fantasy premier league wildcard tips – Rob Reid (the FPL Vet) talks us through his first draft wildcard team

Here’s Rob Reid (the FPL Vet) with an article on his Wildcard.  Rob talks through his reasoning for the WC and the choices he’s made.  Rob finished with a rank of 22k last season 4,701 in 2015/16 and 7,810 in 2014/15.

fantasy premier league wildcard tips – Rob Reid (the FPL Vet) talks us through his first draft  wildcard team

As stated in my GW7 team lineup write-up, I have played my Wildcard this week. Here are my thoughts one what I’m planning and a first draft of my team.

My Gameweek 7 Team

First up here’s a reminder of my GW7 team:

67 points OTV £101.5m OR 501k (370k rise)

fantasy premier league wildcard tips

So a good week in the end and a healthy rise in the rankings. However, when you look beneath the seams it was a week that somewhat papered over the cracks. I only had 4 returning starters, but luckily they bagged 52 points between them. Captain Lukaku got his obligatory goal. Forster returned by virtue of a penalty save. Not something that happens very regularly, I suspect most managers would average 1 a season.

My big returners were my 2 goal-scoring defenders, Davies and Monreal. Clean sheet returns for both were not unexpected on the basis of the fixtures, but 31 points between them was a welcome boon and the main reason why my ranking shot up this week. I did have a 5th returning player on the bench in Mee – I’m not too upset about this though as away to Everton wasn’t an obvious fixture for a return. It does make me aware that the Burnley defence is more resilient than perhaps we first thought.

So why Wildcard?

Well here’s some reasons and some of my opinions on when you should Wildcard in FPL.

1) If the balance of your team is very obviously wrong ie you’re missing high scoring players or positions.
2) If you have pre-planned your squad towards an obvious Wildcard GW on the basis of fixtures.
3) If you are missing at least 2 big-hitting captaincy prospects and can’t bring them in without more than an 8 point hit.
4) If there are more than 7 players in your team you’d like or need to transfer out.
5) If you are treading water in the overall rankings or are falling too far behind in a targeted mini-league.




How does my team stack up on this list?

1) Balance is ok. I’m not obviously light or heavy in one area. My midfield is perhaps under-performing slightly but across the game this seems to be a theme.

2) My pre-season plan was to WC in GW8 so I have made it to my target in this respect.

3) I recklessly sold Kane in GW4 and this has hurt me. I hold Lukaku though who is the only other big captain pick who could be fit for GW8 (he’s yellow-flagged but early reports suggest he should make GW8.) I can buy Kane back in 2 or 3 moves if needed but would have to sacrifice another premium player.

4) Moving into the next 6 gameweeks, I’d like to sell:
– Dawson (fixtures tough until GW14)
– Eriksen (I’d prefer to have Kane again as my Spurs cover – this experiment didn’t work)
– Brady (stats are down and Burnley’s attacking returns are quite lean down to their playing style)
– Carroll (no returns so far with Swansea struggling)
– Lacazette and Firmino (Kane, Jesus and Vardy are better prospects at the moment while Morata and Aguero are also better options when fit.)

– If given the chance I’d also change Bailly (he’s doing well, but Jones is £1m cheaper and getting more BPS plus United’s fixtures turn more difficult now.)
– Forster is returning well but his fixtures turn difficult at GW12.
– Mkhitaryan is a bit hit and miss and I’m not sold on him returning much in the next 4 weeks.

So to conclude I have 6 players I’d like to sell soon and 3 who are on my ‘possible outs’ list.

5) I was treading water rank-wise until last week. I’m still in a competitive position in my prioritised mini-league.

Summing things up, I have plenty of good reasons to press WC not to mention the fact I’d pre-planned for GW8 anyway.

Balancing the squad

So some basic analysis of the first 7 GWs reveals the following.

– The top 20 scorers in the game by position are: 2 GKs, 7 DFs, 6 MFs and 5 FWs
– The 21-40 ranked scorers by position are: 4 GKs, 8 DFs, 5 MFs and 3 FWs
– The top 3 scorers (usually your primary captain options) in the game are all premium forwards and are all injury flagged!
– Harry Kane is the player with the best current form using the EPL on-site rating system

– There is an unusually high number of high scoring keepers and defenders this year. Analysis reveals that significantly more clean sheets are being kept at this stage than in previous seasons. We’re averaging 7.86 clean sheets per GW after 7 GWS compared to 5.71 in 14-15; 6.57 in 15-16 and 4.29 in 16-17. The players ranked 4 and 5 in the top points scorers are both defenders.

– Ownership is widely spread. There are 14 players with over 20% ownership and 5 with over 30% ownership. Lukaku is the most owned with over 60% ownership.

– In terms of the EPL Value (season) marker, there are only 2 forwards ranked in the Top 60 players! Of the Top 30 players, all but 3 are defenders or goalkeepers.

So what does this suggest to me?

Forwards

First of all, let’s start with the key area – forwards. At present, according to scoring there are really only 8 forwards worth considering as regular returners: Aguero, Morata, Lukaku, Kane, Vardy, Jesus, Firmino and Rashford. Aguero is out for 6 weeks, Morata could be out for 2-4 weeks and Lukaku is slightly doubtful for GW8 at the moment. On this basis, Kane is a must and his recent form backs this. Lukaku (if fit) is also a must for me because of his high ownership and captain potential. He’s going to kill your rank every time he returns. The third forward is a more difficult issue because of price, with the other 2 setting you back over £24m (nearly 1/4 of your budget) between them. If you want a playing 3rd forward who’s likely to return regularly, the options at this stage look to be : Vardy, Jesus, Firmino and Rashford. If you’re not going to play 3 up front every week then other options could come into play, but be aware that their returns are likely to be significantly lower.

Midfield

Scoring has been comparatively lower here than in previous seasons. Some premium midfielders are scoring well, but there is little value in the budget bracket. Similarly, Richarlison is possibly the only stand-out option in the mid-range at this stage – he certainly passes the eye test and his xG and xA are good as well. The best tactic to me, would be to go with 1 or 2 premium mids, Richarlison and then 2 cheapies who are likely to either be bench fodder or rotate.

The unknowns at this stage are the 2 high-end premium midfielders – Hazard and Sanchez. From previous years, we know both of these have potential to explode at any stage. And both will be difficult to work into a squad because of their price. For me, neither have the form or value yet to consider selecting them on my Wildcard. They also both have relatively low ownership so a double figure return from either won’t hurt your overall rank significantly at the moment. But they must stay on the radar because of their potential. This is why I’m favouring the 3 premium striker option. I think this gives you the flexibility to trade a striker down to bring these in if needed.




Defence/GK

Regulars here will know that I love defence as a differential. The curious thing this season is how prolific defensive returns have been this season early on. Just look at the number of defenders ranked in the top 40 points scorers and how they dominate the value statistic. Usually, defensive returns improve from November onwards, but there have be way more clean sheets this season compared to last. There is most definitely an argument for 4 even 5 at the back this season on this basis. I would also promote considering a higher end keeper on this basis. This guarantees you gametime and can cover high ownership options. De Gea and Forster are currently ranked in the Top 20 points scorers for example, with the former having over 30% ownership.

Team-wise, the premium teams lead the way for clean sheets. Man United have kept an astonishing 6/7 clean sheets so far and there’s been 4 for Spurs, Arsenal and Man City. Huddersfield also have 4/7 and there are 6 teams who have kept 3/7. It would therefore seem prudent to select from these first 4 premium clubs while also considering Huddersfield, any of the six teams with 3 clean sheets if there is an obvious low budget, strong fixture rotation pair and also Burnley, who despite having only 2 clean sheets have the 3rd lowest goals conceded with 5.

Finally, this leads on to formation. I’m edging away from the traditional 3-4-3 or 3-5-2 based on this analysis. 4-3-3 looks the best option to me at this stage, but I’d like the flexibility to shift to 3-4-3 as well. To sum up, I’m going to try and draft a squad with 3 premium strikers, 2 premium midfielders, Richarlison as a low mid-range player and 2 rotating cheap mids who can either be bench fodder or form player 4 in a 3-4-3. I’m then going to spend the rest on my defence, focusing on having preferably 3 premium defenders or 2 + a premium keeper. I’ll then see what’s left over the rest!

Let’s get on with it then, here’s my shopping list.

Essentials

– Kane and Lukaku (if fit.) They are the 2 best shield captain options at the moment, with only GW10 (Utd vs Spurs) a problem here. City, Chelsea and Liverpool all have good fixtures that week to give alternatives – I suspect there will be a split of captains this week and could be good for a sword captain.
– Man City attacking cover. they are on fire going forwards and show no signs of letting up – Jesus, Silva, Sterling or Sane look the best options with Aguero injured.
– Richarlison – at the moment the best sub £7m option in my opinion. Has good enough form to be in a team every week, despite the opposition.
– At least 2, preferably 3 premium defenders or a low premium keeper. City, Chelsea, Spurs and Arsenal look the best fixture options over the next few weeks. United are the form option, but have some difficult fixtures coming. They do however have a great value option with Jones at £5.2m and also carry high ownership, so can hurt overall ranking.
– A Burnley defender. Sounds like an odd essential shout, but they’re great value and have some choice home fixtures on the horizon. I’ll try and match them up as a rotation pair on the weeks they’re away, though they did show against Everton that they’ve tightened up on the road as well.
– 1, preferably 2 in-form premium midfielders
– 3rd premium striker
– Elliott – the only playing £4.0 keeper (he’s £4.1 if you didn’t have him from the start)

Problems

– 3 premium strikers means budget 4th and 5th midfielders must cost an absolute minimum and as such are unlikley to score big.
– Little scope for getting a Chelsea player with Morata injured (good fixtures coming and can potentially score big and consistently.) The only 2 I like beyond – Morata are Hazard and Azpilicueta aka Dave. Hazard is yet to show convincing form and is expensive. Dave has been pick of Chelsea players after Morata but is also very pricey.
– Defenders 4 & 5 are going to be cheaper, likely sub £4.5m.
– Will I have enough money to afford all these premium defenders and mids and where am I going to compromise?

First Draft

Here’s my first go at things.

fantasy premier league wildcard tips

Goalkeepers.

Elliott is in. Budget is tight for keeper 2, so it’s non-playing £4m Krul hoping he’ll oust Ryan for the no.1 spot. This could be a problem as it commits to playing Elliott every week and doesn’t leave a contingency if he’s injured or loses his place.

Defenders

Davies, Otamendi and Monreal are the premiums and will play each week. I’d likely swap Monreal to Jones in 2 weeks when United get over 2 of their 3 difficult fixtures and Arsenal’s fixtures turn more difficult. Otamendi could become Stones to free another 0.1m. Gametime (as always with City) is the gamble for either. It’s Ward and Clark (over 4.0 Mbema for security) at the moment for the other 2. These 2 rotate well, but I’m worried about having double Newcastle defence every 2nd week with Elliott being the only keeper. Stoke would be the other obvious rotation option – Wimmer or Cameron who are both 4.4m and would free another 0.1. I worry about their gametime though when Zouma and Shawcross come back.

Midfield

Salah and Sterling are the premiums. I prefer their stats on xG to their club counterparts though Coutinho is a lower priced option for Salah and Silva and Sane are the alternatives for Sterling. Hanging onto Mkhitaryan is the other option I’ve considered, but I’m wary of a United attacking double-up with their next 4 fixtures. Richarlison is in as the 3rd mid. I like Choupo-Moting as well who is slightly cheaper but feel that the Brazilian just offers that bit more for the extra 0.5m. The 2 cheapies are Carroll and King at the moment, though King has some gametime doubts.

Forwards

Kane and Lukaku are no-brainers. I’ve gone for Jesus initially as I think he’s the easiest to trade up if you want Morata or Aguero when they’re eventually fit. Vardy was the other option I’ve considered. I would probably go for him if Lukaku is injured for GW8, but leave money in the bank to trade up when the higher premiums are fit.

So that’s my first draft. I’ll post again with my final team before the GW8 deadline. Enjoy the rest of the international break everyone!

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Comments

5 comments
  • Nick

    How about Danilo for slightly cheaper MC defensive coverage with Mendy out for the season?

    Reply

  • Josh

    great article. lots of red shirts becoming blue. in light of recent injuries to others and high ownership, I suppose Lukaku is basically required at this point. but I had planned for weeks to get Aguero in for Lukaku now. I think it will be pretty modest returns over the next month. Mou tends to play very defensive against top sides, and Lukaku, with maybe one notable exception, generally disappeared vs. top sides while at Everton. Just wish there were a better alternative.

    Reply

  • Richard Brook

    Great article.Very in depth and reflecting most of my thoughts and choices as i play my own wildcard though i am bouncing between keeping Lukaku or downgrading him to a 5m striker and Punting on Hazard for 3 weeks.Deffo playing 4 at the back myself too.

    Reply

  • Marsh

    One of the best articles of the season! Thank you.

    Reply

  • Alex

    Top article, cheers. Very similar team to mine

    Reply

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