It’s that time of year again, when blanks and double Gameweeks bring promise of meteoric rises in Overall resRank (OR) for those of us who’ve saved our chips and plan thoroughly to maximise their points return.

This week’s FA Cup results and Monday’s QF provide us the greatest deluge of information this season to really start considering our chip strategy, so I wanted to share my initial thoughts on my planning for this crucial period. Let’s start by looking at the opportunity presented to us by this upcoming fixture upheaval.

The “Blanks”

Any teams who have this week progressed to the QF of the FA Cup, will not be able to play their GW31 fixture, due to a clash with their next round cup tie. This also effects whichever team they faced that week. As such, the below fixtures will NOT take place as scheduled in GW31:

(credit: Ben Crellin, The Fantasy Football Hub)

The above teams also have the potential to miss a fixture in GW33, and last night’s draw throws up a guarantee of a rescheduled GW33 fixture between Wolves & Man United. Courtesy of Ben Crellin’s fantastic work on blank probability we know these are the contingencies on which GW33 blanks hinge:

Immediately, we know that the result of Watford v Crystal Palace will deliver another blank for the successful team and their GW33 opponent. We also may have a high level of confidence that Man City will get past Swansea and suffer another blank, BUT let’s stick to what we KNOW for now.

What is clear is that the unprepared manager will really struggle to field 11 playing assets in GW31, and potentially also in GW33. This presents a fantastic opportunity for knowledgeable and active managers to steal a march on their ML rivals and global OR competition. However, the rescheduling of these blank fixtures means it’s not as simple as dumping players from the above teams, and there are a number of ways we can navigate this.

The Double Gameweeks

Thanks to the expertise of Ben Crellin in this area, again, we know to a high level of certainty that the two available midweek windows to reschedule the missing fixtures from GW31 & GW33 are in GW32 & GW35.

Clearly the first of these poses the greatest conundrum in terms of planning to maximise your team for the blanks, since the players you want to remove for GW31 are the very players you’ll want to load up on in GW32 to take full advantage of the fact they play two fixtures in one GW. Many of these players may then have no fixture again in GW33.

This is where our “chips” become invaluable, and those who retain a full complement of chips are in a powerful position to maximise their points potential over this period. But we’ll get to that later.

At this stage, it’s impossible to be certain when the GW31 fixtures will be rescheduled, but the current assumption is that it makes sense that they’ll be moved straight into the following GW. If so, the fixture schedule would look something like this:

Our challenge as managers is to use this information to the best of our ability to ensure maximum coverage of DGW assets, while ensuring we are not left drastically short of players during the BGWs, and at the same time not overlooking the significant points potential during the SGWs running up to and throughout this crucial period.

A Few Possible Strategies 

There is no end to the potential ways to utilise your chips across this period, but here are a few of the more common approaches being discussed in the community.

The most likely chip that some serious players will have spent is their Triple Captain (thank you Sané!!), but in each scenario I will assume we have all three, and that many will have taken the decision to use it on a SGW player. 

FH32, WC34, BB35, TC-SGW

Pros: Allows a completely free-roll at a full XI of DGW players for GW32, and a WC to completely reset your team again one week before the second DGW. This strategy perhaps maximises the DGWs most effectively.

Cons: Relies on building a GW31 team with FTs from now on. This could lead to overlooking other form assets in the next 5 weeks, such as Man City or Spurs, since they won’t have a fixture.

Pro Tip: Try not to focus entirely on non-blanking players for GW31. The fixtures in this blank GW are not very inspiring, and nor are the teams who have fixtures in GW32. It’s possible to cherry-pick a few quality GW31 assets, and with 2FT held to add 2 (or 3 for a hit) at the last minute.

 

FH31, WC34, BB35, TC-SGW

Pros: Allows a manager to ignore assets from the likes of Leicester, West Ham, Bournemouth, and focus on the like of City and Spurs, building a DGW32 team with FT. Does allow a manager to hit the reset button in advance of the second DGW.

Cons: While your team will be cherry-picked in GW31 to cover the best possible assets who retain fixtures in this reduced fixture schedule, the team built for DGW32 may contain a significant number of players who blank in GW33.

Pro Tip: Perhaps focus on Arsenal, Chelsea and Southampton assets, who potentially have a DGW32 and are guaranteed a fixture in GW33.

 

WC29/30, FH31, BB32, TC35

Pros: Allows managers who have a weak setup for GW31 or significant problems with the current squad to take the opportunity to steal a march on rivals who will WC later. Perhaps a BB in GW32 has less chance of being hit by rotation, with more teams still having something to fight for.

Cons: Your BB team will have been built a few weeks early and FH31 loses you one FT and the ability to roll one, so injuries/form could make your DGW32 team sub-optimal. We can’t be sure how DGW35 looks yet, and you lose the opportunity to select your squad for this week just before the deadline.

Pro Tip: This approach really an opportunity to differentiate your strategy from your opponents, so try to maximise usage of assets that they may have to select more sparingly, such as Man City

 

WC32, FH33, BB35, TC-SGW

Pros: As with the FH32 approach, managers can build a tailored GW32 squad immediately prior to the deadline, with maximum information. Any weak assets that have been purchased to optimise GW31 can be jettisoned straight after the blank.

Cons: Again, your DGW35 squad will have been selected with just 3 GW prior, and FH33 means you will have just 2FT to adjust your squad. With the BB played you really don’t want any players missing as you’ll need to be able to use your entire squad of XV.

Pro Tip: With the advantage of a WC immediately after GW31, you probably want to be far less conservative than some others in loading up on non-blanking GW31 players, while some managers will happily go in with just 8-9 players.

The Best Way to Use Your Chips

What has become apparent, more so than previous years, is that the best way to maximise your points potential is entirely dependent on your current team setup, and certainly what chips you have remaining. So, let’s look at the key factors in deciding our strategy:

What chips do you have remaining?

Triple Captain

Many of us will have used our TC chip already. Some successfully on Agüero, others less so on his team mate Sané. If you retain your TC, and you’d much prefer to play it in a DGW, then you may want to lean towards a FH31 strategy… or perhaps an early WC one.

Those of us who’ve used, only likely have two major DGWs to come and both FH and BB would generally be accepted as far stronger chips to keep for these

Free Hit & Wildcard

Both of these chips are extremely powerful in enabling us to transform our teams completely either temporarily or permanently, so are your most effective tool in tailoring a squad for a full throttle attack on DGW players or to capitalise on the limited fixture list that many will struggle with in BGWs

If you are without either of these chips, there is no denying your planning for the run-in will be far more tricky and will require very precise planning to utilise your FTs as efficiently as possible to cover the BGW and DGW fixtures. A team planning spreadsheet such as those available on The Fantasy Football Hub could be invaluable for this.

How many GW31 players do I have? 

The following are the only teams have fixtures in GW31. All of these except for Newcastle & Fulham are also guaranteed to have a fixture in GW33, so if you can comfortably build a squad from these teams, then FH32 seems perhaps the best route.

  • Liverpool
  • Chelsea
  • Leicester
  • Bournemouth
  • West Ham
  • Everton
  • Burnley
  • Huddersfield
  • Newcastle *
  • Fulham *

Assuming you are yet to make a transfer for GW27 yet, we each have 5FT to manipulate our team towards a GW31 team we’re happy with.

In my opinion, it’s not essential to get a full XI players out for GW31, certainly not at the expense of selling players who could score well in the next 5 GWs, such as Man City, Man United and Spurs assets.

What about your Wolves and Man Utd players?

The FA Cup draw last night through an absolute curveball at FPL managers when the Wolves v Man Utd tie confirmed these teams to both have a blank in GW33.

What this means is that these teams will be missing in GW31, have a DGW32 and then blank again in GW33. I believe these two teams deliver a particular challenge, as most of us will have a significant number of their assets (I have 2 United and 3 Wolves).

The fact that it’s not possible now to FH31 without these heavily owned assets, and have them return in GW33, makes the FH32 strategy much more attractive now.

That said, many managers will stand to lose a lot of value of these assets. Those of us who bought Doherty at 4.4 or Jiménez at 5.5 will find it much more difficult to sell and buy back at a loss of 0.5 and 0.7 respectively. Pogba and Rashford pose a similar issue. Selling and re-buying may not be desirable, or indeed possible.

Clearly, it’s unlikely we can retain all of these well-owned assets, but perhaps those we have most value tied-up in would likely for the majority of our bench assets for the blanks.

How is your current team looking for GW31 and GW32?

At the most basic level, if your team is extremely light on players for GW31, but well-stocked for the upcoming DGWers, then it may be more difficult for you to build a strong team for GW31 and then FH32. Perhaps the greatest upside for you would be to FH31 and continue building a strong team of DGW players from good teams who have good form and fixtures in the run-up.

There are two downsides to this strategy is that we do not know for certain that the GW31 fixtures will be rescheduled to GW32, and you could be preparing for fixtures that don’t appear as expected. Also, this strategy will make it difficult to have a strong team for GW33, as many of the DGWers will be blanking in GW33 again. You need to decide where your greatest advantage can be gained based on your specific team setup. 

So what are my current plans?

My team is pretty well set for GW31 currently, having already brought in Anderson and Pereira this week for Sané and Digne. I currently have 7 players with a GW31 fixture, have a heavy load of Wolves and Man Utd assets and as I mentioned previously I have no TC chip to use, so my initial thoughts are that a FH32 strategy is perfect for my setup.

As I said previously, I’m not going to worry too much about having a full XI for GW31, and feel I’m in the fortunate position of not having to ignore GW31 blankers who may have good points potential in the coming weeks.

Using my FPL planner, I’ve mapped out a transfer plan over the next few weeks that involves:

 

GW28: Roll FT

GW29: Aubameyang > Aguero

GW30: Jiménez > Rondon

GW31: 8 Playable players and 2FT to add two more for free

 

Final Thoughts

As I’ve said throughout, I firmly believe the best route to GW31 and beyond is very much dependent on your own situation, and it’s important to remember that is a fluid situation. The above remains very much a loose plan, and I have alternative options in mind even now.

  • Perhaps I will bring Aguero in a week earlier and roll a FT in GW30
  • Maybe I will consider Barnes instead of Rondon
  • I remain open to flexing to a WC32 strategy as we near the blanks and doubles and the landscape develops, although this is looking unlikely

In my opinion, the important thing is to have a plan, know what the landscape is at the moment. Be aware of what factors may cause you to re-think your current strategy. Don’t remain rigidly tied to a chip strategy or a transfer plan.

Strategise what kind of team you can build if you were to use 1FT per week, or if you were to use your WC or FH in a given GW. Having looked at the various options in detail empowers you to know what alternatives you have to fall back on.

Hope these thoughts have helped you start thinking about your own strategy for this exciting period of the season. Best of luck to you with your planning!

If you are interested, you can check out my planner below for members. If you subscribe to the site, make sure to use the coupon code JOSSY to get the first month for just £1.

Jossy

Jossy’s FPL Planner

 

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