Pro Pundit Teams

How an early Wildcard helped me into the top 1k – and what I have learned

Currently sitting well inside the top 1,000, Let’s Talk FPL’s Andy looks back at the success of his early second Wildcard – and explains how he plans to cope without the prized chip going forward.


Nearly a month ago now (January 6, to be precise), I wrote an article about the pros and cons of playing the second Wildcard early in Gameweek 18, especially for those of us that had used the first one early as well.

After starting Gameweek 18 ranked at 41,610th, I’ve now moved up to 679th at the start of Gameweek 22. It’s safe to say that the early Wildcard has worked pretty well. In this article, I want to quickly touch on why it worked well, and what my future plans are without a Wildcard in hand.

Why did it work

As I mentioned in my article at the time, we were in a unique situation where there was a chance to attack a big Blank Gameweek followed by a big Double Gameweek, without any “normal” Gameweeks in between. They also both involved teams with good fixtures, good players and perhaps even more importantly, good fixtures following the Double. Those teams were Manchester City and Manchester United.

Of course, along the way, you need some lucky. Back in my January article, I wasn’t predicting John Stones (£5.2m), João Cancelo (£6.0m) and Aaron Wan-Bissaka (£5.4m) to all score 17+ points in an individual Gameweek. Sometimes the luck comes all at once, and I couldn’t have been much luckier, really.

But the logic was there of targeting a Blank, Double and following fixtures all at once. At the time I had no Manchester City players, and they looked key going forward. A Free Hit would have plugged the gap in Gameweek 18, but I’d have been left with lots of hits from that point forward.

I’ve seen a few people now contemplating an early Wildcard but it does feel like the boat has been missed on the opportunity now. We’re so close to Double Gameweek 24, which is when we’ll likely have all the information we’ll need for a potential Blank Gameweek 29, and Double Gameweek 26, that using the Wildcard in Gameweek 23 could be a disaster. I’m not sure anyone’s team is in such a bad state they need to use it now, and Wildcards are such a good way to attack a set of Gameweeks that using it now would be sub-optimal, I would say.

Future Planning

One thing I’m finding is planning feels even more crucial than normal without a Wildcard, and so many big Gameweeks still to manage. I’ve already seen several content creators talk about getting players in for a few weeks because they’re Wildcarding soon, and I don’t have that luxury.

That’s why in Gameweek 21, I bought in Son Heung-min (£9.7m) and Jack Grealish (£7.8m) and ended up ignoring Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£7.6m). It’s likely that Tottenham Hotspur and Aston Villa will have a good Double Gameweek so I felt they were better long-term moves, to essentially save my transfers down the line. Everton have, of course, ended up getting a Double Gameweek before that – and this is naturally one of the downsides to Wildcarding so early.

With the Free Hit chip, I’m keeping my options open. Before we get more confirmed fixtures, I’m essentially trying to get in players like above that are good for right now, but also for the Doubles. If my team is set for Gameweek 26, then I will use the Free Hit in Gameweek 29 – but depending on how my team is looking for Gameweek 29, I could just use the Free Hit in the big Double Gameweek instead. I do have my Triple Captain as well but due to the number of fixtures that still need to be rearranged, there’ll probably be other chances to use it.

To Keep Doing

Fernandes stakes captaincy claim ahead of Gameweek 9 meeting with West Brom

I wanted to quickly touch on some things that I’ve changed in my strategy to FPL this season which I plan on carrying on for the rest of the season. I’m sure some of this will be simple to many, or things you’re already doing, but it’s helped me so far.

I will caveat straight away to say again that of course luck is a big part of FPL. Just because this has worked this season doesn’t mean it will work next season, but for now I’ll keep doing with it.

Captaincy

I think sometimes we underrate just how important the captaincy is. We might hear things like “I’ll just captain him instead” or “I’ll take a punt on him”. Both ways of doing things are fine, but this year I’ve made a conscious decision to always have who I believe is the best captain each week, even if that means transferring out a big hitter. This sounds simple, but often FPL managers will forgo the best captain because they don’t want to sell a big hitter. Obviously who the best captain is, is subjective but I’ve tried to target them in advance, and unless there’s something major which happens in between I won’t change my mind, even for “form”. For example, my next captain in Gameweek 23 will be Son.

I’ve sold Salah, Son, and Kane twice already this season and I’ve found not having value wrapped up in them makes my decisions much easier knowing I can just buy them back as there’s no money “lost”.

I’ve also not looked to take any punts. It’s whoever I think the best points potential is regardless of what everyone is doing. Will that player be 150% effective ownership or 50%? I don’t particularly care, and have ignored ownership so far this season.

Form and data
WOLAVL dd

One thing I said I wanted to do at the start of the season was using a more statistic-based approach to my decisions, but also reduce the amount of statistics that I use. Expected data incorporates so many other statistics so I’ve stuck largely to that, especially ‘per 90’ data.

I often look at the season-long data as well, rather than looking for differences in much smaller sample sizes like last four Gameweeks. There’s obviously a balancing act here, but I’ve tried to trust players putting up good numbers over a long period of time who have good fixtures. Simple, but so far effective.

An example of this is Grealish vs Harvey Barnes (£6.9m) vs James Maddison (£7.3m). I can see that Barnes and Maddison have scored well recently but when I needed a £7m+ midfielder recently, there was no question in my mind that Grealish was the one.

Grealish has an expected goal involvement per 90 minutes (xGp90) for the season of 0.51, compared to Barnes at 0.37 and Maddison at 0.28. Maddison has scored a few goals recently, but his xGp90 is just 0.14 which is low, and his creativity isn’t that high despite creating lots of chances through corners. I’m ignoring an “in-form” player right now in the hope his returns will start to dry up, but there’s no doubting he’s playing well at present.

There’s nothing wrong with looking at recent Gameweeks to spot any major differences, but too often we are looking for something to confirm what we want to see.

Form is something we could probably talk about in a separate article, but it’s something I’ve largely tried to ignore, hence choosing captaincies in advance. Rather than look at what they’ve scored recently in pure FPL points, I’d rather look at their underlying numbers for the season and their opponents. Son this week is a great example. Spurs looked really poor against Brighton, and I’m writing this before a game against Chelsea that I’m not expecting anything from, but West Brom are a truly awful defence. Even without Kane, I’d still back Son to get points, although I can see why people might be wary, especially with Antonio as a good alternative this week.

Limiting Defender transfers

Wildcarding twice before Gameweek 19 will help with this of course, but I’ve tried to limit defender transfers. Outside of the occasional big return like we’ve seen recently, the majority of the time a defender’s ceiling is quite low. You’re looking at six points a lot of the time.

This is one of the reasons I’ve only made four defender transfers all season (outside of Wildcards). I’m trying to make sure I can focus most of my transfer on attack and captaincy where the biggest amount of points are likely to come. The only defender transfers so far are:

  • GW2 – Vinagre to Digne
  • GW7 – Alexander-Arnold to Chilwell
  • GW15 – Chilwell & Lamptey to Robertson & Coufal

It’s something I’ll try and continue doing, especially when we have Manchester City defenders in the form of their lives, who are also very cheap and carry fairly big upside, like with Cancelo.

Gameweek 23

This is how my team is currently looking:


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1,848 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Buck The Trent
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 9 Years
    5 months, 25 days ago

    DGW fever

    1. Fred54
      • 6 Years
      5 months, 25 days ago

      Salah > Raphina.

  2. richarlison2348
      5 months, 25 days ago

      Tottenham are nothing without Kane

    • RAFA THE GAFFA
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 5 Years
      5 months, 25 days ago

      2FTs, 4.8itb.

      Johnstone >> Pope & roll the other FT? Any other ideas?

      McCarthy
      Dallas, Coufal, Cancelo
      Salah, Bruno, Raphina, Soucek, Gündo
      Bamford, Antonio
      (Johnstone, DCL, Dias, Robbo)

      1. Buck The Trent
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 9 Years
        5 months, 25 days ago

        Yup

        1. RAFA THE GAFFA
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 5 Years
          5 months, 25 days ago

          Other option is to get Son

    • fedolefan
      • 7 Years
      5 months, 25 days ago

      We're officially in Son cap against WBA at home is a differential territory.

      1. El Presidente
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 1 Year
        5 months, 25 days ago

        Hardly

    • fcsaltyballs
      • 5 Years
      5 months, 25 days ago

      Martinez
      Robertson Stones Cancelo
      Salah Fernandes Gundogan Raphinha
      DCL Bamford Antonio

      Forster Soucek Coufal Ferguson

      1 FT, 6.9 itb

      1. Forster >> Pope (for the doubles)
      2. Ferguson >> Dallas (play over Robbo)

      Cheers

      1. Manani
        • 9 Years
        5 months, 25 days ago

        save?

        1. fcsaltyballs
          • 5 Years
          5 months, 25 days ago

          That is an option yes

    • Manani
      • 9 Years
      5 months, 25 days ago

      how did Pulisic look? Does it look like he will be getting back to starting lineup any time soon?

      Got Pulisic for a while want to rid of him, but got other more urgent issues atm (like Chiwell, Brewster)

      1. Drumandbaines123
          5 months, 25 days ago

          I've got him too. Can't see him starting at the moment in this wingback system so I'll be getting rid

      2. OneDennisBergkamp
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 5 Years
        5 months, 25 days ago

        How to plan to get Kane back?

        1. Buck The Trent
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 9 Years
          5 months, 25 days ago

          Is he back?

        2. OneDennisBergkamp
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 5 Years
          5 months, 25 days ago

          Could be GW24. Defo GW25.

      3. RAFA THE GAFFA
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 5 Years
        5 months, 25 days ago

        76 all out and a red arrow. Strange week

        1. Buck The Trent
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 9 Years
          5 months, 25 days ago

          78 and a small green

        2. pingissimus
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 2 Years
          5 months, 25 days ago

          Narrow margins this week - suspect the spread was really narrow for all but Bruno C

          1. Baps hunter
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 3 Years
            5 months, 25 days ago

            AWB owners say Hello 🙂 (96 pts here)

            1. pingissimus
              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
              • 2 Years
              5 months, 25 days ago

              Great week mate - well done.

              Suspect it was the triple United that got you there. Kicking myself for getting rid of Rash for Mo to avoid Bruno C. I have a really bad relationship with Rash. Hit a perfect storm of dumb transfers over the last 2/3 weeks this end.

              Can't especially blame bad luck. Had it solved and them broke it. Sigh.

      4. pingissimus
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 2 Years
        5 months, 25 days ago

        hmmmmm

        Nothing to stop a Son captaincy?

        1. RAFA THE GAFFA
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 5 Years
          5 months, 25 days ago

          Wondering whether to buy or leave it now

          1. No Professionals
            • 4 Years
            5 months, 25 days ago

            Wouldn’t buy, wouldn’t sell

            1. Baps hunter
              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
              • 3 Years
              5 months, 25 days ago

              I guess that is the situation. If I had him, I would give him the armband. But getting him in and out costs two transfers. And C Antonio +4 pts and keeping Salah+ Rashford + Soucek is decent option even in one week term.

          2. pingissimus
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 2 Years
            5 months, 25 days ago

            United feasted after two very dull weeks in 20 and 21 but I'm not sure we're comparing like with like. Then there's City waiting so unless you're not planning on DGW transfers it looks like a hold and not a buy

      5. caldracula
        • 5 Years
        5 months, 25 days ago

        A) Schmeichel (wol)
        Mee (BRI)

        B) Pope (BRI)
        Dallas (CRY) / Coufal (ful)

      6. Captain Vantastic™
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 9 Years
        5 months, 25 days ago

        Best Burnley defender lads. Mee or Lowton? Lowton is quite cheap.

        1. caldracula
          • 5 Years
          5 months, 25 days ago

          Mee

        2. Kiwivillan
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 7 Years
          5 months, 25 days ago

          Like my current defs too much and value tied up makes Pope 2nd GK the easiest and best option

      7. Atimis
        • 4 Years
        5 months, 25 days ago

        Just Adams to Antonio?

        Martinez/Martin
        Robo/Cancelo/Coufal/Justin/Stones
        Salah/Bruno/Grealish/Gundo/Stephens
        DCL/Bamford/Adams

      8. fcsaltyballs
        • 5 Years
        5 months, 25 days ago

        Who starts:

        1. Robertson (MCI)
        2. Coufal (ful)

        1. caldracula
          • 5 Years
          5 months, 25 days ago

          Coufal

        2. Kiwivillan
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 7 Years
          5 months, 25 days ago

          Coufal no brainer

      9. No Professionals
        • 4 Years
        5 months, 25 days ago

        I could do with some lucky right now.

      10. Annie
        • 9 Years
        5 months, 25 days ago

        Didn’t read the article, he’s just been incredibly lucky. Fine margins.

        1. Fred54
          • 6 Years
          5 months, 25 days ago

          Annie are you okay?

        2. Baps hunter
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 3 Years
          5 months, 25 days ago

          Reading is difficult for many, don't worry.

          1. Annie
            • 9 Years
            5 months, 25 days ago

            Like getting a decent rank I guess, tricky

      11. Super Jack Grealish
        • 8 Years
        5 months, 25 days ago

        Any ideas what to do with this then and who to bench?

        Martinez
        Robbo, Cancelo, Dallas
        Salah, Bruno, Grealish, Gundo, Soucek
        Bamford, Antonio

        Forster, DCL, Dias, Mitchell
        2 FT 5.7 ITB

      12. FPL Virgin
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 5 Years
        5 months, 25 days ago

        Blooming heck. A whole article about how amazing I am.

        1. No Professionals
          • 4 Years
          5 months, 25 days ago

          I preferred him when he was doing rubbish

        2. Treadstone
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 3 Years
          5 months, 25 days ago

          Like you wouldn't mention it if you were in top 1k.

      13. No Professionals
        • 4 Years
        5 months, 25 days ago

        Johnstone to

        A) Martinez
        B) Pope

        1. Gudjohnsen
          • 4 Years
          5 months, 25 days ago

          B

        2. Kiwivillan
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 7 Years
          5 months, 25 days ago

          Pope short term and DGW

        3. In Bale We Trust
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 11 Years
          5 months, 25 days ago

          Pope

      14. Well you know, Triffic
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 11 Years
        5 months, 25 days ago

        That was such a poor performance. I've seen the like of West Brom and Burnley put in a better attacking display against a top 6 side.

        1. No Professionals
          • 4 Years
          5 months, 25 days ago

          It was unbelievable to be honest

      15. Gudjohnsen
        • 4 Years
        5 months, 25 days ago

        Best Chelsea defender?

        Money no problem

        1. marcos11
            5 months, 25 days ago

            Currently between Alonso and Rudiger, feel Rudigers more nailed but Alonso more potential

        2. Bonus magnet
          • 4 Years
          5 months, 25 days ago

          -4 yay or nay

          Chilwell +Mitchell + Foden-> Mee+ Reece James/rudiger+ Grealish/Raphinha

        3. TorresMagic™ - 6dcode
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • Has Moderation Rights
          • 12 Years
          5 months, 25 days ago

          Looks like LMS safety score this GW is 66

          https://www.livefpl.net/LMS

          1. CRO KLOPP
            • 3 Years
            5 months, 25 days ago

            Great 69 here,how many are still in TM?

            1. TorresMagic™ - 6dcode
              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
              • Has Moderation Rights
              • 12 Years
              5 months, 25 days ago

              929 - 95 = 834, minimum 84 next GW

          2. Tsparkes10
            • 2 Years
            5 months, 25 days ago

            Lovely

          3. Patio Kev
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 7 Years
            5 months, 25 days ago

            67 - 4 here so finally out.

            Longest I have ever lasted though, great competition, has kept me interested so thanks for running it once again.

        4. EffPeeEll
          • 1 Year
          5 months, 25 days ago

          Chilwell in my starting lie-up with Justin coming off the bench with a 15 point haul.

          Bye bye Chilwell thanks for the memories of which lately there hasn't been any good ones.

          92 points and out.

          1. Surfeit of Lampteys
            • 3 Years
            5 months, 25 days ago

            You just fluked a 15 pointer cos of him. Also he's likely to play v Sheff u isn't he?

        5. fcsaltyballs
          • 5 Years
          5 months, 25 days ago

          Play one from each pair:

          1. Robertson (MCI)
          2. Coufal (ful)

          A. DCL (mun)
          B. Soucek (ful)

          Thanks

          1. Bonus magnet
            • 4 Years
            5 months, 25 days ago

            Easy 2B

          2. marcos11
              5 months, 25 days ago

              2A

          3. sirmorbach
            • 5 Years
            5 months, 25 days ago

            Pick one for one of my two FT, please:

            A. Digne
            B. Justin
            C. Pereira
            D. Rüdiger
            E. Shaw

          4. Will Kane
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 5 Years
            5 months, 25 days ago

            Excellent - Raphinha and Reece James on my bench... but I'm getting Coufal's 2 points. Nightmare 2021 continues

            1. Fred54
              • 6 Years
              5 months, 25 days ago

              May I ask who you played ahead of Raphina?

              1. Will Kane
                • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                • 5 Years
                5 months, 25 days ago

                I wish you wouldn't!

                It was Danny Ings 🙂

              2. Will Kane
                • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                • 5 Years
                5 months, 25 days ago

                Prior to this week Raphinha hadn't registered an attacking return in a home game so I went Ings as he's on pens - didn't quite predict their result...

            2. Tsparkes10
              • 2 Years
              5 months, 25 days ago

              Could be worse... I had Coufal off my bench with Dallas and Bamford on there last week lol.

          5. RAFA THE GAFFA
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 5 Years
            5 months, 25 days ago

            If you don’t Captain Son who you going for?

            Antonio? Bruno?

            1. Atimis
              • 4 Years
              5 months, 25 days ago

              Yeah one of these

            2. El Lobito 10
              • 3 Years
              5 months, 25 days ago

              Bruno

            3. svasei - Up (?) the Rovers
              • 11 Years
              5 months, 25 days ago

              Antonio

            4. Baps hunter
              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
              • 3 Years
              5 months, 25 days ago

              Antonio

          6. marcos11
              5 months, 25 days ago

              Start one from each?

              a) Dias
              b) Holding

              a) DCL
              b) Gundogan

              1. Fred54
                • 6 Years
                5 months, 25 days ago

                A B

            • Finding Timo
                5 months, 25 days ago

                Rashford best midfielder for GW23? Already have Bruno & grealish

              • Tsparkes10
                • 2 Years
                5 months, 25 days ago

                Honestly looking like a bench of Salah, Stones and DCL but that looks so wrong. Not even sure where to use my FT... tricky times