Fantasy Football Insider
Fantasy Football Insider - Gameweek 21: It's winter wildcard time
It's not only decorations and overworked digestive systems that need cleaning out after the Christmas - your Fantasy Football team could also be in need of a good shake-up.
Even by this season’s ridiculous standards, an awful lot has happened since the previous Fantasy Football column in the dying embers of 2011.
Legends have returned (Henry, Scholes and now Robbie Keane), a previously invincible-looking City have been beaten three times in the New Year and in one of the lighter moments, Arsenal legend Martin Keown was rattled with a football on live television.
With Tottenham and Everton having only played on last Wednesday night, it has seemed an almost interminable wait for Gameweek 21 to come along and I’m sure I’m not the only one itching to make use of the Winter Wildcard, which is available to all managers until Gameweek 23.
Before I get into a few wildcard recommendations, here is a brief reminder to everyone that even if you have used your wildcard before January, you are still entitled to use this one. If this is your first time using the wildcard, you can still use it again between Gameweek 24 and the end of the season. Got all that? Good.
So how to make best use of the wildcard? Stating the obvious, first of all get rid of any players with long-term injuries or players involved in the African Cup of Nations.
After that, clear out the deadwood. This is one of only two chances you’ll have to rid your team of any dross that have been useless or kept in reserve all season without paying the penalty. So while you have the chance, stock your bench with players that actually play regularly and could be good for a couple of points when your regulars miss out.
For example, Newcastle’s Danny Simpson (£4.4 million) and Swansea’s Nathan Dyer (£4.7 million) are two very consistent performers and who won’t cost you a packet.
Finally, have a good look at the players that are burning a hole in your team's finances. City pair David Silva and Sergio Aguero have been brilliant all season, but both go for long patches without doing an awful lot, as does Wayne Rooney. Rafael van der Vaart has chipped in with a few points lately, but he barely did a tap for five or six weeks between November and December.
Even though he’s tailed off lately, Robin van Persie is still nearly a must-have in every team, a status that Gareth Bale is close to reaching having become the highest scoring midfielder in the league last week. Steven Gerrard’s back to full fitness and back in form as well so with so many top dollar options, you have to think long and hard about the two or three big-money men who will ultimately be the source of the majority of points.
A lot to ponder then and there’s no particular need to rush as the wildcard will run for a couple of more weeks yet. But where’s the fun in waiting, eh?
JOE’s Fantasy Football Picks:
Top Dollar: Steven Gerrard (£10.5 million). Liverpool are a different side with their inspirational skipper and it hasn’t taken him long to get back in the swing of things since his return from injury. A little pricey perhaps, but bound to contribute goals and assists before the season's end.
Mid-Range: Stephane Sessegnon (£6.5 million). One of the chief benefactors of Sunderland’s recent revolution, with two goals, two assists, four bonus points and 31 points in the last four games.
Bargain Basement: Benoit Assou-Ekotto (£5.5 million). Thanks to his 24-point haul in Gameweek 20 Assou-Ekotto is now the joint highest scoring defender in the league alongside Vincent Kompany. He has played virtually every minute for the Spuds all season and is a model of consistency, even if he has claimed to not like football very much in the past.
Irish Pick: James McClean (£4.5 million). Rarely has an Irishman made such a stunning impact on his introduction to the Premier League. We know he’s been around Sunderland for a while, but he has really come to life under Martin O’Neill. A snip at £4.5 million.
Captain’s Pick: Wayne Rooney (£12.0 million). Recommending him as captain over the Christmas backfired on a couple of occasions, but how could we have foretold the eventful festive season that Rooney went through?
He was back to his best against City and has made hay against Bolton in the past, so we’re sticking with him this weekend.