With the curtailed Gameweek 35 now underway, our latest examination of Fantasy Premier League (FPL) metrics will focus on the Free Hit versus the no Free Hit scenario among managers currently ranked in the top 10,000.
As anticipated, the vast majority of Free Hits remaining were activated this week, making the overall usage of the chip jump from 67% to 97.9% in the top 10k. This means that this chip is now the closest to being used-up among the current top 10k.
The only other chip that saw some significant increase in Gameweek 35 was the second Wildcard, which was activated by 4.78% of managers in the top 10k.
But in today’s analysis, we will concentrate purely on the Free Hit scenario.
With one-third of active managers playing that chip prior to the deadline, this group will doubtless appreciate a view of how they fare compared with their peers.
Similarly, the remaining managers without the chip active can also get a view of how their squads measure up.
As we revealed earlier in the week, the non-Free Hit managers had an average of 7.4 players with a Gameweek 35 fixture before the deadline.
But analysis of the latest data reveals that, as expected, these managers used their free transfers and spent points on further trades to reinforce their squads.
This group in the top 10k took an average of -3.63 points in deductions, which is the biggest “hits” figure I’ve recorded this season.
It meant that the non-Free Hit managers in the top 10k were able to field an average of 9.93 players for Gameweek 35, as detailed below.
Around 61.5% of them could even field a squad of 10 players or more, which might suffice in keeping pace with Free Hit managers.
However, not surprisingly, the squads with the Free Hit in play avoided all points deductions and averaged 14.7 players active for Gameweek 35.
Now let’s look closer and assess the most popular selections in both the Free Hit and non-Free Hit squads.
Below is a squad made up of the most owned players selected by Free Hit managers in the top 10k.
Meanwhile, the squad for non-Free Hit managers looks somewhat different:
We see Mohamed Salah (99.06%) is the dominant figure in Free Hit ranks, along with Gabriel Jesus (98.09%) and Raheem Sterling (94.18%).
Indeed, Salah has a similarly high ownership (92.36%) in non-Free Hit teams.
However, with a blank in Gameweek 34, many non-Free Hit managers were forced to spend points to acquire Jesus and Sterling.
As a result, they are found in just 49.08% and 58.2% of squads respectively.
Their output tomorrow against Swansea City already looks to be crucial in the shake-up among the top 10k managers.
There are other disparities that create a cast of players key to the success of the Free Hit.
Players like Leighton Baines, Hector Bellerin, Kevin De Bruyne and Alexandre Lacazette are far from common factors in non-Free Hit squads.
To examine this further, here is a table of the most owned players in Free Hit teams versus their ownership in the non-Free Hit squads among the top 10k.
|Player||Free Hit Ownership||non Free Hit Ownership||Total Top 10k Ownership|
|Virgil van Dijk||31.87%||14.68%||19.99%|
|Kevin De Bruyne||30.54%||7.61%||14.70%|
|Patrick van Aanholt||16.37%||2.04%||6.47%|
The table highlights that the majority of the selected players in the Free Hit squads show low ownership in non-Free Hit line-ups.
Already today, many non-Free Hit managers will have been hugely relieved at Wilfried Zaha’s blank at Watford given the big disparity in ownership. Some 82.4% of the top 10k Free Hit managers fielded the Eagles winger, compared with 17.5% of the rest of the top 10k.
There are, of course, more opportunities to come with tomorrow’s fixtures.
However, there are also some players who could prove key figures for those without the Free Hit active.
Of these, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (51.47% compared to 28.63%), Nicolás Otamendi (36.56% compared to 14.36%) and David Silva (14.99% compared to 9.9%) look poised to make the most impact.
These major differentials will surely decide how Gameweek 35 affects the current top 10k rankings.
It will be fascinating to carry out a post-mortem on the results and compare these to the impact of the Free Hit chip back in Gameweek 31, when we saw the previous set of reduced fixtures.
Finally, I’ll leave you with a look at each of the Premier league sides most represented in both groups of managers.
As we can see, every Free Hit manager in the top 10k opted for three Manchester City players. Meanwhile, the non-Free Hit manager has an average of 2.1.
It’s a similar story for Liverpool, with an average of 2.8 players in Free Hit active squads, compared with 2.1 in the rest.
While major Liverpool assets blanked today, it’s essentially Man City and Arsenal (2.1 vs 1.0 players) options that seem likely to decide the gap between the Free Hit and the non-Free Hit managers.