Pro Pundit Teams

A strong bench and going for broke: the ways FPL bosses can tackle a busy December

In his latest column, three-time top 5k finisher Az looks at the strategies to consider as we get ready for seven Gameweek deadlines in the space of a month.


I’m writing this on December 1 and having just received the news that the Aston Villa v Newcastle game, originally set to be played on Friday, has been called off.

In a way, it’s remarkable that, given the situation that’s happening across the globe, this is the first Premier League game to be postponed this season. Hopefully, it will be the last.

With many people holding two to three assets from Aston Villa and/or Newcastle, this comes at a bad time for our squads, especially as the focus for many is on juggling around their heavy hitters. 

For a lot of managers, there simply isn’t the wiggle room to consider shifting the likes of Jack Grealish (£7.7m), Emiliano Martinez (£4.8m), Ollie Watkins (£6.1m) and Callum Wilson (£6.5m) for one week only. All of these players have decent fixtures and are doing enough to justify their selections in our teams. It’s a shame to have to be putting out fires when we are trying to maximise the points potential.

As we look for ways to give our FPL squads the best possible chance of returns during an unpredictable month, one way of playing is to turn relatively defensive. This means ensuring that our teams are strong and healthy and that we can dip into our benches if and when needed. 

Alternatively, people might be looking to go for the jugular. This means trying to juggle heavy hitters and squeeze out as many points as possible during this busy period. While this poses a considerable risk, it of course may lead to huge returns if you can nail it.

Time to strengthen the bench?

Hunt for £4.0m FPL defender takes a turn as Ferguson ruled out through injury

The news of the postponement at Villa Park does serve as a bit of a wake-up call that a bench of players who at least play regularly for their teams seems a pretty good idea going into the festive schedule. With Tyrick Mitchell (£4.0m) now seemingly doomed to watch on from the sidelines, many of us are down to just two players on our FPL benches. 

The continued threat of coronavirus, as well as a packed winter schedule, means this may need to be addressed. Many of us are carrying players who seem likely to be at least in some way rotated over Christmas. For example, any of the Manchester City assets, Reece James (£5.1m), Timo Werner (£9.5m) and maybe even now Liverpool midfielders, with Diogo Jota’s (£6.8m) emergence, all look a little vulnerable. Now might be a good time to make sure you are prepared for any omissions.

Upgrading Mitchell to a £4.5m defender may seem a bit boring, but it might put you in good stead in the weeks to come. Stuart Dallas (£4.5m) looks the standout option at this price point for me. Five goal attempts over the last four Gameweeks puts him up with the likes of Reece James (£5.1m) and Ben Chilwell (£6.2m) and Leeds have a great run of fixtures to come, with only Manchester United looking like a potential banana skin right up until January 2.

Luke Ayling (£4.5m) is also a consideration, with the right-back boasting nearly double the number of penalty area touches (13) compared to Dallas over this time. However, despite promising stats, he has yet to register an attacking return this season, whereas Dallas already has a goal and an assist.

If one of the Leeds defenders doesn’t float your boat – or you already own one – then the other options to turn to are Arthur Masuaku (£4.5m) or Vladmir Coufal (£4.6m). I really like how West Ham are currently set up under David Moyes, who is doing a fantastic job when many (including myself!) had written them off. 

Both Coufal and Masuaku have just 2.3% ownership at the time of writing, and once Manchester United are out the way this week, have a great run of fixtures right up until the end of January, with only Chelsea in Gameweek 14 looking like a good time to bench whichever defender you bring in.

Going for broke

The less conservative strategy at this stage is to accept whatever state our “fringe” players are in and really try and hammer the assets who have the biggest upside.

Mohamed Salah (£12.2m), Kevin De Bruyne (£11.7m) and Bruno Fernandes (£10.8m) all delivered in Gameweek 10. Many view these three as the “holy trinity” – players we should get in our squads no matter what.

However, is this perhaps doing a disservice to the likes of Harry Kane (£10.9m), Son Heung-min (£9.5m) and Jamie Vardy (£10.2m), who have all had stellar starts to the season? For many, these are the sacrificial lambs as people look to pastures new.

I feel that a case can be made for any combination of the above, which really reflects how exciting this season is, with so many players being worthy of our consideration. However, out of all the options, I really do feel that Fernandes has done enough to make him immune from any form of “hokey-cokey”. If you don’t have him, he’d be the one that I’d look to get in before he’s out of reach.

While the likes of Jota and even Riyad Mahrez (£8.3m) may be good value for their price – and this is how you should look at them, not as “coverage” for their more prestigious team-mates – I worry that the bubble could burst at any minute and we could be left with egg on our face. 

Salah and co look set to continue to deliver points all season. The trick is going to be knowing when these hauls are likely and when to get on them.

I brought in Vardy this week and a poor Leicester performance is making me consider whether he can really keep pace with the other players in his price bracket. An away game at Sheffield United, who have made the worst start to a Premier League season from any team in history, looks a good match-up for the Sheffield Wednesday fan so I’m not panicking just yet.

But, depending on whether you think Brighton is a tough game, Vardy’s fixtures are a lot less rosy thereafter and so the short-term pick of the Englishman may prove to be a costly one. He looks set to depart my team after being given little time to truly impress.

With no Salah or De Bruyne in my squad, and both with Fulham on the horizon, I am getting jittery. I think Son and Kane who will simply struggle to match De Bruyne and Salah over the next five Gameweeks, until Spurs themselves play Fulham in Gameweek 16. But moving these players out will require a hit, so timing feels like everything. For those that made the move before the Chelsea stalemate, well played. I think this was the time to do it. 

With games against Arsenal and Crystal Palace next, it feels risky shifting out the Spurs assets, so if you think they can continue to deliver points, then holding might be a sensible strategy. That said, can you really afford to ignore the upside of both De Bruyne and then Salah against Fulham? 

It’s hard to argue with a move for De Bruyne this week, which may be even better if paired with plans for another switch to Salah for the Gameweek after. Jiggery-pokery at its finest. 

My decision

The best Man City players for appealing fixtures after 5-0 win over Burnley

I’m toying with the idea of acquiring Mahrez for the Fulham game, which would mean ignoring De Bruyne entirely and looking for a way to bring in Salah for Gameweek 12. 

Getting a City player in feels a priority this week and a rest for the Algerian in the Champions League and some very, very promising comments from Guardiola about how “players who score will start” certainly bodes well for his chances of a start against the Cottagers.

This means I could hold on to both Son and Vardy this weekend and potentially move them both on next week to get Salah and Bamford, who have Fulham and West Ham respectively in Gameweek 12. Alternatively, I could lose Son this week and keep Hakim Ziyech (£8.3m) for his home match against Leeds.

Salah is the player who I’m coveting for the long term. Simply put, not owning him in my squad just feels… wrong. Okay there is the increased chance of rotation now that Jota is doing such a good job, but put simply, the Egyptian has proven over the last few seasons that he is the player most likely to register huge returns and if I’m ever torn between who to captain, he’s my go-to. 

As a captaincy option, while I’m happy with Fernandes if I need to, games against Fulham, Palace, West Brom and Newcastle in quick succession provide a perfect platform for the Liverpool double-up of Salah and Jota. City’s fixtures do also remain excellent, but there is the higher chance of rotation, a slight risk of De Bruyne dropping deeper to control the midfield in “tougher” games and from what I’ve seen from Man City, the high likelihood of a spread of points across their very capable forward line. 

Turning my back on last season’s top FPL performer doesn’t feel great and I know what he’s capable of. But you can’t have them all and this feels like something we are all going to have to put up with this season. Hopefully, we’re about to see the Mahrez of old who is more than capable of scoring 200+ points this season if he plays a decent number of minutes – although I also appreciate that he’s someone that can cause misery for those who take the punt on him. We’ll see what happens.

Whatever you decide to do, good luck for the following weeks. It’s going to be a wild ride.

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1,832 Comments Post a Comment
  1. I SPEAK ENGELS AND DRINK GI…
    • 1 Year
    4 months, 9 days ago

    Cancelo+Zaha -> Dias+Mahrez (-8)

    Worth it? as I dont Have any replacement @ bench for Cancelo or Zaha in case they dont play

    1. how now brown cow
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 6 Years
      4 months, 8 days ago

      What if dias and mahrez don't play and cancelo does?

      You never know with Pep.

    2. Snooze ya lose
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 11 Years
      4 months, 8 days ago

      No

  2. Super Saints
    • 4 Years
    4 months, 9 days ago

    United and PSG are equally bad

    1. how now brown cow
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 6 Years
      4 months, 9 days ago

      Unequally

      1. Super Saints
        • 4 Years
        4 months, 8 days ago

        Good point

  3. how now brown cow
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 6 Years
    4 months, 9 days ago

    Neymar 3-1

  4. Will J 256
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    4 months, 8 days ago

    Will be priced out of this move if I don’t do it tonight?
    Thoughts on Rashford and Mitchell to Jota and Dias?

    I know Dias is at threat from rotation but want him long term!

    1. Snooze ya lose
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 11 Years
      4 months, 8 days ago

      Yes

    2. Pipermaru
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 6 Years
      4 months, 8 days ago

      I think people overreacting Dias' rotation threat, maybe he won't play 100% games but he's a CB, they're not rotated so often.

  5. Woy_is_back
    • 3 Years
    4 months, 8 days ago

    Martial is so useless

    1. Magic Zico
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 2 Years
      4 months, 8 days ago

      Very annoying, should have won. But Ole is equally dumb not taking off Fred HT.

  6. Naby K8a
    • 5 Years
    4 months, 8 days ago

    Fridge on the floor. Again

  7. KGFC
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 4 Years
    4 months, 8 days ago

    Simply down to Ole’s stupidity... real amateurish stuff from a United manager

  8. Qaiss
    • 5 Years
    4 months, 8 days ago

    Oh but Mctominay wound him up remember 😀

    Welcome to the Europa League

  9. how now brown cow
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 6 Years
    4 months, 8 days ago

    At least they've gone down fighting.

    Throwing on ighalo with 40 seconds of normal time remaining was particularly bold.

  10. Optimus.
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 10 Years
    4 months, 8 days ago

    Ugly scenes now at the end of the Mun-Psg match as the camera pans to Bruno

  11. Tinkermania
    • 1 Year
    4 months, 8 days ago

    Someone please post a link where KANE runs past defenders like Neymar just did and gets up there to score a go. I am waiting, should be easy to find. Best player in the world 😉

    1. Tinkermania
      • 1 Year
      4 months, 8 days ago

      *goal

    2. how now brown cow
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 6 Years
      4 months, 8 days ago

      Can you find a clip of neymar tracking back even once?

      1. Tinkermania
        • 1 Year
        4 months, 8 days ago

        He got the ball close to his goal. Duh!

        1. how now brown cow
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 6 Years
          4 months, 8 days ago

          He had very little work rate for most of the game.

          He's undoubtedly very talented but there are other attributes to a forward.

          1. Tinkermania
            • 1 Year
            4 months, 8 days ago

            I know he is not the best in the world but some tinted glasses think a certain Brit is.

            1. how now brown cow
              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
              • 6 Years
              4 months, 8 days ago

              Kane is an exceptional player. He's never going to have the skills or pace or a neymar or Ronaldo, but he's for where he is from hard work.

              Why people bash the likes of him, firmino, giroud etc is beyond me.

              1. Tinkermania
                • 1 Year
                4 months, 8 days ago

                Yes, he is exceptional. Not the best in the world without skills and pace. We agree, don't we?

                1. how now brown cow
                  • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                  • 6 Years
                  4 months, 8 days ago

                  I just don't get your point.

                  If I believe choupo moting is the best striker in the world, so what. My opinion.and I'm entitled to it.

                  I don't. Obviously.

                  1. Tinkermania
                    • 1 Year
                    4 months, 8 days ago

                    You are right again.

                2. Keeptrying
                  • 7 Years
                  4 months, 8 days ago

                  Neymar is not the best in the world either, though he has fancy skills and pace.

                  Also regarding skills: a matter of definition. Neymar has those circus tricks in his pockets. Kane arguably better actual passing skills.

                  1. Tinkermania
                    • 1 Year
                    4 months, 8 days ago

                    Yes, he is not the best in the world either.

    3. Steve The Spud
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 1 Year
      4 months, 8 days ago

      What are you talking about

      1. Tinkermania
        • 1 Year
        4 months, 8 days ago

        About Neymar and a certain ''best striker in the world'' many times according to some.

    4. La Roja
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 9 Years
      4 months, 8 days ago

      You don’t really understand football

      1. Tinkermania
        • 1 Year
        4 months, 8 days ago

        You are right Rioja. I have had a good think about it. He is he BeSt. Now I understand football.

  12. Top Lad Dakes. - WC/TC left
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 4 Years
    4 months, 8 days ago

    Gru doing bits

  13. Little Red Lacazette
    • 4 Years
    4 months, 8 days ago

    Ah, I see Neymar got one more at the end.

  14. Salarrivederci
    • 4 Years
    4 months, 8 days ago

    Steer -> McCarthy for free? Would leave me with 0.1 ITB and 0 FT's
    Guess United playing again in 67 hours is alright when being forced to play Cresswell and Bowen.

    McCarthy
    Robertson - Chilwell - Cresswell - Lamptey
    (K)DB - Fernandes - Son - Bowen
    Vardy - Bamford

    (*Martinez*, Brewster, *Mitchel*, *Grealish*)

    1. Snooze ya lose
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 11 Years
      4 months, 8 days ago

      Yes

  15. Ze_Austin
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 2 Years
    4 months, 8 days ago

    That Neymar goal was from a beautiful move he started

    1. Noah’s Ark
      • 8 Years
      4 months, 8 days ago

      Yeah he skinned 2-3 players it was a great goal. United had to throw the kitchen sink at it though and unfortunately those are the risks. OGS is at fault for the loss really.

  16. Noah’s Ark
    • 8 Years
    4 months, 8 days ago

    That last goal was a killer too for the H2H

  17. One of Those Days
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 1 Year
    4 months, 8 days ago

    FraSHgile

    1. Noah’s Ark
      • 8 Years
      4 months, 8 days ago

      Stram Dunk

  18. Camzy
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 10 Years
    4 months, 8 days ago

    Chelsea have conceded just 2 goals in their last 10 matches. That's absurd. So funny how everyone was slating Lampard after they let in 3 against West Brom a few months ago for being unable to organize a defensive unit.

    1. how now brown cow
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 6 Years
      4 months, 8 days ago

      Mendy is such an upgrade. He is really positive and seems to spread confidence whereas kepa had the opposite effect.

    2. Super Saints
      • 4 Years
      4 months, 8 days ago

      A couple of those clean sheets were incredibly lucky

  19. KAPTAIN KANE
    • 4 Years
    4 months, 8 days ago

    Any Rashford owners? FYI he went off tonight with a possible aggravated shoulder

    1. Miguel Sanchez
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 4 Years
      4 months, 8 days ago

      Yup - that seals the Free Hit for me then

      1. Houldsworth Hatter
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 4 Years
        4 months, 8 days ago

        Yeh I’ve gone free hit and midfield heavy. Fingers crossed!!!

      2. KAPTAIN KANE
        • 4 Years
        4 months, 8 days ago

        Good luck Miguel!

  20. Snooze ya lose
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 11 Years
    4 months, 8 days ago

    Kdb this week and salah next? Also best def to replace robbo 5.5m max?

    1. Pipermaru
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 6 Years
      4 months, 8 days ago

      Without knowing who you've got I would say Reece James.

  21. thetommy14
      4 months, 8 days ago

      Giroud captain anyone?

      1. Tinkermania
        • 1 Year
        4 months, 8 days ago

        Is he playing Seville this weekend?

      2. HMC
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 10 Years
        4 months, 8 days ago

        Kane to Giroud right?

      3. One of Those Days
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 1 Year
        4 months, 8 days ago

        Jesus

    • Lindelol
      • 2 Years
      4 months, 8 days ago

      Bamford to Neymar for -4?

      1. One of Those Days
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 1 Year
        4 months, 8 days ago

        No 😀

    • AnfieldLad
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 6 Years
      4 months, 8 days ago

      McCarthy
      Chilwell Cresswell Cancelo*
      Bruno KDB Soucek Bissouma
      Kane Werner DCL
      (Steer, Kilman* Grealish* Ferguson*)
      1FT 0.0ITB

      A) Grealish -> Jota
      B) Cancelo -> James
      C) Save

      1. Snooze ya lose
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 11 Years
        4 months, 8 days ago

        B

      2. baggs
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 10 Years
        4 months, 8 days ago

        Save

      3. JohnnyRev7
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 10 Years
        4 months, 8 days ago

        Tricky:

        A) No. Keep Grealish.

        B) Maybe. James over Cancelo is a better longtime investment methinks.

        C) Save a FT if you're looking at getting Salah in next GW. Then play with 10-11 this GW and ride it out.

        Link your team. It always helps to get more constructive feedback.

    • Bobby Digital
      • 3 Years
      4 months, 8 days ago

      Chelsea players unscathed?

      1. Miguel Sanchez
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 4 Years
        4 months, 8 days ago

        Yup

    • Original Pirate Material
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 2 Years
      4 months, 8 days ago

      Bruno to KDB to be executed this week.

    • Snooze ya lose
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 11 Years
      4 months, 8 days ago

      When did Kane get injured?

      1. Original Pirate Material
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 2 Years
        4 months, 8 days ago

        Wasnt pictured at training and check scout tweets for Jose comments.

    • Buck The Trent
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 9 Years
      4 months, 8 days ago

      Would be funny if Bruno is rested this weekend ahead of Leipzig midweek

      1. Salarrivederci
        • 4 Years
        4 months, 8 days ago

        Could happen! Hope not, but it is not out of the question.
        Problem is they have to beat West Ham, and even though he could use the break, Bruno seems to be recovering very good within a few days.

      2. One of Those Days
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 1 Year
        4 months, 8 days ago

        No way

      3. Original Pirate Material
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 2 Years
        4 months, 8 days ago

        Yep but cant see it happening.

    • A Kun & Mateta
      • 7 Years
      4 months, 8 days ago

      Ole thick as mince with his team set up, should be sacked imo.

      1. Inazuma X1
        • 3 Years
        4 months, 8 days ago

        Lmao players let him down like usual

        1. Noah’s Ark
          • 8 Years
          4 months, 8 days ago

          True, Fred has let him down but he should not have still been on the pitch.

    • Shark Team
      • 3 Years
      4 months, 8 days ago

      Buy Jota before his price rise tonight or wait till Friday press news because I own Robbo and Kane?

      1. Apwilkin
        • 1 Year
        4 months, 8 days ago

        I am eager to make my moves too... but honestly patience seems to be the best play this season.

      2. Original Pirate Material
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 2 Years
        4 months, 8 days ago

        If you wont be priced out just old. Need to be patient this season more than ever.

      3. how now brown cow
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 6 Years
        4 months, 8 days ago

        I think you've answered your own question really.

      4. baggs
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 10 Years
        4 months, 8 days ago

        Got to wait this week if any. Not certain he’ll rise either.

    • Apwilkin
      • 1 Year
      4 months, 8 days ago

      Anyone seen info on who specifically had covid in Newcastle’s squad? Or if the training ground opened back up today?