Marco and I had a pre-season email correspondence trying to answer the question “How many points is $1.0 million?” to help grapple with how to value players when the only data you have is this year’s price against last year’s performance numbers.

After digging through some spreadsheets and making a few comparisons among players having similar value stats & number of appearances but different 2018/2019 pre-season prices and 2017/2018 points totals, I came to a cursory conclusion that players priced $0.5 apart in preseason this year scored about 11 points apart at the end of last year and a $1.0 M  difference in pre-season prices reflected about a 19-point difference in previous year performance. Economics aficionados will recognize the concept of Decreasing Marginal Returns implicit in the numbers above.

Through confusing various verb tenses and under emphasizing the very serious issue that “past performance is no guarantee of future results,” I fear I buried the lede: This kind of analysis is almost certainly better at explaining how the EFL Game Masters come up with starting prices, than it is at explaining what we should do. But, if this is correct–and I think it is–it’s nice to know that the only tool available to us is also the only tool available to them. We have transfers, they have price changes.

I bring this up for two reasons, though. The first is that I wanted to clarify the point. File it away for next year. The second is that I’m interested in a question that sounds the same even though it’s different:

How many points is a Wildcard worth?

This isn’t to ask: How many points better off should I be at the end of the season based on the performances of my pre-Wildcard vs. my post-Wildcard team? It’s more like How big a point hit would you take in order to preserve your Wildcard?

That question is a lot more relevant to most of us right now anyway than the price question so I thought I’d ask it now. How big a point hit would you take before you decided to click the button?

My own personal situation, writing on Sunday evening, is that I have 2 free transfers available and I could be several levels of manager satisfaction higher going into game week 4 than I am now if I make four transfers. Factors impacting my going-beyond-free-transfers decision are:

Against
– That’s an 8 point hit
– Despite the not-really-that-disappointing-in-the-grand-scheme-of-things GW3*, I’m off to my best EFL start ever
– The GW4 fixtures for my current team are really good in general
– I have low risk of taking a zero in GW4
– I can make progress toward my 8-point-hit endstate with the free transfers I have
– All the players I’d drop are starting* and providing regular returns

For
-All the players I’m chasing are starting and providing better returns
– My 8-point-hit roster leaves me with nothing in the bank and the players I want are rising rapidly in price
– *O Richarlison; How thou doth vex me!**
– The otherwise lovable and improving Trent Alexander-Arnold is sending me on internet searches to research the intricacies of yellow card accumulation punishment. Pro tip: At this rate, his special hearing at the FA to discuss his on-field behaviour should take place around the 12th of February following his 20th clean sheet and 20th yellow card.
– OK you get the point. I’m really comfortable with the 4 moves. In aggragate, they seem like a good idea to me…

…Except for the 8-point hit or losing the wildcard.

Looking at the pros and cons list, it seems like I’m more motivated greed and chasing luxury than I am by necessity. Based on my results so far, I think I’ve convinced myself to be conservative and keep my powder dry. I’ll probably use my use-it-or-lose-it transfer one way or another. And I might put half of my plan in place with the second free transfer. After that I think I’ll roll the dice on price changes that may or may not happen and adapt from there.

I’ll save the last point in the Against column to foreshadow a future Hodge Podge edition where I will unload some thoughts I’ve been having about Salah and the Wildcard, and how I haven’t been able to think about one without thinking about the other.

But still, if anybody has any ideas about how many points a Wildcard is worth, I’d love to hear them. I’ll throw my best guess out there. If you’re about to spend 12 points or more on transfers that you feel you absolutely have to make, consider activating the Wildcard. That’s my opinion today. I can be convinced to have others. Twelve points is a lot. I’ve had legit 11 starter game weeks in the past where I finished on 18 points. Points are usually harder to get than they have been for many of us so far this year so don’t throw them away lightly.
I’m not pathologically allergic to spending points for transfers, but I have what I think is a healthy bias against it.

**FWIW, even swap to Wolcott for now. Managers who had Richarlison at $6.5 will not suffer from a $0.1 M price drop, but the clock’s ticking on a Walcott jump. And to be fair in my psychic attitude to Richarlison, I had him from the begining, so since he’s probably reading this for the betterment of his own fantasy team: We’re good, meu irmão. I’d like to if he sold himself.

My team: https://fantasy.premierleague.com/a/team/318573/event/3

And remember, you should dive!

J Hodge

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