Wildcard – Best time to activate the chip – FPL

The FPL Rules grant the Managers four (4) chips to use each season. Chips are special tickets that grant a certain advantage to the manager using it. Following are the 4 chips available in FPL –

1. Triple Captain – When activated, the Captain selected by the Manager will get the points tripled for the gameweek, instead of the regular double.

2. Free Hit – This chip lets the Manager select a fresh new team for a single gameweek, without disturbing the actual team that the manager had.

3. Bench Boost – This chip enables points calculation from all 15 players of your team for the gameweek, instead of the regular 11.

4. Wildcard – Only chip that is available twice a season. This Chip lets the Manager make unlimited transfers for that game week.

It is the Wildcard Chip that draws the most uncertainty and creativity. A good wildcard can set you apart and grant you a lead of 100+ points. Therefore, we will discuss the most optimal time of use for the Wildcard in the FPL 21/22 season.

Wildcards should be/and are used for mainly two purposes – (a) save and refresh a sinking FPL team full of out form and favour players; and (b) to jump from a set of players to a newer set for hitting the best fixture runs.

While for use (a) – a personal analysis is necessary; but for (b) a general analysis can be done. That general analysis for this first half of the season grants us three major options to wildcard –

i. Gameweek 4

ii. Gameweek 7/8

iii. Gameweek 12/13

All the three options have different pros and cons attached to it, and therefore selecting the one best for you depends on how your team is set up, and till what point can you perform better/or equivalent to your wildcard team.

Let us discuss the three wildcard options in detail –

i. Gameweek 4

Pros:

1. The end of transfer window falls between the Gameweek 3 and Gameweek 4. This gives the Managers opting for Wildcard in GW4 the dibs on the players that have moved during the window (Read – C. Ronaldo). A single transfer for a Club can change the dynamics of 3/4 players in the team, and therefore consequent action for FPL Managers is required.

2. First International Break – The first boring stretch of 13 days (international break) is here. The ample of time on our hands gives us the first big opportunity to analyse how teams will play out this season. Gameweek 4 is timely in that manner since we have got a trailer of what the season may look like. This also gives much needed rest to some players that might be carrying knocks and injuries.

Cons:

1. Small sample size – While for some eager Managers, data of 3 gameweeks gives them enough confidence to forge a new team from scratch and hit the ground running. But for some, the same becomes too small a sample to make any meaningful conclusions. (Arsenal losing to Champions of England and Champions of Europe in the first three fixtures)

2. No big fixture runs to target – The turn of Gameweek 4 provides no juicy fixture runs to target that could change the tangent your team was operating in. (Only Wolves, Arsenal and Leeds have considerable runs going ahead)

Conclusion:

Activating the Wildcard now will only makes sense for Managers who haven’t started brightly while having multiple fires to put out already, and for Managers who want to transfer in Cristiano Ronaldo (and take Bruno Fernandes out).

Ideally, a combination of those two reasons makes it a good opportunity to Wildcard during gameweek 4.

ii. Gameweek 7/8

Pros:

1. Fixtures to target – Picking 3 Chelsea players is one of the biggest reasons why Gameweek 7/8 wildcard is ideal for all Managers. Leeds also have a respectable fixture run, along with Southampton and Wolves.

The Wildcard also gives an opportunity to ditch all West Ham and Man United players, who get face the toughest runs while having to juggle with European games.

2. Moderate sample size – 7/8 gameweeks is a good sample size to analyse how the new managers and players have settled in. What formations are on offer with respective teams and which are the players making the most out of the chances being given to them.

3. Second International Break – The 2nd international break again gives us ample of time on our hands to analyse how teams will play out this season. This also gives much needed rest to some players that might be carrying knocks and injuries.

Cons:

1. Fixtures to target – The only con that too by a stretch, is that there are not many teams to target with the Wildcard coming in at gameweek 7/8. Man City, Liverpool and Spurs, all have mixed fixture runs.

Conclusion:

Gameweek 7/8 is one of the prime times to take a wildcard. The season has been on for long enough for the Managers to analyse their standing and team position. With decent fixtures to target and important players to drop, Gameweek 7/8 provides the best opportunity to refresh the team and build from thereon.

iii. Gameweek 12/13

Pros:

1. Fixtures to target – This period presents arguable the best fixture runs for multiple top teams, including Liverpool, Man City, Tottenham and Man Utd. Even Leicester has some decent fixtures to target around this time.

It will be very important to hold players from top teams during this time, as a juicy run without European football will present a decent opportunity to amass points.

Man Utd, Spurs and Man City have brilliant fixtures to target even beyond Gameweek 17, as shown above.

2. Huge sample data – With almost 1/3rd of the season over, all teams and managers will be settled by that point. The leading FPL players will become obvious by then, and it will only be a question of who to choose. No hidden gems beyond this point.

3. Advantage catalyst – If your team is surviving and competing till Gameweek 12/13 without a wildcard, while others needed a wildcard to stay up with you. That means a wildcard will then push you up as it is your turn to take the advantage. A late wildcard can act as a catalyst by sending you above your regular ranks.

Cons:

1. Unpredictable nature of FPL – Will you even be playing FPL actively by gameweek 12/13? Will you team even be around a 6 digit rank by gameweek 12/13? Will the scenarios that look golden today, remain the same till gameweek 12/13?

Sadly, nobody can answer those questions, and leveraging the long term performance of your team in hands of so much uncertainty for that long a period can prove itself to be a bad decision.

2. Self inflicted damage – By holding on the wildcard for that long, one may miss multiple opportunities to climb the ranks early on in the season. Moreover, the wildcard around gameweek 12/13 does not guarantee any points.

Conclusion:

On paper, Gameweek 12/13 provides the best opportunity to wildcard. The pros for that gameweek massively outweigh the pros of other gameweeks. However, the cons are not on paper for this option. They are all psychological and therefore may hamper with your enjoyment of the game.

With that, we can clearly see that at multiple points in the season, activating a wildcard can prove to be a good option. Most of the factors depend upon how your team looks before wildcarding and how many storms it can possibly battle without needing one.

TLDR – There is no perfect time to wildcard. Judge the pros and cons based on your team.