With Double Gameweek 25 yet to conclude on Wednesday night, Fantasy Premier League managers are thinking more long-term this week.
The latest edition of Question Time sees us discuss the future Blank and Double Gameweeks, and the best strategies for planning for them.
That includes how we can use our free transfers to get us through the period which contains Blank Gameweek 27 and Blank Gameweek 31, as well as when to use the chips.
We’ve also looked at what goalkeepers can help Fantasy managers out, with very few obvious candidates right now, with Eden Hazard (£10.9m) also discussed.
Who’s on the panel this week?
Joe – A long-time contributor to these pages, Scoutcaster and host of our Meet the Manager video series. Joe came into Gameweek 25 ranked 10,185 in the world and has seven top 10k finishes to his name already, one of which was an OR of 840 in 2013/14.
FPL Family – Lee and Sam are the well-known married couple who play Fantasy football together and run a YouTube channel documenting their thoughts. They have appeared on the Official FPL show this season, most recently as last Thursday. We’ve got Lee this time!
Question 1 – Joe
Joe: “Be aware of the upcoming Blank and Double Gameweeks from here on in, but don’t start the detailed planning until shortly before the Gameweek 27 deadline.
“That’s when FA Cup fifth round matches will be completed and we will know all those who will face a Blank in Gameweek 31 and those to likely miss out in Gameweek 33.
“From that point, we can start planning which of our remaining chips we use to navigate those Gameweeks and the Double fixtures, which are likely to be scheduled in Gameweeks 32 and 35.
“Until then be flexible and give yourself options around chip use by investing in good players from teams that play in Gameweek 31 and those that could miss a fixture.
“There are eight teams that definitely play then: West Ham, Huddersfield, Bournemouth, Newcastle, Burnley, Leicester, Fulham and Liverpool.
Of those Liverpool have an abundance of options. If you haven’t already doubled up Mohamed Salah with either Sadio Mane or Roberto Firmino that is a move I’d recommend. A Reds defender also looks a must. With Bournemouth, Watford and Burnley at home before Gameweek 31 tripling up could pay off handsomely.
“From Gameweek 30 Bournemouth have superb fixtures and look an ideal source of value players with Josh King and Ryan Fraser perhaps the key options.
“An attacking Leicester defender such as Ricardo Pereira or Ben Chilwell also look strong from Gameweek 27 onwards, when they face Crystal Palace, Brighton and Fulham at home ahead of their Gameweek 31 visit to Burnley.
“By focusing on a handful of these players you give yourself the luxury of being able to also invest in some key players who are likely to miss out in Gameweek 31.
“With Fulham, Crystal Palace and Southampton in their next four, Manchester United’s Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford look great options to get in.
“Similarly, with Leicester, Burnley and Southampton over Spurs’ next five I see Son Heung-min as an important player to own.
“Above all be flexible so that when Blank and Double Gameweek details emerge you will be in the best position possible.”
Question 2 – Nick
Rash: Going off the information we have so far, what is the optimum chip strategy if you hold a Wildcard, Free Hit, Triple Captain and Bench Boost?
Nick: “With all the chips intact, I would set out my team to ensure that I have coverage in both the upcoming Blank Gameweeks (27 and 31), looking at the likes of Liverpool, Bournemouth and Leicester as examples of teams which we know are going to play.”
“The first big Double looks set for Gameweek 32, so this would be a great moment to Wildcard, in my opinion.
“However, there is a blank in Gameweek 33 so that is perhaps the time to use the Free Hit, so you don’t have to shift things too much for the next Double in Gameweek 35, which looks good for the Bench Boost.
“It is worth mentioning that Chelsea may also have another Double at some point which might present itself as a good opportunity to use the Triple Captain chip if you haven’t used it already.”
Question 3 – FPL Family
FPL Virgin: For those of us with a less-than-enviable rank, is it time to start hitting the differentials yet?
Lee: “While I don’t think the panic button should be hit just yet, it could well be time to start looking closer at the TSB percentages.
“If, after all your analysis, you simply can’t decide between two players for your transfer in this week, then go with the player that has the lowest ownership.
“Your risk profile also plays a part here – just how ‘differential’ do you want to be? For some, it might be Triple Captain Crouch time, but for
“West Ham, for example, have some great fixtures coming up over the next half a dozen Gameweeks, yet Felipe Anderson is owned by only 12.2% of FPL managers at
“Many indeed, have elected to sell the Brazilian which, given his form, seems a sensible decision – yet his encouraging display against Liverpool in Gameweek 25 might suggest that we are about to hit another streak of form.
“As ever, getting on a form player early is going to be key, differentials tend only to be differentials for a week or two in
“Taking early, calculated gambles on players with decent looking fixtures should help FPL managers recover their Overall Ranks – but seriously, Triple-Captain Peter Crouch!”
Question 4 – Joe
Rahmat Aziz: Apart from Ryan (as I already have Duffy), what Goalkeeper is best to replace Ederson after Double Gameweek 25?
Joe: “The easy answer is to spend a little more and get the game’s highest-scoring goalkeeper Liverpool’s Allison, who is guaranteed to play every week as the Reds have no blank fixtures.
“But if you want to spend less then make sure you keep a close eye on fixtures as well as save and bonus point potential.
“In terms of fixtures, Gameweeks 26 through to Gameweek 33 is a good section to look at as it will take many Fantasy managers up to the likely deployment of their second Wildcard.
Leicester, Newcastle, Huddersfield, West Ham, Crystal Palace and Burnley look the best bets for clean sheets, aside from Brighton, over that run.
“Of those, Eagles number one Vicente Guaita looks the stand-out pick, in terms of value and having accrued four shut-outs in the eight starts since he took the number one jersey from Wayne Hennessey in Gameweek 17.
“Guaita has also notched save points on four occasions, helping him to earn two bonus against Cardiff in Gameweek 19. But with a possible blank in Gameweek 31, it may pay to ensure you have a playing second goalkeeper to cover him then.
“Another option I like is Watford’s Ben Foster, who offers clean sheet potential against Everton, Cardiff, Leicester, Southampton and Fulham and the chance of save points against Liverpool and the two Manchester clubs up to and including Gameweek 33.
“Over the last six matches, Foster was joint top for saves (27) alongside Manchester United’s David De Gea and has kept two clean sheets. Also in Foster’s favour is his collection of bonus points on five occasions across the campaign.
“Be aware though he may also miss Gameweek 31 due to FA Cup postponements.
“A final option to mention is Burnley’s Tom Heaton, who only faces two tough games over his next ten matches and is guaranteed a fixture in Gameweek 31. Since he became a regular starter in Gameweek 20 he has earned two shut-outs, save points on four occasions and three bonus points.
Question 5 – Nick
Greg: Hazard did well against Huddersfield but his next three look tough. Do I sell him to raise some much-needed funds and switch the team up?
Nick: “I no longer own Hazard so would recommend you keep as he is clearly going to haul big!
“Joking aside, I can understand the logic behind wanting to sell Hazard. Their fixtures in the next three Gameweeks are Manchester City, Blank and Spurs, so it is worth considering some of the options out there.
“The likes of Son and Pogba are looking like key assets to own so if you don’t have them already I would be making space for them and freeing up some cash in the process.
“Son has seven goals in as many games and has really stepped up as the Spurs talisman in Kane’s absence.
“Pogba is now matching Salah for shots on target across the whole season, nobody has more than their 39 each. Manchester United have Fulham up next who have conceded the most goals in the league with 55, so Pogba definitely a player I would recommend in the midfield if you don’t already own him.”
Question 6 – Family
Rigid Digit: Who are the viable third strikers? Ings is proving fragile and I’m not convinced by Deeney, so I’m considering Rondon. Any other options in the £6.0m or less bracket worth a look?
Lee: “Danny Ings just can’t stay fit can he? I feel for him as he was just starting to make that forward spot in Hassenhüttl’s team his own – and the Saints themselves are showing some good form.
“Both Deeney and Rondon are viable alternatives, with the Venezuelan my preferred option here – Newcastle
“Outside of those two, it’s slim pickings. Harry Kane has been pictured doing some light training in Dubai, with some media outlets reporting he could be back as soon as the Dortmund game in the Champions League on 13th February – so you would think that puts an end to Fernando Llorente’s brief spell as an FPL option up top for Spurs.
“Ashley Barnes remains
“You could also go ultra-cheap with Peter Crouch or Dom Solanke, who will see the odd minute or two, the latter
“If you can find a bit more cash down the back of the sofa, West Ham’s Chicarito is only £6.1m and a decent value option which Arnautovic remains sidelined. Michy Batshuayi also joined Palace on transfer deadline day and was very kindly priced in my opinion at £6.5m, he came on for eight minutes in his debut last GW and picked up an assist against Fulham.
“I foresee a lot of game time for the Belgian between now and the end of the season, which could see him make a mockery of that price tag.”
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