Opinion

The Burning Question – When to Free Hit?

The mourning period was suitably brief when Fantasy Premier League (FPL) announced the demise of the unloved All Out Attack chip.

Its replacement, the Free Hit, has vexed managers for a considerably longer period, with a number of theories as to its best use being touted.

The consensus was to save it for one of the inevitable late-season blank Gameweeks when sides drop out of the league schedule because of FA Cup commitments.

But even that has created confusion.

Should the Free Hit be deployed in Gameweek 31, when the FA Cup quarter-finals take place, or during the semi-final weekend of Gameweek 35?

And there’s even a school of thought that argues for the chip to be saved for the final Gameweek of the season to take advantage of plum fixtures and the teams with rather more to play for.

We asked Mark and our panel of Fantasy experts – reigning FPL champion Ben Crabtree, runner-up Uwais Ahmed and Career Hall of Fame top dogs Jay Egersdorff and Peter Kouwenberg – the latest in our series of Burning Questions: When is the optimum time to play the Free Hit chip?

Uwais Says…

When the Triple Captain and Bench Boost chips were introduced, it was fairly apparent to most within the FPL fraternity that they were to be used in conjunction with a Wildcard to take full advantage of the double Gameweeks in the latter part of the season.

Things, however, are not so obvious with the new Free Hit chip.

In pre-season, there was a lot of discussion that the FA Cup quarter-final weekend in Gameweek 31 would probably be the most opportune time to use it.

But I am of the view that if you have not yet deployed the second Wildcard, it might be an idea not to commit to the Free Hit chip then.

I took the view from quite early on that if the FA Cup draw was kind and did not pit too many Premier League clubs against one another in the early rounds, there was a great likelihood that we would see Premier League clubs going the distance in the competition.

In the last two seasons, the FA Cup has boasted an all-Premier League semi-final line-up, and I anticipate that to be the case this year, too.

If Spurs beat Rochdale at home in their fifth round replay, you just have to wonder how much value there is to use the Free Hit Chip simply to maximise returns from the four matches that currently make up Gameweek 31.

Looking at the upcoming schedules for the teams guaranteed fixtures – Liverpool, Everton, Watford, Bournemouth and even West Brom (although when you are bottom and seven points adrift, it is difficult to gauge what is a good fixture) – we have enough time from now to build a squad to ensure we have a respectable outing in that Gameweek.

We can then look to use our Wildcards soon after to take advantage of double Gameweeks as they have huge potential for explosive returns and could make the difference in our mini-leagues if prepared and executed properly.

We can then implement the Free Hit chip for Gameweek 35 – the FA Cup semi-final weekend – when there will be a bigger round of fixtures to choose from than in Gameweek 31.

These will include Arsenal at home to West Ham and Liverpool away to West Brom, and possibly even Manchester City vs Swansea City and Chelsea at home to Huddersfield.

Jay Says…

Short answer here is nobody knows!

While I think that planning is vital as we head into the final part of the season, it doesn’t make sense to me to plan for an eventuality when we don’t yet know the full facts.

Gameweeks 31 and 35 will throw up blanks, and Gameweeks 34 and 37 could throw up doubles.

But the Premier League have been known to catch out FPL managers in recent seasons with creative ways of rescheduling fixtures, the Gameweek 28 rearrangement of Arsenal v Man City being a prime example.

I remember Crystal Palace v Everton and Aston Villa v QPR fixtures being shunted into unexpected Gameweeks in recent seasons, so I can’t stress enough the importance of planning with the information that is definitely in front of you, NOT the information that could be in front of you.

FPL managers need to remember there are plenty of points to play for in Gameweeks 28-30, so taking one’s eye off the ball in the short-term planning department could be a dangerous strategy.

Peter Says…

I think anyone who tells you that a specific approach to the Free Hit chip is “clearly” the best approach is wrong.

For me, there are so many factors to consider – number of existing “blankers” in your squad, club priorities changing towards the end of the season, form, etc – that the decision whether to play the chip in Gameweek 31 or 35 really could go either way.

I’ve been going in circles playing out both scenarios and have even toyed with Wildcarding next week.

If pushed, though, my current feeling (possibly influenced by spending my Triple Captain chip so prematurely and profligately) is to cling onto that Free Hit chip like Scrooge grasping his last shilling for as long as possible.

Personally, I don’t subscribe to the school of thought which suggests that using the Free Hit in Gameweek 38 might be a masterstroke because those fixtures tend to throw up unpredictable results and rotations.

But I do favour the idea of wildcarding in Gameweek 32/33 in preparation for the double Gameweeks and using the Free Hit to deal with that (no longer quite as pesky) Gameweek 35.

Having read perfectly compelling and convincing arguments about both approaches, I decided upon my preference through the “revolutionary” approach of simply sketching out my team for the next few Gameweeks (including anticipated transfers, but ignoring the effect of injuries etc) “Sliding Doors” style.

Ultimately, I was happy to ride with an extra Stoke City/Liverpool player using free transfers until Gameweek 31 and couldn’t see a huge upside to using the Free Hit chip to flood my team. Everyone is going to have three Liverpool players regardless of their strategy, and I’m lukewarm about the other fixtures.

My prevailing feeling is that I’m not prepared to sacrifice the chip in Gameweek 31 just to crowbar in another two or three of the less fashionable players from unpredictable teams.

Retaining a bit more flexibility for the dying embers of the season – when we know who will be fighting, rather than holidaying, on the beaches – tempts me more than the lottery of which third Stoke or Bournemouth player could strike it lucky in Gameweek 31.

Ben Says…

In terms of setting up a much-needed strong finish to the season, I’d prefer to play the Free Hit in Gameweek 35.

This is based solely on being able to Wildcard in Gameweek 33, which would set me up for the remaining matches while ignoring the headache of factoring in who doesn’t play in Gameweek 35.

However, assuming Spurs beat Rochdale so their fixture with Newcastle vanishes from the Gameweek 31 schedule, I currently have just four players playing that week, with Jonjoe Kenny and Oumar Niasse making up half of them.

I have time to beef up this number with transfers, or can play the Free Hit, but the lack of appealing fixtures in Gameweek 31 make it a tough call.

I can either gradually bring in average players over the next few weeks to the incremental detriment of my team, or play my Free Hit to create the worst squad I’ll have ever owned in what could be a really low-scoring week.

The difference between fielding 11 and six players might amount to just 10-15 points, whereas using the Free Hit in Gameweek 35 means I can set a Wildcard team to take full advantage of the double Gameweeks 34 and 37.

There will also be more – and better – teams playing in Gameweek 35.

I didn’t know my answer when I started writing, but holding onto the Free Hit for Gameweek 35 is now my decision.

All of my next transfers won’t be aimed at Gameweek 31 as I want some Arsenal players after their Man City fixture, but I’ll add a few in and accept a low score in what is likely to be an underwhelming week.

Mark Says…

While it’s always wise to leave options open, the onset of Gameweek 31 means that we have to arrive at some kind of decision on our strategy in order to plan our four or five transfers between now and then.

I currently own six active Gameweek 31 players, though two of those names – Jonjoe Kenny and Collin Quaner – stretch the definition of “active”.

Still, with five free transfers remaining, I’m set on going into Gameweek 31 with seven or eight key assets, maybe more if a name emerges that warrants a points hit.

That is one very strong argument to keeping the Free Hit back for Gameweek 35.

The potential of the Bench Boost in Gameweek 34 is the other.

We’re not certain on what Gameweek 34 will present us just yet, rotation risks could actually limit the effectiveness of this chip quite considerably.

But then by saving the Free Hit for Gameweek 35, I would give myself maximum flexibility to exploit the double Gameweek that will surely arrive the week before.

No matter how many teams we get playing twice in Gameweek 34, knowing that I have the Free Hit to play immediately after to salve the damage inflicted by the blanks, offers me total freedom.

Hopefully, that can translate to an effective Bench Boost, and it will be the points from that, rather than my Free Hit tally, which could be the pay-off that really counts.

Conveniently, we will know the FA Cup semi-final line-up and therefore the full Gameweek 35 picture immediately after Gameweek 31. That should reveal the potential make-up of the Gameweek 37 doubles.

Having all our chips available with that information will likely be significant.

654 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Scotty B
    • 7 Years
    1 year, 8 months ago

    1 FT & 0 ITB

    Adrian
    TAA Duffy Alonso
    Ibe Walcott Shaqiri Sterling Salah
    Kane Aguero

    Elliot Otamendi Schindler Quaner

    Wouldn't usually take a hit for 2 defensive players but could these moves pay off for this and the following few gameweeks?

    Elliot & Otamendi > Foster & VVD

  2. jai1212
    • 5 Years
    1 year, 8 months ago

    DDG/Elliot
    Jones/Kenny/Dunk/Fernandez/Hegazi
    Sterling/Pogba/Salah/Shaqiri/Carroll
    Kane/Kaku/Wilson

    1FT and 0 itb

    Any suggestions?

  3. JurgenRodgers
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 2 Years
    1 year, 8 months ago

    Otamendi/Lingard out
    Dawson/Alli in -4?

  4. George James
    • 4 Years
    1 year, 8 months ago

    Any Watford fans have an opinion on Mariappa and if he they think he is nailed?

  5. Udo
    • 2 Years
    1 year, 8 months ago

    Lads what would u recommend as replacement for Jones? I'm thinking of Monreal, having Alonso, VVD, Mariappa, Zanka.

    1. Udo
      • 2 Years
      1 year, 8 months ago

      Any opinion welcome on what would u recommend as replacement for Jones? I'm thinking of Monreal, having Alonso, VVD, Mariappa, Zanka.

  6. mbsoz45
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 9 Years
    1 year, 8 months ago

    Here's my idea - if you have already used your WC as I have: Right now I'm looking at fielding 10 for week 31. A core of those will also be playing week 35 and I can use a free hit to add, for example, an Arsenal player. So I say play the free hit in week 34 to take advantage of all the 2GWs. I can field a very strong 11, especially if I down grade the bench players, GK, defenders and 1 MF, to 3.8 or 4. Next week, GW 35, the same core as 31 will be available and I think I'll get more points by loading up on double-bangers in GW 34.

    1. Udo
      • 2 Years
      1 year, 8 months ago

      Sounds like a plan actually.

  7. CRO KLOPP
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 2 Years
    1 year, 8 months ago

    De gea
    OTA, Alonso, Duffy
    Salah Sterling Son Shaqiri
    Kane, Firmino Wilson
    Elliot Ogbonna Kenny Lingard
    2 ft 0.3 itb
    A) OTA and Son to VVD and Mahrez
    B) Ogbonna and Lingard to Mili and VVD
    C) something else

  8. @FPremscout (liverpoolfanta…
    • 3 Years
    1 year, 8 months ago

    Anyone else not own Firmino and looking at Mane?

    I was almost convinced on Firmino due to his performances stopping my rise in rank but I now think why change, just get Mane as differential

    1. Mark
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • Has Moderation Rights
      • 12 Years
      1 year, 8 months ago

      Yeah, I'd doing just that - not because I don't rate Firmino, but because I think it's a decent dice roll as a differential. Firmino is clearly locked in by his owners.

      1. The Moe
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 5 Years
        1 year, 8 months ago

        Would you transfer in Verthongen or Maguire for the next three... VVD is not an option because I own Firm, Salah and Mane

      2. @FPremscout (liverpoolfanta…
        • 3 Years
        1 year, 8 months ago

        Ive been stuck at 30-35k for last 6 weeks because of Firmino mostly which was why I was so fond on getting him in. Now I come to think of it Mane could be a nice differential as you say. KDB would be the one who's sacrificed, quite like his chances vs arsenal even though away, so may wait a week. Need to look at gw31 striker punt if I do go Mane though, currently depoitre,kane,wilson.

      3. The Moe
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 5 Years
        1 year, 8 months ago

        Or is it alternative to go mane -> Eriksen and Ota -> VVD... i got enough coverage for 31 and 2FT

    2. Freddo
      • 2 Years
      1 year, 8 months ago

      Looked at Mane using the stats tables in the members area for thr last 4 and there's not much between him, Walcott, Siggy, Shaqiri or even Doucoure.

      Wonder if anyone would be looking at him if he didn't score that hatrick last week.

      Swerving Firmino would be a good way to make the rank worse, might be a case of picking your battles.

      1. @FPremscout (liverpoolfanta…
        • 3 Years
        1 year, 8 months ago

        Thats how I was looking at it prior to this Mane thought. He was dented my last 6 weeks so why not get him in for 31 but Mane is a form player and when he gets rolling you usually see some good returns. Yes of course the hat trick is what is swaying peoples minds, it's just whether people who don't have firmino want to pay 9.2. For me its Depoitre > Firmino and so It involves losing some other players such as Ota/Alonso and KDB.

        1. Freddo
          • 2 Years
          1 year, 8 months ago

          I hear what you're saying, I had Salah C last week and Firmino killed any gain from that pick, very frustrating and just think it's easier to stop that drip and look elsewhere for differentials.

          He's going to be a key player in the next 11 weeks and his ownership is going to be huge, you're pretty much gambling every week on him doing nothing to get any gain from your diffs.

          Could wait until 31 but with B2B H games next, you could be in a bad way by the time it comes around.

          Crucial part of the season to be betting against form, fixture and ownership, Mane is not really inform either, granted he scored a hatrick but look back over the last few weeks and his numbers don't pull up trees, good luck anyway, big call to make.

          1. @FPremscout (liverpoolfanta…
            • 3 Years
            1 year, 8 months ago

            Thanks you make some very persuasive points. firmino is the more sensible option. There are other times to gamble later on!

            I will probably ditch a def for VVD this week (Otamendi or Jones) and go KDB > Siggy, Depoitre to Firmino next week.

    3. Yozzer
      • 2 Years
      1 year, 8 months ago

      I'm thinking of going with Mane Bobby Salah. Going to see how mane does over the next gameweek. Not sure VVD has warranted all the love he is getting and I'm hoping mane performs now a lot have chosen VVD as their third.

      No Bobby could destroy your gw.

      1. Yozzer
        • 2 Years
        1 year, 8 months ago

        Infact no Bobby from now till them could is very brave to say the least. His ownership will be immense

        1. Yozzer
          • 2 Years
          1 year, 8 months ago

          *could rip all your planning apart.

      2. @FPremscout (liverpoolfanta…
        • 3 Years
        1 year, 8 months ago

        Completely see your points. It's what has held me back thus far.

        Reference VVD, He's the only good defender for gw31 which I think is why people are jumping on him and he is appealing until then as well

    4. shirtless
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 8 Years
      1 year, 8 months ago

      I'm bringing in Mane for Lingard, instead of Firmino for Quaner or Wilson seeing as they have a GW31 fixture and J-Lings doesn't. Nice differential too sat alongside Theo!

  9. stupendous
    • 7 Years
    1 year, 8 months ago

    Gtg?

    Lossl
    Maguire Daniels VVD
    Sterling Eriksen Choupo Salah (c)
    Wilson Kane Firmino

    Speroni King Mariappa Holgate

    3.4m itb

    1. Doosra - ☭A Noble Grape…
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 9 Years
      1 year, 8 months ago

      Lovely. Apart from King ... 😀

      You may have hit lucky with Speroni ... 😉

      1. stupendous
        • 7 Years
        1 year, 8 months ago

        Yea King is bench fodder but I can sort that if needed at some point with a free or WC

        Cheers!

  10. JurgenRodgers
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 2 Years
    1 year, 8 months ago

    Do benching decisions ever come down to Tv games?

    Eg : On paper Daniels has the fixture this Gw NEW H
    But I like the thought of watching Otamendi on Thursday night..

    Anyone else think along these lines?

    1. Yozzer
      • 2 Years
      1 year, 8 months ago

      No , it's tempting but if your serious about the game then pick the players who you think score the most , not who plays on tv

      1. JurgenRodgers
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 2 Years
        1 year, 8 months ago

        Its only when its a 50/50 decision usually lol

  11. JurgenRodgers
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 2 Years
    1 year, 8 months ago

    No further action on the Firmino/Holgate incident
    https://t.co/SzPq7Tf8SU

    Bobby owners can breath a sigh of relief

    1. Yozzer
      • 2 Years
      1 year, 8 months ago

      Wonder how much money and time they wasted on that little investigation.

  12. FFSheep Trooper
    • 3 Years
    1 year, 8 months ago

    kun -> firmino
    sterling -> erikson
    ramsey -> mahrez/mane

    and took -8.. madness..?

    1. Regin
      • 2 Years
      1 year, 8 months ago

      just do 1 transfer for now. kun to firmino seems good.

  13. The Alli Way
    • 2 Years
    1 year, 8 months ago

    Any ideas on what to do here? Won't be free hitting in GW31

    DDG (Elliot)
    Alonso Azpi Otamendi Mee (Ogbonna)
    Salah Sterling Shaqiri (Lingard (RLC))
    Kane Firmino Wilson

    Thanks! 🙂

  14. Regin
    • 2 Years
    1 year, 8 months ago

    i have 7 players playing in GW 31. Which transfer to do this week?
    Aguero- Kane
    OR
    Jones (injured) to Hegazi or Daniels (to have 1 more gw 31player)

    WC already used. FH available.

  15. Magic Box
    • 5 Years
    1 year, 8 months ago

    Alderweireld a tasty option at 5.8, do you think he'll start now back to fitness?

    1. Az
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • Has Moderation Rights
      • 10 Years
      1 year, 8 months ago

      I think there's something else going on with him. Contract dispute, wanting a move somewhere etc.
      Weird that he hasn't featured at all and he's been back for a while now...

  16. J-NOISE
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 3 Years
    1 year, 8 months ago

    Thanks Mark/Jay/Uwais/Peter/Ben

    The info was quite diverse and not pointing at the same angle.

    But we are surely waiting for a refresher after GW31.

    That is critical because we should have more info at that time.

    Cheers

  17. @fpl_phenom
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 4 Years
    1 year, 8 months ago

    So what teams should I be targeting on my wildcard?

    What teams will double in 34 and 37?

  18. emyoueffsee
    • 4 Years
    1 year, 2 months ago

    45 with Zaha to play. Got unlucky with Arnautovic and Welbeck goal cost me another bp too. How does a guy who scores in injury time win the max bonus?, complete joke.