The reduced nature of Blank Gameweek 28 has triggered some chip usage among the top 10,000 Fantasy Premier League managers.
With Manchester City, Aston Villa, Arsenal and Sheffield United assets all out of action, decisions had to be made so that full XIs might be fielded.
There was a smattering of chip deployment although it appears as if traditional transfers were the main defence against blanks.
5% of managers in the top 10k took this opportunity to play the Free Hit, bringing the total usage of this chip at that level to 21.1%.
A fair number of those worldwide decided to follow suit, 3.22% overall deploying the Free Hit chip, an estimated 239,000+ managers.
It will be interesting to see how these individuals navigate the lack of fixtures in Blank Gameweek 31 and Blank Gameweek 34.
Meanwhile, some took this opportunity to overhaul their whole squad for good, making use of their second Wildcard of the campaign.
3.11% deployed that chip, bringing the total usage of it among the top 10k to 35.3%.
We’ll analyse how those new squads shaped up for Blank Gameweek 28 a little bit later.
First, let’s examine the make-up of the standard squads in the top 10k, to see whether the blanks have caused any gaps.
As you can see, 80.9% of them opted to hold onto Kevin De Bruyne (£10.7m) despite his absence from Premier League action this weekend – and a possible blank in Gameweek 31 after facing Manchester United and Burnley.
However, the same faith was not shown in Jack Grealish (£6.6m) in light of Aston Villa’s involvement in the EFL Cup final.
After the Gameweek 27 deadline, the mid-price midfielder was sat in 52% of top 10k squads, but his ownership at this level has dropped off a cliff in the last seven days.
Grealish is no longer among the top five most-popular midfielders in the top 10k following the Blank Gameweek 28 deadline, dropping to just 24.7% ownership.
Interestingly, a total of 20.4% of the top 10k have gone into Blank Gameweek 28 with both De Bruyne and Grealish in their squads.
Taking Grealish’s place in the top-five is Manchester United’s new star midfielder Bruno Fernandes (£8.2m), who has already persuaded 29.6% of the top 10k managers to snap him up.
Meanwhile, Sadio Mané (£12.4m) remains a differential at this level, sitting in just 26.4% of teams.
An additional blank, of sorts, was added into the Blank Gameweek 28 equation roughly an hour before the deadline on Friday night as Jamie Vardy (£9.7m) was ruled out with a calf injury.
Despite an ongoing goalless run, which stretches back to Gameweek 18, the Leicester man was the subject of transfers in over the last few days ahead of a trip to Norwich.
That meant that between Gameweek 27 and Blank Gameweek 28, Vardy’s top 10k ownership increased from 47.7% to 55.5%.
The cruel twist in the tale for over half the managers at this level was, of course, that he ended up playing no part on Friday night.
However, they could end up having the last laugh in light of Brendan Rodgers’ latest update, which indicated Vardy could be bac to face Aston Villa in Gameweek 29.
Meanwhile, there were slight drops in ownership for Danny Ings (£7.1m) and Raúl Jiménez (£7.9m).
Also, it would appear that top 10k managers took steps to plug the gap in goal, as Nick Pope (£4.7m) rose to 55% ownership at this level between the two most recent Gameweeks, replacing Dean Henderson (£5.2m) as the most popular shot-stopper.
Of those who Wildcarded in the top 10k, 63.3% of them selected Vardy, while 27% opted for his team-mate Harvey Barnes (£6.0m).
Fernandes and Mané were much more heavily represented by the Wildcarders than the main squads, selected by 59.5% and 48.2% respectively.
With Blank Gameweek 31 in mind, the most popular budget defenders proved to be Romain Saïss (£4.4m) and Charlie Taylor (£4.2m).
Finally, the captaincy looks to be another one-sided affair for Blank Gameweek 28.
Mohamed Salah (£12.8m) proved to be the overwhelmingly popular choice among the top 10k, selected by 70% of them for the armband.
Meanwhile, the 11.7% who went with Vardy will naturally be hoping their vice-captain can bail them out of his Blank Gameweek 28 absence.
Mané, in combination with his relatively low ownership among the top 10k, looks poised to be a powerful differential captain choice too. Just 9.3% at this level put the armband on the Senegalese international.
Data taken from LiveFPL.net.
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