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The FPL Wildcard: What is it, how does it work, when should you play it?


fpl wildcard

The wildcard is Fantasy Premier League’s most powerful tool, presenting players with an opportunity to rectify any selection mistakes which have plagued their season.

Correctly using both wildcards allocated to them has the potential to make or break an FPL season. Use it too facetiously, and without any consideration, and a manager runs the risk of not maximising their output.

Each week, FPL players are allowed to make one trade without inhibiting a points deduction. In the event an FPL manager does not make a trade, it will carry over to the next week, giving them two trades. However, the number of allotted transfers will never rise above two; any additional transfers a participant chooses to make over this threshold incurs a four point deduction.

Here’s where the wildcard comes in.

fantasy premier league, fpl, wildcard

What is the FPL Wildcard?

Each FPL manager gets two wildcards — one that must be played before 30 December of their respective season and one that can only be played after that cut off date. 

A wildcard allows FPL managers to make unlimited free transfers throughout a gameweek, removing the four-point-per-transfer deduction accumulated for every transfer made over the afforded quota. 

Typically, they are played when a player feels it necessary to make wholesale changes to their side; whether these be enforced through mass injuries or suspensions, or through poor form.

While managers are allowed to make an unlimited number of transfers, these cannot exceed their current budget.

When should you play your FPL wildcard?

Let’s break this down by time period; pre-December 30 (wildcard one) and post-December 30 (wildcard two).

FPL Gameweek 13 Preview

Wildcard one

In and around the week leading up to gameweek 20 is typically the cut-off zone for the first FPL wildcard to be played. While there is no great rush to utilise your first wildcard, there are still opportunities where it can be effectively enacted.

These include in-and-around international breaks, when key players are more likely to pick up injuries. Also around this time, the Premier League season will have begun taking shape, meaning any early statistical or performance trends have either faded out or revealed they’re likely sticking around for some time.

Around this time of the season there is greater involvement in European competitions. This creates congestion for the league’s top sides, and therefore some of Fantasy Premier League’s top players, further increasing the chance of injury risks and form dips.

Another prime time to play wildcard one is whenever there are double gameweeks. So long as you’re smart about it, utilising a wildcard in the lead up to any upcoming double gameweeks will allow FPL managers to capitalise on the double gameweek but also establish an ideal team for long-term success.

James Maddison, FPL, wildcard
James Maddison has been a consistently great FPL asset

Wildcard two

There are a few schools of thought regarding the implementation of the second FPL wildcard, which can only be used after 30 December. 

One such tactic is, much like with the first wildcard, utilising them before any double gameweeks that may pop up in the final half of the Premier League season. 

Another late season spanner thrown in the FPL works is blank gameweeks. A blank gameweek occurs when fixtures are rearranged due to cup competitions coinciding with the Premier League schedule and cannot be rescheduled to a midweek slot in the same week. This leaves sides with a ‘blank’ gameweek, or no game in some FPL matchweeks, and reduces the number of players available for FPL selection.

While this is unfortunate in many senses, one silver lining is these ‘blank’ gameweeks create double gameweeks, and thus the FPL cycle continues.

Another line of thinking is to the second wildcard right before January begins, particularly in years when both the Asian Cup and the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) are both on. These tournaments remove some of the Premier League’s brightest talents, including Mohamed Salah and Heung-Min Son, two major FPL point scorers from club football for almost the entire month.

The presence of these international tournaments could, for some players, remove enough of their squad to inspire their use of their second wildcard quite early in the window for using it. It is important to note both the Asian Cup and AFCON occur every four years and therefore don’t need to be considered every season.

Mohamed Salah, AFCON, FPL wildcard
Mohamed Salah’s Egypt AFCON commitments could inspire FPL wildcards to be played

Arguably the most popular time to play FPL wildcard two is at the conclusion of the January transfer window, when new players arrive and old ones leave as clubs scramble to save their season or consolidate their league position.

January is a crucial period in the FPL calendar. For managers who opt for ‘cheapies’ to fill out their bench position, they find their squad depth evaporated by loan moves, quick sales, or new arrivals taking these players’ positions in their respective sides’ plans.

In the January 2022 window 68 players were signed by Premier League clubs. Not all these players enter their respective starting elevens immediately; some go on loan and others need time to assimilate.

But, those January arrivals who are tasked with making an immediate impact with their respective sides either become an enticing FPL trade option themselves or take the place of an established star featuring heavily in many FPL teams. This is best exemplified by the dynamic between Cody Gakpo and Darwin Nunez after the Dutchman’s arrival at Liverpool in January 2022, with the pair constantly interchanging places in the starting side and creating problems for their FPL owners. 

Waiting for the end of the January transfer window to play the second wildcard may limit the chances FPL managers have of capitalising on double gameweeks or limiting the damage they incur during ‘blank’ gameweeks. But, it allows them to trade in a host of new signings and reconfigure their team, hopefully giving them a point of difference for the remainder of the season.

Picture of Kyle Robbins
Kyle Robbins
Kyle is a senior sports writer and producer at Only Sports who lives and breathes sport, with a particular burning passion for everything soccer, rugby league, and cricket. You’ll most commonly find him getting overly hopeful about the Bulldogs and Chelsea’s prospects. Find Kyle on LinkedIn.

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