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. Daniel Jebbison
    • 12 Years
    7 months, 17 days ago

    Can Lookman play against Everton in the double?

    1. TorresMagic™ - 6dcode
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • Has Moderation Rights
      • 12 Years
      7 months, 17 days ago

      Nothing to do with Everton now.

    2. Limbo
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 11 Years
      7 months, 17 days ago

      Sold. Not loaned.

  2. Feed tha Sheep
    • 9 Years
    7 months, 17 days ago

    Adams > Soucek if though Adams has a DGW coming up?

    1. Feed tha Sheep
      • 9 Years
      7 months, 17 days ago

      * Adams > Antonio

    2. waldo666
      • 11 Years
      7 months, 17 days ago

      I think so, Adams hasn't registered a return since GW13.

  3. FCSB
    • 5 Years
    7 months, 17 days ago

    Should I start:

    1. DCL (mun)
    2. Soucek (ful)

    Currently have Coufal and Antonio starting in my team

    1. JJeyy
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 5 Years
      7 months, 17 days ago

      2

    2. waldo666
      • 11 Years
      7 months, 17 days ago

      2

  4. JJeyy
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 5 Years
    7 months, 17 days ago

    Salah to Son captain still worth it this week ?
    Feels like taking out Garbage for trash

    1. Fit_to_drop
      • 1 Year
      7 months, 17 days ago

      No way would I give Son the armband at the moment. Even against WBA.

    2. Limbo
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 11 Years
      7 months, 17 days ago

      Spurs look utterly stale and devoid of pace/imagination. Bar a couple of decent chances from set pieces they were pretty much neutered.

    3. Team Bobcat
      • 4 Years
      7 months, 17 days ago

      I really believe Salah is a big game player as well as everything else

      I would feel comfortable captaining Salah this week in equal measure as captaining Son

      I need to qualify that by saying I sold Son last week so maybe I am blinkered a little by that fact

  5. Bobby
    • 11 Years
    7 months, 17 days ago

    Mourinho's post match comments! On his own planet again.

  6. Stupendous
    • 9 Years
    7 months, 17 days ago

    Martin and Chilwell
    To
    Pope and Dallas for free?

    Gives me Martinez and Pope keepers.

  7. chaser123
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 3 Years
    7 months, 17 days ago

    Was all set on Robertson to Rudiger...

    But now thinking Lowton is a better option due to the double. What do you think?

    1. Crunchie
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 3 Years
      7 months, 17 days ago

      Depends whether you have Pope, i think one is good enough

    2. marcos11
      • 1 Year
      7 months, 17 days ago

      In the same predicament, thinking Rudiger might still be the better option

  8. Garth Marenghi
    • 5 Years
    7 months, 17 days ago

    Shaw or Alonso?

    1. Fit_to_drop
      • 1 Year
      7 months, 17 days ago

      Don’t like the Alonso play. Tuchel has no loyalties at the moment.

  9. Fit_to_drop
    • 1 Year
    7 months, 17 days ago

    Have all my chips in tact and 2 FTs this week.

    Does buying Burnley & Everton assets (none presently) with free transfers to play a BB in GW24 sound like a good plan? Keeping WC and FH free for a later week. Or is there a better way to deploy the chips.? Cheers for feedback.

  10. Wally711
    • 2 Years
    7 months, 17 days ago

    Is Raphina better than Harrison? only saw a handful of leeds games.

    1. Alan The Llama
      • 11 Years
      7 months, 17 days ago

      Yeah

    2. Limbo
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 11 Years
      7 months, 17 days ago

      He's on fire. Cracking player. Just got no room for him.

    3. waldo666
      • 11 Years
      7 months, 17 days ago

      Yes.

  11. doher.ty
    • 1 Year
    7 months, 17 days ago

    How’d Alonso play? Thinking about punting on him but Chillwell scares me

    1. marcos11
      • 1 Year
      7 months, 17 days ago

      Think Chilwell will still play some games, too much of a risk currently

      1. doher.ty
        • 1 Year
        7 months, 17 days ago

        Cheers

  12. sirmorbach
    • 5 Years
    7 months, 17 days ago

    Pick two to play, please:
    A. Watkins (ARS)
    B. DCL (mun)
    C. Soucek (ful)

    1. McCarthy (new)
    2. Martínez (ARS)

    1. hullcityfan
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 7 Years
      7 months, 17 days ago

      C1

    2. Levi's 501
      • 1 Year
      7 months, 17 days ago

      A2

    3. Gundogan20/21
      7 months, 17 days ago

      C2

  13. FCSB
    • 5 Years
    7 months, 17 days ago

    Martinez
    Coufal Stones Cancelo
    Salah Fernandes Gundogan Raphinha
    DCL Bamford Antonio

    Forster Soucek Robertson Ferguson

    1 FT, 6.9 itb

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

    Cheers

  14. Bounce
    • 1 Year
    7 months, 17 days ago

    Can't believe I benched Son this week and it actually pulled off and turned out to be the right decision lol!

  15. DickFranDyke
    • 12 Years
    7 months, 17 days ago

    Got to agree Andy, WC that week was the best option. I'm up from 334k to 43k. Similar picks to you.

  16. FantasyTony
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 4 Years
    7 months, 17 days ago

    Do we think Taylor will be out for the DGW?

    Was planning on doing him > rudiger this week but now I might downgrade Robbo.

  17. NUFCAndrew
    • 5 Years
    7 months, 17 days ago

    What to do with this? 2 FT’s 0 ITB

    McCarthy Forster

    Robbo Cancelo Dallas Alioski Coufal

    Salah Bruno Sterling Rashford Soucek

    Antonio Bamford Brewster

    1. Egg noodle
      • 11 Years
      7 months, 17 days ago

      Robbo to Digne

      1. svasei - Up (?) the Rovers
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 11 Years
        7 months, 17 days ago

        A team that doesn't do clean sheets and got terrible fixtures?

        How about a Chelsea defender?

        1. Egg noodle
          • 11 Years
          7 months, 17 days ago

          They have a double coming up that's all that matters

  18. Gudjohnsen
    • 4 Years
    7 months, 17 days ago

    Mitchell to Rudiger or Dallas?

    1. waldo666
      • 11 Years
      7 months, 17 days ago

      Dallas

    2. Limbo
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 11 Years
      7 months, 17 days ago

      Dallas. Double gameweek coming up. Plum fixture this week.

    3. pingissimus
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 2 Years
      7 months, 17 days ago

      Rudiger - if he's a likely starter and not bench

      5 clean sheets for Chelsea in last 6 and he looks as he'll be nailed. Great fixtures all the way up to 34 bar 26 of course

  19. _Ninja_
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 11 Years
    7 months, 17 days ago

    Not sure what to do here with 2FT and 3.5m ITB. Get Mee for someone?

    Martinez
    Cancelo Coufal James
    Salah Gundogan Grealish Fernandes Son
    Bamford Antonio

    Johnstone DCL Dallas Stones

    1. Ajax Hamsterdam
      • 7 Years
      7 months, 17 days ago

      johnstone to areola maybe ?

  20. Stupendous
    • 9 Years
    7 months, 17 days ago

    Any help?

    Martin and Chilwell
    To
    Pope and Dallas for free?

    Gives me Martinez and Pope keepers.

    1. Flynny
      • 6 Years
      7 months, 17 days ago

      Think I'm doing Johnstone to pope this week. Will so have martinez

      Pope has a better fixture this weekend than martinez.

  21. Better Call Raul
    • 2 Years
    7 months, 17 days ago

    Best McCarthy replacement if have 3 Villa already ?

    1. Stupendous
      • 9 Years
      7 months, 17 days ago

      Pope surely

      1. Better Call Raul
        • 2 Years
        7 months, 17 days ago

        Yeah seems a good option, although maybe worth waiting a week as Saints play Newcastle next ?

    2. Disco Stu
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 9 Years
      7 months, 17 days ago

      And if not Pope, Sanchez then

    3. Limbo
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 11 Years
      7 months, 17 days ago

      Might be the perfect time to pick up Pope.

  22. Tsparkes10
    • 3 Years
    7 months, 17 days ago

    Martinez or Pope? Have 2FT and not sure what other move I fancy... maybe Salah to Gundo or Rashford.

    1. Ajax Hamsterdam
      • 7 Years
      7 months, 17 days ago

      dont lose salah imo

  23. Mahjongking
    • 4 Years
    7 months, 17 days ago

    Martinez
    Rudiger shaw cresswell
    Bruno salah sterling foden barnes
    Antonio bam

    Subs sanchez dallas dcl stones

    Will u bench boost this team?

    1. Limbo
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 11 Years
      7 months, 17 days ago

      No. Wait for the double next week. Stones/DCL both play twice.

  24. Pep Roulette
    • 3 Years
    7 months, 17 days ago

    A. Mitchell to Mee for free this week. Will bench him.
    B. Save FT. Do A next week, if no other issues.

    1. circusmonkey
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 11 Years
      7 months, 17 days ago

      Probably wait but I'm looking at Mee and playing him this week.

  25. Flynny
    • 6 Years
    7 months, 17 days ago

    Is Chilwell a dead option now?

    Might he play at weekend? Less than 72 hours till Chelsea play again....can alonso play 3 in a week?

    Thanks

    1. FantasyTony
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 4 Years
      7 months, 17 days ago

      If I had other pressing issues in my team and a decent backup, I'd chance playing him this week.

      1. Flynny
        • 6 Years
        7 months, 17 days ago

        I have coufal as back up.

  26. Stupendous
    • 9 Years
    7 months, 17 days ago

    Here's my new bench this weekend...

    Martinez Digne Stones DCL

    Wow.

    1. Ajax Hamsterdam
      • 7 Years
      7 months, 17 days ago

      nuts

    2. Kiwivillan
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 7 Years
      7 months, 17 days ago

      I have 3 the same on bench this week

  27. gadsdy25
    7 months, 17 days ago

    Some help please! Got 1 ft and 1.2 ITB
    Fabianski (Meslier)
    Digne, Cancelo, Stones (Shaw / Justin)
    Gundogan, Soucek, Fernandes, Son, Salah
    DCL, Antonio, Bamford

    Who do I bench from my front 8?
    And bench Digne for Justin or Shaw?
    Thank you!

    1. aleksios
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 6 Years
      7 months, 17 days ago

      Dcl.
      Justin.

      1. gadsdy25
        7 months, 17 days ago

        Thanks mate

    2. MikeS
      • 7 Years
      7 months, 17 days ago

      Benching Justin? Crazy

    3. Gundogan20/21
      7 months, 17 days ago

      Bench stones

  28. aleksios
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 6 Years
    7 months, 17 days ago

    Stones+Burke to Mee+Raphinia for free gives me this:

    -Martinez
    --Dallas--Mee--Coufal
    --Salah--Sterling--Bruno--Soucek--Raph
    --Bam--Watkins.

    --Johnstone--Digne--Dcl--Dias.

    Pull the trigger?

    1. gadsdy25
      7 months, 17 days ago

      Maybe defer the Mee transfer for a gw as Brighton aren't really conceding atm?

  29. nadman89
    • 9 Years
    7 months, 17 days ago

    johnstone

    awb dias targett
    son bruno salah grealish
    watkins wilson bamford

    forster zaha coufal lewis
    0.9 itb 1 ft

    johnstone to pope this week

    and

    zaha + wilson -> dcl + raph next?

  30. HellasLEAF
    • 12 Years
    7 months, 17 days ago

    McCarthy to Pope on a free.

    For next stretch of games 3-4 until activate WC.

    Smart decision or waste of transfer. Pretty settled elsewhere right now.

    Yay or Nay.

    1. Kiwivillan
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 7 Years
      7 months, 17 days ago

      Definitely

    2. nadman89
      • 9 Years
      7 months, 17 days ago

      yeah im going johnstone to pope