FPL GW38 – Way of the Wildcard

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Time for a look at the very last GW of the 20/21 FPL season. A wildcard now is no different to a free hit, but just as before I will try to present the main model-backed options and hopefully help you decide on your last transfer(s). Many will now be focusing on differential picks or consolidating position, either way there should be enough of a spread of players to solve whatever mini-league or target-rank problem you need to solve!

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. I am also introducing a new number which is the fplreview MD model but using my own xMins inputs instead of the Hivemind. The Kiwi model and fplreview are accurate as of Saturday evening, post-pressers but pre-leaks 22/05/21. Prices are accurate as of Sunday morning 23/05/21!

The most interesting changes since GW36 incorporated into the kiwi model are increased home advantage with the return of crowds, and a 10% increase in projected goals for the last GW of the season. Let’s see what effect that has on points…

GIF of an analog clock ticking, except instead of the numbers 1-12 it has letters spelling THE TIME IS NOW.

First here are the options from each position:

Goalkeepers
PlayerPriceKiwifplreviewfplreviewAverage
Kiwi xMinsHive xMINS
Alisson£6.04.44.44.44.4
Ederson£6.14.14.04.14.0
E Mendy£5.33.63.93.93.8
Leno£5.03.73.83.83.8
Areola£4.53.83.53.53.6
Casilla£4.13.73.63.53.6
Forster£4.02.62.72.62.6
Best value GKs & projected pts for GW38, 2pts added for no-shows in the kiwi columns, 1d.p.

Alisson again tops the chart, but so will Liverpool players throughout due to playing at home, against the team with the 3rd worst defence in the league, who survived relegation for another year, while Liverpool are fighting for a top 4 spot. So if our Liverpool slots are used elsewhere then the premium option is Ederson, currently picked by all entrants in the Blue Moon fan forum guessing competition despite murmurs that it is Steffen’s turn for a run out. Mendy & Leno are next up at a mid-price, both who have suffered from goalkeeper rotation previously this season. The two standout picks however, look to be the budget Kiko Casilla of Leeds and the impressive Alphonse Areola of Fulham in the case that you want to save your Leeds spots for the more familiar Dallas/Raphinha/Bamford.

Did you know?

Areola has the best historical discipline record of the 4 budget to mid-price options as well as the 2nd best save record, post-shot xG saved record, and fixture. Surprisingly though, this hasn’t yet translated into bonus point potential at struggling Fulham in quite the same way as we see in the likes of Nick Pope and Emi Martinez:

StatE MendyLenoAreolaCasilla
Career Save %76.770.673.369.6
Career PSxG/90 saved+0.06+0.07+0.12+0.17
Career 90s/card (red=3)19.225.635.77.5
Fixture difficulty+19%-7%-24%-30%
20/21 Mins/bonus338304360N/A
Projected exact Mins/save43.431.028.833.7
Projected exact Mins/card1333132814771090
Projected exact Mins/bonus307344454346
Career stats from fbref (source), bonus from Official FPL, average projections from the kiwi model
Defenders
PlayerPriceKiwifplreviewfplreviewAverage
Kiwi xMinsHive xMins
Trent£7.86.06.06.26.1
Robertson£7.35.25.35.35.3
Dallas£5.54.84.34.24.4
N Phillips£4.24.04.54.54.3
R Williams£4.03.84.14.04.0
Chilwell£5.93.44.14.13.9
R James£5.13.44.14.23.9
Alioski£4.43.53.93.73.7
Ayling£4.43.73.63.53.6
Coufal£4.83.43.73.63.6
Rudiger£4.73.43.73.63.6
Chambers£4.53.03.43.53.3
C Dawson£4.53.13.43.23.2
Adarabioyo£4.53.63.03.03.2
Holding£4.33.23.23.13.2
Struijk£4.03.23.12.73.0
Mitchell£3.81.41.00.81.1
Best value DEFs & projected pts for GW38, 2pts added for no-shows in the kiwi columns, 1d.p.

Rhys Williams comes in as a differential way into the Liverpool defence, but looking beyond them we have Leeds & a motivated Chelsea scoring highly. Coufal, Chambers, Dawson & Adarabioyo fill out the budget-midprice options, with Struijk a high-flying budget pick. Unfortunately his minutes are not secure this week with the possibility of a Cooper-Berardi pairing in Leeds’ & Berardi’s final game. Therefore, despite playing against Liverpool, I have included super-budget option Mitchell who has been starting recently ahead of van Aanholt.

While they do not appear in the table, it is worth mentioning that any Man City defender who is leaked to be starting will slot in above the Chelsea boys, so be on the lookout for the likes of Walker, Zinchenko, Mendy, Dias, Stones, Laporte, Ake & Garcia.

Did you know?

Despite Trent taking the plaudits recently, Robertson still betters all other options in the table (except Trent who is way ahead) on npxGI, discipline, and projected bonus. Unfortunately, much like Coufal, the majority of his expected goal involvement comes from assists – which for defenders are only worth half of what goals are worth.

StatTAARobboDallasChilwellR.JamesAlioskiCoufal
20/21 xGI/900.330.210.180.170.180.170.17
20/21 (6xG+3xA)/901.230.750.920.750.730.690.55
20/21 90s/card32.718.35.38.18.53.89.3
20/21 Mins/bonus113194221220152338269
Projected (6G+3A)/901.260.790.940.720.840.630.63
Projected 90s/card15.114.15.77.911.23.611.0
Projected bonus/game0.730.490.330.310.350.200.25
20/21 stats from fbref (source), bonus from Official FPL, average projections from the kiwi model

Just as in the Goalkeepers section, Chelsea have the most difficult fixture, but the motivation of the top 4 race shows up in fplreview’s Massive Data & Implied Odds models even though I have not captured it in the kiwi model.

Midfielders
PlayerPriceKiwifplreviewfplreviewAverage
Kiwi xMinsHive xMins
Salah£12.99.08.89.19.0
Mane£11.87.17.47.47.3
De Bruyne£11.86.25.55.05.6
Auba£11.35.35.55.75.5
Raphinha£5.65.55.45.65.5
Harrison£5.64.84.64.54.7
Lingard£6.64.54.84.64.6
Mount£7.34.04.64.74.4
Torres£7.03.94.14.44.1
Cavaleiro£5.33.54.34.03.9
Foden£6.14.03.83.23.7
Soucek£5.24.03.53.43.6
Gross£5.84.03.43.43.6
Saka£5.13.63.63.43.5
Lookman£4.73.84.71.33.3
Smith-Rowe£4.22.93.33.63.3
Best value MIDs & projected pts for GW38, 2pts added for no-shows in the kiwi columns, 1d.p.

Salah & Mane again dominate the premium options, but for those either doubling up at the back or with lots of money there are 2 differentials that catch the eye in KDB & Aubameyang. Neither are guaranteed to start, but if you have a good intuition/leak that they will then they could certainly surprise your mini-league rivals and propel you upwards. Very importantly though I would not recommend captaining anyone other than Salah unless you are very far behind as Salah is the clear first choice.

Leeds have shown no evidence of burnout and playing against the worst team in the league in front of their own fans at Elland Road means their attackers are projected very favourably. Raphinha edges Harrison here if only one can fit in your side. If Torres or Foden are leaked to be starting for Pep then they are also excellent options, while Cavaleiro, Soucek, Saka & Lookman provide more budget-friendly alternatives. It remains to be seen also whether Smith-Rowe can start a 4th game in a row but at a price of £4.2 he must be the default super-budget attacker in the game.

Did you know?

Despite what appear to be overall poor performances this season, it may still be possible that KDB & Auba have the underlying numbers to back them as differential picks, so we’ll look at these below. Note of course that unlike Sterling, Raphinha, Mane, & possibly KDB, Auba is the undisputed first choice penalty-taker at his club, so npxGI will not tell the whole story.

StatSalahManeKDBAubaSterlingRaphinha
20/21 npxGI/900.660.660.780.460.552.07
20/21 (5npxG+3xA)/902.942.943.012.092.482.07
Penalty-taker %100844100101
Projected (5G+3A)/904.433.183.153.303.421.91
Kiwi xMins807971625079
Hivemind xMins838065674983
Projected (5G+3A)/game4.122.852.652.792.961.73
20/21 stats from fbref (source), projections from the kiwi model, hivemind from fplreview

So there are decent numbers for De Bruyne, Aubameyang, & even Sterling provided that they get the minutes (which is the questionable part).

Forwards
PlayerPriceKiwifplreviewfplreviewAverage
Kiwi xMinsHive xMins
Bamford£6.65.36.46.86.1
Vardy£10.25.55.45.35.4
Wood£6.65.35.25.35.3
Firmino£9.15.25.15.15.1
Antonio£6.75.15.25.05.1
Iheanacho£6.25.04.54.54.7
McGoldrick£5.23.94.34.14.1
Rodrigo£5.73.93.54.44.0
Jebbison£4.54.73.32.73.5
Brewster£4.21.92.31.72.0
Best value FWDs & projected pts for GW38, 2pts added for no-shows in the kiwi columns, 1d.p.

Bamford absolutely crushes the models here, and with Vardy & Firmino looking forlornly on it appears there is no need for a premium forward in the final gameweek, as Kane doesn’t even make the list. Minutes will be king for the budget-midprice forwards listed here, with especially Rodrigo & Jebbison relative unknowns. Bielsa is rumoured to want to give promotion hero Pablo Hernandez a proper send-off and Rodrigo’s #10 spot seems the most likely position in which to make that happen. Jebbison exposes a flaw in the kiwi model (that is usually solved by using common sense) in that new players do not have enough data to be using directly, rather it is prudent to assume an output similar to other youth newcomers and the current options in the same position. Therefore looking at Jebbison as an average of his kiwi model number and Brewster’s is more likely to give an accurate projection.

Did you know?

Home advantage with fans is historically about double what it is without fans. Furthermore games on the final day historically involve an average of almost 20% more goals than the rest of the season, while bookies are pricing an additional 10-15%. There have been insufficient studies so far into whether that is concentrated in “on-the-beach” teams or spread throughout, but either way it seems that FWD numbers are particularly high this gameweek and especially for those playing in front of their fans for the first time this season (such as from Leeds, West Ham, Leicester, & Sheffield United).

Bar chart comparing goals scored on the final day of the season to goals per game in the rest of the season over the last 10 years. Final day bars are longer.
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 a £99m team (I hope you have at least this budget), with 75.1 xPts:

£98.9m wildcard team shown in GW38 via fpl.team

Even with this small a budget, Mane is preferred to Robertson as the 3rd Liverpool player due to the increased goals we expect from a final round fixture. Choose your favourite pair of Manchester City defenders and hope that one of them plays and save some money by opting for Harrison over Bamford to give a very budget-friendly team. More cuts can easily be made by sacrificing Areola to Forster & Soucek to Smith-Rowe.

The aim for improvements is to make a few small upgrades (Harrison+Iheanacho to Lingard+Bamford, Mitchell to Adarabioyo) but we quickly run out of possibilities and then must turn to an additional premium in the form of Kevin De Bruyne!

After some tweaks here is a still budget-friendly KDB-level wildcard, costing only £100.5 and scoring 75.4 xPts:

Wildcard team with:
Areola, Button,
Trent, Dallas, Stones, Thomas, Mitchell.
Salah, Mane, De Bruyne, Raphinha, Smith-Rowe
Bamford, Antonio, Iheanacho
£100.5m wildcard team shown in GW38 via fpl.team

From here we can pick up the pace, improving the rest of the squad back up to where it was without De Bruyne. As an example for the high-rollers, here is a squad with £105.1 budget & 76.8 xPts:

Wildcard team with:
Ederson, Button,
Trent, Dallas, Stones, Adarabioyo, Mitchell,
Salah, Mane, De Bruyne, Raphinha, Soucek,
Bamford, Antonio, Iheanacho
£105.1m wildacrd team shown in GW38 via fpl.team

In the forwards take free pick of Bamford, Antonio, Iheanacho, & Wood based on mini-league concerns. For me the interesting takeaway here though is not to be afraid of Manchester City defenders rather than attackers, for example if you need to replace a Digne or Shaw rather than a Jota or Bruno. Walker & Stones have been chosen confidently in the Blue Moon fan forums and any partial leak could give you an advantage that your mini-league rivals won’t see coming!

Final Thoughts

Mini-league considerations are much more prevalent in the final gameweek. Consolidate first place by captaining Salah and covering popular assets such as Bamford, Raphinha, Trent & Dallas. Come from behind by also captaining Salah, but considering a differential transfer such as a Manchester City player, as you know they have good underlyings and it is just the minutes that you need.

If you hvae time, look out for leaks on Twitter. Manchester City is coveted, but most believe that it is Manchester United who will have their team leaked before the deadline, and this will be helpful due to the changes that could be seen before the Europe League final later.

GIF from South Park of a spinning roulette wheel
Live images of Ole’s ship

This was the Way of the Wildcard for GW38, please let me know either here or on Twitter whether you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, and good luck in your transfers!

50010cookie-checkFPL GW38 – Way of the Wildcard
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