Football may have come to a standstill amid the current coronavirus pandemic but the Fantasy Premier League ghost ship continues to drift onward towards an uncertain conclusion.
FPL’s decision to leave the Gameweek deadlines as originally scheduled (despite the postponement of top-flight fixtures over the next month and beyond) means that we have now endured two ’empty’ Gameweeks, with a further four to follow at the very least before we see a ball kicked again.
Given that the United Kingdom is about to embark on a virtual lockdown period that will last a minimum of three weeks, it would be a huge surprise if we are anywhere near ready for a resumption in Gameweek 36.
Despite the shortage of fixtures, the Gameweek rules in FPL remain the same – the most significant one of which concerns transfers.
Fantasy managers are granted a free transfer each Gameweek, with a maximum of two rolled over, which does present us with the option of carrying out some maintenance on our squads, should there be any pressing issues to fix.
While some FPL bosses will be leaving well alone until we have more concrete information about a possible restart or simply as a result of a loss of interest, others are using the opportunity to make small-scale improvements or carry out gradual overhauls of their squads.
Certainly, those without a second Wildcard remaining will perhaps be viewing this period as a time to rebuild ahead of the 2019/20 run-in, should we ever get to that point.
There were 194,078 transfers made in Gameweek 31, which is a fraction of what we’d usually get in a regulation weekend but still a reminder that some FPL managers are keeping active during the downtime.
Bruno Fernandes (£8.5m), as he was in Gameweeks 28 and 30, was the most-bought player, and he is already the most popular purchase of what would have been the March international break.
The Portugal international has hit the ground running at Manchester United, averaging 7.6 points per match in his first five league starts.
No player has delivered more attacking returns in FPL than Fernandes since he made his Red Devils debut.
It’s perhaps not just the Portuguese’s form that is attracting investment but his fixtures too, with United facing six bottom-half teams in the run-in – whatever order they might be in.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£6.4m) will have a plum Gameweek 36 fixture (v Aston Villa) if a miracle happens and the Premier League restarts in early May and he trailed only Fernandes in terms of Gameweek 31 transfers in.
A Gameweek 29 blank at Stamford Bridge hasn’t deterred Fantasy managers from snapping up the Everton striker, who has scored more league goals since Carlo Ancelotti first took charge on Merseyside than any other FPL asset.
A handful of mid-price/premium defenders were also favoured recruits, with Matt Doherty (£6.3m), Aaron Wan-Bissaka (£5.3m) and Marcos Alonso (£6.1m), three of the most in-form players at the back, all attracting some support.
Ricardo Pereira‘s (£6.3m) injury and subsequent loss of ownership, more of which in a second, perhaps partly accounts for that.
|Player||Club||GW31 Transfers In|
Leicester City’s sidelined right-back, who is set to miss between four and six months of action with an ACL injury, may not see any more Premier League football in 2019/20 even if we have a delayed conclusion.
While it’s worth thinking twice about shipping out a player who is yellow-flagged in FPL at present, there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of a downside to offloading a player who may not even be ready for the start of next season.
Pereira was consequently the most-sold player of Gameweek 31, although still sits in over 950,000 FPL squads at the time of writing.
Danny Ings (£7.1m) is the most-ditched asset of Gameweek 32 as it stands and he trailed only Pereira for sales ahead of last Friday’s deadline.
Fitness isn’t really the issue with the Southampton striker but form is: he has blanked in six of his last seven appearances in the top flight.
The Saints enjoy some decent fixtures in the last quarter of the season (including Brighton, Bournemouth and Norwich) but having in-form alternatives like Calvert-Lewin as rivals in the mid-price forward bracket does dent his appeal at present.
Yellow flags in FPL may have been a reason why James Maddison (£7.5m) and Kevin De Bruyne (£10.6m) were moved on by a combined 13,753 managers, although Maddison’s awful run of 12 blanks in 13 Gameweeks will have also been a contributing factor.
|Player||Club||GW31 Transfers Out|
|De Bruyne||Man City||5,509|
We usually bring you a stat-heavy summary of chip usage and player ownership in the top 10k after every Gameweek (in conjunction with Ragabolly’s LiveFPL site) but the hiatus has made that a worthless exercise, given how dormant many active managers are.
One manager inside the top 10,000 did, rather oddly, opt to play their Wildcard in Gameweek 31, and the make-up of that new squad (featuring the likes of Doherty, Fernandes and De Bruyne) suggests this was an earnest decision rather than an act of self-sabotage.
We can’t quite be sure about the 2,432 managers outside of the top 10k who used a chip in Gameweek 31 – some may have been acting in good faith but there are plenty of others towards the bottom of the rankings that appear to thrive on the wanton destruction of their own squads, so this could account for some of the figure.
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