Sunday, September 28, 2008


The term wild card was originally used in card games, but the term has evolved to describe what the Merrian-Webster Dictionary calls "an unknown or unpredictable factor" in any number of domains.
In sports, it represents the teams who sneak into the playoffs, not as division winners but as unknown entities who often cause shocks and suprises.
In research, its a low probability but high impact event that often costitute the turning point in the evolution of a particular system.
In fantasy football the wildcard can make or break a season and the incorrect use of it has ruined many a season for many a team.

After another average week for Pure Juice, coupled with the emphatic return of Cristiano Ronaldo I have been tempted to play my wildcard. Everyone knew they faced this dilemna when it was announced that Ronaldo would miss the start of the season. But with other big guns flattering to deceive (Drogba, Rooney, Torres until this weekend, Gerrard) and Ronaldo looking to be in great shape, he suddenly looks not only affordable but necessary.

With my focus this season on having a good squad, it is obviously going to be tricky to fit a 14m man in the team. The obvious candidate to lose if Lampard (11.1m) and then save the 2.9m elsewhere, but with no other top price players this would involved two or three other deals (and hence ue the wildcard).

Option 1 - continued diversification
Lampard > Ronaldo
Agbonhlahor > Cole
Arteta > Nasri/Babel/Downing

On paper this looks very appealing. Cole has actually scored as many points (30) a Agbonlahor despite costing 2.7m less. I am looking to offload Arteta anyway based on Everton's tough upcoming games and Nasri (when fit), Babel (when played) and Downing are all decent replacements. My main concern would be to lose Lampard who leads all midfielders with 38 points so far this season. Perhaps more importantly he leads all players in bonus points - the key to turning a poor game into a good one or a good game into a great one. A further bonus here is that I wouldn't necessarily need to use my wildcard, using one or two weeks to make the deals.

Option 2- two headed monster
Young > Ronaldo
Van Persie > Cole
Arteta > Valencia

This allows me to keep Lampard, intead losing the almost equally impressive Ashley Young. Young has two goals, three asists and four bonus points so far leading to 34 points this term. Van Persie is actually 7 points behind Cole so far but this does seem to reek of point chasing. Valencia is a more than adequate replacement for Arteta, and someone I considered in option 1 despite his much lower price (6.1m). Van Persie is in the category of those players who are probably better in real life than in the stat-driven fantasy world, and having watched him hog the flanks against Hull I am fairly happy to lose him (though his next games against Sunderland, Everton, Spurs and Stoke certainly make the decision harder).

Option 3 - weaken the squad
Arteta > Ronaldo
Van Persie > Cole
Clichy > Figueroa

This looks great in that I lose Arteta who I want to get rid of anyway and get the potential fantasy MVP Ronaldo. Cole has so far out performed Van Persie and could still be a steal at 5.5m. My concern however is that by losing Clichy for Figueroa, I will be forced to pay one of either Figueroa, Melchiot or Traore every week. Traore seems to have established himself in the Portsmouth side and even notched an assist this week for a 9 point haul. If this form continues (as opposed to shipping 6 against City) he would be a decent every week play and makes this option look very attractive. Wigan are a decent bet, though having only conceded 5 goals in 6 games, it's a little disappointing to see just 2 clean sheets. If Wigan can turn those good performances into great ones then the fantasy points will follow and option 3 will become a sure fire winner.

This decision is certainly not one to be made on a Sunday afternoon and I will now doubt dwell on this one for the rest of the week. Updates on my thoughts and final decision will be forthcoming later in the week.


Silent Jay said...

I have the same issues with my defenders - I have to start three out of A.Traore, G.Johnson, Paintsil, Figueroa, and Davenport (who obviously needs to be replaced now, since he seems to have lost his place.)

Pompey have been excellent defensively, except against Chelsea and ManCity. At least one of them should be a viable option most weeks.

The question is - do you "neglect" your defense, getting nothing but cheap players, and invest the money in offense? Or do you spend 6.0 - 6.5 on a top defender or two, losing 3.0 - 4.0 elsewhere?

Most teams in my league have stacked their defenses, and can only afford a couple of top midfielders/forwards. I've done the opposite. I figure you're gonna get max. 6 points out of a defender. You'll get double figures out of one or two of the top offensive weapons virtually every week. Use your "C" wisely, and those 6 defender-points look pathetic.

There'll be weeks where defense is stronger, of course. But in the long run the offensive stars should win the day.

This strategy won me the title last season, and I'm 2nd so far this season... getting nothing out of Fabregas, and only once picking the right captain. The law of averages dictates that I'm in for a couple of huge weeks soon... and the league lead.

Also, with cheap defenders from 4 or 5 different teams you should be able to field 3 of them without having nightmares about their matchups.

PS: Sorry for the long post. I don't have a blog of my own, so I bother other people. :-)

Chris Glover said...

good to hear from you jay. feel free to rant on here, thats the reason I started a blog. At the moment I'm leaning towards an insane midefield (Ronaldo, Lampard and Young, then a mix of extremely cheap and mid priced forwards and defenders. I think Traore is a legit every week guy now which does free up a bit of extra cash.
My issues with the forwards is that there aren't many great options at arounf 7m (I already have Zaki).

Silent Jay said...

Afonso Alves at 7.5 should be great value in the long run. I'd love to get him, but I simply can't get him in my team right now (got Robinho, Defoe and Zaki.) I hope I won't regret it. Alves has an absolutely ridiculous goal scoring record, and got better and better after arriving in January last season. He'll hit his stride one of these days. Carlton Cole is looking good, too. But WH have so many strikers (when healthy), I'm not sure if I wanna take that risk.

And you have a little something to learn about an "insane midfield", my friend - with a team value of 107 (and virtually no defense) I had Ronaldo, Lampard, Gerrard, Fabregas and Arteta at one point last season! ;-)

Silent Jay said...

At 6.4 it's definitely worth keeping an eye on Craig Bellamy as well. Needs to get back to 100% first, of course. (He was valued at 10.0 before his injury woes.)