Saturday, September 5, 2009

Play your (wild)card right

Four weeks in and I'm already ahead of last year's team. I played my wildcard in week 3 last year after picking too many risk-reward players that didn't pan out. The season turned out okay and I ended up 7,000th overall, after briefly flirting with the top 100 in mid season. The lesson being of course that playing your wildcard early in the season isn't necessarily a bad thing. Let's look at a couple of strategies you might want to consider for your wildcard:

Play it early on
It is essential in fantasy football to be near the top of your league early on as it becomes increasingly hard to make up ground on the opposition as the season unfolds. Teams tend to converge and often employ 5-8 players that seem to be present on most teams (see Ronaldo, Lampard, Gerrard, Vidic, Bosingwa and Schwarzer in 2008-09). It therefore makes sense to get your team right early on before it is too late.
A further advantage to playing your wildcard early on is that you can buy the hot players now before their price rises too much. Assuming your team is currently still worth 100m, you will be able to buy more for your money now than in 3 months time.
The disadvantage of course is that if you pickup injuries or your players lose form later in the season it will take you several weeks (or alot of points) to rectify the situation.

Play it when the injuries start to mount up
So far, not too many fantasy quality players have been injured, with Modric and Fabregas the only big names to pick up injuries so far (though the likes of Ferdinand, Zhirkov, Santa Cruz and Arteta have yet to feature for their respective teams). It is inevitable that some injuries will come and it is useful to have your wild card stashed away to rescue you in this situation.
The Champions League starts on 15 September, with the group stages running until 09 December. This is prime territory for injuries and rotations so the wildcard might be well played during this period. This is definitely the safest option and the one that will likely be used by most players.

Save the wildcard for a late season push
If your team is in contention by, say, week 25, the ability to repick your team and get all the form players could tip the league in your favor. You will be able to ride teams with something to play for and avoid those who are just playing the season out. For example, right now we would consider Villa defenders a fairly poor choice but come February when the new signings have settled in and the team might be pushing for Europe, they could be a great option.
The risk here is that your team is so far behind and that teams all look so similar that the wildcard's value is diminished.

My advice
The more I think about it, the more I think that playing your wildcard early on is the way to go. I'm not saying pull the trigger in week 5 if your team is okay but if you get a couple of injuries over the international break and a couple of your squad players aren't panning out then using your wildcard to get players such as Shawcross, Lennon or Adebayor will be beneficial before their price rises further. I am aiming to use mine in approximately week 8-10 when we have a good idea of how teams are shaping up after the transfer window, as well as the rotation consequences of the champions league.
Remember, when you do decide to play the wildcard, especially if you take this decision early, you must make long term decisions and not be too concerned with a favourable game that week. Many get overly concerned with double gameweeks and easy matchups and therefore make short term decisions which cripple their flexibility for the future. Good luck making this important call and let me know how your cards fall.


NotoriousDre said...

Spot on chris,

i was just talking over when to use the wildcard with the mates in our private league. We are all newcomers to fantasy football and was wondering when to use it. Your articles helps...

I planned on using mine when the UCL heats up and rotation policies kick in...barring injuries.

for week5...lampard or gerrard for Captain?

Thommas said...

i would choose Gerrard, because Liverpool have Burnley at home, while Chelsea is facing Stoke who is very good at home.

Regarding the wildcard I'm really considering it, but I holding off until after the internationals

NotoriousDre said...

you right Thomas,

Stoke has been tough at home! Put the relentless attack of chelsea seems to wear teams down...then the flood gates open!

i've given more thought to the wild card...i feel i may hold off until much later in the season. I'm pretty happy with my squad. I jsut pretty much need my captain to have a good game. I'm 0 for 4 right now!

Thommas said...

just an advice for all you Insua fans out there... Aurelio is back from inj. and could possibly play against Burnley in GW5, not from start imo, but he can get more and more minutes in the coming weeks..

Chris Glover said...

Dre - gotta be Gerrard this week based on the numbers. Liverpool need to win and when they do Gerrard delivers (see Bolton game).

Good call Thommas re Insua. That's one of the reasons I am considering the wildcard. Arent too many options I like for 6m. Maybe Skrtel plays every week when fit?

Thommas said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Thommas said...

Yes, I think Skrtel gonna play every week when fit. Agger is inj. until end of oct. Skrtel isn't a bad choice for a liverpool defender. But their lack of ability to keep clean sheets this season is worrying, and their bad organization is also upsetting... :/ I hope and believe they'll improve(FAST)