As debate rages on in the presidential debate and on Wall Street, the debate within the Pure Juice clubhouse is over - my wildcard has been played. This was partly a move fuelled by desire to shake things up, but more because of the actions of my competitors. With four players already jumping on Ronaldo last week, I simply cannot afford to let my early lead slip away and have to play catch up. Therefore I have moved my team around to accommodate Ronaldo, and to be honest it probably hasn't suffered all that much, though I don't feel its infinitely better.
For those debating on whether to use their wildcard, I would suggest looking at the following points and applying them to your team:
Performance to date
In fantasy football it is highly advantageous to be out in front by mid season when people's teams start to converge and differentiating between your team and your competitors' can become tricky. For example, another 50,000 players have transferred Zaki in this week, pushing his overall ownership to 27% You can bet this will continue to rise if his form continues and could hit the mid to high thirties by Christmas time. This leaves teams with 4 or 5 overlapping players and makes it very hard to knock 20-30 points out of a leader if you trail at this point.
So if you are out in front I would consider using the wildcard as a defensive measure to ensure you stay there for at least a few more weeks. If two or three of the chasing pack have Ronaldo (c) then that lead could be eroded very quickly.
Frequency of competitor changes
If your challengers are those who bide their time with the changes then you can simply weigh up your own options and not worry about losing ground. If however your competitors are very active then chances are at least a few of them will have jumped on Ronaldo and you may have to follow suit or risk being left behind.
High value players held
If you currently hold Torres, Drogba, Lampard, Adebayour or Rooney then you may be able to get Ronaldo without using too many transfers. Indeed I could have shipped out Lampard for Ronaldo with only one other change. This would be a perfect time for Drogba owners to use this strategy, though loyal Torres owners may be loathed to part with their man, who appears to finally be hitting some form. I refused to part with Lampard who I think is the second best fantasy option to own (after Ronaldo) and may even prove better value (considering his 3m lower cost) and instead used the wildcard.
At this early stage, I think the only reason to use the wildcard (barring a disaster of a start) is to get Ronaldo, therefore we need to look just how valuable he is. A favourite tool of mine is the points per million spent formula, though with just one game this doesn't show a great deal (it is of course 1.000 as he scored 14 points having cost 14m). Continuing this form would still put him behind the likes of Wright Phillips (1.270) and Ireland (1.033), though miles ahead of other big name midfielders Lampard (0.466), Gerrard (0.385) and Fabregas (0.332). This of course assumes that Ronaldo scores 14 points a week which he obviously won't (though he did average a mind blowing 9.3 points per 90 mins last season), though when you consider that most owners will captain him every week, he suddenly only needs 7 points to give you a stellar 1.000 PPMS. This equates to just, say, an assist and two bonus points, two assists or even just a goal. The fact that Ronaldo is a bonus magnet (averaging 1.3 per game last season) makes this total very achievable.
The choice is yours . . .
In short, there really is no obvious answer. The stats show that Ronaldo is certainly valuable, though not to the extent that it is a no brainer. The swinger for me was United's fixture list over the next couple of months. Between now and Christmas they play just one game I rate as a 3 (@Arsenal) and EIGHT games I rate as a 1, not mention a potential double week due to the rearranged Fulham game (more on this another time). That and the fact that he takes the Pens which just seem to keep coming at Old Trafford, no matter what the circumstances. Check the sidebar for the new Pure Juice lineup and let me know what you think of the revamped team.