Sunday, 28 August 2016

Early Wildcard - Pros and Cons

With gameweek 3 now over, we embark on a period without any Premier League football as a result of the first international break of the season. For FPL fanatics, like myself, an international break also brings up the prospect of having to decide quickly to wildcard early or not.  In case you don’t know, the wildcard chip allows you to make unlimited transfers until the deadline of the next gameweek. The use of a wildcard may have positive implications on your rank and positions in mini-leagues but it also may have the reverse effect.

       Pros

Early Bandwagons: The use of an early wildcard allows FPL managers to get players who have a blistering start to the season. This doesn’t always guarantee higher overall gameweek points and a plush overall rank.  However if you jump onto the correct bandwagons you will laugh all the way to the fantasy bank with quick fire returns.

Increase in Team Value: The method is rather simple. It involves activating your wildcard as soon as the gameweek kicks off, transferring in the players that are bound to rise in price and ideally, transferring out the players in your team that are injured, out of form or those who will drop in price. Therefore, this allows you to build value during the international break, so long as you carry our the correct wildcard transfers at the right time.

Taking advantage of price changes: As it is still the beginning of the season, there are less inactive teams than the end of the season. This means that the overall number of transfers of particular players will be far higher than from January onwards. This means you will see rapid price fluctuations in the market early on for in-demand players. The use of an early wildcard allows FPL managers to bring players who are due an increase, thus ensuring they are not maxed out of budget.  Taking advantage of price changes is also linked to the last point as it enables managers to pragmatically increase team value.

Cons 

Injuries: Unexpected knocks and niggles can occur at any point in a season. By playing the wildcard so early you leave yourself exposed in the event of dealing with an injury crisis to your squad from now till December. Of course you can manage it by slowly waltzing along with your free transfer or by doing a mini-wildcard (two free transfers and a -4 hit).  Yet the fixture congestion during November to December could be gruelling without a wildcard. Your rank could suffer as you may be forced to make multiple transfers in back-to-back gameweeks leading to mass point hits. 

Form: FPL managers cannot predict when a player will dip in form. It's unlikely that all early bird performers maintain their standards consistently for a full season.  This must be considered when the initial thought of using the wildcard is made.  You may be forced into taking hits suddenly and regularly if your early wildcard transfers backfire.  To make matters worse, your opponents may have a better slice of luck and could outdo you if your wildcard players don't perform.

In my opinion, the use of an early wildcard comes down to personal preference. If an FPL manager thinks that their team is performing below par and the use of a wildcard would help achieve higher gameweek points, they will be naturally inclined to use it. But for me, even though the temptation to change the structure of the team is truly daunting, I would recommend using the wildcard when there is a true reason to, i.e. you can justify the transfers for a significant amount of your squad, at least 5 players. Don't use the wildcard so early for the sake of it.  If it ain't broke, don't fix it!
 
Written by: Mark Dinkha