Fantasy Premier League managers are currently wondering the best way to edge past their rivals when Mohamed Salah (£13.5m) has dominated the captaincy debate.
We’ve put that question to a former winner to get his thoughts, whilst also considering the upcoming Blank and Double Gameweeks, which specifically involve what to do with Manchester City assets.
Read on to see what our panel has said this week…
Who’s on the panel this week?
Simon March – One of the select group of FPL managers to have finished first in the world, Simon topped the overall rankings in 2014/15.
Dr Ben McNair – Based in Australia, Ben has four finishes inside the top 5,000 to his name and is an expert in all things metrics-related.
Question 1 – Simon
FPL Virgin: With every man and his dog captaining Salah, how do we get an edge in the final third of the season?
Simon: “If everybody really is captaining Salah, then this, itself, creates an opportunity to make gains by ‘simply’ selecting alternative captains.
“There is an argument for trying this, for example, Liverpool have a decent fixture this week, but Arsenal, Manchester United and Spurs have arguably better ones and fair few captaincy options among them.
“Captaining a player from one of these sides could really pay off if they do manage to outscore Salah and judicious use of this strategy throughout the season could make a big difference should things go your way.
“That said, it’s a high-risk strategy and it is at least questionable whether the potential reward really justifies it, particularly because the risk of falling behind also gets bigger the larger the number of people who captain Salah and the greater his returns.
“The more sensible strategy is, probably, more incremental in nature. Captain Salah when it makes sense to do so and focus on gaining the advantage from the rest of your team.
“I do believe in being bold with captaincy choices when there’s a standout opportunity but, ultimately, captaincy feels like it should be the last place that Fantasy managers should be taking risks.
“Also, captaincy risks right now might be unnecessary with so many different dynamics yet to come into play this season, not least being the Double gameweeks which, we know, Salah, himself, will not have.
“Salah might look like he has a firm grip on the captaincy right now but, as we know, things can change very quickly in FPL.
“Over a season, the best differential is consistency and, sometimes, this means being patient and taking small, informed risks over time, not forcing the big (bad) ones. Let other people take those.”
Question 2 – Ben
Pascal Cygan: With planning for Blank Gameweeks (Gameweek 27 particularly) in mind, is it now too late to think about bringing Man City players back in if you don’t already have them?
Ben: “Not necessarily, provided you wait until after the weekend. Your strategy for navigating the risks of Blank and Double gameweeks is an important input to the decision.
“A key part of your strategy should be making transfers as late as you can. By the Gameweek 24 deadline we will have learned whether Manchester City have a Double Gameweek 25, updated probabilities of their Blanks in Gameweek 31 and Gameweek 33, and a much better idea of how many players you might need to move out of your team by Gameweek 31.
“Imagine City get a Double in Gameweek 25 and Burnley knock them out of the FA Cup. That would change things considerably.
“However, don’t focus only on the Blank and Double Gameweek schedule. Last season I did so at the expense of focusing on form and it cost me points.
“I bought Sané last week and I don’t regret it yet. I’m not sure I could face having a second Manchester City player, though, with the Gameweek 27 Blank to be managed along with their inherent rotation risk.”
Question 3 – Josh
William Sutanto: Who is the best defender under £5.0m who isn’t Wan-Bissaka? It’s hard to find value in that position right now
“Here are two candidates to consider, both of whom were either injured or out-of-favor earlier this season which has kept them off most people’s radar
“The first is Sead Kolasinac at £4.9m and owned by only 4.0% of managers.He is locked into an Arsenal team and about to go on an extraordinary run of fixtures, Cardiff, Huddersfield, Southampton, and Bournemouth in four of their next five.
“The Gunners haven’t kept too many clean sheets this season (who has outside of Liverpool?) but he’s a naturally attacking full-back and has already picked up four assists on the season.
“Expect assists and/or clean sheets from Kola during his upcoming run.
“The other is Jan Bednarak and £3.9m, 5.6% ownership, and earning starts in the last eight matches for Southampton.
“After falling out of favor with Mark Hughes, the Polish international seems like a sure starter under Hasenhüttl, even more so with Wesley Hoedt sent away on loan this week. Only a late goal from Gylfi Sigurdsson prevented Southampton from keeping two clean sheets in their last three,sothere has definitely been some improvement at the back.
“He may not be a set-and-forget starter, but with Palace, Burnley, and Cardiff in Gameweeks 24to 26 you could reasonably make a case for starting Bednarak in any of those matches.
“At the very least he can save you a little bit of extra money compared to some of the other starting defenders under £5.0m.”
Question 4 – Brandon
Paul Roukey: When does it change from being patient (good FPL management) to being stubborn (bad FPL management) with respect to holding Hazard?
Brandon: “Since joining Chelsea in 2012, Hazard has come to define two distinct FPL clichés.
“The first is patience: a valuable FPL asset that is worth holding through thick and thin, knowing that at the end of the season they’ll undoubtedly be near the top of the stats page.
“The second cliché, of course, is the FPL troll: the player who you can’t resist, but will always let you down.
“A wise friend of the Always Cheating Podcast once said, ‘Getting Hazard into your FPL team is like switching checkout lanes at the grocery store, yet always finding yourself in the slowest one.’
“I currently have Hazard in my side and this is my second spell with him this season. My first spell was a lot more fun, playing Hazard Gameweek 5 to Gameweek 10, a window in which he posted five goals and one assist (including a hat trick in Gameweek 5).
“That’s an average of eight points per Gameweek. Not bad. In that sample size of six matches, half were blanks and he didn’t even appear in Gameweek 10.
“So, my takeaway from this first run is that Hazard’s appeal is his explosive nature, rather than his consistency.
“More recently, I brought Hazard in for Gameweek 20, and I’m still holding him ahead of the Gameweek 24 match away at the Vitality Stadium.
“Only four matches of data to look at this time around, but Hazard has managed just one attacking return. An assist—since Gameweek 20, which is supremely frustrating. Even more galling is that Chelsea haven’t come up with a penalty call since Gameweek 19.
“The hope is that Hazard can deliver one or two explosive performances in the next few matches—ahead of a possible Gameweek 27 blank, which would surely coincide with a massive fire sale.
“But, against Arsenal especially, Chelsea’s attack has looked stifled and uninspired. And Gameweek 26 offers a brutal match-up with Manchester City.
“Where will this supposed explosion come from? Seemingly out of nowhere? During that original window of my ownership, Hazard boasted 17 goal attempts and five big chances. Over the last four matches, he’s managed just eight attempts on goal with a very worrying zero big chances.
“It feels like it’s time to sell Hazard, even with two good fixtures upcoming (Bournemouth and Huddersfield), especially if you can target in-form players like Sterling, Sane, and Pogba.
“To now choose Hazard over City midfield coverage, in particular, is a calculated risk.
“So what is your FPL management style? Are you a risk taker? Are you, as Joe might say, a dullard?
“To answer the specific question above: Heading into Gameweek 24, what you do with Hazard is less about being a good or bad FPL manager.
“Rather, it’s about whether you manage with low or high risk. With that said, if we experience two more blanks over the next two Gameweeks, then we definitely have to revisit this as a very stark, very bleak good/bad management question.”
Become a Member and access our data
Memberships for the 2018/19 campaign are now available for the price of just £10.
Join now to get the following:
- Plot your transfer strategies using the fully interactive Season Ticker.
- Get projections for every Premier League player provided by the Rate My Team statistical model.
- Use Rate My Team throughout the season to guide your selections and transfers.
- Get access to over 130+ exclusive members articles over the season.
- Analyse our OPTA-powered statistic tables specifically tailored for Fantasy Football Managers.
- Use our exclusive tool to build custom stats tables from over 100 OPTA player and team stats.
- View heatmaps and expected goals data for every player.
- Use our powerful comparison tool to analyse players head-to-head.