Fantasy Premier League managers must finalise their chip strategy very soon with the Double Gameweek 30+ deadline looming large.
This is likely to be the last bumper round of fixtures this season, so using a chip is about essential as it gets.
However, with plenty of disparity between each manager’s available chips and the next, it is important to identify which is the best one to use in each case.
This, in itself, is a little tricky. So much has happened since FPL was suspended that ‘Project Restart’ sort of feels like a new season of its own. After all, there is very little precedent to help us predict what might happen during this period in terms of results and performances.
With so much still at stake in the Premier League (relegation, European positions and to some extent the title) I do find myself like a kid outside a candy store waiting for it to open.
And, while I do want to improve my current overall ranking, the rest of the season is about enjoying the sport I love and FPL is just a means to accomplish that with the engagement it offers. The best way to do that is to make sure I get the chips done in the right order…
The Triple Captain
I’ll start with the Triple Captain as most of us used it in the Liverpool Double Gameweek on either Mohamed Salah (£12.7m) or Sadio Mané (£12.5m).
If you do still hold this chip, then there is a strong case for using it in Double Gameweek 30+, as it is likely to be (if no further postponements) the last Double Gameweek of the season.
It would not be the worst idea to use it in a good single Gameweek fixture if one of the other below scenarios fits your strategy better though. You could always stick it on a player chasing the Golden Boot late on. The last set of matches each season do typically yield more goals, after all.
- Intact Chips: Wildcard, Bench Boost, Free Hit
Most people, including myself, held these chips before the coronavirus suspension, hoping to Free Hit in one of the Blank Gameweeks, Wildcard before the Doubles and Bench Boost in the biggest one.
That has all gone out the window, unfortunately. There are likely to be no more Blank Gameweeks now, with the new fixture list accommodating the FA Cup games within the schedule. That would mean no more Double Gameweeks either.
In my opinion, there is no better week to play the Bench Boost than Double Gameweek 30+.
As the season wears on with games every two-three days, rotation, injuries and lineups are only going to get more unpredictable.
You can use your unlimited transfers to load up on somewhere between eight and twelve Double Gameweek options as well as players with good single Gameweek fixtures and then Wildcard them out right away for Gameweek 31+ to set you up for the rest of the season.
The Free Hit can also be a useful tool to have in your locker during this period.
Games could still get postponed if we see teams forced to isolate due to a positive coronavirus test so with that in your back-pocket you effectively have a get out of jail free card.
If all goes to plan, you can use the Free Hit in Gameweek 38+ for one last push, when teams are typically more likely to be free-scoring.
There is an alternative though. If, like me, you were actively managing your team during the league’s suspension, you probably have a decent squad with the likes of Bruno Fernandes (£8.6m), Ismaila Sarr (£6.4m), Harvey Barnes (£6.2m), Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.8m) and Salah etc.
You probably also have value tied up in these players and buying them back for the remainder will likely set you back a bit.
So, you could consider a Free Hit but I’m not a big fan of this personally as it feels like squandering the opportunity to use it at a later point considering we’ve all got unlimited transfers.
- Intact Chips: Bench Boost, Free Hit
- Used Chips: Wildcard
There are plenty of reasons to be optimistic even if you’ve used your second Wildcard.
In this scenario, you can Free Hit in Double Gameweek 30+ to optimise your team for the Doubles and then revert back to your old squad and you’ll have back the same heavy hitters you Wildcarded for without losing a large chunk of value.
Someone using the strategy mentioned above is likely going to lose the likes of Alexander-Arnold to load up on Double Gameweek players and it will cost them at least £0.4m to buy them back, which could dampen their ability to maximise the value of their Gameweek 31+ their second Wildcard.
The obvious downside here is lack of an ideal deployment opportunity for the Bench Boost but given that lineups might be unpredictable for Double Gameweek 30+ it may be a blessing in disguise.
Alternatively, if you want to keep your Free Hit in hand in case of any unforeseen postponements, you can follow a strategy similar to the one below…
- Chips Intact: Bench Boost
- Chips Used: Wildcard, Free Hit
This scenario is a bit tricky but there are still gains to be made.
Firstly, I would suggest buying fewer Double Gameweek players, maybe three or four rather than the eight or nine suggested above.
That Sheffield United defensive triple-up might make sense on a Free Hit but given their remaining schedule, their options are going to be a burden long-term.
Manchester City might also be a minefield in beyond the Double Gameweek, with the five substitutions rule and the options available to Pep Guardiola.
There are plenty of good options with plum single Gameweek fixtures in the next round and who a great schedule long term, such as Wolves or Liverpool. Their assets stand a chance of outscoring the likes of Jack Grealish (£6.4m) both in the Double Gameweek and the rounds beyond it.
So, in this scenario, I would still suggest using the Bench Boost straight-up even with limited Double Gameweek options. You will likely need that squad depth too.
I have put together a quick draft team for Double Gameweek 30+, with six attackers from Manchester City and Aston Villa, as well as three Sheffield United defenders.
Arsenal have a very short turnaround between their two games, just 66 hours, and I don’t feel Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£11.1m) is worth the outlay. Their defence doesn’t really merit more investment than Bernd Leno (£5.0m) either.
The single Gameweek players I fancy are Romain Saiss (£4.6m), Tammy Abraham (£7.5m), Jamaal Lascelles (£4.3m), Fernandes and Alexander-Arnold. The Newcastle centre-back is an interesting one for me, with a decent attacking threat at a budget price.
Yes, Manchester City players might get reduced minutes but I rather have 90-120 minutes from their players than 180 from Arsenal.
It felt great writing this piece after such a long time away and I hope you enjoyed reading it. Stay safe.
Nominated for ‘Best in Fantasy Football – Editorial’ at the Football Content Awards 2020
VOTE FOR FANTASY FOOTBALL SCOUT BY
Premier League Restart
Best players by club
Arsenal | Aston Villa | Bournemouth | Brighton and Hove Albion | Burnley | Chelsea | Crystal Palace | Everton | Leicester City | Liverpool | Manchester City | Manchester United | Newcastle United | Norwich City | Sheffield United | Southampton | Tottenham Hotspur | Watford | West Ham United | Wolves