Fantasy Premier League is back and there are so many things to consider for my team.
When the June 17th restart was announced I felt well placed with my team and chip strategy for the rest of the season. I am still sat at 4.5k overall rank ready to push on. Then came the unlimited transfers/new Wildcard rumours…
At first, I was firmly in the camp of not wanting that, I felt very much that this would detract from the fact that I was holding my Wildcard and would cost me the advantage that chip provided.
However, since the announcement last Monday I have changed my mind. In an ideal world, I always like to play my Bench Boost chip in a Double Gameweek.
Gameweek 30+ is almost certainly the only opportunity left this season now to play that chip in a Double Gameweek, so using the chip this Gameweek does make sense.
This means my Wildcard has become increasingly important. Using my unlimited transfers to create a team specifically for Double Gameweek 30+ is achievable as I have the opportunity to use my Wildcard for Gameweek 31+ and remove the players I brought in for the double.
This strategy means that I am not having to compromise my long-term plans for the sake of the Double Gameweek, whilst also allowing me to (hopefully) reap the benefits of having a strong first-XI and bench for this coming Gameweek.
Chip strategy is always important in the final weeks of a season because there is an array of Blank and Double Gameweeks to navigate. However, this season, with just one Double and no planned Blanks you might expect the chips to be less important.
However, the last week has shown me that, in fact, the opposite is true. The FPL community is buzzing with conflicting views on how to manage these weeks. We would normally have the form of both the teams and individual players to base our choices on, but after such a long spell without competitive football we have to focus our thoughts on the fixtures and what we expect of the teams in terms of their return e.g. relegation battle, European qualification and Premier League title race.
This means that while normally we would narrow our options down to these teams and then use the form of individual players to narrow the pool of FPL options to a more manageable level, Project Restart leaves us with the bottom eight and top nine clubs to choose from, leaving only a couple of mid-table teams who are safe and cannot reach the European spots that we give less focus to.
The recent Fantasy Football Scout articles recapping the best assets in each team have been invaluable reading (find links to them all below). They have drawn together all we know about each side and helped me work out where I need to prioritise for the squads I will be building for the Double Gameweek and beyond.
The relegation-threatened teams to consider for FPL investment
The teams chasing European football to consider
This wide pool of players to pick from, alongside a lack of pre-season friendly information, which we would usually have after such a long break from FPL, is another reason that I am keen to use my unlimited transfers to build a solid Bench Boost team.
Once we have a full Gameweek of data to assess, it should make choosing a team easier. This is especially true given the increase in substitutes allowed, both on the bench and allowed to come on to the field of play.
This unknown in terms of rotation risks and those likely to be removed before the magic 60-minute marks is another reason to use the unlimited transfers and then plan to play my official Wildcard the week after. Having every game televised will also be really useful in terms of FPL planning, as getting a full view of every game will enable us to conduct as many in-depth eye-tests as we want.
With Gameweek 30+ the only planned Double for the rest of the season it feels like most FPL managers will be choosing to play a chip to try and capitalise on the four teams who play twice.
Had Official FPL not given everyone unlimited transfers, this would have probably been a big week for Wildcards. But as it stands, FPL managers will be using their Bench Boost, Triple Captain or Free Hit chips instead.
To me, it seems likely that those without a Wildcard will Free Hit and those without will Bench Boost or potentially play their Triple Captain if they do not have their Bench Boost left.
Here’s my strategy:
Double Gameweek30+ — Bench Boost
Gameweek 31+ — Wildcard
Gameweek 38+ — Free Hit (to focus on those teams with something to play for on the final week)
I then knew that I had the opportunity to fill my team with three players from each of the four Double Gameweek teams, meaning that it would be possible for me to have 12 out of my 15 players playing twice.
Whilst this appears like an appealing option at first glance one of the things I am always conscious of when dealing with Double Gameweeks is overlooking the single Gameweek players.
There are so many teams out there with only one fixture but they have the perfect combination of something to play for as well as a favourable fixture. For example, within the community, there is a lot of talk of removing the Liverpool assets.
However, I will be holding mine. Liverpool are playing in the Merseyside derby and are six points away from lifting the title so there does not seem to be any greater motivation for the likes of Mohamed Salah (£12.7m), Sadio Mané (£12.5m) or Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.8m) to score big Fantasy points than that.
With so many managers using their unlimited transfers to removing single Gameweek players, this could be a Gameweek where goals from Liverpool or Wolves assets actually become differential picks and give an advantage in mini-leagues.
At the complete opposite end of the league, we have Norwich. Prior to lockdown, it was a tale of despair but a long break and some appealing fixtures. If the Canaries are going to have any chance of staying up they will have to win their next two matches.
That has made me consider Teemu Pukki (£6.5m) and Todd Cantwell (£4.7m) as really interesting picks for Double Gameweek 30+; they are usually involved when Norwich score. It is also worth checking out Ondrej Duda (£4.7m), who has made an impact since arriving at Carrow Road. David revealed some interesting data about him HERE.
Wolves are another team to watch out for over the next few days. It is, of course, a standard Gameweek for them but European football is still within their reach.
Options such as Diogo Jota (£6.4m), Raúl Jiménez (£8.1m) and Matt Doherty (£6.3m) could offer really good returns against West Ham at a time where many might be tempted to Free Hit them out or swap them as part of the unlimited transfer strategy.
Finally, I am also planning to use Double Gameweek 30+ to keep a close eye on Newcastle. The Magpies are one of those teams who sit in the middle of the league with seemingly little to play for but their fixtures are really nice and with rumours surrounding the future of the club, they could be really good options if they start well. Deciding what to do with Jamaal Lascelles (£4.3m) is one of my big decisions ahead of the deadline on Wednesday.
My current Bench Boost team looks like this:
There is a mix of Double Gameweek players who I think will get minutes across both of the games for their teams, as well as single Gameweek players who have the potential to do well.
The unlimited transfers followed by a Wildcard means that I can take some risks on the basis that I can reverse them soon after. Hopefully, this strategy should help me get back inside that top 1k overall rank.
Nominated for ‘Best in Fantasy Football – Editorial’ at the Football Content Awards 2020
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