With up to 13 top-flight teams potentially doubling across the next two rounds of fixtures, Gameweek 28 presents an opportunity to pull the trigger on a Wildcard.
A quick read through the site comments reveals that a number of us are contemplating activating the chip this week.
In fact, in the current results of our on-site poll, just under 25% of responders said they were planning to play the Wildcard.
In this article, we’ll weigh up the pros and cons of playing a Wildcard in Double Gameweek 28.
As ever, whether Gameweek 28 is the ‘right’ moment to Wildcard will depend much on the current make-up of your Fantasy Premier League (FPL) squad, but we’ll try and outline a few of the more general advantages and disadvantages here.
GAMEWEEK 28 WILDCARD: THE PROS
DOUBLE GAMEWEEK PREPARATION
With back-to-back doubles in the offing, a Gameweek 28 Wildcard enables you to load up on players who have additional matches.
As you can see below via the excellent @Legomane_FPL, at least six teams will play twice in Gameweek 28, which could potentially rise to eight if either Chelsea or Norwich City progress in the FA Cup, which we’ll handily know prior to Saturday’s deadline.
Then, a further six teams will double in Gameweek 29, including Arsenal, Brighton and Hove Albion, Everton, Liverpool, Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur.
As a result, teams can be set up to attack Double Gameweeks 28 and 29, whilst also having a sprinkling of players from teams that will have a fixture in Blank Gameweek 30, which we’ll discuss below.
While most FPL managers will be using transfers on Chelsea assets, if they do indeed play twice in Gameweek 28, those who Wildcard will be able to potentially get ahead of the curve, and install three Blues players in their squad, ready to attack the forthcoming double, plus some particularly juicy fixtures to follow.
Above: Chelsea’s schedule till the end of the season, with their Gameweek 30 tie against Norwich City potentially moving to Gameweek 28 if either side progress in this week’s FA Cup
If they do double, which is highly likely, investing in players such as Antonio Rudiger (£6.1m), Reece James (£6.2m), Mason Mount (£7.5m), perhaps even Kai Havertz (£7.8m) is appealing, given that they are all low-owned, especially in the top 10k.
DOUBLE GAMEWEEK 29 BENCH BOOST
If activating the Wildcard chip this week, a Gameweek 29 Bench Boost is possible, given that Arsenal, Brighton and Hove Albion, Everton, Liverpool, Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur play twice.
As a result, the likes of Martin Dubravka (£4.4m), Ben White (£4.5m), Gabriel Martinelli (£5.3m) and Anthony Gordon (£4.5m) are all cheap budget options who double, and needn’t take too much budget away from your regular starting XI.
However, it would probably mean you have to Bench Boost with a couple of Wolves players who visit Everton, which may not be the best fixture to take advantage of the chip.
BLANK GAMEWEEK 30 PREPARATION
Currently, the only fixtures that will definitely take place in Gameweek 30 are Aston Villa v Arsenal, Leicester City v Brentford and Wolverhampton Wanderers v Leeds United, as the FA Cup quarter-finals are scheduled for the same weekend.
And by the time Saturday’s Double Gameweek 28 deadline comes around, the Blank Gameweek 30 schedule will be clearer, as the FA Cup fifth round ties are played in midweek.
If Wildcarding this week, you can then prepare your squad for Gameweek 30, ensuring that it isn’t essential to deploy the Free Hit chip, which can then be retained for the run-in. The FA Cup semi-finals, for example, which are scheduled for Gameweek 33, could cause further blanks, while there are likely to be more Double Gameweeks later in the season, offering further opportunities to Free Hit.
At present, players from Arsenal, Aston Villa, Leeds and Wolves look vital for those playing a Wildcard this week, as all of these sides have a fixture in Gameweek 30, and also have a Double Gameweek in either 28 or 29.
GAMEWEEK 28 WILDCARD: THE CONS
IS GAMEWEEK 31 ONWARDS A POTENTIALLY BETTER TIME TO USE IT?
Saving the Wildcard till Gameweek 31 onwards could potentially be a better play for some FPL managers, with another decent sized double expected.
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.
By saving it till after Blank Gameweek 30, you can also freshen up your team and get rid of any deadwood. For example, Aston Villa face a tough run of fixtures from Gameweek 31 onwards and their assets will surely be on the chopping block due to that schedule, while it’s debatable whether or not FPL managers will want to hold Leeds United and Wolverhampton Wanderers players longer-term, too.
FUTURE FIXTURE SWINGS
By holding the Wildcard, there is potential to target certain fixture swings, including Leicester City’s, given that they have three additional matches that still need to be rearranged.
|Number of matches to rearrange||Team|
|2||Arsenal, Burnley, Chelsea, Everton|
|1||Aston Villa, Norwich City, Tottenham Hotspur|
Gameweek 32 looks like the ideal time to invest in the Foxes, with the likes of James Maddison (£6.8m), Harvey Barnes (£6.5m) and Jamie Vardy (£10.3m) all appealing options.
Then there are the likes of Tottenham Hotspur, Crystal Palace and Manchester United who have kinder run-ins, too, as detailed below.
‘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 defence up until that point, started just four of City’s final seven league matches. Ilkay Gundogan (£7.1m), borderline ‘essential’ during the winter months, made the starting XI in just three of his side’s last nine Premier League games.
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 larger amount that Gameweek 28 chip activators will hope to make strides in.
Let us know your own thoughts on the pros and cons of a Double Gameweek 28 Wildcard in the comments section below.
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