Fantasy Premier League managers can finally start pinpointing which teams to target for the Blank and Double Gameweeks.
That’s what I have spent the last day or so doing as we head into the busiest period of the football calendar.
The first thought that comes to me while looking at the fixtures is that the teams involved in Double Gameweek 19 will have plenty of motivation to play their best players and not rotate.
In recent years, the biggest Double of the campaign has come when a lot more places in the Premier League table were secure, reducing the importance of each game.
By contrast, very little will be settled come early January and we can surely expect fewer dead rubber games – which is great news for Fantasy managers.
And, handily enough, some of the popular teams with two fixtures in Double Gameweek 19 don’t have a particularly condensed schedule before and afterwards.
Teams with the best Blank and Double Gameweek fixtures
For example, Liverpool play a Premier League game on January 4 before an FA Cup third round tie against Aston Villa on January 8, which they will surely use to rest key players or manage their minutes.
That precedes a lengthy for Liverpool, their next Premier League games coming in that Double Gameweek on a Sunday, January 17 and Thursday, January 21.
After that, the Reds have another FA Cup tie (if they go through) before their next league game on January 28.
You have to assume that, because of the cup ties and reasonable rest times between league outings, Liverpool rotation will be at a minimum for the games that matter to Fantasy managers.
Thankfully, Jurgen Klopp’s men have good fixtures in and around the Double Gameweek too. In fact, the Reds are second on the Season Ticker from now until Gameweek 17, so it looks like a good time to invest in key Liverpool assets if you are planning to Free Hit in Blank Gameweek 18 and build a team for Double Gameweek 19 without a Wildcard.
Manchester United are in a similar category as Liverpool for me with decent Double Gameweek 19 fixtures on paper as well as an appealing schedule either side.
West Ham and Leeds also have really favourable fixtures in the bumper Gameweek.
Not only do they have a decent schedule before and after, these are two clubs that can offer decent budget options if you are looking to plan for a Bench Boost in Double Gameweek 19.
Both teams are fixture-less in Blank Gameweek 18 so if you do want to get Hammers and Whites in your team, you may be lighter that week and increase the need for a Free Hit chip.
What if I don’t want to use my Wildcard?
If you are hoping to navigate Double Gameweek 19 team without using a Wildcard, the teams we have already mentioned remain good sources for transfers but we should also consider Chelsea, Leicester and Southampton.
That said, those three clubs have mixed schedules before then, although they improve from Gameweek 20 onwards, so timing could be very important when transferring their players in.
When we are planning for the Blank and Double Gameweeks, we always have to make sure we do check the fixtures before and after so we don’t succumb to tunnel vision and fall into some traps.
It is worth noting Spurs have a good run of fixtures right until Double Gameweek 19 and do not blank in Blank Gameweek 18 either.
If you currently own five or so players from Manchester City, Spurs, Aston Villa and Everton, which is very likely given the template and some popular picks, I think you can get away with saving the Free Hit in Blank Gameweek 18 and using it in when the FA Cup quarter-finals cause problems or for a Double Gameweek.
General tips for Blank and Double Gameweeks
Finally, here are some of my golden rules for planning to cope with Blank and Double Gameweeks.
- Don’t have a tunnel vision when choosing Double Gameweek players. Don’t just think about those who are playing twice – always look for those with appealing single Gameweek matches too.
- If you can field a decent Bench Boost in Double Gameweek 19 (which is possible with good bench fodder from Southampton, West Ham and Leeds United), use the chip. I have found that if you are building a team with your second Wildcard, it is much more effective when you don’t have to focus on the bench and can pump more into a strong set of 12 to 13 starting players.
- Don’t forget to get points now. More often than not, while we are focused on getting good players who play two games in the Double Gameweek, we tend to forget teams that have good fixtures right now. There are still five Gameweeks to be played before Double Gameweek 19 and while you make your transfers, make sure they have a good points potential for now as well. A good example of this from last year was when everyone was focusing on Liverpool players with a Double Gameweek. But, at that point, Manchester City were away at Aston Villa, which was a very appealing fixture at the time. I deviated from the Double Gameweek bandwagon and focused my transfer on getting points immediately: signing Sergio Aguero (£10.3m) and captaining his hat-trick.
That’s it from me at the moment. At the moment, this article is merely me loud-thinking while I glance at the fixture schedule first up. I need to delve further before I strengthen my plans for these Gameweeks.
I am expecting some old school ‘pen and paper’ transfer planning as I move ahead. I suggest you do the same. These scribbles always help. Good luck and see you next week.
Lessons learned from FPL Gameweek 13
- Wolves 2-1 Chelsea
- Manchester City 1-1 West Bromwich Albion
- Arsenal 1-1 Southampton
- Leeds United 5-2 Newcastle United
- Leicester City 0-2 Everton
- Fulham 0-0 Brighton and Hove Albion
- Liverpool 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur
- West Ham United 1-1 Crystal Palace
- Aston Villa 0-0 Burnley
- Sheffield United 2-3 Manchester United