In this article, we will explore the best Gameweek 24 wildcard strategy, involving a draft team, possible alternatives, plans for Double Gameweek 26 and navigating Blank Gameweek 29.
It has only been five gameweeks and a little over three actual weeks since the previous double gameweek, DGW19.
For me personally, it feels as though it has been much longer, perhaps due to the monotony of the lockdown that most of the world finds itself in, or possibly because of the seemingly never ending run of FPL deadlines in that time. Its been a busy few weeks.
Double gameweeks always carry a sort of mystical quality, it’s where FPL seasons can be made or destroyed. DGW19 was a prime example of this, with those who wildcarded beforehand benefiting the most.
We saw scores of 150 or higher and rank climbs that propelled some into the top 1000 from as far back as 50 or 60,000.
It was a difficult week for me, my score of 83 saw my rank more than double from 17,000 to 43,000 and it set me on a run that has seen me tread water since.
In the four gameweeks after the last set of doubles I haven’t had a return from my captain and my rank has stayed between 33,000 and the 45,000 I now reside at.
I came into DGW19 on a pretty good run, after entering the top 50k in GW14 I was making good progress towards a sub 10,000 rank. However, having wildcarded in GW5 and Free Hit in BGW18 I was ill equipped for the potential pointfest ahead.
I thought I could ‘wing it’ and didn’t pay enough respect to the possible point swing that always accompanies such a gameweek.
In hindsight I should have taken more hits, I ignored West Ham almost entirely and only had two Man City assets. Reflecting back I am drawn to my old history teacher’s mantra, “fail to prepare, prepare to fail”, I won’t be caught out again.
As a result, I’m now planning on attacking GW24, 25 and 26, a hattrick of double gameweeks I believe can point me in the right direction again.
With Man City, Burnley, Everton and Fulham doubling in gameweek 24 and more double gameweeks to come, now is the time to take charge and go on the offensive.
Why wildcard in GW24?
I will preface this section by saying that it is important to remember that we are not talking about a Free Hit here, it is crucial that a DGW24 wildcard should cover all the upcoming double and blank gameweeks adequately.
Additionally, the recommendations for a DGW24 wildcard squad are made using my own team value (£106m) so I fully appreciate that some of you will have more or less funds available. This is simply meant as a guide.
I will also be upfront and say that I am personally looking to avoid wildcarding this week if I can help it, however, given the current condition of my team (see image below) I may not be able to.
Like many of you I woke on Thursday with an uncomfortable amount of yellow covering my team, a result of possible injuries sustained during the previous night’s FA Cup action.
Ruben Dias (£6.1m), Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£7.7m) and Michail Antonio (£6.7m) are my casualties, but you can also add James Justin (£5.2m), Angelo Ogbonna (£5.0m) and Callum Wilson (£6.7m) to the list of players now in doubt of featuring in GW24.
Five of those mentioned have an overall ownership of 18% or more, for the likes of Dias, Justin, Antonio and DCL this number will much higher among the current top 10k managers.
Despite Ogbonna’s lowly ownership his absence will have an effect on the defensive solidity of West Ham, perhaps damaging the clean sheet prospects of the more highly owned Aaron Cresswell (£5.7m) and Vladimir Coufal (£4.7m).
To put it simply, these potential absences affect us all and it’s very likely most engaged managers will have at least two or more of the players in question.
As such, there is now doubt where there previously was not. My plan of bench boosting in DGW24 suddenly looks incredibly difficult should more than one of my three flagged players be ruled out completely.
While I believe the most optimal time to wildcard is in GW25 or GW30 onwards, there are benefits to going early.
With the FA Cup fifth round matches now complete we can more accurately speculate on the fixtures that will make up double gameweek 26 and blank gameweek 29.
Although unlikely to be fully confirmed until after the GW24 deadline it is now likely safe enough to take an educated guess.
Wildcarding in DGW24 therefore makes it possible to attack the doubles this week while also designing a team that can take advantage of the doubles in DGW25 and DGW26, potential doubles in GW27 and GW28, and the blank week in BGW29.
What does the upcoming schedule look like?
Let us take a moment to appreciate Ben Crellin. Without his planning, I am not sure what we would do in these circumstances.
You can see below the possible and confirmed fixtures from GW24-GW29 (image produced by Ben Crellin).
The most important feature of a wildcard this week is balance, one could very easily load up on assets with a double in DGW24 but not all of those with good fixtures this week suit a long term strategy.
Below is what I believe is an optimal DGW24 wildcard although there are a number of possible directions, which we will touch on.
I will go through my reasons for particular assets in a moment, but I will start out by saying that this draft allows enough money in the bank to transfer Danny Ings (£8.4m) to Harry Kane (£11.0m) in GW26 if so desired.
I believe it also makes it possible to bank a transfer in DGW25, allowing for the introduction of Kane and a second move for those looking to bench boost in DGW26.
You may notice the lack of Everton players. Without DCL available there is no one else I like enough to consider, their defence isn’t solid enough to justify the premium for Lucas Digne (£6.1m).
Nor is their attack free scoring enough to warrant a look at Richarlison (£7.7m) or Josh King (£5.5m). There are better options available, as we shall see.
Most importantly, the squad has five players who double in GW24, four who double in DGW25 and a minimum of eleven who will likely double in DGW26, with scope to easily increase that number if needed.
Crucially, this draft starts off with a minimum of four players who will have a game in BGW29. Should Aston Villa vs Tottenham be added to that week as expected this number begins at seven.
Adding a Kane or Jack Grealish (£7.8m) for DGW26 would then increase that total to eight, with three weeks worth of transfers then to make up the rest.
The one drawback to this draft, and indeed wildcarding now in general, is that it will be almost impossible to line up an optimal DGW26 bench boost without having a Free Hit available for BGW29.
Those with a Free Hit intact will be able to load up on as many doublers for DGW26 as possible without fear of being caught short in the blank week.
Those without a Free Hit must strike some sort of a balance to avoid being unprepared for BGW29.
Nick Pope (£5.5m) – Arguably the standout pick for DGW24. I have covered Pope’s defensive numbers in a previous article, and my fellow writer Nate has looked at Burnley more broadly in another article.
The very fact he is being considered for captaincy this week says it all.
Emi Martinez (£5.2m) – Emi has demonstrated incredible value all season and is currently the highest owned keeper in the game. Villa look set to have a favourable double in DGW26, could have another double in GW27 or GW28, and have a fixture in BGW29. As such, Martinez has to feature.
Matt Lowton (£4.5m) – Carries some attacking threat but more importantly allows a cheap route into a Burnley defensive double up for DGW24 and their fixture against West Brom in GW25. Their double in GW26 looks average but he is good bench fodder for those not using bench boost.
For those not keen on a Claret double up this spot could also host Kyle Walker-Peters (£4.7m) who doubles in GW25 and GW26, while also having potential for a third double gameweek at some point.
Luke Shaw (£4.9m) – Arguably the most in form defender in the league, Shaw’s 36 chances and seven big chances created puts him second of all defenders for the season. United face West Brom and Newcastle before doubling in GW26, making Shaw an ideal pick on wildcard.
Stuart Dallas (£4.8m) – Continuing to play out of position in midfield and the highest goal scorer of all defenders this season. Leeds have a confirmed double in GW25 and confirmed match in BGW29, but be aware that they only play once in GW26 (against Aston Villa).
Joao Cancelo (£6.0m) – The pick of the City defenders due to his attacking threat and the highest owned among FPL’s top 10k. Cancelo was rested in the FA Cup, suggesting he is likely to feature heavily in the weeks to come. City rank top for all defensive metrics this season, as such it is impossible to not have a piece of the pie.
Lewis Dunk (£4.8m) – Another player I have covered previously, but in summary Dunk’s well-known goal threat is now backed up by the improving Brighton defence.
Fixtures versus Crystal Palace and West Brom in DGW25 and DGW26 make him more than viable despite only playing once in each. Dunk is also one of the top picks for BGW29 with Brighton facing Newcastle.
Raphinha (£5.3m) – Doubles in DGW25 and plays in BGW29, the Leeds’ man’s nine shots in the box (SiTB), two big chances and 2.36 expected goal involvement (xGI) over the last six gameweeks puts him in the company of far more expensive assets.
Raheem Sterling (£11.6m) – The best captain this week in my opinion, Sterling is in electric form with 13 SiTB, five big chances and an xG of 4.02 in the last six matches. The Man City attacker is posting numbers that are impossible to ignore and he gets a spot ahead of Mohamed Salah (£12.7m) in my side.
Ilkay Gundogan (£6.0m) – No introduction required, probably the best value asset in FPL right now. Gundogan continues to top the charts for SiTB and xG for midfielders with little sign of slowing down.
Bruno Fernandes (£11.5m) – Another ‘must have’, United have strong fixtures around their double in GW26 and with Paul Pogba (£7.6m) injured, Bruno will likely continue to be one of the game’s highest points scorer.
Heung-Min Son (£9.6m) – The return of Kane has given Son owners renewed confidence. His record against Man City justifies his inclusion this week.
In GW26, Spurs arguable have the best double of all (Burnley & Fulham/Southampton). Further, Spurs will likely play Villa in BGW29, and could potentially double as many as three more times this season.
Danny Ings (£8.4m) – The biggest ‘punt’ in my selection, Ings scored in Southampton’s FA Cup tie with Wolves (the side they face in DGW24).
Southampton double in both GW25 and GW26, making Ings hugely appealing and his low ownership is a potentially big weapon for such an explosive player. I have left enough funds to upgrade to Kane but I would consider holding Ings if he looks threatening.
Patrick Bamford (£6.7m) – He has rediscovered his scoring touch after three consecutive blanks and is still top of all forwards for SiTB for the season. In my opinion, he is the best captain for DGW25 and is another easy pick due to his fixture in BGW29.
Ollie Watkins (£6.4m) – Like Bamford, Watkins is the most attacking player in a very attacking side. He has rediscovered his scoring touch of late and is among the best for SiTB and xG for both the last six gameweeks and the season overall.
I have chosen to go with double City attack rather than the popular double defence. I like to use my wildcard to attack and I believe you can more easily cover the six to eight points Dias, Stones and Cancelo are likely to get than the much higher ceiling of Sterling.
The ownership of Gundogan and Sterling in the top 10k is just 10%, whereas the ownership of at least two City defenders is 19%. The upside to double attack is simply too great to ignore at a time where it is still a big differential.
For those still happy to go with two City defenders the Sterling spot could be occupied by Mo Salah (£12.7m) or downgraded to Marcus Rashford (£9.6m) or Jack Grealish (£7.8m), should you wish to go for Kane over Ings right away.
For those not wanting to triple up on Leeds’ I would advocate going for a Southampton defender over Dallas due to their high number of remaining doubles.
Further forward, Tomas Soucek (£5.4m) continues to defy his price tag and despite not doubling does have a fixture in BGW29 that ensures his long term value remains high. He would be my alternative to Raphinha if I decided to move away from the Brazilian.
I am willing to bench boost for anything up to a minus eight hit this week, if anything more is required then I will follow the above wildcard strategy.
Ultimately, I would rather bench boost and then wildcard so I can attack GW24 to the max and then the weeks that come.
Unfortunately, I may not be blessed with the choice but I would be confident in wildcarding if I have to.
Below is a sample of my bench boost side, it is fairly similar to a number of others I have seen but I have tried to differentiate where I can.
I am hopeful of a big score and a change in my fortunes. There is an outside chance I may triple captain Gundogan instead, but if I am unable to bench boost it is likely due to the amount of players unavailable and therefore I will probably be pushed to wildcard.
For those looking to wildcard in gameweek 25, Ross (FPL Raptor) will be releasing an article late next week. For those looking to wildcard in gameweek 30, FPL Hindsight will be releasing an article early next week. Keep an eye out for both!
The very best of luck to you all for the coming gameweek with whichever strategy you choose, I will publish my final decision before the deadline on my twitter @THE_FPL_T.
*Underlying statistics and tables were obtained via the authors paid subscription to Fantasy Football Scout*