FPL Family’s Sam gives us some initial thoughts on which chips she’ll be using and transfers she’ll be making ahead of the upcoming Blank and Double Gameweeks.
When the Blank and Double Gameweek announcements come, I always like to leave it a few days to let the ground settle before I make a decision on my strategy.
Those first few days after the announcement are awash with contrasting views on how the Gameweeks should be played and there is a lot of discussion about how a certain strategy is the right way to manage these weeks.
The reality is that there is no universal right way. Some FPL managers will find themselves with teams of almost 11 players for the Blank Gameweek, whereas others will maybe only have three or four players. Some of us will have our Free Hit chips intact, while others won’t.
I always find that, after a couple of days, I am able to restrict the noise around the Gameweeks and focus on my individual team. This means that I am in a better position to plan for these Gameweeks and of course the free transfers that lead up to that point in the season.
Double and Blank Gameweeks can often be maximised with a long-term plan in mind, in order to avoid the use of hits and, in some cases, the need to use precious chips.
Black Gameweek 18
For me, the FPL chips are there to be used aggressively.
If used in a Double Gameweek, the most a Free Hit can do is give you 11 players who play twice. Whilst on paper this seems great, the reality is that other chips have more explosive potential.
Using a Bench Boost can give you up to 15 Double Gameweek players, for example, while the Triple Captain chip will supply you with 11 assets and additional captain returns.
This is why I believe that the Free Hit should always be used in a Blank Gameweek to maximise its return potential.
There is a decent chance that Gameweek 18 will be our biggest Blank Gameweek of the season and so using the Free Hit chip makes sense here.
Firstly, it allows you to use free transfers to target Double Gameweek 19 (more on that later). Secondly, it allows you to have a full squad of the best players available for that week only.
This Blank Gameweek sees the likes of Spurs, Man City and Everton play, meaning that it is easy to choose a team of players that could easily return good FPL points that week. Son Heung-min (£9.7m) and Harry Kane (£11.0m) are currently second and third in the FPL points table this season, while Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£7.9m), Jack Grealish (£7.8m), Callum Wilson (£6.6m) and Wilfried Zaha (£7.5m) all feature in the top ten and have unaffected fixtures in Blank Gameweek 18.
My team currently contains six players who will play in the Blank Gameweek:
- Harry Kane
- Dominic Calvert-Lewin
- Son Heung-min
- Tariq Lamptey
- Ruben Dias
- Yves Bissouma
For the first couple of days after the announcement, I did consider using my transfers to build for a Gameweek 18 team. However, doing this would mean using my Free Hit in Gameweek 19, which I feel limits my potential for points returns. But more importantly, building a team for Gameweek 18 with my free transfers would mean losing players such as Bruno Fernandes (£11.0m) and Salah – which I definitely do not want to do.
Ahead of Gameweek 14, I removed a player who does play in Gameweek 18, Ollie Watkins (£6.1m), in favour of a player who doubles in Gameweek 19, Patrick Bamford (£6.4m).
There are of course risks to doing this, especially if the offloaded players return in the weeks ahead of the Double and Blank Gameweeks.
However, the players that I am bringing in for Gameweek 19 are also players that I would prefer to hold long term, and thus that opens the possibility of holding onto the second Wildcard until the next wave of rearrangements – including a potentially significant Double Gameweek 26.
I’m currently aiming for a Free Hit side that looks like this:
Whilst of course this may change with injuries, player form and price changes, I feel that this gives good potential for returns during Blank Gameweek 18. I would play a 3-4-3 formation as follows:
- Jordan Pickford
- Gary Cahill
- Ruben Dias
- Jamal Lewis
- Jack Grealish
- Son Heung-Min
- Kevin De Bruyne (c)
- Raheem Sterling
- Harry Kane (vc)
- Dominic Calvert-Lewin
- Callum Wilson
Double Gameweek 19
Here is the opportunity that we as FPL managers love the most – the potential to have the majority of our team play twice and further increase returns with the Bench Boost or Triple Captain chip.
Up until late afternoon on Monday, this looked set to be the biggest Double Gameweek of the season. However, the announcement of the moving of the League Cup final from Gameweek 26 to 33 could have ramifications for FPL managers.
As we start to learn more about that Gameweek, my view on whether to use my Bench Boost or Triple Captain may change. But at this point, having as many players as possible playing feels like the way to go – and thus I’m planning to play my Bench Boost in Gameweek 19.
Unlike many other FPL managers, I will not be fielding 15 Double Gameweek players. As is always the case, there are ‘single’ Gameweek players who could return big and punish those who transferred them out.
Spurs play only once but their opponents are lowly Sheffield United, so Son and Kane could easily rack up tidy hauls. The same is also true of the Manchester City boys, who only play Crystal Palace in that Gameweek.
As it stands, I currently own eight Double Gameweek players and have four free transfers left before I play my Free Hit in Gameweek 18. By using those four transfers carefully, I can ensure that I have 12 Double Gameweek players as well as three further single Gameweek players – who will likely include Son and Kane – to enable me to make the best use of the Bench Boost chip.
My FPL squad is presently as follows:
With this as a base point, I plan to do the following to ensure premium coverage of the Double Gameweek:
- Gameweek 15 – Tariq Lamptey to Stuart Dallas
- Gameweek 16 – Ruben Dias to Reece James – if fit – or Vladimir Coufal
- Gameweek 17 – Fraser Forster to Sam Johnstone and Yves Bissouma to a £5.1m-ish midfielder, such as Matt Philips, Ademola Lookman or, if Arsenal have improved, Bukayo Saka.
In doing this, I can have a team which still includes Kane, Son and Calvert-Lewin for their nice single Gameweek fixtures but allows me to bring in Double Gameweek players who have nice fixtures and who I am happy to hold longer-term.
The only issue with this strategy is a lack of a Liverpool defender, who I would really like to own.
But, as with the premium attackers this season, it isn’t possible to have all of them and thus I might have to go without Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.2m) or Andy Robertson (£7.3m) for the Double Gameweek. It is possible to budget for Joel Matip (£5.4m) to at least cover for the Liverpool clean sheet potential, however.
Over the next few weeks, as we understand more of the ramifications of Gameweek 26, my thinking may shift away from the Bench Boost and towards the Triple Captain. If this happens, then I can tweak some of my transfers as I won’t, for example, need a playing second goalkeeper.
It will also mean that I won’t need to remove some of the players who have nice fixtures between now and Gameweeks 18 and 19 and could mean that I can budget for that premium Liverpool defender given the lack of need to upgrade others elsewhere.
If the Triple Captain becomes my chip of favour then I will put it on someone trustworthy and in form. Liverpool’s games against Manchester United and Burnley look good for handing the armband to Salah and thus he’d probably just get the nod over Fernandes, who has Liverpool and Fulham.
Planning for the Double and Blank Gameweeks in advance is key. I’ll be carefully watching the markets with regard to the players that I am targeting for Gameweek 19 so as not to be priced out of owning them.
For me, using the chips to aggressively return as many points as possible, rather than to cover up areas of concern, is important – maximise singles with the Free Hit and maximise doubles with the Bench Boost and Triple Captain.
Most importantly though, focus on your own team. It’s so easy to listen to what others are doing because it’s right for their squad and because of the chips they have available. Play the game for your team and to give you the best start over the course of these extraordinary Gameweeks.
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