FPL GW36 – Way of the Wildcard

Mahrez
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First a triple GW, now a blank GW, with many struggling to field 11 fit players without taking a hit. ARS, CHE, LEI & MUN players were popular last week with doubles and a triple, but now need to make way as none of them have a game. In the wildcard options below I will try to give some ideas for the best players to replace them with for the final 3 games of the season.

Below will be some numbers from the kiwi model, an interesting stat or ten, and comparisons to the legendary fplreview. All kiwi model numbers use my own projected minutes that I manually enter using past GWs, likely formations etc. as a guide. All fplreview numbers come from the Massive Data (v2) model, with Hivemind xMins. Kiwi model is accurate as of Friday morning 14/5/21 (albeit with Opta data via Fantasy Football Scout from Thursday’s games as fbref has not been updated yet). Fplreview numbers are accurate as of Thursday morning.

GIF from The Simpsons of some random numbers being thrown into a pile of numbers.
How the kiwi model works

Let’s first examine the options from each position:

Goalkeepers
PlayerPriceKiwifplreviewAverage
Alisson£5.911.411.211.3
Ederson£6.111.210.811.0
Lloris£5.610.810.410.6
Meslier£4.710.79.710.2
Pickford£4.89.610.19.9
Dubravka£4.810.19.49.8
Johnstone£4.610.08.79.4
Areola£4.59.49.19.3
Forster£4.06.72.44.5
Best value GKs & total pts in GW36-38 with 2 pts added for no-shows (e.g. BGW), time decay of 0.9, 1d.p.

3 GWs seems not enough time to take advantage of rotation, so we will probably be looking at one good goalkeeper and Forster backup, even though Forster is predicted to only play 1 of the final 3. Alisson takes the top spot but as before we will likely want to use up our 3 Liverpool spots where they will have the most impact, which is unlikely to be here. So Ederson & Lloris are the premium options, with a slew of other possibilities as the budget gets tighter. In the table above I have restricted these to 5 budget options ranging from £4.5-£4.8.

Did you know?

Pickford is not only the goalkeeper with the worst save record of these 5 goalkeepers, but also the worst disciplinary record. Saves and yellow cards contribute not only to actual points directly, but also to bonus points, which means it is a double whammy against Pickford that pushes him down in the kiwi model. However one boost for the Pickford/Forster combo is that Pickford’s tough GW38 fixture away at Manchester City is when Forster is slated to play his game (McCarthy & Forster are supposedly going 2 games in a row each which would give McCarthy GW36 & GW37).

StatMeslierPickfordDubravkaJohnstoneAreola
Career Save %75.868.971.371.773.4
Career PSxG/90+0.14-0.00+0.20+0.11+0.13
Career 90s/card (red=3)18.015.950.820.542.4
Projected exact Mins/save24.534.526.221.328.9
Career stats from fbref (source), projected numbers from the kiwi model
Defenders
PlayerPriceKiwifplreviewAverage
Trent£7.614.914.314.6
Robertson£7.112.812.812.8
Digne£6.210.010.410.2
Dias£6.010.49.610.0
N Phillips£4.19.410.09.7
Dallas£5.310.39.09.6
Stones£5.19.89.39.5
Coufal£4.89.08.78.9
Dier£4.68.08.58.2
Vestergaard£4.78.77.78.2
Ayling£4.47.98.18.0
Walker-Peters£4.78.67.27.9
Alioski£4.36.97.17.0
Diop£4.37.26.26.7
Burn£4.26.85.86.3
Mitchell£3.85.74.45.1
Struijk£4.06.13.14.6
K Bryan£3.95.82.94.4
Best value DEFs & total pts in GW36-38 with 2 pts added for no-shows (e.g. BGW), time decay of 0.9, 1d.p.

Liverpool dominate again due to their excellent fixtures (wba, bur, CRY), with Nat Phillips looking especially enticing as a budget option fully nailed in that back line thanks to Kabak’s injury. Leeds, West Ham, & Southampton provide solid budget/rotation options, with Mitchell the most assured of minutes at the bottom price point where Struijk and Bryan have both been covering for injury. Man City are back on the table now that they have no other competitions to focus on until after the league is finished, with Dias & Stones believed to be the preferred CB partnership and therefore more likely to start all 3 games than any of the fullbacks.

Did you know?

By now Coufal’s goal threat is very well-known even if he hasn’t yet been able to translate that into as many points as his opposite side Cresswell. Coufal dominates the £4.4-£5.0 price bracket in expected goal involvements, but also has an excellent disciplinary record compared to the options above, which together results in more bonus points on top of that. With West Ham’s fixtures he should be the standout pick for the last 3 games (bha, wba, SOU), although Leeds’ fixtures are also excellent (bur, sou, WBA).

StatCoufalDierVestergaardAylingWalker-Peters
Career (2xG+xA)/900.220.160.120.130.14
Career 90s/card (red = 3)7.45.46.24.67.3
20/21 Mins/bonus25311705763129344
Projected (6G+3A)/game0.620.320.540.460.34
Projected exact Mins/bonus36312636641277386
Career stats from fbref (source), bonus from FPL website, projections from the kiwi model

It’s also worth checking out last week’s article to see why you might be underrating the Southampton defence!

Midfielders
PlayerPriceKiwifplreviewAverage
Salah£12.720.518.619.5
Mane£11.716.715.416.1
Mahrez£8.013.512.412.9
D Jota£7.013.512.112.8
Lingard£6.611.911.011.4
Raphinha£5.411.99.810.8
Foden£6.09.112.010.6
M Pereira£5.411.09.410.2
Harrison£5.410.79.29.9
Saint-Maximin£5.19.49.59.5
Lookman£4.89.29.19.1
Ritchie£4.99.47.58.5
Willock£4.77.25.96.5
Norwood£4.56.46.36.4
T Roberts£4.66.95.56.2
Dendoncker£4.66.95.36.1
Burke£4.15.95.85.8
Smith-Rowe£4.26.84.75.7
Best value MIDs & total pts in GW36-38 with 2 pts added for no-shows (e.g. BGW), time decay of 0.9, 1d.p.

None of the premium options come close to the Liverpool pair, with the likes of Mahrez & Jota even favoured over Bruno, Son, Sterling, & the injured De Bruyne. It seems unlikely that even more budget options will be required since the £5.4s perform very well (Raphinha, Pereira, Harrison), but Newcastle can provide some reasonable differentials in the budget bracket if you are looking there. With Wilson out, the attacking midfielders will all be expected to take on slightly more minutes, but possibly have slightly fewer returns.

Options like Mahrez, Jota, Raphinha, & Foden will be very sensitive to your expectation of minutes – with Raphinha returning from injury and the others possibly subject to rotation. The picks in the wildcards below will be based on my own view of minutes, but if you believe different then you should adjust accordingly.

Did you know?

Foden is joint 5th in the Manchester City squad for league appearances in the 20/21 season, but 13th for minutes played. He has 3 more substitute appearances than any other Manchester City player with 11, and averages over 15 minutes fewer per appearance than anyone else in the starting XI. His underlying stats look excellent on a per 90 level, but he is not so obvious a pick after factoring in how likely he is to actually play 90 minutes.

StatMahrezJotaRaphinhaFoden
20/21 npxGI/900.550.620.540.54
20/21 Mins/game72627657
20/21 npxGI/game0.440.400.460.34
Projected exact mins/game76728156
Projected (5npG+3A)/game2.272.221.661.49
Hivemind mins/game65596867
Stats from fbref (source), projections from the kiwi model, hivemind from fplreview

Now some of these numbers are not too far behind Mahrez, but we must remember that Mahrez also has the best finishing in the league (using a standard calculation on fbref inputs). This is why his projected numbers are clear of the others above. Furthermore, he is believed to be the most likely on penalties, especially without his main challenger De Bruyne. Below we can see Mahrez’s excellent finishing as shown on fbref (data from 17/18-present):

Shooting Table
ExpeExpeExpeExpe
Player Span xG npxG G-xG np:G-xG
Riyad MahrezCareer23.522.0+15.5+16.0
Diogo JotaCareer23.323.3+0.7+0.7
Raphael Dias BelloliCareer13.011.6-1.0-0.6
Phil FodenCareer11.511.5+1.5+1.5
Provided by FBref.com: View Stathead Tool Used
Generated 5/14/2021.
Forwards
PlayerPriceKiwifplreviewAverage
Kane£11.814.615.415.0
Bamford£6.411.713.512.6
Ings£8.413.411.512.4
Wood£6.413.111.612.3
Antonio£6.512.211.712.0
Calvert-Lewin£7.611.511.911.7
Welbeck£5.510.58.59.5
McGoldrick£5.29.78.49.0
Vydra£4.88.07.97.9
Brewster£4.25.34.95.1
Best value FWDs & total pts in GW36-38 with 2 pts added for no-shows (e.g. BGW), time decay of 0.9, 1d.p.

A fully fit Ings must rejoin the picture, but with the DGW behind him & Calvert-Lewin, it’s very hard to look past the triple of Bamford, Wood, & Antonio. With Liverpool offering the only premium MIDs, Kane will likely feature in most wildcards – giving an advantage over anyone who was forced to take him out for not having a double gameweek in GW35. Therefore much like last week we cannot have all three and must choose which mid-price forwards we prefer. Budget options are available again for those with a rigid squad structure, with Welbeck, McGoldrick, & Vydra being preferred to DGW heroes Che Adams & Benteke, although it remains to be seen how many of Vydra’s minutes are taken by the returning Ashley Barnes.

Did you know?

While Bamford’s penalty-taking duties seem more certain than Wood’s thanks to the return of Barnes to the Burnley squad, Wood also benefits from the best finishing of the mid-price strikers (even if it didn’t seem that way at the start of the season). Finishing skill, a good GW36 fixture, certainty of minutes, penalty duties, and low ownership are the reasons why I have brought Wood into my team this week to replace the blanking Iheanacho and I would recommend doing the same, unless of course you are currently standing between me and top 100k!

STATBamfordWoodAntonioCalvert-Lewin
Career (npxG+xA)/900.590.440.510.45
GW36 fixture+8% (bur)+27% (LEE)-17% (bha)+32% (SHU)
Penalty probability0.960.790.320.04
Finishing skill-7%+6%-5%+1%
Ownership %40.34.06.632.4
Projected xMins66737377
Hivemind xMins77757580
npxG+xA from fbref (source), kiwi model projections, FPL ownership, fplreview hivemind
Wildcard Teams

Now that we have an idea of who to bring in, let’s see how they fit in different team structures depending on budget. To evaluate these I will be using the kiwi model’s own calculations of GW pts which account for who you bench each GW and the probability that they will be auto-subbed on. Unfortunately there is no way to directly combine this with fplreview as their probabilities of playing vs being left out or injured are not publicly visible.

First the £100m team (I hope you have at least this budget), with 170.7xPts (0.9 time decay):

£99.7m wildcard team shown in GW36 via fpl.team

To my surprise Kane did not make the cut. Not needed for any captaincy (Salah every week), it seems that the model strategy is instead to spread the funds on the bench and triple up on uncertain Manchester City players. The highest Kane team came in 1 point behind this with a few possible variants.

In order to improve this team, there will be some small improvements we can make, and then a jump up from Ings to Kane when we can no longer improve the rest of the squad. Forster to Dubravka makes a big difference in GW37 where you can play Dubravka home to Sheffield United rather than Meslier away at Southampton. Stones to Dias is another possible small upgrade. None of the premium GKs appear to beat this rotation, so we then need to see how much is OK to sacrifice for Kane, and this will give us our more expensive wildcard option. See below the Kane wildcard, costing £102.4 and scoring 171.5xPts:

£102.4m wildcard team shown in GW36 via fpl.team

From here we can ascend into even higher squad values, but the idea is the same – make the small upgrades that we had to sacrifice for Kane, then consider Ings over one of the £6.5m forwards. In higher echelons you could consider one of the premiums that I discarded earlier instead of Jota, which allows Robertson at the back. But the kiwi model says that is only really attainable for £107m+.

Final Thoughts

Minutes are king for these last 3 GWs, especially as they will be played weekend-midweek-weekend, so we could potentially see some rotation from those teams with little left to play for. The players I have presented above rely on my own belief on minutes, but if anyone there seems more or less nailed to you then I would advise you adjust your plan to grab those minutes. If you have a solid team for the run in then you can definitely consider a Manchester City player, but as most are trying to plug the holes for blank gameweek 36 I wouldn’t worry about them until GW38 when we can be more confident about both their lineup and our bench. Then again, you never know with Pep.

GIF from South Park of a spinning roulette wheel
Pep roulette

This was the Way of the Wildcard for GW36, please let me know either here or on Twitter whether you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, and good luck in your transfers!

48700cookie-checkFPL GW36 – Way of the Wildcard
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