellarin,rose,amat,holebas
    Stanislas,redmond,hazard,ali,deron
    Girud,Ibra,Lukaku

  6. Wildcard Advice from HoF leader
    @jegersdorff
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 3 Years
    3 years, 4 months ago

    A few people have asked for my ideas about the January wildcard. I won’t be using mine for now but if you’re playing catch-up and need some big GWs over Jan/Feb then here are some ideas (I won’t go into too many specific player names as I’d encourage Managers to make those big calls themselves based on their own viewpoints).

    Let’s work on the assumption if your activating your WC you need big GW scores fast in which case you can perhaps take a few risks with your selection. With this in mind, I think you should aim for a very low priced bench (if needed including 1 or 2 players who aren’t guaranteed starters but could free up funds) with heavy investment in your starting XI.
    I’d suggest you have a good look at the FFScout fixture ticker and see who have some favourable games over the next few weeks that will allow you to predict which teams/players could come into form.

    My team structure therefore would roughly look like this:
    GK – £4.7m or lower
    Sub GK – base price £3.9m

    D - £5M+ from teams with good defensive record/fixtures
    D - £5m + from teams with good defensive record/fixtures
    D - £4.5m-£5m from Boro or WBA
    Sub D – below £4.4m
    Sub D – below £4.4m

    M – a sub £6m midfielder from WBA who is bang on form (can you guess who!?)
    M – a Liverpool midfielder
    M – a Chelsea midfielder
    M – a Spurs midfielder
    M – an Arsenal midfielder

    F – any striker currently in the £8.6m - £12.8m bracket
    F – any striker currently in the £8.6m - £12.8m bracket
    Sub F – any striker below £4.5m

    Remember this is only my idea. Yours might be miles better!

    1. GARY AND JAMIE
      • 6 Years
      3 years, 4 months ago

      Got ya re WBA - I'm all over Yacob...

      1. GARY AND JAMIE
        • 6 Years
        3 years, 4 months ago

        Being serious this is my current team sans a WC.

        Heaton - Jaku
        Alonso - Walker - Ake - McAulay- Amat
        Sanchez - Haz - Erik - Lallana - Mystery WBA guy
        Costa - Ibra - Anichebe

        1. @jegersdorff
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 3 Years
          3 years, 4 months ago

          Solid team! Ake a wait and see at the moment. Interesting move from Conte to recall him and could mean some frustrating rotation for FPL managers. Amat may come good under Clement if he sets up defensively

          1. GARY AND JAMIE
            • 6 Years
            3 years, 4 months ago

            thanks and good luck for rest of season. as someone who was OR2 after gw31 two seasons back i have tasted the top and its a real weird feeling. you also know its downhill from there in

      2. @jegersdorff
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 3 Years
        3 years, 4 months ago

        Exactly!! FPL Gem!

    2. J0E
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • Has Moderation Rights
      • 10 Years
      3 years, 4 months ago

      Great advice. I'm in need of a winter pick me up, but am saving my wildcard for the dgwks and chip manouvering.

      Having said that its good to read that I'm nearly at your template for a good wildcard anyway. Just a couple of transfers from that. 🙂

    3. Pirlø's Pen
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 4 Years
      3 years, 4 months ago

      Sound advice. Suppose the ideal midfielders would be Phillips, Coutinho, Hazard, Alli & Alexis.

      However, I believe a key decision people will have to make is whether you'd rather Costa or Hazard, and for me that is what determines if you play 3-5-2 or 3-4-3.

    4. reddragons178
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 3 Years
      3 years, 4 months ago

      Like Jonty, great to see that you have just pretty much described my squad to a tee. Very encouraged thanks!

    5. GARY AND JAMIE
      • 6 Years
      3 years, 4 months ago

      Friend and Nyom useful for ticking both defensive boxes - may allow the 4.5 - 5.0 guy to be Jones or the like

    6. Ruth_NZ
      • 5 Years
      3 years, 4 months ago

      Good try. 😉

      Let's all get the same team and structure as the guy in the top 2k and thus ensure we remain behind him. 😕

      I'm interested in beating you, Jay, not copying you. 🙂

      1. My Name Is Prince
        • 7 Years
        3 years, 4 months ago

        This!

      2. Elvy
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 4 Years
        3 years, 4 months ago

        Copying? He said it's the team he would build if he played his WC now, which he isn't.

        1. Ruth_NZ
          • 5 Years
          3 years, 4 months ago

          It basically IS his team now.

      3. @jegersdorff
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 3 Years
        3 years, 4 months ago

        Exactly. Which is why I said it's only an idea, your ideas could be miles better.

    7. Sir Edo
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 7 Years
      3 years, 4 months ago

      Congratulations to the HoF top spot.
      Great achievement!

      Really tight up there and I think a lot of managers can grab top spot before the end of the season.
      Some managers, me included, might gamble a little bit extra just to reach the top.
      I really think it's now or never.. 😉

      What do you think is the most desirable FPL wise, top HoF spot or winning FPL (if you put aside 1st Price match tickets, hotel etc)?

      1. @jegersdorff
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 3 Years
        3 years, 4 months ago

        Thanks Sir Endo.

        Winning FPL outright has got to be the pinnacle hasn't it? I think to get to the top in the HoF you need to play consistently well over a long period of time whereas to win the title you need to play (almost) faultlessly well over a short period of time.

        Also no matter how well you play in any given season you need luck so to win it you need to be at the top of your FPL game each week but also have Lady Luck on your side with all the mad things that come up like players being banned for gambling / snow cancelling matches / drug scandals etc etc etc. That's not taking anything away from previous winners, I just think it's an amazing achievement to win the title.

        I'd also admit that I think my HoF position is elevated given the amount of seasons I've played (ok albeit consistently well) and I think there's loads of managers out there as good (if not better) than me who haven't been playing as long.

        1. Sir Edo
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 7 Years
          3 years, 4 months ago

          True, you certainly need some help from Lady Luck to win it all..

          Have been playing FPL for almost 20 years now and been quite lucky sometimes.
          Remember Adebayor (c) came off the bench in 2nd half and scored a hattrick to give me 32pts, among other great stories.. 😉

    8. Kun Tozser
      • 4 Years
      3 years, 4 months ago

      Pretty much template but Phillips over a third forward isn't it?

      1. @jegersdorff
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 3 Years
        3 years, 4 months ago

        Exactly. A template. Not many player names there and theres 4 million other Managers who might have a better template than mine

    9. Biancazzurri
      • 7 Years
      3 years, 4 months ago

      Well, I'm in a catch up mode and got everything you suggest except no Chelsea mid and Negredo instead of Anichebe.

      But that's this season: everything is predictable and there are no big differential options.

  7. Clever Cloggins Mrs Goggins
    • 5 Years
    3 years, 4 months ago

    Benteke possibly leaving CP

    Which team would he provide most FPL value if he left?

    For me, West Ham or Southampton

    1. Skloppy Kops
      • 4 Years
      3 years, 4 months ago

      Southampton, Bournemouth or Boro for me..
      All 3 teams are good attacking wise, but lack the finishing touch to be more dangerous.
      And all 3 teams have good wingers crossing the balls, awaiting a good header!

  8. Monkey Hanger
    • 6 Years
    3 years, 4 months ago

    Redmond ghoul.

  9. ragsyboys
    • 4 Years
    3 years, 4 months ago

    Guys.. Carroll will start for west ham ?

  10. AXE17
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 5 Years
    3 years, 4 months ago

    Good article. Glad to see that i'm only 2 transfers away from this WC idea. I'm just missing the liverpool midfielder, and thats because i've stayed with 3 at the front to take a risk on Giroud for the next 3 games. Then i'll be swapping it up to a 3-5-2 🙂

    Grant (Jaku)
    Alonso, Brunt, McAuley (Pieters, Amat)
    Hazard, Phillips, Alli, Sanchez (Capoue)
    Ibrahimovic, Giroud, Costa