A lot of Fantasy Premier League (FPL) managers have long earmarked Gameweek 7 as an ideal time to Wildcard and many are following through with those plans this week.
In our on-site poll of managers who had yet to activate the chip, not far off 30% said they would be playing it ahead of Saturday’s deadline.
With the start of the Gameweek edging ever nearer, we thought it would be worth assessing the best FPL players for a Wildcard squad – starting with this look at the range of forwards on offer.
Here is a rundown of some of the more interesting strikers for your Wildcard; all stats taken from this article are from our Premium Members Area.
We start with the main reason many are even activating their chip: Romelu Lukaku (£11.7m). Already beginning the week in over 30% of FPL teams, the Belgian is the standout captaincy choice for upcoming matches against Southampton (H), Brentford (a), Norwich City (H), Newcastle United (a) and Burnley (H).
With the Chelsea squad supreme in quality and depth, the likes of Mason Mount (£7.4m), Kai Havertz (£8.2m) and Timo Werner (£8.6m) will surely experience plenty of rotation over the coming months. Yet Lukaku has played all 450 minutes since arriving from Inter Milan and while likely not completely immune to rotation himself (no Chelsea player has been under Tuchel), stands the best chance of starting more games than not.
He has netted three times so far and, despite consecutive blanks against Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City, belief in the striker remains unshakable.
Cristiano Ronaldo (£12.7m) has edged many of the key attacking metrics so far when compared to Lukaku but we’re talking about a tiny sample size, especially as the Belgian has faced four ‘big six’ sides in his five appearances.
Eight shots against an injury-hit, out-of-sorts Arsenal, possibly his ‘easiest’ opposition to date, has hinted at what we might be able to expect when the Blues face a wealth of mid-to-lower-table fodder over the coming weeks and months.
Lukaku’s shotmap below shows him taking plenty of efforts from the centre-point of the opposition area since his move to west London, with Ronaldo offering more variety in terms of distance and angle.
The ‘Ronaldo out for Lukaku’ switch is straightforward in theory but how many of us will actually click the button to remove the proven quality of this elite Ballon d’Or winner? He let down the millions who captained him by blanking at home to Aston Villa, yet scored three times in the previous two matches. Since his return to Old Trafford, no forward has taken more shots (17), efforts in the box (13), on-target strikes (7), penalty area touches (25) or boasts a higher xG (expected goals) tally. And might he be on penalties, now?
What sets him back is the premium price tag, especially when his captaincy potential pales in comparison to Lukaku and Salah over the short-to-medium term. Tough league fixtures with Leicester City (a), Liverpool (H) and Manchester City (H) are accompanied by must-win Champions League meetings with Villarreal and Atalanta (twice). But, after all, he is Ronaldo.
Fitting both Lukaku, Ronaldo and Mohamed Salah (£12.6m) into the same side is do-able: this mock Wildcard draft below, which allows flexiblity between a 4-4-2, 4-3-3 and 3-4-3, draws on the value currently being offered by the £5.5m-£6.5m midfielders and the bargain-bin FPL defenders, with the injured Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.6m) the main omission.
For those who opt for both premium options, it most likely deprives them of a third striker in the competitive £7.0m-£8.0m price range. This includes the game’s top-scoring forward Michail Antonio (£7.9m). He sits atop the rankings despite missing one match due to suspension, such is his dominant start to the season.
Antonio began with three successive double-digit hauls, before netting a late winner on Saturday at Leeds United, and is top among FPL forwards for goal attempts, shots in the box, big chances, efforts on target and penalty box touches in 2021/22.
It will take a brave manager to proceed without the West Ham man this weekend, despite Brentford’s defence impressing many so far. The Bees have kept three clean sheets from six, with only Wolves and three Champions League sides conceding fewer goal attempts – but their first real test against an ‘elite’ attack in the form of Liverpool showed that there is still much to work on.
Following that, the Hammers face Everton (a), Tottenham (H), Liverpool (H), Man City (a) and Chelsea (H) in their next eight, mixed in with Europa League action. Indeed, all bar Spurs of West Ham’s Gameweek 7-15 opponents are among the top ten meanest defences for Opta’s expected goals conceded (xGC).
Yet there is a feeling that Antonio may be fixture-proof, while fit.
Before we start: yes, we know he is currently red-flagged.
The Leeds striker missed the match with West Ham due to an ankle problem but if Marcelo Bielsa confirms his recovery by the weekend, Bamford has an encouraging run of games against Watford (H), Southampton (a), Wolves (H) and Norwich (a).
Perhaps the brilliant Raphinha (£6.5m) offers enough Leeds coverage in midfield but Patrick Bamford (£7.8m) had registered the second-most goal attempts of all strikers during the first five Gameweeks.
He has the short-term fixtures needed to deliver the goods and, despite the occasional wastefulness, the proven Premier League pedigree to back it up: he racked up 28 attacking returns in 2020/21, with his average of 5.1 points per match the fourth-best among FPL forwards last season.
Regardless of FPL, it was a feel-good moment for football when Raul Jimenez (£7.4m) scored for the first time since his horrific, life-threatening fractured skull injury from last November.
Going forward, Jimenez will relish facing a defensively shambolic Newcastle at the weekend, the fourth of an 11-match streak against sides outside of last season’s top four. His total of 15 shots inside the box ranks third among FPL forwards, while he is also joint-top among players in his Fantasy position for chances created, so offers multiple routes to points – providing the Mexican and his teammates don’t continue to be profligate with their opportunities, of course.
Brentford’s main man may have lost one million owners and £0.2m in value since the early Gameweeks but he certainly passes the eye test at present. Oozing in confidence after netting 31 times in last season’s Championship, the penalty-taking Ivan Toney (£6.3m) dominated Virgil van Dijk (£6.6m) in the air last Saturday by winning nine aerial duels against Liverpool’s defence.
Level with Lukaku for goal attempts (15) over the last five Gameweeks, he has also created more ‘big chances’ than any other forward in that time. A bit like Jimenez, he’ll chip in with assists even if he doesn’t score.
His team looks fearless and well-suited to the Premier League. A side that scored twice against Arsenal and three times against Liverpool will not be intimidated by the prospect of West Ham (a), Chelsea (H) and Leicester (H), which precedes a very generous run of opponents:
Toney blanked in the first two matches but has since scored and assisted twice – he will certainly have no doubt in his ability to reach 20 goal involvements this season.
Toney aside, a few other sub-£7.0m options are beginning to appear.
Odsonne Edouard (£6.5m) arrived with a cameo brace against Spurs but is yet to complete 90 minutes for Crystal Palace, while Neal Maupay (£6.5m) is already on four goals but needs to fully regain the trust of FPL managers after two frustrating seasons.
Allan Saint-Maximin (£6.8m) is wonderful to watch and has only blanked once in six matches, yet plays for a poor Newcastle side, with Teemu Pukki (£5.9m) facing a similar problem despite Norwich’s good upcoming fixtures. Saint-Maximin does, a bit like Jimenez and Toney, at least offer additional assist potential, sitting level with Wolves’ Mexican striker for chances created this season.
People thought Southampton would be similarly poor this season, following the loss of Danny Ings (£7.9m), Jannik Vestergaard (£4.9m) and Ryan Bertrand (£4.9m). Yet draws against both Manchester sides and holding Antonio to his only blank so far has increased optimism in their assets. As bargain defender Tino Livramento (£4.2m) keeps two clean sheets at the back, Adam Armstrong (£6.0m) is building some impressive stats up front. Despite not scoring since the opening day, his 19 shots have only been topped by Antonio amongst forwards. If Armstrong continues to start for the Saints, matches against Leeds (H), Burnley (H), Watford (a), Aston Villa (H) and Norwich (a) could be a useful enabler for the Ronaldo-Lukaku combination.