Twice a season the generous folks at FPL Towers give us the opportunity to rip our team apart and start over, making as many transfers as we see fit without the usual point penalties.
This of course, is the Wildcard. A powerful weapon in an FPL manager’s arsenal, and with great power comes great responsibility.
As an FPL veteran of over a decade I’ve used the first Wildcard in a variety of ways – some successful and others not so much. It must be used before December 29th (up to GW20), after which point you’ll get a shiny new one.
The early Wildcard – GW2 to GW4
This Wildcard is usually reserved for managers that fall into one of two categories; managers that designed teams specifically for the first few weeks, and managers that got it horribly wrong to start with.
The former works best if there are teams with a very favourable first few fixtures that then get dramatically worse e.g. Watford this season, or if there are players guaranteed to play for a few matches because of notable absentees e.g. Lucas Moura (due to Son playing at the Asian games). Once that run of games is over you can wildcard, remove those players, and restructure your team.
The latter is a very different scenario, and one that every veteran has found themselves in at one point or another. Whether you’re a rookie that made too many basic mistakes, or an experienced manager who just made the wrong calls, sometimes you need to fix the issues early. Managers that started with expensive players who aren’t getting enough game time should probably consider this e.g. Sane, Shaqiri, Jesus, Lacazette, Giroud.
A wildcard lets you remove these assets in favour of the early form players. I call this one the “Arsenal deadline day panic”. This is when you’ve had all summer to get sorted, but here you are at the end of August trying to improve on that dreadful start by signing Arteta and Mertesacker.
The injury/suspension crisis
The scenario: you’re perfectly set up for the coming weeks, leading your league, your star men are all in fine form and you’ve already got the bargain players everyone is after. You can’t remember ever having such fine luck, nothing will stop you this season! Then the FPL gods strike, and they strike you hard.
Your men drop like flies: Kev Nolan picks up his compulsory red card before Xmas, Ramsey injures himself celebrating the death of another celeb, Ozil has the sniffles and Mourinho has dropped your midfielder for daring to cross the halfway line. There are no backups on your bench, and only a colossal points hit lets you field an 11. The wildcard patches your team up without a deduction and also lets you make the changes you might have had planned too.
The measured approach – GW5 to GW10
A popular time to Wildcard amongst managers in the FPL community. At this point in the season we start to get a good idea of where teams and players are at, and which ones we want to avoid/stock up on. Each team is likely to have faced a variety of opponents with varying difficulties, players emerge as ‘first choice’ in their teams, new signings begin to bed into their teams, and perhaps most importantly value options begin to emerge.
This is key in FPL – finding the value options allows you to stock up on premium assets. Look out for 4.0 defenders that break into half decent defences (Danny Simpson 2015/16), attacking 5.0 midfielders that are getting returns every couple of matches (Milivojevic 2017/18), and whichever cheap goalkeeper is this season’s Jordan Pickford, Tom Heaton, Nick Pope, etc.
General Wildcard advice
- A Wildcard negates any hits taken in that gameweek. So, if you took a -4 early in the week and both players got injured midweek, playing the Wildcard will cancel those hits (but you’ll keep the players).
- A popular tactic is to use the Wildcard to make a profit, by bringing in players and selling them once they rise in price. I don’t advocate this approach. You need to make at least 0.2m on a player before you can “bank” any profit by removing them. Are you likely to be taking out a player that everyone is bringing in anyways? Probably not.
- Avoid points hits before and after your Wildcard. The closer you are to using your Wildcard, the less time there is for player to repay the -4 penalty. If your Wildcard doesn’t deliver immediately don’t panic – you picked those players for a reason.
- Look out for “fixture swings” – meaning GWs where the upcoming fixtures for certain teams get dramatically worse or better. Particularly useful when it comes to picking budget players.
- Think long-term. In my most successful ever season I used the Wildcard in GW3 and immediately dropped 500k places. However, I then had a team set up for the long-run, not just 1 or 2 weeks. Have patience!
- There’s no right or wrong time to Wildcard – every team is different and every manager has different players they want to bring in. As a rule, if you want to ship out 5/6 players in the next couple of GWs for whatever reason, it might be time to hit the Wildcard button.