For players of FPL, the Christmas season signals the arrival of a second wildcard. Should you save it for later? Maybe not, actually…
Saturday, December 29, marks the first day of the second half of the Premier League season.
Liverpool top the league and will be hoping to dominate the second period of the campaign as they did the first. Doomed-looking sides like Fulham and Huddersfield will be desperately hoping to start afresh.
But the date is significant for another reason.
At 2pm, Fantasy Premier League managers receive the option to play their second wildcard. That means the possibility of a total squad overhaul, ditching your team’s underperforming Man City defenders and calling on hot properties like Paul Pogba and Son Heung-min.
Many fantasy veterans preach patience. They’ll tell you that it’s better to save your FPL wildcard for an emergency, or for a gameweek in which teams play twice.
That might be true, but you know you’re going to use yours in January, so you might as well get thinking about who to pick.
Alisson (LIV, £5.9)
Liverpool’s Alisson Becker has made a couple of cock-ups this year — against both Leicester and Man United. But he’s still the league’s form keeper, and the only real high-budget option for FPL bosses.
Ben Foster (WAT, £4.5)
West Ham’s Lukasz Fabianski is the game’s in-form budget keeper, but their easy run of fixtures is nearing its end. Watford’s Ben Foster has been a revelation this season and faces Bournemouth, Crystal Palace and Burnley in January.
Trent Alexander-Arnold (LIV, £5.1)
FPL bosses keep selling TAA every time he gets a minor knock, but the Liverpool youngster has regularly grabbed massive hauls through assists and bonus points.
Lucas Digne (EVE, £5.1)
Everton might have shipped six goals against Spurs, but three goals in December for Lucas Digne should put him high up your wish list.
— Venus Neary (@Venus_EFC) December 26, 2018
Son Heung-min (TOT, £8.7)
Spurs have been in terrifying form since their derby defeat to Arsenal, and Son has been their most lethal weapon. He’s a no-brainer at less than £9.0.
Paul Pogba (MUN, £8.0)
Expensive central midfielders can seem like a poisoned chalice, but the resurgent Paul Pogba is looking unstoppable at present.
Marcus Rashford (MUN, £7.2)
Man United’s golden boy has started consecutive games under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, playing with all the freedom in the world. Rashford’s nutmeg against Huddersfield was the sign of a player thriving in a more positive atmosphere.
Danny Ings (SOU, £5.6)
Southampton have looked better under Ralph Hasenhüttl, and the in-form Danny Ings — cheaper than Wolves’ Raúl Jiménez — could be one of the better budget striking options in the FPL marketplace
Ederson (MCI, £5.7)
Man City are shipping goals right now. The expensive Ederson — still owned by about a quarter of FPL players — is the least valuable active keeper on the game right now, with a cost-to-form score of 0.3.
Bernd Leno (ARS, £4.8)
You probably weren’t considering him, but just in case this top-four keeper seemed like a bargain, he isn’t: Leno has one clean sheet in 12 starts.
Marcos Alonso (CHE, £6.9)
Alonso was the top-scoring player on the game for a few weeks, but with diminishing returns in both attack and defence, the most owned player on the market now seems a waste of budget.
Aymeric Laporte (MCI, £6.0)
City’s most popular defender is still owned by 14% of managers. His time is surely up.
Ryan Fraser (BOU, £6.2)
Bournemouth wide man Ryan Fraser has been a hit this season. But with three blanks in four weeks, now could be the time to cash in on the Scotsman.
Sadio Mané (LIV, £9.6)
Mané started the season more brightly than Mo Salah. At this price, however, one goal in nine appearances isn’t good enough.
We still love him, though.
Aleksandr Mitrovic (FUL, £6.7)
Fulham’s non-scoring madman is still the seventh most popular forward on the market. He has the highest ‘threat’ of any striker on the game, but after failing to find the net against West Ham, Newcastle and Wolves, a purple patch for the Serbian seems less and less likely.
Callum Wilson (BOU, £6.8)
Callum Wilson has had a fine season. However, with Bournemouth facing a tricky run of winter fixtures, now could be the time to lose the FPL’s sixth most owned player.
Common sense suggests saving your second FPL wildcard until you really need it — either when you have a few injuries, or when a double gameweek comes up.
But the temptation to play it sooner rather than later is a strong one.
And it might not be such a bad idea. Saving the wildcard until later can be useful, but doing so negates one of its most useful benefits: increasing your transfer budget.
By playing your wildcard right at the beginning of a long fixture break (when there are FA Cup games or internationals, for example), you can actually increase your budget by trading players whose prices are rising or falling.
It’s simple, really: just play your wildcard quickly and buy the most in-demand players — regardless of whether you think they’ll continue getting points.
By the end of the fixture break, these signings will likely have a higher price. If they’ve risen by £0.2 or more, you can sell them straight away, within the same window, for immediate profits. Because the wildcard allows for unlimited free transfers over the week, you’ll bank the extra budget without losing any points.
This approach to wildcarding isn’t for everyone. But it’s a sensible one if you feel like signing any players who haven’t been in form, and therefore aren’t in high demand from other FPL bosses.
For example, you could play your wildcard and immediately sign a striker who has just scored a hat-trick. As the next deadline approaches, that striker’s price will likely have increased by £0.2. You could then transfer him out — without taking a four-point hit — and sign another striker whose value hasn’t increased. Voila, you’ve pocketed an extra £0.1.
The next long fixture break comes between GW21 and GW22, so playing the wildcard and buying in-form players just after 11:30 on January 1 would be the best option for those desperate to shake up their teams.
Of course, playing your wildcard in GW38 would be very zen of you, but then you wouldn’t be able to spend that extra budget, would you?