The final Double Gameweek of the season is almost upon us and there are plenty of Fantasy Premier League managers with important decisions to be made ahead of Saturday’s deadline – especially after a largely miserable Gameweek 34.
We were flooded with FPL Question Time requests as usual and, while we can’t ask our panel every question we receive, many of the quandaries Fantasy bosses are facing seem to be on a similar theme.
Who’s on the panel this week?
Always Cheating Podcast – The USA’s most popular FPL podcast, created by Josh and Brandon. Josh currently has an overall rank of 861.
Who Got the Assist? – One of the best-known FPL podcasts this side of the Atlantic, the brainchild of Tom and Nick.
Rotation’s Alter Ego (Ted) – One of our very own moderators on the site, who currently has an overall rank of 2,536.
Question 1 – Tom
Lord heskey: “Who is the best differential captain this week?”
Tom: “Raul Jimenez has eight goals and six assists in home matches this season, literally returning more often than not.
“He has two games against a forgettable Brighton and defensively suspect Arsenal, and I expect him to continue with the consistency. It’s the Mexican luchador for me.”
Question 2 – Ted
AJ: “If your bench is filled with Brighton players and Troy Deeney, should you now be looking at using the Triple Captain chip in Gameweek 35 followed by Bench Boost in Gameweek 36?”
Ted: “Given how Deeney and Brighton performed last week, it’s completely reasonable to have lost faith in them for your Bench Boost but I wouldn’t recommend losing all hope just yet.
“The joy of playing Bench Boost in a Double Gameweek is that you can reduce some of that risk. As we approach the end of the season, team line-ups and form can get a bit unpredictable, making a Bench Boost hard.
“Play it in a normal week and you risk seeing your big hitters handed a benching or a squad player rested to let a youngster get some game-time, quickly reducing your Bench Boost to a goalkeeper and one or two others.
“In a Double Gameweek, you can be fairly confident all 11 of your starters will get at least one game, with seven/eight extra bites at the cherry coming from your bench. Most, if not all, managers with this problem will have a Wildcard team that’s set up for a Bench Boost in Gameweek 35 so I’d be eager to make the most of it.
“For a Bench Boost in Gameweek 35, Deeney needs to go for a new forward (either Fernando Llorente or someone like Callum Wilson) funded by downgrading a Brighton asset, perhaps Shane Duffy to Maya Yoshida or Craig Cathcart – though that Watford defence is a minefield. You don’t want too much value sat on the bench post-Bench Boost anyway, so moving to cheaper defenders now could be a blessing in disguise.
“If you have zero faith in Brighton and don’t fancy a hit, then you have the option of rolling the transfer or starting to plan for that later Bench Boost. I’m not confident enough in any option this Gameweek to triple captain them – if there was a stand-out option, it would make moving the Bench Boost a lot easier.
“Realistically, I’d look at a Liverpool player in Gameweek 36 or wait for Gameweek 38 where goals tend to be aplenty, even though it would mean putting all your eggs in one basket. Brighton have a better fixture in Gameweek 36 for a Bench Boost but I still think Newcastle can score there, so I’d consider the Bench Boost in Gameweek 37 and replace Brighton with Palace defenders.
“The problem is that free transfers become gold dust at this time of year and shifting plan to a later Bench Boost may result in you burning them away to improve your bench, whilst ignoring your first XI.
“I wouldn’t overthink it. Fix the problem, play the Bench Boost, enjoy, then focus on nailing the rest of the Gameweeks. You’ve might have been dealt a bad hand but I’d want to put it behind you now and not let it drag into other weeks.”
Question 3 – Brandon
Stayouthespicezone: “Is any Arsenal attacking asset worth it, in your opinion, with rotation a threat?”
Brandon: “Alexandre Lacazette failed to start against Liverpool in Gameweek 20. Since then, the Arsenal central striker has only missed two other starts (notably not getting a single minute against Watford on Monday). So, Laca is a lock, right? Honestly, who knows.
“If we knew anything about Unai Emery coming into his first season at the Emirates, it’s that he’s a Europa League maestro. He’s shuffled the Arsenal deck many times to optimise for Thursday nights.
“And if we’ve learned anything through the course of this season, it’s that Emery is tactically flexible to the point of complete confusion as to what he feels his best starting XI is. Sead Kolasinac off at half-time? Sure. Ramsey and Ozil, not permanent fixtures? OK.
“What’s more vexing when planning for the Premier League run-in is that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has had a series of issues keeping him off the pitch over the last month or so, which has possibly inflated the idea of Lacazette’s security of starts.
“With Auba fit once again, coupled with Emery’s penchant for playing a lone striker, we’re again heading into murky FPL territory.
“It will be illuminating to see Arsenal’s line-up for Thursday’s Napoli match and to monitor minutes and form. Lacazette, with a full rest in Gameweek 34, is set to lead the line in Europe, which will create unease amongst current Laca owners who were planning for two starts in Gameweek 35 – myself included.
“Barring injury, any outcome for Lacazette on Thursday night won’t move him from my team and I still feel he’s the best attacking option Arsenal can offer for FPL squads. I just can’t see him rested for a full 90 minutes in either Gameweek 35 match, as he was Monday, and I’d wager at least one start.
“On top of this, there exists the possibility of him being played centrally with Aubameyang on the wing.
“With Auba, the fact is few of us have the team structure for his price tag – and Auba’s form hasn’t made the case for him being that compelling of a rank-climbing differential. It’s safe to say that no Arsenal midfielder is a consistent enough FPL weapon, so if you’re eyeing the Gunners for the Double Gameweek, you’ll just have to cross your fingers and toes that Lacazette comes good.”
Question 4 – Josh
Regularjohnny: “Which single Gameweek players are worth looking at to accompany, or even play in place of, the big Double Gameweek ones?”
Josh: “Liverpool assets, especially Roberto Firmino now that he has been rested in the Champions League, are hugely appealing. You then have them for both Gameweek 35 (away at Cardiff City) and Gameweek 36 (at home to Huddersfield Town), a run of two fixtures as good as, if not better than, any other team’s run of three fixtures over Gameweek 35 and 36.
“Additionally, for anyone looking for a Troy Deeney replacement, I’d take an in-form Callum Wilson at home to Fulham over any of the Double Gameweek forward options in his price bracket.”
Question 5 – Nick
SydAdBoy: “The Brighton double or triple-up at the back for their first Double Gameweek was a trainwreck. Do we persist for Double Gameweek 35? Who are the best alternatives?”
Nick: “Many of us will be licking our wounds after what was a terrible Gameweek for Brighton. Those that who are doubled or tripled up will no doubt be considering getting rid.
“Also in the attack, Anthony Knockaert is an obvious sell due to suspension. With Glenn Murray, there remains a question of minutes but with Troy Deeney suspended, there are few alternatives.
“It’s similar in defence, looking at Shane Duffy and Lewis Dunk replacements.
“Dependent on budget, you are only really looking at £4.5m for a replacement and you have to consider if it is worth the inevitable hit. Craig Cathcart on a hit? Jonny on a hit? For me, going into the Double Gameweek with double Brighton defence and already on a -4, it will be a case of grinning and bearing it.”
Question 6 – Ted
Liam: “Who is the best Troy Deeney replacement around that £6.0m price range?”
Ted: “I think it’s very dependent on how the rest of your team looks since there’s very little at his exact price.
“If you have seven other strong midfielders and forwards – perhaps a Nathan Redmond or similar as your fifth midfielder – I’d say look to go down in price. Danny Ings could make a tasty differential at only £5.4m with two decent Double Gameweek fixtures but I certainly wouldn’t go in expecting him to play both due to his injury history. His teammate, Shane Long, is a far less exciting option, but at only £4.6m could free up a hefty sum of cash that might prove an important factor if you can see an immediate use for it.
“However, I feel both options are trumped by one Fernando Llorente. Rating excellently on both minutes per xG and minutes per chance, he also boasts an impressive 46% goal involvement whilst on the pitch, all for a bargain £5.1m.
“There are drawbacks too, of course: he has a good knack at frustrating FPL managers plus faces some pretty tough competition for a starting role in that Spurs team. That being said, if you need a third striker for Bench Boost and occasional appearances in your team, I think he’s a good shout.
“Some FPL managers will need a good, strong option as their third striker if they already have the likes of Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg as a fifth midfielder. Here, I’d suggest going up in price, with fair consideration to taking a hit if you don’t have the cash immediately available.
“The first name on the list must be Raul Jiménez if you don’t have him already. With 12 goals and ten assists already this season, he will be a leading captaincy option for Gameweek 35 – and for good reason.
“If I didn’t have him, I’d be very eager to buy him for the remainder of the season just based on the value he offers (he’s now done four separate stints in my team this season!). If you already have him though, I’d start to look past the Double Gameweek and think about single Gameweek options that will set you up well for the rest of the season.
“My personal favourite is Callum Wilson, who I very nearly went with on a Wildcard. Twelve goals and 11 assists despite missing a good chunk of the season is no small feat and, despite visiting Brighton, they showed no signs of being on the beach just yet. Another good option at that price is Wilfried Zaha, who won’t be daunted by the trip to Arsenal and follows this up with three good fixtures.
“If you need someone a bit cheaper, a Newcastle forward might be your best bet. Set to face three of the current bottom five in their last four games, Salomon Rondon (£6.0m) and Ayoze Perez (£6.1m) should bring both their goal tallies to double figures for the season. Personally, I get the feeling whichever I didn’t buy would be the one to do well, so I’d be keen to look elsewhere.”