In his latest article, FPL BlackBox co-host and Scoutcast regular Az urges caution on an early Wildcard in Fantasy Premier League.
I really hoped to be writing this article from a stronger position. Typing away, nestled in the top one million, would have made me feel a lot happier. But it’s looking like another tough start as I try to improve on my current rank of 2,951,645.
I’m taking some encouragement from the slow starts of some fellow top managers. My BlackBox co-host Mark (current rank 2,588,564) has just four points more than me. Joe (current rank 3,847,620) has 11 points less than I do. Lateriser (current rank 4,503,321) is bottom of FPL General’s Elite 64 and, despite being an advocate of a patient approach, hit the Wildcard button last week.
It’s not just Lateriser, though. Wildcards are being activated all over the place; I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t considered it. But after an inquest into what’s gone wrong up until now, I’ve decided to step away from the button.
Reflecting on a chaotic start to the season
With Everton and Wolves getting off to promising starts, it seems illogical to be going forward without any assets from either team. The likes of Raul Jimenez (£8.5m) and Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£7.3m) look like great picks, and I don’t blame anyone for finding ways to get them in their team.
However, it does feel like people’s strategies – along with all sense of order and meticulous pre-season planning – have been thrown out of the window somewhat after a truly crazy start to the season.
Instead, I’m trying to remain positive, patient and back the plan that I put into motion pre-Gameweek 1.
New shiny objects are coming and going each week. People are being drawn to them like moths to a flame. I’m not here to say that Wildcarding is wrong. I’m not saying that filling your team with Everton and Wolves players, for example, is a bad move. But just don’t forget, it’s a long season and the Wildcard is the most powerful chip in your arsenal. There are going to be Double Gameweeks coming, likely before the New Year. The transfer window is still open. Players are still finding their fitness, managers are still tweaking their tactics.
The most important thing to remember at this stage is that it’s been two weeks. We’ve already seen people stocking up on Manchester United players, with players like Son Heung-min (£9.0m) being sacrificial lambs to get ahead of the curve. In came Anthony Martial (£9.0m), Bruno Fernandes (£10.5m) and Marcus Rashford (£9.5m), all of whom looked off the pace and blanked.
But going into Gameweek 3, those who remained patient with Son are enjoying their 23+ points, while those who flocked to United are wondering if they jumped the gun – with many already looking to offload their men in red.
Incredibly, people are going straight back to Son. He lost nearly 400,000 owners last week and has now gained that back and then some at the time of writing.
But, I can’t help but think, other than a half-time tactical masterstroke by Jose Mourinho, Spurs looked ordinary again against Southampton. Have they really turned a corner? Newcastle will sit deep and won’t echo the high line we saw Southampton play. I want to see evidence that Spurs can unlock teams before I bring in their considerably pricey attacking players. They won’t be playing the Saints every week.
It’s clear from this example that what we want one week, can dramatically change next week. While Wildcarding to get ahead of the curve is a viable strategy, for me, I would only be using it at this stage if I could see at least four first XI players that I couldn’t bear to own any longer. There are so many good options in the game currently. Getting out players who I think have chances to deliver for other players that I think have chances to deliver… well, it’s bound to lead to trouble.
With so many players performing, you simply can’t keep chasing last week’s points. You need to build a core squad of players who you feel are likely to deliver over the coming period, give them a chance to repay your faith, and tactically tweak to give yourself the best chance of scoring points. Certain players will haul one week while others blank. It’s inevitable. Next week, the reverse can happen.
Of course, I understand that people feel victim to price rises. Waiting too long on a player can be the difference in upwards of £0.2/£0.3m – and this is important. But I’d argue that getting the timing right on your Wildcard sets you up with the best possible chance of maximising your points from that point onward. The best time, logically, to Wildcard? When we have the largest amount of information at our disposal.
Wolves and Everton
For example, let’s not forget that the transfer window is in full effect. This week, people are flocking to Daniel Podence (£5.5m) of Wolves. Certainly an attractive price, with a great run of games. But is his place in the team threatened by the inbound Nélson Semedo? If Wolves go 3-5-2 as they have done in the past, Podence is going to be up against Pedro Neto (£5.5m), Adama Traore (£5.5m) and Fabio Silva (£5.5m).
Podence, of course, has the potential to far outscore his price tag over the coming period, but do I think he is that much of a better option than Matheus Pereira (£6.0m), who is nailed on, demonstrated his ability with a double-digit haul against Everton, and plays Southampton, Burnley and Fulham between Gameweeks 4 and 7? Not really. I’d rather wait, make sure Podence has got that spot nailed down and then move for him a bit later down the line.
In fact, I’d even argue that alongside Jimenez, Romain Saiss (£5.1m) is the standout option from Wolves. Let’s not forget, they aren’t scoring machines, having plundered as many goals as Southampton in the league last year. In fact, it may be better for us to target their defence. A £5.1m defender doesn’t exactly feel like a player you should be Wildcarding for, however, when a minus four may suffice.
Moving on to Everton. They looked great against Tottenham but, in the first half against West Brom, arguably the best match of the season so far, they looked vulnerable. The red card changed everything. I’m not denying the appeal of their options, but nor do I feel the need to tear my team apart to bring in Calvert-Lewin or James Rodriguez (£7.5m) when they play a Palace side that has only conceded one goal in two games, and then a Brighton outfit who have started the season brightly. They then play Liverpool. They will likely continue to do well, but so may players in my own team, who are finding their feet and many of whom have good fixtures to come.
Looking at my own team
FPL Lessons Learned from Gameweek 2
- Everton 5-2 West Bromwich Albion
- Leeds United 4-3 Fulham
- Manchester United 1-3 Crystal Palace
- Arsenal 2-1 West Ham United
- Southampton 2-5 Tottenham Hotspur
- Newcastle United 0-3 Brighton and Hove Albion
- Chelsea 0-2 Liverpool
- Leicester City 4-2 Burnley
- Aston Villa 1-0 Sheffield United
- Wolves 1-3 Manchester City
Become a Member and get unrestricted access to our data and articles
Full-year memberships are now available for the price of £19.99. Monthly subscriptions also cost just £2.99.
Join now to get the following:
- Plot your transfer strategies using the fully interactive Season Ticker.
- Get projections for every Premier League player provided by the Rate My Team statistical model.
- Use Rate My Team throughout the season to guide your selections and transfers.
- Get access to over 150+ exclusive members articles over the season.
- Analyse our OPTA-powered statistic tables specifically tailored for Fantasy Football Managers.
- Use our exclusive tool to build custom stats tables from over 100 OPTA player and team stats.
- Enjoy our brand NEW Flat-Track Bully feature which introduces an opposition filter to your tables.
- View heatmaps and expected goals data for every player.
- Use our powerful comparison tool to analyse players head-to-head.