There’s nothing like a Double Gameweek to get the Fantasy Premier League (FPL) juices flowing, and the Fantasy Football Scout Community chatter on which Liverpool players to get in for Gameweek 24, and whether this is a good time to press the Triple Captain button got me thinking about my longer-term Chip strategy. In particular, I wanted to understand how changes in the fixtures schedule in the second half of the season will affect our Double Gameweek planning and Chip strategies.
The introduction of a Winter break, which involves Gameweek 26 fixtures being spread over the period 8-17 February, means that the EFL Cup final takes place on 1 March (a week later than last year), with the FA Cup 5th Round slipping from mid-February to the midweek of 4-5 March (ie between Gameweek 28 and 29). This has two consequences:
- We know that there will definitely be a Double game week for the EFL Cup finalists.
- We won’t know who the FA Cup Quarter Finalists are until just before Gameweek 29, and even then, it could be subject to replays, and FPL Managers will only have 3-4 free transfers to plan for the blanks in Gameweek 31 arising from the clash with the FA Cup.
In addition to having less time to prepare for Gameweek 31, Liverpool have yet to help us out by getting knocked out of the Cup early. In past years it has been possible to navigate this blank game week using free transfers, but that might not be possible this year, especially if the top Premier League teams progress in the Cup. Gameweek 31 could be the optimum time to deploy the Free Hit Chip (if it’s still available).
Looking further ahead, we all know that Double Gameweeks are traditionally scheduled for the midweeks that don’t clash with Champions and Europa League fixtures, and International breaks. The free dates this season are in Gameweek 34 and Gameweek 37, which is pretty much as normal; however, the kicker this year is that Gameweek 34 is also when the FA Cup Semi-Finals take place; so we are now faced with the prospect of blanks and doubles in the same game week. This this is when my brain starts to melt.
It ought not be difficult to get a playing Eleven in Gameweek 34, but how to use free transfers, second Wildcard, and possibly Bench Boost, to navigate the blanks and exploit Double Gameweek opportunities will be more problematic. Maybe a Wildcard in Gameweek 33 ahead of a Bench Boost in Gameweek 34 is a good plan, but who knows. We know from past experience that Gameweek 37 will be awash with rotation risks, but Triple Captain might work well so long as there are viable candidates who are not rotation risks or on the beach.
We should also bear in mind that the rule about avoiding clashes with European midweek fixtures has also been breached in the past, usually because there are no other slots; and that could happen again this year if the EFL Cup finalists also reach the latter stages of the FA Cup. This adds to the Double Gameweek planning fog, albeit in a good way.
I appreciate it is still way too early for Ben Crellin to be firing up his Double Gameweek planner, but with our traditional Double Gameweek planning assumptions being impacted by the revised schedule, this might be the time to think outside the box. Maybe this is another reason to consider whether Gameweek 24, with the prospect of two games over six days for Liverpool’s prime assets, is the best time to hit the Triple Captain button; which reminds me why I am thinking about this now.
I’m off for a lie down.