FPL, FanTeam

6 months ago

FPL & FanTeam Wildcard Christmas Watch

The time has finally come, I have pulled the wildcard trigger. I felt now was the appropriate time with a few fixture swings and the hectic Christmas schedule as it allows me to get ahead of the curve and have a strong bench. In this article, I discuss all my musings as I shape my team which will help any wildcarder, but also those looking to make a transfer or two.

 

Formation

It is an unusual season this year. The strikers are not knocking the lights out, while most of the best players across each position are in the £6-8mn bracket. I have made a couple of wildcard drafts, and at the start, I kept having too much value on the bench. Of course, a strong bench is important. But on the flip side, you don’t want 2 or 3 good players on your bench each week. So to overcome this I have asked myself, what formation do I want to play? And then work my team backwards around this with my 3rd sub being a cheap midfielder of striker. To save benching a King or Gallagher each week.

So where have I landed? Well to answer this, I arrived at yet another question! Would I rather a Watkins or equivalent upfront (Bamford, Jimenez, etc.) or a Jota, Bernardo Silva, Mount, etc. in the middle? I arrived at the latter. Because they are scoring more in both terms of goals and fantasy points. Rotation is a bit more prevalent for these guys, but I like the idea of jumping between them and attacking their fixtures. So I will be playing with a 4-4-2 or a 3-5-2 going forward.

 

Premium Assets

The next big question that will dictate your team is whether or not you will have two premium assets? Salah has blanked only once all season! So while Ronaldo will of course do well over this fantastic fixture run, will he do well enough to justify his price tag? If any player is £11m plus they have to be a captaincy option, otherwise you are best spreading your funds elsewhere. This is where points per million comes into play.

Looking at Salah’s fixtures, I will permanently captain him until the New Year. If the African Cup of Nations goes ahead, I will then switch him temporarily to another captaincy option, getting him straight away when he returns. So in summary, I will be going with permanent captain Salah in my wildcard and spreading the funds over the rest of my team.

 

Goalkeepers

Firstly, I will be getting Foster. He is incredible value. Problem is, he is injured until the New Year. It is a gamble whether he goes straight back into the starting 11, but after asking around, it seems more think he won’t.

So for the main goalkeepers I am stuck between De Gea and Ramsdale. Arsenal have improved defensively this year and have a decent fixture run. While Manchester Utd have a new manager and a fantastic fixture run. I think Ramsdale is the sensible choice, he has already proven himself. But I am not against a punt on De Gea given their fixtures. This one will go down right to the wire for me, but if I am to think this out sensibly then Ramsdale is my choice. Manchester Utd are comical at times at the back and I find it hard to trust them. But I must reiterate this is a very close decision for me. Outside of these, I like Guiata the most.

Defenders

I think this is the easiest decision to make. It is mandatory to have Alexander Arnold, Cancelo and one Chelsea premium. Then one more from this trio of clubs. Regulion is getting a lot of hype, but I feel Alonso for that little bit more is worth it. He provides equal, or even more, attacking potential and Chelsea are much more solid at the back. But of course, he is a good pick too. For me, I don’t need to think twice. I will have Alexander Arnold, Cancelo, James and Alonso plus one budget defender. James and Alonso are rotation risks, but there is where the strong wildcard bench comes in handy. So I rather aim for their high returns and gladly accept the odd benching.

I won’t play five at the back though, a few clean sheet wipeouts and you will be in tears. I also find it boring to be honest. Although it is easy to spend a little extra dough here, I would advise you to restrain yourself and get someone who is cheap as chips. That cash will come in handy one day. Brandon Williams looks like he will consistently play now, he won’t offer anything else but he would be my third sub. And how often do you need them? After a series of price rises, Duffy has now become a cheap option. Brighton offer clean sheet potential and he is a serious threat from set-pieces. Johnson was a shoe-in initially, but having picked up a hamstring injury, I think he will now revert to the bench.

If you want to spend that little extra more cash, I think Davies provides good value at Spurs. As does Ben White, although I would avoid him if you pick Ramsdale. Dalot has impressed in his two starts for Manchester Utd, he could be a nice cheeky punt, but could also become a dud if Wan-Bissaka gets his spot back.

 

Midfielders

Salah, obviously.

I will start with the more affordable picks. I was raging he killed it this weekend as I was hoping he would be a bit under the radar, but one of my favourite picks is Bowen. He is 4th among all midfielders for xGI with 8.3, which only the Liverpool trio of Salah, Mane and Jota can better. Given their poor fixtures, Raphinha is a sell for me. So at this range the only others players I would consider are Gallagher and Smith-Rowe. However, Gallagher has started dropping more deep of late while Smith-Rowe’s returns have had a tad of fortune, his 5 goals have come from an xG of 2.63 so I believe this is a bit inflated. I think they both represent great value, but I personally would try make them Bowen who has incredible fixtures or find an extra million so you could get a real gem.

Speaking of over-performance, Bernardo Silva has 7 goals from an xG of 4.52 this season. You can call me a hypocrite but I am considering him. Manchester City have excellent fixtures and I could see them hammering Leeds, Newcastle and Leicester in the next 4 gameweeks. So I want in on this action. However, I do really like Foden too who is playing as a false 9. His recent injury has given him a rest ahead of the Christmas break. Per match started the two attackers are even in goal threat, but Foden provides much more assist threat than Silva. If I had to pick one, I think I would actually go with Foden, but I will try get both. Rotation is inevitable over Christmas at City so make sure you have that strong bench, but Kevin de Bruyne’s return will help. But I do fear that may push Silva a bit deeper which is why I prefer Foden, but I also think it will pull Gundogan much deeper hence why I am not considering him.

I also think Jota is a shoe-in. With there still no word of Firmino returning, he will continue to play up front. Then with AFCON in January and Salah and Mane gone, he will be starting weekly. So there may just be 1 or 2 gameweeks in the foreseeable where he has competition. It is also helpful at this price point that there is a lot to choose from in case he is dropped. For instance, Mason Mount, who has 2 goals and 2 assists in his last 2. I really like him as a shout too, but you can’t have them all. I prefer the City and Liverpool assets as a team, they are more attack-minded. I am also unsure what Tuchel’s favourite lineup is, with Lukaku and Werner having returned.

Outside of this, I do like Mane but I feel the money is better spent elsewhere as I won’t be captaining him over Salah. Trossard I liked as a budget pick, but it seems Maupay is back in the lineup which hinders his appeal. Last but definitely not least is Son, who seems to be mopping up whereas Kane is struggling. He has a great fixture run too. I think he is a great pick but I am not sure if I have the funds to afford him. However, there are rumours of a Covid outbreak at Spurs. So watch the Europa Conference League lineup and the pressers.

 

Forwards

After a blistering start, Antonio’s returns have evaporated. I think this is a more a case of the opposition as to Antonio’s deficiencies, as he still played well and supported the team greatly. West Ham are sitting 4th, comfortably and deservedly. With a great fixture run, I can see why people might go without him, but I don’t recommend it.

Watford also have a great run of fixtures and can’t stop scoring under Ranieri. 13 goals in 8 games is only beaten by Champions League contenders, and they played Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester Utd, Man City, Everton and Leicester over this run. So I think King and Dennis are fantastic options. I wouldn’t be against both either. Particularly if you want a strong bench over Christmas.

But if I was to pick one, it would be the man with less returns, King. With Sarr injured long-term he is on penalties. And since Ranieri joined, in 8 games, he has 10 big chances to Dennis’ 2. And created 4 big chances to Dennis’ 2. Giving him a xA per match of 0.25 v 0.17 and xG of 0.44 v 0.24. Although they match for penalty box touches and shots.

At the high-end, I don’t like Kane. A great player, but Son is the better pick here for now. Ronaldo will do extremely well in the next month, it all comes down to how you want to balance your team. Leicester have been very poor this year but Vardy has been going steady with 9 goals. However, it seems like Rodgers will rest him occasionally over Christmas. If I had to pick between him and Son (if Covid free), I’d probably go Son. Particularly as Leicester soon face City and Liverpool.

Out of the rest I like Watkins a lot, but I am not fully sold. Hence why I am going with the 5 midfielders. After Liverpool this week they have a lovely fixture run. My uncertainty comes from how Ings will impact him once back from injury but also how likely his returns are. Since Gerrard became manager, he has scored twice, however, he has had only 5 shots. Admittedly, 2 were big chances. But his xG of 1.15 over the last 4 gameweeks is 1.15, 15th best among strikers alone. My final shout-out goes to Broja. Mainly for those playing with 2 strikers. He won’t start every game but he will start some, get some bench minutes and the odd goal. Making him an ideal 3rd sub for that tiny bit more cash, compared to Davis et al.

 

Manchester Utd

To wrap up I’d like to discuss what to do with Manchester Utd assets. As I stated previously, they have fantastic fixtures. Yet I haven’t given them much attention. Ronaldo as I said is a fantastic choice, but if you plan to permanently captain Salah I can’t see him justify his price. De Gea and Dalot are interesting gambles and I am intrigued, but leaky they just make so many mistakes. Then Sancho and Rashford could become real gems, but we haven’t seen evidence of this yet. I rather Son or Foden and then moving off them if needs be. I think you can avoid them until the dust settles, but have a strategy to get one in if needs be.

And with that, here are my latest drafts. Of course, a lot can change between now and Friday. Keep an eye on the pressers as always and importantly the European competition lineups. Best of luck with your wildcard (or transfers)!

FPL_Pup
Author

FPL_Pup

Sports fan and FPL addict from Ireland (still has not forgiven Thierry Henry). Loves numbers in both studies & profession and has incorporated this into FPL in recent seasons. Has played FPL for 8 seasons, finishing in the top 40k 5 times, with the best finish of 8k. Find on Twitter @FplPup if you have any questions

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