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. Steve The Spud
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 1 Year
    5 months, 20 days ago

    Son

    Don’t buy
    Don’t sell

    1. The Train Driver
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 6 Years
      5 months, 20 days ago

      Yeah

    2. Atimis
      • 4 Years
      5 months, 20 days ago

      True

    3. El Lobito 10
      • 3 Years
      5 months, 20 days ago

      Yep. Got him, not happy about it but won't sell. Will sell for Rodriguez next week

    4. More Cowbell
      • 11 Years
      5 months, 20 days ago

      Sounds like $GME

      Oops wrong site

      1. Limbo
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 10 Years
        5 months, 20 days ago

        Bought today at £69.00 for the Lolz.

        1. jason_ni
          • 5 Years
          5 months, 20 days ago

          Hate to be bearer of bad news, but its just going to keep dropping at this point!

          1. Limbo
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 10 Years
            5 months, 20 days ago

            I bought a single share for the ride. I can see it's falling like a rock. There's a strange dynamic in play and I'm betting on one last twist in the story.

  2. The Train Driver
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 6 Years
    5 months, 20 days ago

    Captain Antonio or Son.

    Obviously Antonio getting way more chances but West Brom are really really bad. Fulham aren't airtight but way better than WBA.

    1. Carlton P
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 5 Years
      5 months, 20 days ago

      Son I reckon

    2. marcos11
        5 months, 20 days ago

        Son was invisible tonight, Antonio does tempt me though

      • Atimis
        • 4 Years
        5 months, 20 days ago

        Spurs are also very bad...

      • J ⚒ Salah & Vinagre
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 6 Years
        5 months, 20 days ago

        Antonio all day

      • pingissimus
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 2 Years
        5 months, 20 days ago

        Edging back to Bruno here instead of Antonio. Plan just to leave it there for the next three.

        1. Baps hunter
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 3 Years
          5 months, 20 days ago

          MU doesn't play against 10 men every week.

          1. pingissimus
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 2 Years
            5 months, 20 days ago

            True enough but he remains just about the most consistent in the game and all the fixtures are good enough. Everton got away with it at Leeds really - there were more goals in that game.

      • kime67
        • 3 Years
        5 months, 20 days ago

        antonio easy

      • Kaneyonero
        • 4 Years
        5 months, 20 days ago

        Form over fixtures Antonio

    3. Carlton P
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 5 Years
      5 months, 20 days ago

      Martinez | Areola

      Cancelo l Digne l Chilwell l Targett l Mitchell
      Salah l Sterling l Gündogan l Son l Barnes
      DCL l Antonio l Watkins

      Chilwell > Mee? Or Lowton, can do Antonio/Watkins to Adams and maybe Barnes > Armstrong at some point

      No need to get Pope if I’ve got Areola right??

      1. Ajax Hamsterdam
        • 7 Years
        5 months, 20 days ago

        chilwell to mee

      2. Atimis
        • 4 Years
        5 months, 20 days ago

        Give yourself a break with these DGWs or you will wake up with a pile of shiettt one day

      3. Atimis
        • 4 Years
        5 months, 20 days ago

        I mean Burnley def is ok but that Armstrong thing is a no go

    4. Tsparkes10
      • 2 Years
      5 months, 20 days ago

      What to do? 2FT 0.5itb and who tf to bench

      Martinez
      Justin Dias Coufal
      Grealish Son Bruno Raph Salah
      Bamford Antonio
      (Johnstone, Stones, Dallas, DCL)

      1. Crunchie
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 3 Years
        5 months, 20 days ago

        I would upgrad Johnstone to Pope TBH

    5. Bobby
      • 11 Years
      5 months, 20 days ago

      decided not to bring in son for sterling for next week - fair?

      1. Obi Wan Elokobi
        • 9 Years
        5 months, 20 days ago

        Sterling always struggles against LFC but it does save a transfer for the double

    6. Atimis
      • 4 Years
      5 months, 20 days ago

      Just Adams to Antonio here?

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

      1. The Chief
        • 6 Years
        5 months, 20 days ago

        Yep

    7. Obi Wan Elokobi
      • 9 Years
      5 months, 20 days ago

      De Gea and Shitkins to Pope and Bamford 2 FT’s?

    8. Sid07
      • 7 Years
      5 months, 20 days ago

      1) Robertson to Justin
      2) son to soucek

    9. Nay08
        5 months, 20 days ago

        I need to bench 2. who do you think it is?
        Dias - LIV (A)
        Cancelo - LIV (A)
        Coufal - FUL (A)
        Gundogan - LIV (A)
        Pereira - TOT (A)
        DCL - MUN (A)

        with a possibility of transfer in a Burnley defender for Dias/Cancelo/Coufal, but possibly Coufal. (have Creswell so still can take advantage of WHU good fixture of GW 23 and 24)
        thx

        1. Obi Wan Elokobi
          • 9 Years
          5 months, 20 days ago

          Pereira and Dias probably

          1. Nay08
              5 months, 20 days ago

              my initial thought as well. thanks mate.

        2. royals forever
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 11 Years
          5 months, 20 days ago

          Yay or Nay for my 2 FTs this week

          Johnstone & TAA > Pope & Digne

          Rest of Back Seven

          Martinez xxxxxxxxx

          Stones Coufal Dias Dallas xxxxxxx

          Any ideas would be welcomed

          1. Ajax Hamsterdam
            • 7 Years
            5 months, 20 days ago

            your team can cope without digne this weekend i d only do one and save

          2. Nay08
              5 months, 20 days ago

              I rather buy a Burnley defender rather than Pope, Martinez with Johnstone as a rotation choice already decent enough.
              so maybe TAA to Burnley def this week and someone to Digne next week.

          3. Ajax Hamsterdam
            • 7 Years
            5 months, 20 days ago

            ings is not worth his price tag atm is he ?

            1. Kiwivillan
              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
              • 7 Years
              5 months, 20 days ago

              Wouldn't buy but wouldn't sell either

              1. Ajax Hamsterdam
                • 7 Years
                5 months, 20 days ago

                not even for his dgw ?

                1. Kiwivillan
                  • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                  • 7 Years
                  5 months, 20 days ago

                  I meant this week

            2. Will Kane
              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
              • 5 Years
              5 months, 20 days ago

              No, not until Saints injury situation clears up a bit

              1. Will Kane
                • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                • 5 Years
                5 months, 20 days ago

                FYI I own him currently!

            3. marcos11
                5 months, 20 days ago

                Not with Southamptons form

              • pingissimus
                • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                • 2 Years
                5 months, 20 days ago

                Contemplating him in 25 depending on cup results

              • Il Capitano
                  5 months, 20 days ago

                  I'd hold off bringing in Southampton players for the time being, see how they do in the next 2 fixtures

              • The Chief
                • 6 Years
                5 months, 20 days ago

                1ft: DCL > Antonio?

                Martinez
                Coufal Dier Dallas
                Sterling Salah Fernandes Soucek
                Bamford DCL Wilson
                (McCarthy Dias Saka Stones)

                1. marcos11
                    5 months, 20 days ago

                    Don’t think I’d sell DCL before the dgw

                2. Il Capitano
                    5 months, 20 days ago

                    WC, BB and TC all remaining

                    1FT 4.5m ITB

                    McCarthy Johnstone
                    Coufal Cancelo Justin Stones Lowton
                    Soucek Salah Son Gundogan Bruno
                    Bamford Antonio Adams

                    With the DGW announcements I'm considering saving FT this week, then Johnstone > Pope and Adams > DCL next week for 6x DGW24 players. WC25 and BB26.

                  • Flynny
                    • 6 Years
                    5 months, 20 days ago

                    Evening....2fts....thoughts on Johnstone to pope and saving the 2nd ft?

                    Would play pope this week (Brighton home) and bench martinez (arsenal home) and I'd have pope for dgw24.

                    Coufal covers Chilwell if he doesn't play this weekend

                    Thanks

                    Martinez (Johnstone)
                    Cancelo dallas chilwell (coufal dias)
                    Salah bruno (c) grealish gundog soucek
                    Antonio watkins (dcl)

                    1. Kryptonite666
                      • 1 Year
                      5 months, 20 days ago

                      I'm planning to do the same.

                      You need to solve for Chilwell though, will you be Wildcarding in 25 ?

                      1. Flynny
                        • 6 Years
                        5 months, 20 days ago

                        No, I'll be wilcarding after bgw29.

                        My view is that there is a chance Chilwell starts on Sunday. If he doesn't play coufal covers nicely

                        Either way, Chilwell becomes digne for the double. Thanks

                  • George James
                    • 6 Years
                    5 months, 20 days ago

                    Play 1

                    A) Stones (ow cancelo)
                    B) Robertson
                    C) Reece James

                    1. kennethrhcp
                      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                      • 10 Years
                      5 months, 20 days ago

                      prob james

                    2. ivantys
                        5 months, 20 days ago

                        C

                    3. Rhodes your boat
                      • 4 Years
                      5 months, 20 days ago

                      How were chelsea and specifically Werner tonight?

                      1. caldracula
                        • 5 Years
                        5 months, 20 days ago

                        Chelsea looked good again. Werner ok, looks like his confidence is building.

                      2. Hazz
                        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                        • 4 Years
                        5 months, 20 days ago

                        Chelaea: Overall very good. Had a plan knew what to do, all over Spurs for 70nmins or so. Poor finishing.

                        Werner: Could have taken some chances a little better, but final ball to him wasn't always perfect. He worked very hard and pressed well tonight. Won us the penalty (well Dier did, but still).

                        1. Rhodes your boat
                          • 4 Years
                          5 months, 20 days ago

                          Thinking of him as a punt, thanks for the info!

                          1. Hazz
                            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                            • 4 Years
                            5 months, 20 days ago

                            Still not sure I'd got they far lol.

                      3. Limbo
                        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                        • 10 Years
                        5 months, 20 days ago

                        Mount was excellent.

                      4. Ajax Hamsterdam
                        • 7 Years
                        5 months, 20 days ago

                        controlled the game in the 2nd half without many opportunities. werner had a good chance but aurier beat him to it.

                    4. kennethrhcp
                      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                      • 10 Years
                      5 months, 20 days ago

                      2ft 0itb & def banking 1ft

                      A: R.James to Mee
                      B: Kane to DCL

                      1. kennethrhcp
                        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                        • 10 Years
                        5 months, 20 days ago

                        or Coufal to Lowton

                    5. _Ninja_
                      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                      • 10 Years
                      5 months, 20 days ago

                      Just noticed Ben Mee has a better ppg (4.5) than Justin (4.2).

                      Mee DGW haul is coming.

                      1. Finding Timo
                          5 months, 20 days ago

                          Mee for me

                      2. caldracula
                        • 5 Years
                        5 months, 20 days ago

                        Any news on the villa DGW?

                      3. fedolefan
                        • 7 Years
                        5 months, 20 days ago

                        Just considered (C)allum for a second? Can't be worse than washed up Salah.

                      4. baines is god
                        • 9 Years
                        5 months, 20 days ago

                        Martinez (Johnstone)
                        Chilwell Cancelo Shaw (Strujik, Kilman)
                        Grealish Sterling Gundogan Salah Fernandes
                        Bamford Wilson (Brewster)

                        2 FTs 0.0 ITB

                        Obviously leaning towards possibly getting in Everton/Burnley players for their gw24 double, but not sure if they'll have doubles now in gw26. A part of me thinks getting rid of Salah until at earliest gw26 isnt' a bad idea. Any suggestions appreciated!

                      5. marcos11
                          5 months, 20 days ago

                          Will KDB be fit for gw24? Or is Sterling the best attacking City asset bar Gundo?

                          1. No Professionals
                            • 4 Years
                            5 months, 20 days ago

                            I’m thinking Gundogan even with KDB back

                            1. marcos11
                                5 months, 20 days ago

                                Yeah I have him already, getting rid of one of my defense double up so looking for another attacker. Wc25

                          2. jason_ni
                            • 5 Years
                            5 months, 20 days ago

                            Hold chillwell and hope he starts vs shu?
                            Awb can come in from bench if he is dropped again.

                            1. Crunchie
                              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                              • 3 Years
                              5 months, 20 days ago

                              I think i will sell Chilwell not sure to mee or Rudiger though as i am transferring McCarthy to Pope

                          3. Dybala10
                            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                            • 3 Years
                            5 months, 20 days ago

                            Decent article that by Andy and fair play to him this season.

                            Not sure about playing double city defence vs Liverpool though.

                            1. pingissimus
                              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                              • 2 Years
                              5 months, 20 days ago

                              It depends slightly who you bench but it's not as if Liverpool are scoring goals at the mo.

                            2. jason_ni
                              • 5 Years
                              5 months, 20 days ago

                              Am tempted to bench dias.
                              And start Cresswell, cancelo and chillwell.

                              Probably end up back firing wildly!

                          4. kime67
                            • 3 Years
                            5 months, 20 days ago

                            no way im captaining son.

                          5. Amans94
                              5 months, 20 days ago

                              Sell McCarthy or Johnstone to Pope?

                            • Wally711
                              • 2 Years
                              5 months, 20 days ago

                              Hey Everyone

                              Which is the better transfer.

                              A) Bowen --> Harrison
                              B) Bowen --> Raphina
                              C) Robo --> to any other defender

                              Thanks

                              1. waldo666
                                • 10 Years
                                5 months, 20 days ago

                                Probably C at this point but B looks good also.

                            • Bonus magnet
                              • 4 Years
                              5 months, 20 days ago

                              Reece James nailed?

                              1. Only one Di Matteo
                                • 10 Years
                                5 months, 20 days ago

                                Definitely not, there's a strong chance of CHO returning to wing back against weaker sides

                            • Kaneyonero
                              • 4 Years
                              5 months, 20 days ago

                              Sou(c) ek 😉

                            • DALEDOBACK
                              • 1 Year
                              5 months, 20 days ago

                              DCL, Chilwell and Brewster to Mee, Bamford and Antonio for a -4?

                              Other striker is Kane.