FFGeek contributor Andrew Whitfield with his FPL “gradual wildcard”


Here’s FFGeek Contributor Andrew Whitfield with his FPL gradual wildcard article as he continues to make transfers on the FPL site.  Andrew finished with an overall rank of 6k last season and 19k in 17/18

FFGeek contributor Andrew Whitfield with his FPL “gradual wildcard”



Andrew outlines his FPL strategy along with myself and other FFGeek contributors in our new EBook.

Andrew’s current rank is 240k on 1,620 points.  Andrew finished with an overall rank of 6k last season and 19k in 17/18

Firstly, I hope everyone is staying safe. These are difficult times for us all. When lives and jobs are at stake, football is very unimportant in the scheme of things.

But who is it that said “Football is the most important of the unimportant things”. When football does return, it will bring a welcome tonic to many people.

FPL as things stand and making transfers:

– At the moment, the FPL game is still “live” and there seems to be a determination amongst the clubs to finish the season, whenever that may be, so when it does eventually resume, we need to be ready.

– If you feel you need to make improvements to your squad, and who doesn’t, then the opportunity is still there to make a free transfer every week, even with no games being played. Effectively that amounts to a “free wildcard” on a plate.

– Transfer volumes are low but active FPL managers are making transfers. In the “Elite 64” league of top FPL managers, 38 of them made at least one transfer last week. A good example of top managers positioning their troops to gain an advantage. Player prices are still moving which means your eventual likely transfer targets could just slip out of reach if you don’t play the market.

– An “Imaginary wildcard” article is usually all about playing your wildcard now and making wholesale changes to your squad immediately for the weekend ahead. However, I would NOT advocate playing your wildcard chip now as it would be active only until the next “dead” weekly gameweek deadline and the wildcard wouldn’t stay active until the next games. It makes much more sense to make gradual weekly changes for free and save your “wildcard chip” if you still have it. If you have already played your second wildcard, like me, it’s a great opportunity to position your squad for the games that remain. This is your free chance to build a squad that can do the best job for the remaining nine games.

Let’s finish this season and then worry about next:

– When the game resumes, we just don’t know. Clearly, it’s not going to be anytime soon. I have been very frustrated at the calls to “void the season”. I don’t get the desire to start again with a new season. Next season is irrelevant, unimportant, it just doesn’t exist. What’s important is to finish this one. This season is real and exists and is vitally important. Players and real fans have travelled the country sweating blood and tears, at great sacrifice, for every point. If it’s voided, it opens up huge legal battles, if the tables stand, similar legal battles. For the whole integrity of the game, this season has to finish. Even if it’s September / October before we get going, we simply finish this season and then worry about next, even if it’s a shorter next season where teams meet once. If anything gets voided, it’s NEXT season, and not this. Currently, UEFA and the FA are aligned to this too. It’s the only fair way for football to maintain its integrity.

So how can we choose a “wildcard team” when we don’t know who will be fit ?

– Well we don’t know who in our current squads will be fit either. But we can select players who have been regular starters. Significantly, we can select players who have the best remaining fixtures and take out players with the worst. We don’t know in what order the fixtures will come, but we do know which teams have the best and worst remaining fixtures, and we can adjust our squads accordingly.

– There is talk of games being played on “neutral grounds” ( or even in China!! ) which would make “home and away “ fixtures irrelevant. There is also the strong likelihood of games behind closed doors, which again would render “home “ games less relevant with no crowd advantage. Worth bearing in mind when assessing the remaining fixtures. Don’t get wrapped up with “home games”.

– There are concerns that the people in “FPL towers” can’t change the programmed game, hence the gameweeks ticking normally with no games. The biggest concern is that when games do resume, no extra gameweeks can be added and we end up with all remaining games in GW38 !! If that was the case, then it’s basically select a squad just once that serves you for all the outstanding games, play your bench boost and all your 15 players count in every game that’s left !! If you don’t have a bench boost left, then your 11 players are up against all 15 players of your opponents in every game, which would be a massive disadvantage if your opponents get a bench boost in every game !! And any wildcards, free hits and triple captains are effectively gone. A nightmare scenario. All the more reason to build your “gradual wildcard “ before the season resumes. Get your squad of 15 in place just in case they will be needed in every game.

– We don’t know how the gameweeks will look. It’s highly likely that there will be lots of “double gameweeks”. We could well have multiple gameweeks where some teams play once and some teams play twice. With that in mind, I think having a strong bench could be vitally important where you can simply play those players in your squad with most games in each gameweek. Similarly, having TWO playing keepers would allow you to play the one with two games and bench the keeper with one game. I think having a good deep squad of 15 regular starters will be vital and bring its rewards.

So here is my “gradual wildcard” team to serve me for the remaining games:


– Pope. He is the top points scoring keeper in FPL. He is averaging 7.3 points per game over the last seven fixtures. He is 48% owned in the top 10k managers. He still has Liverpool and Man City to face, but still has Norwich, Brighton, Palace, Westham, Watford and Sheff Utd to play. He ticks all the boxes for me.

– McCarthy. With the possibility of a mix of single gameweeks and double gameweeks, and two keepers needed for the bench boost, well worth the 0.4M extra investment over a non playing second keeper. I am not a fan of rotating keepers but in the current situation, I want two keepers so I could play the one with most games.


– Alexander Arnold. A “must have” pick. Top points scoring defender in FPL. Averaging 7.5 points and 11 “returns” in the last 13 games. 90% owned in the top 10k. Fixtures are mixed and possible rotation when Liverpool wrap the title up, but an “assist machine”. He has not left my side all season.

– Doherty. Based on a combination of points scored over the last six games and remaining fixture difficulty, Doherty comes out top across all positions !! Averaging 8 points over the last five games and fantastic fixtures to match. Only 8% owned so represents a great differential.

– Lundstram. “ The Lord” has been an “out of position” revelation this season. 4th highest scoring defender. Has lost his regular starting spot recently but even from the bench, has been dangerous and has actually scored 20 points over the last three games !! Still 33% owned in the top 10k. I don’t think we have seen the last of “The Lord”.

Alexander Arnold, Doherty and Lundstram are also the three defenders with the most attacking points this season !!

– Wan Bissaka. United have four clean sheets in the last five games. Fixtures could not be better. Still to play Palace, Westham, Villa, Brighton, Southampton and Bournemouth. I want to be on that United defence.

– Lascelles. Great value at 4.3M and good fixtures. Will be benched in my team most weeks but a solid squad pick.


– Salah. The top points scorer in FPL. 90% owned amongst the top 10k. Averaging 7.5 points over the last ten games and a highly captained player every week. A brave call to take him on.

– De Bruyne. The 2nd highest points scorer in the game. Man City are “top” for fixture difficulty with an incredible remaining run of fixtures. Six home games too if they get played on home grounds. 81% owned in the top 10k. Arguably the best player in the league.

– Bruno Fernandes. Only played five games since joining United but averaging 7.6 points per game. Seems to have transformed United, shoots on sight, takes free kicks, corners and penalties. Arguably been a bit fortunate to benefit from a couple of keeper errors. 42% owned already in the top 10k. And United have great fixtures. The most popular buy since the game halted with his price on the rise.

– Martial. Without a double figure return in his last ten games but five returns in that same period. Fixtures a big factor in doubling him up with Fernandes.

Considering my third and fourth mids at the GW29 halt were Grealish and Traore, I am happy to beef up my midfield with the United pair.

– Saka. Likely to be my third sub most weeks. Three assists in his last five but his place likely to come under threat now with returning full backs at Arsenal. Alternatives are Rice or Hayden or Dendoncker.


With the extra investment into defence and midfield, I have gone with more of a budget forward line but with three strikers who are all very capable of goals. I have had either Vardy or Aubamayang since GW11 so definitely a redistribution of funds.

– Jimenez. Averaging 5.7 points per game over the last seven games. The 3rd highest points scoring striker and only 5 points less than Aubamayang. Great fixtures. 65% owned in the top 10k.

– Ings. Only 7 points less than Jimenez thanks to a real purple patch of goals which has dried up ( since I bought him !! ) with just one return in seven games. But 62% owned in the top 10k makes him a dangerous player not to own if he returns.

– Calvert Lewin. A player I haven’t yet owned all season but always impressive on the eye. Averaging 5.8 points per game over the last seven games. Still has Villa, Norwich, Bournemouth and Southampton to play in a mixed set of fixtures.

Having three cheaper strikers makes it difficult in the future weeks to get to Auba, Kane or Aguero. But if Rashford or Abraham come back from injury, they are both within range. And the likes of Jota, Wood, Deeney or even Ayew are all differential replacements.

Auba and Vardy are two players I would fear not owning, however:

– Auba has averaged only 3.8 points per game over the last eight games. Fixtures look dangerously good but the near 5M saving from Calvert Lewin who is averaging 5.8 points in the same period, is a calculated sacrifice for a route to a much stronger defence and midfield.

– Vardy brought me incredibly good returns earlier in the season and some consistent captain returns. However, when I looked at the 26 highest owned players in the top 10k, based on form and fixtures, Vardy came out 26th !! He has found the net in just one game in the last eleven, which came against a hapless Villa defence and included a penalty. Some tough fixtures left too.

The line up is flexible and can be either 343 or 442.

The template:

– There are many different definitions of “template “. I am a risk averse and template based player and I like to cover myself by owning the high ownership players as “a shield” and tend to follow the top 10k managers as my definition of template.. in the above wildcard team, I own all of the seven most owned players by the top 10k – Salah 91%, Trent 90%, De Bruyne 81%, Jimenez 65%, Ings 62%, Pope 48% and Fernandes 42%. Auba is next best on 40% but I have Calvert Lewin on 36%. So I feel “well protected” with all of the top 7 and 8 of the top 9.

– On the flip side, if I look at “overall ownership”, I also have some decent differentials to attack with – Calvert Lewin 16%, Fernandes 16%, Wan Bissaka 14%, Martial 12% and Doherty 8%.

So that’s the plan and the squad that I am building towards, which for me involves six changes to the squad I put out in GW29. My “free gradual wildcard” !!

gradual wildcard

Who knows when the game will return, but if and when it does, I will be ready to go..

Stay safe !!!!

Andrew outlines his FPL strategy along with myself and other FFGeek contributors in our new EBook.

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