Is it ALREADY time to use the second Wildcard in FPL?

Growing list of unavailable players prompts 550,000+ Fantasy managers to activate the chip.

Due to the increasing number of highly-owned players who will be absent for Gameweek 21, a significant number of managers in the Fantasy Premier League have already activated their second Wildcard.

Over 550,000 managers have played the chip ahead of Friday’s 18:15 GMT deadline, which makes Gameweek 21 the second-most-popular round of matches this season for the Wildcard, after Gameweek 8, when 675,746 managers used the chip.

The major reason for the Wildcard being played in Gameweek 21 is the departures of Tottenham Hotspur’s Son Heung-min (£9.8m) and Liverpool’s Mohammed Salah (£13.2m) to their National team side for the AFC Asian Cup and AFCON competitions respectively. 

However, those issues have been compounded by injuries to popular pair Jarrod Bowen and Trent Alexander-Arnold, whom many more managers own.

Advantages of Wildcarding now

Certainly, if your squad is decimated by players who are unavailable and you are looking at taking multiple points hits, a Wildcard can be a sensible move right now.

Indeed, targeting a new-look midfield is a tactic that can immediately pay off.

Suppose Bowen misses West Ham United‘s match against Sheffield United, managers are essentially without four of the five top-scoring midfielders in Fantasy, with Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Hwang Hee-chan (£5.7m) another who is on international duty.

Phil Foden (£7.9m), Richarlison (£6.9m) and Cole Palmer (£5.7m) are all in fine form as replacements, while the fit-again Kevin De Bruyne (£10.2m) could be the ultimate differential.

Meanwhile, Brighton & Hove Albion’s Pervis Estupinan (£4.9m) and Brentford’s Ivan Toney (£7.9m) offer strong options in defence and up front in a squad refresh.

Advantages of holding the Wildcard

Although a Wildcard offers an immediate upside, managers should avoid playing the chip now if possible, in order to profit from Double Gameweeks later in the season.

Taking a four or eight-point hit in Gameweek 21 is likely to be a popular tactic as so many managers are in the same position, and even a -12 is acceptable if it avoids the need for a Wildcard and sets you up for the coming period.

Address the midfield area first and simply bench Alexander-Arnold, who may even return by Gameweek 22.

Using your bench players at this point also helps avoid any unnecessary transfers, and owners of Sheff Utd’s budget forward Cameron Archer (£4.5m) should start him at home to West Ham.

By holding onto their Wildcard, managers can adopt the popular approach of playing it later in the season, one or two Gameweeks before a bumper Double Gameweek.

Double Gameweeks are typically determined by domestic cup dates, and both Gameweek 34 and Gameweek 37 are expected to be Doubles as they take place at the same time as the latter stages of the FA Cup.

Patience, then, is key and by waiting until later in the campaign, managers can get a better idea of the teams to target and exactly when to do so.

Consider a Gameweek 25 Wildcard?

Should Salah and Son be involved in the latter stages of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) and Asian Cup respectively, a Gameweek 25 Wildcard can also prove productive.

Managers could not only bring both big-hitters back into their squad, they can also pinpoint other players who are currently involved in the international tournaments.

Bringing in Salah, Son and Hwang along with West Ham’s Mohammed Kudus (£6.9m) in a new-look midfield can be a very effective plan. Kudus has three double-figure hauls in 10 outings since securing a starting role.

Finally, once they have decided when to play their Wildcard, managers should look to “dead-end” their squad ahead of using the chip.

This tactic allows them to focus their transfers only on in-form, short-term picks, giving them an advantage over their rivals prior to refreshing their 15 players with the Wildcard.

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