Chip Strategy

The pros and cons of a Gameweek 24 Wildcard in FPL

An international/winter break is often a popular time for Fantasy Premier League (FPL) managers to pull the trigger on a Wildcard and this one is seemingly no exception.

Despite the current lack of a Double Gameweek announcement to address the 19 outstanding fixtures we have, a quick read through the site comments reveals that a number of us are contemplating activating the chip ahead of Gameweek 24.

In the early results of our on-site poll, just under 19% of responders said they were planning to play the Wildcard, while a similar number were undecided:

Lateriser had previously addressed chip strategy in a recent Pro Pundits piece but in this article, we’ll instead weigh up the pros and cons of playing a Wildcard in the upcoming Gameweek alone, saving further analysis for after we get a Double Gameweek fixture announcement.

As ever, whether Gameweek 24 is the ‘right’ moment to Wildcard will depend much on the current make-up of your FPL squad, but we’ll try and outline a few of the more general advantages and disadvantages here.

GAMEWEEK 24 WILDCARD: THE PROS

COVID SITUATION IMPROVING

Unless you’ve been blessed by good fortune over the last month, most Fantasy managers have had to make at least a couple of (or way more) spontaneous short-term transfers, be it just to get a full starting XI out after some postponements or to react to an unexpected Double Gameweek announcement.

With positive Covid cases falling and Premier League clubs set to tighten up postponement protocols, we might be able to finally move on from that Fantasy firefighting and start planning our transfers weeks in advance with a bit of confidence – starting with a Wildcard.

BLANK/DOUBLE GAMEWEEK PREPARATION

All being well, we should get some sort of Double Gameweek announcement between now and the Gameweek 24 deadline.

A Double Gameweek 25 is anticipated based on throwaway comments from Ralf Rangnick and Ralph Hasenhuttl in recent press conferences, while there could be some other small Double Gameweeks announced between now and Gameweek 29.

The March TV fixtures are due out imminently, so it may be that we also simultaneously get news of some ‘doubles’ as happened with the February television amendments.

Before we reach the Gameweek 24 deadline, we’ll also know how many teams will, or look likely to, blank, double or have a single fixture in Gameweek 27 because the FA Cup fifth-round ties will be known by that stage.

In turn, we’ll also likely have a bit better idea (albeit far from a complete picture) as to how many clubs could theoretically blank in Gameweek 30 and 33 when the quarter-finals and semi-finals are scheduled to take place:

CLEARING AWAY THE DOUBLE GAMEWEEK 21/22/23 DEAD WOOD

As well as stockpiling future ‘doublers’, many Fantasy managers will be desperate to get rid of Double Gameweek 21-23 punts who are littering their squads.

Watford triple-ups, Chelsea assets and Ivan Toney (£6.6m) will be on the chopping block due to form, fixtures or blanks, and they can be purged in one fell swoop with a Wildcard.

MAKE WAY FOR WILLIE MO

As of Gameweek 23, less than 10% of Fantasy managers in the top 10k had retained the services of Mohamed Salah (£12.7m) over the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).

FPL’s leading points-scorer will presumably be back in Gameweek 24 (barring a run to the AFCON final for Egypt and/or a generous post-tournament holiday given to him by Jurgen Klopp), just in time for a run of matches against three of the worst defences in the division: Leicester, Burnley and Norwich.

Almost 90% of voters who were polled on our site plan to own him by Gameweek 25, so again, a Wildcard allows us to snap up the Egyptian while his price has bottomed out.

A Wildcard deployment also makes the Diogo Jota (£8.4m) to Andrew Robertson (£7.1m) swap much easier, an indirect trade that some are contemplating.

CITY ASSETS

With an upcoming double-header against Brentford and Norwich and relatively low-owned assets like Aymeric Laporte (£5.7m) and Kevin De Bruyne (£12.2m) in top form, there is short-term ground to be made by gobbling up Manchester City players on a Wildcard while they’re purring.

LiveFPL tells us that less than 1% of the top 10,000 Fantasy managers own the De Bruyne, Laporte and Joao Cancelo (£7.1m) triple-up, so that in itself smacks of a differential with a high upside.

GAMEWEEK 24 WILDCARD: THE CONS


MUCH BIGGER DOUBLE GAMEWEEKS TO COME… AND UNKNOWN BLANKS

While we’ll likely have some small-ish Double Gameweeks to come between now and the March international break, the real whoppers are probably going to follow later in the season.

Gameweek 36 is widely being touted as the biggest one of these due to the free midweek that follows it, so a Wildcard in or shortly before Gameweek 35 followed by a Bench Boost in Gameweek 36 will be a popular alternative strategy.

Then there are the unknown blanks in (and doubles caused by) Gameweeks 30 and 33 when the FA Cup quarter-finals and semi-finals clash with the Premier League. While the FA Cup fifth-round draw – which will be made ahead of Gameweek 24 – will give us a better idea of who might blank in those two Gameweeks, it’ll still be a guessing game based on match odds, favouritism etc.

Those managers with one or two Free Hits in hand might still fancy their chances of being able to negotiate their way through the springtime carnage even if playing the Wildcard now, but there are still a lot of ‘unknowns’ at this stage.

FUTURE FIXTURE SWINGS

While there are some new-ish favourable fixture swings to tap into in Gameweek 24 (Aston Villa’s, for example), many of the players who already feature in the so-called template squad have pretty good matches in the short-to-medium term.

Cancelo? Check. Salah, Jota and Trent Alexander-Arnold (£8.5m)? Check. David de Gea (£5.2m), Cristiano Ronaldo (£12.5m) and Bruno Fernandes (£11.7m)? Check. Michail Antonio (£7.9m), Jarrod Bowen (£6.8m)… we could go on.

Heck, even those managers who gambled on Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£7.9m) and Demarai Gray (£5.5m) for the Double Gameweek 21 that never was at least have the consolation of some appealing-looking matches in Gameweeks 24-26, should they be forced to hold on to their unstuck Toffees.

Compare this with Gameweek 28, for example, another possible point at which a Wildcard could be deployed, as discussed by NABIL – FPL otai in their recent Hot Topic.

At that juncture, we have Manchester United, Brighton and Hove Albion (two teams who we may be gambling on for Double Gameweek 25) and even Liverpool slipping towards the bottom of our Season Ticker.

Chelsea, meanwhile, return from their string of blanks with a succession of excellent fixtures, while the likes of Raphinha (£6.6m) at Leeds, Rayan Ait-Nouri (£4.3m) at Wolves, Arsenal’s budget midfielders and Southampton (whose good run begins in Gameweek 26) also have favourable schedules.

By Gameweek 28, we’ll also know for definite who blanks in Gameweek 30.

‘SOMETHING TO PLAY FOR’/OTHER PRIORITIES

While pretty much every team in the division is competing for something in the league at this point of the season, be it survival, the title or a European place, that almost certainly won’t be the case by the time we get to the final few Gameweeks.

It’s not the difficult-to-quantify ‘on the beach’ mentality that we’re worried about here so much as focus switching towards cups at home and abroad by springtime.

For example, Manchester City effectively – if not mathematically – had the league title in the bag by April last season and their attention was very much centred on their Champions League tilt after that. Ruben Dias (£6.3m), an immovable presence at the heart of the City up until that point, started just four of City’s final seven league matches. Ilkay Gundogan (£7.2m), borderline ‘essential’ during the winter months, made the starting XI in just three of his side’s last nine Premier League games.

Above: Ilkay Gundogan’s Gameweek 28-38 involvement in 2020/21, via Transfermarkt

Playing a Wildcard later in the season would, in theory, give Fantasy managers a better chance of navigating the end-of-season chaos.

The counter-argument to this logic is that you’re narrowing the potential for Wildcard gains to a small number of Gameweeks, as opposed to the umpteen that Gameweek 24 chip activators will hope to make strides in.

THE UNKNOWN QUANTITY OF NEW TRANSFERS

While the transfer window closes before the next FPL deadline, Gameweek 24 Wildcarders won’t have seen any deadline-day signings in action for their new clubs – bar perhaps an FA Cup fourth-round appearance, when line-ups are rarely at full strength anyway.

This is perhaps the weakest argument of the ‘cons’ we’ve listed here as January transfer windows are rarely that earth-shattering, with only really Aston Villa, Everton and Newcastle United making significant purchases to date.

Still, could Arsenal swoop for a forward that they so desperately need and that we Fantasy managers can finally trust? Might Burnley land FPL royalty in the form of Aaron Ramsey in time for their endless Double Gameweeks? Can West Ham finally get competition for Antonio over the line? These are questions that all might be being posed up until next Monday and slightly muddying the Wildcard waters.


WILDCARD DRAFT VIDEO

You can watch Az and Sam’s Wildcard draft video above, in which the pair discuss the community’s template squad based on replies to a recent Hot Topic and suggestions on social media.

Let us know your own thoughts on the pros and cons of a Double Gameweek 24 Wildcard in the comments section below.



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138 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Deer-in-headlights
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 1 Year
    3 months, 27 days ago

    Who to lose for Salah in GW24?

    A. Jota
    B. Bilva
    C. Maddison
    D. Saka

    1. Union_Jacks
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 4 Years
      3 months, 27 days ago

      Just pick 1

    2. Baps hunter
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 4 Years
      3 months, 27 days ago

      Depends on dgw:s

  2. Finding Timo
    • 1 Year
    3 months, 27 days ago

    Bench 2 of a) Dawson b) Dennis & c) king? Thanks

  3. Monty the Magpie
    • 4 Years
    3 months, 26 days ago

    Has anyone considered a SGW bench boost somewhere down the line, to free up flexibility with their wildcard?

    Looking at SGW31 myself, keeping my two remaining free hits to cover DGWs. The stars just seem to align that week, will minimal fuss - and DGW bench boosts are usually a letdown anyway.

    1. Monty the Magpie
      • 4 Years
      3 months, 26 days ago

      (Ignore - posted by accident in old article)

  4. Prinzhorn
    • 1 Year
    3 months, 26 days ago

    thoughts on this WC

    --- --- DE GEA --- --- (SANCHEZ)

    TAA - CANCELO - LAPORTE - DIGNE - (COADY)

    SALAH - FODEN - GALLAGHER - COUTINHO - BOWEN

    ANTONIO - BROJA - EDOUARD