Thinking about playing your Fantasy Premier League wildcard during the first international break of the season? Then consult these tips on just that very subject.
Using your wildcard is not to be taken lightly – you won’t get another one until January, so only deploy it if you really need to.
If you’re generally happy with your squad so far and your players have decent fixtures on the horizon, you’re better off saving your wildcard.
But if you’re floundering in your mini-league, you’ve packed your squad with duds or you’ve incurred a sudden injury crisis – then, yes, now is a good time.
So here are five FPL wildcard tips on making the best use of it should you decide to during this international break:
1⃣ Move quickly on hot picks
You’ll want to get the most in-form players in sooner rather than later, before their prices rise beyond your budget.
It should be obvious who these are – they’ll be the ones at or near the top of their points-scoring chart in terms of position, usually having scored well in recent Gameweeks.
Given that we’re only four Gameweeks into the 2018/19 season, it’s a given that players who’ve strung a few productive performances together will be ranked highly.
These are the ones you need to move quickly on – not just so you’ll be more likely to be able to afford them but also to increase your overall squad value.
As the season goes on, that extra money in the bank can make all the difference in terms of fielding an all-star starting XI and having to settle for second best.
2⃣ Spend big on attacking defenders
In recent seasons we’ve advised against spending too much on defenders too early, since not many teams seem to consistently keep clean sheets in the opening weeks.
Runs of clean sheets tend to come later as the more adept back lines solidify and cement a rapport, whereas the opening games are generally more chaotic.
While this remains the case, this season is markedly different insofar as there are so many defenders scoring high attacking returns.
You’re looking at £6m+ for most of these players, but that’s a price worth paying for a player who can get you four points for a clean sheet, three for an assist and SIX per goal.
Compare and contrast with similarly priced midfielders and it’s clear that you’re better off with, say, Marcos Alonso than you are with Pascal Groß.
The Chelsea man’s return of one goal, five assists and two clean sheets has him currently placed as the FPL’s highest-scoring player, so £6.8m is hardly an outlandish investment.
There’s no reason why he shouldn’t continue in this vein – Chelsea are much more attacking under Maurizio Sarri than they were under Antonio Conte.
Even under Conte, Alonso weighed in with half a dozen goals a season, ending the last two campaigns with points totals of 177 and 165.
He could well break the 200 barrier this year, which would be an excellent return for a player worth £9m – let alone one in the region of £7m.
Man City’s £6.4m Benjamin Mendy has five assists so far, while Liverpool’s £6.1m Andy Robertson has two assists and three clean sheets.
Along with Tottenham’s £6m Kieran Trippier, there’s a strong argument to be made for fielding all of them because they’re all attacking outlets for top sides.
Watford’s José Holebas is the only exception so far in terms of price, his value rising from £4.5m to £4.8m off the back of a goal and four assists.
Dare you field all five? It would be a gamble, but one that could pay off spectacularly so long as you have enough in reserve for a reliable captain in midfield or attack.
3⃣ Have a reliable captain
Following on from the above, you really should have at least one reliable big-hitter who you’d be happy to set as your captain most Gameweeks.
There are too many potential pitfalls associated with rotating the captain’s armband around a variety of mid-range ‘punts’, because more often than not they won’t pay off.
Include at least one player you’d be happy to set as captain for the entire season, otherwise you could be cheating yourself out of a lot of points.
4⃣ Consider going without Salah or Kane
Somewhat contrary to the advice about captains, there is an argument to be made that £13m Mohamed Salah and £12.5m Harry Kane aren’t worth the expenditure.
Neither have set the world alight so far and, while they’re both likely to go on blistering runs of form at some point, they’re not essential as long as cheaper alternatives keep pace with them.
After all, based on the evidence so far, you’d be better off going with Sadio Mané and Sergio Agüero, using the money saved to bolster your side elsewhere.
And if you’re selecting bargain basement bench-fillers in order to afford the likes of Salah or Kane, then ask yourself this:
Are you better off with Salah + a non-playing forward, or Mané + someone like Aleksandar Mitrović, Glenn Murray, Troy Deeney or Danny Ings?
Try to think in terms of how to maximise points from your entire team, just not one or two players.
As mentioned above, you should still make room for someone you can rely upon as a captain – but that player is not necessarily Salah or Kane.
Nevertheless, if you do decide to go without either of them then do keep in mind how you could get one of them in within two transfers should one or the other suddenly catch fire.
If you end up needing to spend four points to do this, then so be it.
5⃣ Look at each player’s next five fixtures
Inevitably not all of your wildcard selections will perform as you might have hoped.
If their fixtures over the next five Gameweeks don’t look too daunting, this gives you a reasonable amount of time to shuffle out the duds whilst still scoring points.