The Fantasy Football Scout members’ area can be a helpful tool for managers playing their Free Hit chip in Blank Gameweek 31.
This is the first instalment in a short series of articles aimed at helping those managers pick the best possible team for this weekend’s depleted round of action.
We have run comparisons on the top options from each of the four positions ahead of Blank Gameweek 31 using the data available to us in the members’ area.
This article on the best goalkeepers is free for all the public to view, but only Fantasy Football Scout members will be able to read on and access our analysis on defenders, midfielders and forwards later in the week.
Now that we are past the half-way stage, memberships are now available for just £10, so make sure you get the most of it while you can by signing up HERE.
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A look at the Blank Gameweek 31 goalkeepers over the last four Gameweeks shows that the most capable of keeping a clean sheet this weekend is Alisson Becker (£6.0m), having recorded three since Gameweek 27. That is not surprising considering the fact that Liverpool have the division’s best defensive record this season.
However, with a demand for triple-investment further up the pitch in Jurgen Klopp’s squad, the Brazilian’s success is of little consequence when picking a Blank Gameweek 31 shot-stopper.
Jordan Pickford (£4.9m) and Martin Dúbravka (£5.0m) both have two clean sheets between them over the last four Gameweeks, the Everton man playing just three matches in that time too. Also, Dúbravka has faced the fewest shots on target (nine) of any option that played 360 minutes in the last four Gameweeks. Although, with Chelsea (home) and Bournemouth (away) their respective opponents, their prices will probably count against them for Free Hit managers.
That may be the same for Tom Heaton (£4.8m), who is still struggling to recapture his Fantasy appeal from the 2016/17 season. In stark contrast to how he performed in that impressive campaign, he has saved just 55.6% of the shots on target he has faced in the last four Gameweeks.
Heaton’s opposite number on Saturday afternoon Kasper Schmeichel (£5.0m) is in an even worse position. Having faced 16 shots on target since Gameweek 27, he has saved just eight of them.
Of the options at the budget end of the scale, Łukasz Fabianski (£4.7m) looks the complete package.
Despite keeping just one clean sheet since Gameweek 27, none of the Blank Gameweek 31 goalkeepers has made more saves than him in the last four round of fixtures.
He may have registered the same number of stops as Fulham’s Sergio Rico (£4.4m) in that time, but crucially, the West Ham man has the better save percentage from the shots on target he has faced (80%) – helpful for clean sheet potential.
Fabianski’s appeal is further boosted by his fixture, a home meeting with Huddersfield, the Premier League’s lowest scorers. The fact the Terriers have only scored 15 goals this season is encouragement enough, but even in the last four Gameweeks, they are bottom of the division for shots inside the box, shots on target, big chances total and goal conversion.
As already mentioned, Liverpool’s chances of a clean sheet are strong in Blank Gameweek 31 with Fulham in the bottom five for goal attempts inside the penalty box over the last four round of matches, although they strangely have the second-best accuracy in that time (42.5%).
That Newcastle are top for shots inside the box and efforts on target since Gameweek 27 might put some managers off selecting Artur Boruc (£4.0m) for their Free Hit squads, but there is still plenty of reasons to include him in your selection.
As the only active £4.0m in FPL right now, it makes sense for those Free Hitting in Blank Gameweek 31 to include him as a substitute at the very least.
As we saw above, he had a decent balance between shots on target faced and saves made. Boruc ranks somewhere in the middle for the 17 accurate shots he has met and only three goalkeepers made more stops than him.
There is a case for starting the Bournemouth man though, in spite of Newcastle’s efforts in recent Gameweeks. Even including their narrow defeat to Manchester City in Gameweek 29, the Cherries have allowed an average of just one big chance per game in the last four home matches – only three sides can offer better than that.
A brief analysis of the quality of chances faced by draws more attention to Dúbravka and Boruc. Liverpool have naturally conceded the fewest big chances in the last four Gameweeks of those with four matches in that run and a fixture this weekend, but Newcastle and Bournemouth are second and joint-third respectively.
Chelsea and Everton have also faced a small number of big chances in the last four Gameweeks, but their Blank in Gameweek 27 means they have played just three matches in that time.
In the last four Gameweeks, West Ham have conceded more big chances than any other side and only Huddersfield (43) and Fulham (51) have allowed more shots in their penalty box. However, this may actually strengthen Fabianski’s case considering how impressive his save percentage is.
As previously mentioned, Fabianski’s combination of decent save potential and the most appealing available to any Premier League defence makes him the standout candidate for inclusion in Free Hit squads this weekend.
Boruc should be considered at least for a place on the bench given his price but anyone not completely trusting of the West Ham defence could be tempted to start him as a differential option. A clean sheet wipeout for the Hammers would affect a large number of Fantasy managers as Fabianski is the third-most popular goalkeeper overall (18.9% ownership) and the most-owned among the top 10,000 managers. Anyone who managed to avoid that with the chance of a Bournemouth clean sheet could make up some ground.
Alisson is on paper the most likely of all the goalkeepers to keep a clean sheet given Liverpool’s defence record and Fulham’s struggles of late. There is certainly a case for his inclusion in a Free Hit squad but it would mean limiting oneself to just two outfield options from Liverpool.
READ MORE BLANK GAMEWEEK 31 FREE HIT COVERAGE: