Guest post: Wildcarding – the runaway train?

Ruth_NZ has been pondering whether he has the right wildcard strategy and is considering a different approach. I should add that he sent this to me before Robbie Brady scored this weekend. Over to Ruth:

The closer we get to wildcard time the more awkward I find it. I have felt a bit cornered for a while as my team, like everyone else’s, prepares to pass through the hoops and hurdles of blank gameweeks (BGWs) and double gameweeks (DGWs). It’s as if the path narrows at those bottlenecks and you end up having almost obligatory decisions to make about players to bring in and to remove. One manager may choose Dimitri Payet, another Michail Antonio (maybe they have less budget to play with) but neither are really considering Willian or Yannick Bolasie because they aren’t part of the evident optimal route.

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Maybe it’s just me that feels this way. But I have been wrestling with it and have come to the conclusion that I have probably been starting from the wrong place – meaning fixtures. Especially the doubles and blanks.

What I think I actually need to do is to take a view on which teams (and players) I think will finish the season well. Then I need to bias my management of my team through the doubles and blanks to favour having, keeping or bringing in those players. As opposed to maximising the number of games my team has as a first principle. Player A may have three games in a certain period whilst Player B has four. But if Player A is in better form and playing for a team with positive momentum and he has equally good or perhaps even better fixtures (though one less) which is the best?

Here’s an example… Norwich City have brilliant fixtures from gameweeks 32-34 (NEW, cpl, SUN), then a blank, then Arsenal away and then a good gameweeks in 37 and 38 including a double (MUN, WAT, eve). Robbie Brady is a player I have had in mind for ages and Martin Olsson also interests me. Norwich are still fighting to survive, heads have not gone down and they have everything to play for. Yet I have been entirely dismissing Norwich from my thinking because they have no Gameweek 34 DGW and that nasty Gameweek 35 blank.

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At the same time, I have been considering West Bromwich Albion players (Jonny Evans, Jonas Olsson, James Morrison) because they have a DGW in Gameweek 34 and no blank in Gameweek 35. But really? The DGW is Watford at home and Arsenal away. That’s just a decent Single Gameweek really. The Gameweek 35 game is Tottenham Hotspur away. That’s not much better than a blank in all honesty. Maybe the West Brom defenders get one point in each of those tough away fixtures and maybe they manage a clean sheet against Watford. But if I look from Gameweek 32 to Gameweek 38 are they better prospects than Norwich players? I don’t think they necessarily are.

There is also the additional factor of the missing Crystal Palace versus Everton game. When that is actually scheduled it will make a significant difference to the landscape.

If we wildcard into Gameweek 33 (very likely for me) then we have three weeks until we need to make final decisions. So that’s it for wildcard planning for a bit for me. I will use those three weeks to assess players and teams rather than fixtures and mechanics. And then I’ll put a squad together that I like the feel of, not one that is ruled by mathematical calculations. And if that means fielding nine or 10 players in BGW35 or less than the maximum attainable DGW players in Gameweek 34 and/or Gameweek 37 then so be it.

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Incidentally, this is not a long way around to justify keeping Spurs and Leicester City players. I let Riyad Mahrez go many weeks ago. I am eager to replace Jamie Vardy with Troy Deeney or Anthony Martial. I’m happy to keep Christian Fuchs but I’ll also be fine losing him. Harry Kane I am ambivalent about even though he’s been in my team a long time. It’s the principle more than the detail I am looking at here.

The most difficult thing to get over (for me) is that I have saved my Bench Boost chip all season in order to maximise it in a DGW. To justify that decision I need to do just that. But the alternative is for me to accept that I didn’t need to save it at all and that I could/should have used it at any time when I had a great bench. If I make decisions now in order to justify mistakes I have already made then I’ll just be making more mistakes, right?


11 thoughts on “Guest post: Wildcarding – the runaway train?

    • Ruth_NZ says:

      I love your ticker Doos. 🙂

      But as usual I am looking for the teams I feel may change their momentum. I saw that to be likely with Swansea after Monk left and brought Fabianski and Sigurdsson in for GW21 and subsequently added Williams. Those three have done great for me.

      Norwich, Sunderland, Newcastle… one of those (maybe more than one) will go on a good run. They have everything to play for unlike teams like WBA and Bournemouth. Trying to read the signs about those teams is therefore very interesting to me. Norwich have good fixtures (they see it that way anyway, which is what matters) and Brady is absolutely key to them, lots of set pieces, penalties when Hoolahan isn’t on the pitch, gets forward quite often from midfield, a great crosser and has potential for both assists and goals.

      I don’t know that I really trust any of the three teams defensively (probably Norwich most of the three) but players like Brady, Townsend, Defoe and Khazri could easily sneak into my squad.


      • My thoughts are similar, consider players for clubs who have something to play for, i.e. survival. The only concern here is, there’s currently shortage of players from that group of clubs in the relegation battle who are showing form. Unlike Sigurdsson who was displaying good numbers prior to his fine form (and proven PL player), I don’t see many players currently doing the same.

        Can we pick player(s) out from Newcastle, Sunderland, Norwich, Crystal Palace that are showing signs of good form? Robbie Brady is a player I looked at in the first half of the season, his stats were impressive, far better than his current stats, only he didn’t convert those numbers to goals and assists. This is my concern with Brady, is he FPL material?

        Newcastle have a DGW, yet I wouldn’t touch Mitrovic with a barge pole, purely because he can’t convert those chances to goals. Wij has gone off the boil for several weeks. No standout players. Defoe is interesting, his shot conversion is fantastic, only Sunderland’s fixtures are not easy. Norwich have the fixtures and the only two players that would interest me is Hoolahan and Redmond, only the former isn’t a guaranteed starter and the latter unfortunately is injured just before he was showing signs of good form.


  1. Benji says:

    Interesting points but I can’t look away from a fairly template front line. Although I’m debating dropping alli even though I got a lot of profit invested in him and won’t be able to get him back.
    It’s my defenders that I’m finding it hard to choose over the next few weeks.
    Managed to go up 200k in the last 3 games weeks by careful use of the ticket with transfers and captains. Hoping smart use of the chips and wc will see me climb further in my mini leagues and over all.


  2. abby says:

    I think you are missing one important factor here Ruth. Even if their was no DGW’s the best time to WC would still be after a WC for a set of favourable fixtures. You would still be maximising the use of that chip. With a DGW it is absolutely the best time to use the BB chip, even if you are going going for 13 DGW players or even 12. Its still 27 games with cherry picked players for that GW and beyond.

    Maybe you are trying to be a bit clever or over-thinking? Just relax. Let the information sink in, swim around in your head. Embrace it and make a level headed decision.


    • Ruth_NZ says:

      If you say so. I’m not sure you understood what I was trying to say but never mind.

      One thing though. BB, TC and wildcard are discrete events. There is nothing to say that they should be linked. Using the wildcard to prepare BB is in fact a very dubious concept given that the wildcard is more valuable.

      This is what I mean by runaway train. People are allowing themselves to become focused on mechanics and calculations rather than assessments and choices. I have read “you must have 3 Liverpool” (or words to that effect) on countless occasions. People say so because the mechanics say so. But I don’t want 3 Liverpool. In fact I don’t want any players in my squad just because the mathematical calculations of maximising the number of DGW players says I should have them. :I


  3. I saved my bench boost and triple captain for the chance of a decent double gameweek, not the certainty. I don’t think its really worked out as great double gameweeks wise, particularly with it being a strange season, and thus i think 15 dgw players is possible folly.

    For some teams i think the winds have already shifted slightly, catching those (and getting off others) is one of the few areas where an experienced fantasy manager stands a chance over others.


  4. ninnaam says:

    The WC and the DGW have always been linked so why not the bench boost as well this season? The principal is you’re giving yourself 2 shots with 1 player, yes you could have used it when you had a strong bench earlier in the season but that’s more hindsight based. With the double it’s maximising the potential of the chip. One thing I’ve asked myself is what are the alternatives to the double gameweek players. Leceister are at home to West Ham and Spurs away at Stoke in 34 which don’t scream points to me and have no issues losing Kane Alli that week to bring them back in for the run in. This is after all what the game is about, jumping on the right players and the right time and then jumping off


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