With Double Gameweeks 28 and 29 on the horizon, many Fantasy Premier League (FPL) managers intend to use their second Wildcard over the coming days.
In fact, almost 30% of the site readers polled in our sidebar vote said they are planning to activate the Wildcard chip this week, so it’s with this in mind that we have produced a position-by-position guide to pick out the best options in each category.
You can read a rundown of the standout goalkeepers here.
All stats taken from this article are from our Premium Members Area.
ANTONIO RUDIGER / REECE JAMES
If either Chelsea or Norwich City progress in this week’s FA Cup fifth round, which is highly likely given that the Blues meet second-tier Luton Town, both sides will be handed a double-header in Gameweek 28.
For Thomas Tuchel’s troops, that will involve appealing away trips to Turf Moor and Carrow Road, and given the schedule that follows right through until the end of the season, their defenders will understandably be high on most of our Watchlists.
Above: Chelsea’s schedule till the end of the season, with their Gameweek 30 tie at Norwich City potentially moving to Gameweek 28 if either side progressed in this week’s FA Cup fifth round
Antonio Rudiger (£6.1m) is particularly appealing, having missed just one Premier League game all season through injury. His attacking threat is somewhat limited from open play, but it is worth noting that he has chipped in with two goals and three assists in 2021/22, while only Trent Alexander-Arnold (£8.5m) Joao Cancelo (£7.1m) have registered more shots amongst defenders. As one of Chelsea’s outside center-backs when they play a back three, he is also able to advance higher up the pitch, as evidenced by his seasonal touch heatmap.
Above: Antonio Rudiger’s touch heatmap 2021/22
However, the return of Rece James (£6.2m) from injury on Sunday has understandably caught the eye of most Fantasy managers. Averaging 5.7 points per match – compared to Rudiger’s 4.5 – the England wing-back is currently owned by just 9.9% of FPL bosses overall (and many of those will be ‘dead’ teams; his ownership is 0.36% in the top 10k), and carries real goal and assisted potential from his advanced role.
“Now with a huge overload on his shoulders. The recommendation was 20 minutes before the match and it was like over 70 in a final with extra tension and extra pressure.” – Thomas Tuchel on Reece James, after the EFL Cup final and ahead of Wednesday’s FA Cup tie against Luton
His fitness, of course, needs to be monitored, given that Chelsea play Saturday-Thursday-Sunday if they are indeed handed a Double Gameweek, but getting on board early could be a sage move, given his ability to rack up big scores.
Liverpool defender Trent Alexander-Arnold sits top of the defender standings, having returned two goals, 10 assists, 28 bonus points and 13 clean sheets across the season so far. As a result, the 23-year-old is averaging 7.0 points per match, more than any other backline option bar Ben Chilwell (£5.6m), who has made just six Premier League appearances to date.
For players of Alexander-Arnold’s caliber, it’s debatable whether fixtures even matter, but following this weekend’s Anfield clash against West Ham United, it’s worth noting that the Reds have a Gameweek 29 double-header against Brighton and Hove Albion and Arsenal, although they are guaranteed to blank in Gameweek 30 if they win tomorrow’s FA Cup tie against Norwich.
Andrew Robertson (£7.2m), meanwhile, presents an opportunity to double-up, though with so many other appealing defensive options coming to the fore, fitting him in is the biggest obstacle.
There’s not much more we can say to you about Joao Cancelowho averages more points per match (6.0) than any other midfielder or forward in FPL bar Mohamed Salah (£13.1m) Son Heung-min (£10.8m).
With nine attacking returns and 14 clean sheets to his name in 25 appearances this season, Cancelo should hit the 200-point mark by the time 2021/22 draws to a close, providing too much rotation doesn’t hit during the run-in.
He’s also, remarkably for a defender, 10th among all outfield players for goal attempts – only one of which has been converted, admittedly – in the current campaign, ahead of the likes of Son.
As for Manchester City, their fixtures are mixed, with Etihad clashing versus Manchester United and Liverpool sandwiching more appealing matches against Crystal Palace and Burnley, although like Alexander-Arnold, it’s debatable whether his schedule even matters, given that he has already racked up double -figure hauls against the likes of Chelsea (x2), Man Utd and Leicester City this season.
Kieran Tierney (£5.1m) is averaging an eye-catching 5.1 points per match in 2021/22, having registered a goal, three assists, 11 bonus points and nine clean sheets from 18 Premier League appearances.
Now, the Scottish full-back will be keen to build on that against Watford in Gameweek 28 and Leicester City/Liverpool in 29. Notably, he also has a guaranteed game against Aston Villa in Gameweek 30, which is important for those attempting to navigate that round without the Free Hit chip.
Gabriel (£5.3m) is the slightly more expensive alternative, who isn’t quite so injury-prone, and also carries a bit of goal threat from set-pieces, as evidenced by his winner at Molineux in Gameweek 24.
A bit like Chelsea, the Gunners are long-term holds: they sit top of our Season Ticker from now until the end of the season and still have two more Double Gameweeks to fit in somewhere during the below run:
Having missed a couple of Premier League matches earlier this year due to his involvement at the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), Romain Saiss (£5.0m) is now back in the first-team fold at Wolverhampton Wanderers.
With a promising double-header against Crystal Palace and Watford in Double Gameweek 28, followed by a guaranteed fixture in Gameweek 30, there is a lot to like about Saiss, who is one of Wolves’ main aerial threats and has already chipped in with a couple of goals this season.
As for Bruno Lage’s defence, they have kept just one clean sheet in their last seven attempts, but across the season so far, a total of 21 goals conceded is bettered only by Man City, Chelsea and Liverpool.
Cheaper options, however, are available in the form of Conor Coady (£4.8m) Max Kilman (£4.6m), for those wishing to push more of their budget into midfield and attack.
Even after the next three Gameweeks, there are some very appealing fixtures going all the way up to Gameweek 35:
The ever-unpredictable Lucas Digne (£5.1m) is joint-second among FPL defenders for chances created since his Aston Villa debut, and now takes on Southampton and Leeds United in Double Gameweek 28. Notably, he also has a guaranteed Gameweek 30 fixture against Arsenal.
Steven Gerrard’s switch to a more compact 4-3-1-2 formation at Brighton on Saturday may have reigned in the Frenchman’s attacking instincts a little, but he still has a share of set pieces, whilst his team’s new, more defensive approach should boost his clean sheet prospects.
Villa face some tricky fixtures after Gameweek 30, so having a replacement in mind after that point is probably a good idea, but for the next three Gameweeks alone, Digne is an appealing option.
Elsewhere, Newcastle United’s Dan Burn (£4.4m) Matt Target (£4.7m) face back-to-back Double Gameweeks, with the Magpies tightening up in recent weeks.
In fact, they have now conceded just two goals in their last five matches, keeping three clean sheets during that period. Given their budget price tags, they could act as nice enablers on a Wildcard.
Southampton, meanwhile, are one of the division’s in-form teams.
Since returning from injury, Tino Livramento (£4.4m) is averaging 7.0 points per match across his three appearances, although Kyle Walker-Peters (£4.9m) is perhaps a little more secure, and looked particularly lively against Norwich City in Gameweek 27, when he bagged maximum bonus.
The long-term fixtures are again decent, with some favorite fixtures running through to Gameweek 36.
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