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. Alisson WondHaaland
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 5 Years
    5 months, 28 days ago

    For those using the DGW 26 as one of the reasons to justify bringing in Son now, FYI Spurs get a DGW if either Spurs beat Everton or Soton beat Wolves in the FA cup. Based on current form I wouldnt be too confident about that tbh.

    Just something to consider

    1. noquarternt
      • 6 Years
      5 months, 28 days ago

      Its a good point, don't suppose there's any chance Kane is back soon ^^

  2. HellasLEAF
    • 12 Years
    5 months, 28 days ago

    bottomed:
    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. Feed tha Sheep
      • 9 Years
      5 months, 28 days ago

      Yeah Burnley have DGW too

    2. Kiwivillan
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 7 Years
      5 months, 28 days ago

      Areola>Pope is my FT this week

    3. noquarternt
      • 6 Years
      5 months, 28 days ago

      Seems a no brainer if you have nothing else to do.

    4. waldo666
      • 10 Years
      5 months, 28 days ago

      I mean, McCarthy has a double in 25 but Pope is a definite upgrade with a double of his own in 24, probably would make that move if you had nothing else pressing, could easily wait a week with Southampton having Newcastle this week.

  3. Feed tha Sheep
    • 9 Years
    5 months, 28 days ago

    Which to start?

    A. Justin or Dallas
    B. DCL or Adams

    1. pingissimus
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 2 Years
      5 months, 28 days ago

      Justin and DCL

    2. Kiwivillan
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 7 Years
      5 months, 28 days ago

      Justin and Dallas. Bench the forwards

  4. ChickenTikkaMoSalah
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 6 Years
    5 months, 28 days ago

    Best replacement for Zouma:
    A) Rudiger
    B) Justin
    C) AWB
    D) Someone else (Have Dias,Stones and Robbo)

    1. Iceball
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 6 Years
      5 months, 28 days ago

      D. Mee has DGW24 but Shaw is tempting too

    2. MikeS
      • 6 Years
      5 months, 28 days ago

      Justin

    3. Nay08
        5 months, 28 days ago

        someone with DGW?
        EVE, FUL, BUR, SOU, LEE all have DGW.

    4. Nay08
        5 months, 28 days ago

        so I'm thinking to get one Burnley defender. any suggestion who is better?
        Mee, Tarkowski, or Lowton?

        right now my defense consists of Dias, Cancelo, Creswell, Coufal, Mitchel.

        it seems hard to transfer out Dias or Cancelo as MCI is in a good form and have some DGW.
        so I think the most obvious one is to transfer out Coufal, isn't it? still have Creswell to take advantage of WHU great GW23 and 24 fixtures.

        any suggestion appreciated, thx.

        1. Kiwivillan
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 7 Years
          5 months, 28 days ago

          My defence is too good to upset getting in Burnley def so getting Pope instead

        2. FantasyTony
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 3 Years
          5 months, 28 days ago

          Coufal yes

      • MikeS
        • 6 Years
        5 months, 28 days ago

        Who's dumping Salah?

        1. Ajax Hamsterdam
          • 7 Years
          5 months, 28 days ago

          fools 😉

        2. Kiwivillan
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 7 Years
          5 months, 28 days ago

          Bought him this week for -4 after selling GW18 because FOMO from last week. Changed C off Bruno. Have more important trades to make

      • Egg noodle
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 11 Years
        5 months, 28 days ago

        Will James Rodriguez play next game? Why didn't he play the last game?

        1. Team Bobcat
          • 4 Years
          5 months, 28 days ago

          Carlo Ancelotti said he was not suited to the style of game that leeds brings. Could be the same story this weekend.

          He is fully fit but not fully integrated defensively which suggests he may not start again this weekend but who knows

      • wulfrunian
        • 4 Years
        5 months, 28 days ago

        Would appreciate your thoughts.
        -Do you think it's worth to get a midfielder/forward from Burnley/Fulham for the dgw?
        -How many cs do you think that Man City will keep in the double gw?Maybe it's better to have one ManCity defender and one from Burnley?
        -Would you sell Salah for Sterling in the dgw?

        1. waldo666
          • 10 Years
          5 months, 28 days ago

          - No
          - Wouldn't surprise at all to see 2 CS
          - Something that has been in and out of my head this morning, probably end up keeping Salah though.

        2. Nay08
            5 months, 28 days ago

            - I don't think so. because I think there are still many better choices elsewhere.
            - if Tottenham still plays like tonight, I think it's possible to cs both games.
            - I would, considering he probably will have 2 more games than Salah until gw27.

        3. dshv
          • 4 Years
          5 months, 28 days ago

          Play

          Robbo or diaz
          Soucek or dcl

          1. Leif Erikson-Formerly of La…
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 8 Years
            5 months, 28 days ago

            Dias and Soucek

            1. waldo666
              • 10 Years
              5 months, 28 days ago

              This.

        4. Mr. O'Connell
          • 9 Years
          5 months, 28 days ago

          Re: the captaincy paragraph in the article. I'm sure that's the exact strategy I've used which has led to pretty much 10 blanks on the spin.

          1. nadman89
            • 9 Years
            5 months, 28 days ago

            ive been going with the theory of whos due points and its worked

            1. Make United Great Again
              • 8 Years
              5 months, 28 days ago

              Who’re you going for this week?

              1. nadman89
                • 9 Years
                5 months, 28 days ago

                salah was due hit
                bruno was due hit
                son is now due

                1. Mr. O'Connell
                  • 9 Years
                  5 months, 28 days ago

                  Good choice. I don't own him, so bound to haul. Think I'll captain Dallas or something random.

          2. Cookie Kid
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 4 Years
            5 months, 28 days ago

            I tend to chase last week’s points and I can tell you it has not been going brilliantly.

        5. nadman89
          • 9 Years
          5 months, 28 days ago

          just my opinion but the must in general should be for the 2 double gws :

          DCL
          Bamford
          Pope
          Raphinha
          Dias

          other very good options :

          Digne
          Dallas
          Ederson
          (meslier and areola if no cash )

          (peproulette is going to be in full flow)

          Did i miss anyone , not a fan of southampton

        6. 03farmboy
          • 2 Years
          5 months, 28 days ago

          Best chilwell replacements?

          1. OleBall
            • 1 Year
            5 months, 28 days ago

            Digneee

          2. nadman89
            • 9 Years
            5 months, 28 days ago

            awb/shaw , tarkowski/mee looked for double gw

        7. OleBall
          • 1 Year
          5 months, 28 days ago

          Who scores more points over the next 2GW's?
          a) Watkins
          b) Antonio
          c) DCL

          1. Kiwivillan
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 7 Years
            5 months, 28 days ago

            B West Ham are flying

          2. nadman89
            • 9 Years
            5 months, 28 days ago

            watkins did have a good performance against arsenal away .

            im gonna go watkins

        8. Ajax Hamsterdam
          • 7 Years
          5 months, 28 days ago

          play dcl or raphinha ?

          1. waldo666
            • 10 Years
            5 months, 28 days ago

            Raphinha

            1. Ajax Hamsterdam
              • 7 Years
              5 months, 28 days ago

              thanks

        9. Riverside Red
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 2 Years
          5 months, 28 days ago

          Play Barnes or Dallas?

          1. nadman89
            • 9 Years
            5 months, 28 days ago

            barnes not even close

            1. Leif Erikson-Formerly of La…
              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
              • 8 Years
              5 months, 28 days ago

              +1

          2. Make United Great Again
            • 8 Years
            5 months, 28 days ago

            Barnes

          3. J ⚒ Salah & Vinagre
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 6 Years
            5 months, 28 days ago

            Barnes. Close though...

        10. Leif Erikson-Formerly of La…
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 8 Years
          5 months, 28 days ago

          Feeling more confident about not owning Son right now. I'd be happy to hold Foden if he was at least guaranteed a game and half in the double... Decisions, decisions...

        11. baines is god
          • 9 Years
          5 months, 28 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!!

        12. Ronnies
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 6 Years
          5 months, 28 days ago

          Play 1;

          A) Watkins
          B) DCL

          Cheers.

        13. FantasyTony
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 3 Years
          5 months, 28 days ago

          There's actually about 10 defenders I'd like to have.

          Dias
          Cancelo
          Stones
          Digne
          Rudiger
          Dallas
          Wan Bissaka
          Shaw
          Justin
          Mee
          Cresswell
          Coufal

          1. Kiwivillan
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 7 Years
            5 months, 28 days ago

            I have 5 of those. Cancelo Digne AWB Justin Cresswell

          2. nadman89
            • 9 Years
            5 months, 28 days ago

            tarkowski / lowton /mee too for DGW

        14. J ⚒ Salah & Vinagre
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 6 Years
          5 months, 28 days ago

          Would you start Watkins or DCL?

          1. nadman89
            • 9 Years
            5 months, 28 days ago

            watkins , look what he did at the emirates

            1. J ⚒ Salah & Vinagre
              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
              • 6 Years
              5 months, 28 days ago

              Thanks, forgot about that!

          2. Baron Penguin (FKA Hadebayo…
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 1 Year
            5 months, 28 days ago

            Watkins

        15. FantasyTony
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 3 Years
          5 months, 28 days ago

          Watkins

          1. FantasyTony
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 3 Years
            5 months, 28 days ago

            ^^

          2. J ⚒ Salah & Vinagre
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 6 Years
            5 months, 28 days ago

            Cheers Tony!

        16. Magpies4ever
          • 5 Years
          5 months, 28 days ago

          Is LMS score of 66 official or are auto subs not factored in yet? Right on the bubble with 66

        17. hullcityfan
          • 6 Years
          5 months, 28 days ago

          Really wish I could save and have 3 FTs next week.

          Possibly needed to slightly weaken my starting 11 this week to give me more doubles next week without needing a hit.

        18. Gundogan20/21
            5 months, 28 days ago

            1.Gundogan
            2.Jesus
            3.Salah
            4.Harvey Barnes
            5.Grealish
            6.Bruno
            7.Antonio

            A-Creeswell (ful)
            B-Dallas (cry)
            C-Justin(wolv)
            D-Rudiger(shu)
            E-Dias (liv)

            I need too bench 2
            I have Adams (new) on the bench

            1. Kiwivillan
              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
              • 7 Years
              5 months, 28 days ago

              Bench Jesus

            2. StayoutheSpiceZone
              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
              • 4 Years
              5 months, 28 days ago

              1C

          • Make United Great Again
            • 8 Years
            5 months, 28 days ago

            The article is interesting. Son’s underlying numbers are horrendous. He’s more even “due” vs West Brom..

            1. Rover
              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
              • 4 Years
              5 months, 28 days ago

              Isn't due for when the underlying numbers are good but the returns aren't keeping up?

              1. Make United Great Again
                • 8 Years
                5 months, 28 days ago

                Typo. I meant he’s not even due. As the underlying numbers reflect that

          • PP6
            • 2 Years
            5 months, 28 days ago

            Do I still get (S)on?

          • baines is god
            • 9 Years
            5 months, 28 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!!!

          • Weasel Boy
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 9 Years
            5 months, 28 days ago

            Robbo to

            Azpi/Alonso (differential in my league)
            Or
            Cancelo (haves Stones)

          • StayoutheSpiceZone
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 4 Years
            5 months, 28 days ago

            Bench

            Ings
            Salah

            Thanks

            1. nadman89
              • 9 Years
              5 months, 28 days ago

              ings

          • Flynny
            • 6 Years
            5 months, 28 days ago

            Planning to bring in pope. Already played bb

            Who does he replace? Martinez or Johnstone?

            Will martinez have additional dgws that pope will not have?

            Pope will have dgw 24 and 26. Is it likely I'll want Martinez for other dgws? Thanks

            1. Kiwivillan
              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
              • 7 Years
              5 months, 28 days ago

              Johnstone mud. Get rid