The second wildcard is a Fantasy Premier League manager’s last chance to make wholesale changes to their squad, so how should you use it?
There is no better group to look to for advice than the top 1,000 managers from last season, to see how, when and why they played their wildcards.
With that in mind, here are three pointers from the best of the best – could their help propel you to the top of your mini-leagues?
Don’t use it in January
While you might be tempted to play the wildcard immediately, the advice from the elite is to wait a while.
The January transfer window might seem like a good time to play the second wildcard, with Premier League sides bringing in new faces to revitalise their squad.
But 785 of the eventual top 1000 FPL bosses last season waited until gameweek 34 to play it, in order to make the most of consecutive double gameweeks.
GW34 saw Brighton and Cardiff play twice, while GW35 saw eight teams play twice in a single round.
Playing the wildcard at this stage of the season – when double gameweeks tend to rear their head – gives managers the chance to bring in players most likely to play both games, and it proved to be a tactic that helped 78.5% of the final 1,000 secure their place among the elite.
Furthermore, less than 100 of the eventual top 1,000 used their second wildcard in the first six gameweeks of 2019 – 11 didn’t use it at all.
Make it count
If 2018/19’s top 1,000 are to be believed, there is no point playing your second wildcard if you’re not going to make significant changes to your squad.
More than 600 of them made 11-13 changes to their side when playing wildcard number two, while 104 made a whopping 14-15 changes.
Furthermore, only 35 of the top 1,000 made four to six changes to their side, with 23.9% of them making seven to 10.
If your team only needs minor modifications, ask yourself if a points penalty would be a better course of action than spending your wildcard.
While the advise from the top 1000 is clearly to play your second wildcard late, if you are going to deploy it earlier, patience is required.
To 2018/19’s top 1,000, the wildcard was not simply a shortcut to a big points haul in the short term, but an action that benefited them in the long term – their top tier finishes are testament to that.
Only 16.4% of those pulling the trigger on their first wildcard in 2018/19 saw their best gameweek rank of the season so far follow, while 10.9% actually recorded their worst gameweek rank of the season up to that point.
One manager who went on to finish in the top 600 played his first wildcard only to achieve a gameweek rank of 4,380,579th immediately afterwards.
Unlike the other chips – triple captain, bench boost and free hit – it pays to think of your wildcard as a longer-term solution rather than a short-term fix.
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