Pro Pundit Teams

The importance of flexibility and reacting to ever-changing FPL circumstances

This season more than ever has taught us that one of the most important skills to cultivate as a Fantasy Premier League manager is flexibility.

Right now, we have to think about what chips we are going to use in the upcoming rounds and which players can be useful in the short and longer-term.

Prior to the Premier League announcing the rescheduled fixtures for Manchester City, Manchester United, Burnley and Aston Villa I had, what I thought was, a well rounded team for Double Gameweek 19 as well as a plan for Blank Gameweek 18.

That involved Free Hitting for the upcoming fixtures and thus I set about removing players who didn’t have the form I required and also didn’t have two fixtures in Double Gameweek in 19.

Aston Villa’s Ollie Watkins

Aston Villa’s Ollie Watkin‘s (£6.1m) was a prime example of this. While his underlying statistics make for positive reading, as an FPL asset he was a frustrating one to own.

Just one return in the last eight Gameweeks, against Crystal Palace in Gameweek 15, coupled with the fact that during this period Watkins has played the likes of West Brom, Brighton and Burnley left him on shaky ground in my team as a result of his decidedly disappointing FPL points returns.

Considering he didn’t have two fixtures in Double Gameweek 19, and my plans for a Free Hit in Gameweek 18 where he could be brought back, I transferred out Watkins for Patrick Bamford (£6.6m) preparing my team for Double Gameweek 19.

Fast-forward a few weeks and the rearrangement of the Aston Villa game that they missed in Gameweek 1 into the Double Gameweek 19 fixtures and suddenly selling Watkins feels like a missed opportunity.

Had we known about the rearranged fixtures earlier I likely would have persevered with Watkins and a couple of others as they would have given me almost a full XI for Blank Gameweek 18 without needing to use a chip and then I could have held two free transfers for my Double Gameweek 19 preparation.

However, this season in particular is all about flexibility and adapting to situations as they arise. Rearranged fixtures will likely be a common theme this season, as a result of the usual postponements due to the later stages of both the Premier League and FA Cups, as well as this year the coronavirus (COVID-19) postponements.

The loss of two fixtures in Gameweek 16, as well as a further match in Gameweek 17 highlight the fragility of our FPL teams this season.

For my team, the use of the Free Hit chip in Gameweek 18 is essential. Without it, my line-up consists of five players and the suspended Yves Bissouma (£4.5m) this is not a team that can successfully achieve a green arrow this week.

I do have two free transfers and thus with a cleverly deployed -4 could field a team of eight, but doing this would mean losing some key players who I transferred in ahead of Double Gameweek 19, thus compromising my team for the next gameweek whilst still not achieving a team that I feel comfortable with in Blank Gameweek 18.

As a result the plan to Free Hit ahead of Gameweek 18 still stands.

Every FPL season that I have played and had a Free Hit chip to play the aim has been to play the very best team possible with one or at a push two decent bench options and a couple of cheap burner spots knowing that they won’t ever make the XI.

The 2020/21 season has already shown us the importance of a bench though. I have already mentioned the full match postponements that we have seen over the last couple of weeks, however this doesn’t account for the individual players who have missed out while the games they were due to play continued.

FPL favourites such as Alex McCarthy (£4.7m) Mohamed Salah (£12.6m) Kyle Walker (£6.1m) and Sadio Mané (£11.9m) to name but a few have already missed matches as a result of Covid, indeed the likes of Allan Saint-Maximin (£5.1m) and Jamaal Lascelles (£4.2m) at Newcastle have now missed eight matches through the illness if you include their Gameweek 11 match which was postponed.

Saint-Maximin and Barnes return as Newcastle host Burnley

Newcastle’s Allan Saint-Maximin

The impacts that COVID is having on the Premier League is, as a result, having an impact on the way that I am playing the game. I never captain and vice-captain players in the same match, try not to treble up on any teams just in case their game is called off and I am thinking very carefully about whether the Bench Boast and Triple Captain chips should be deployed at this moment giving the lack of notice that COVID affords to FPL managers.

The key impact of COVID on my Free Hit team is the bench. No longer do I feel safe having burn options on the bench, my FPL first team and bench all need to be decent options if I am to ensure with as much certainty as possible that I can achieve a full XI players playing by the time the final match kicks off.

However, it is also making me reconsider something that has always been a key part of my Free Hit strategies. Fielding three players from the teams with the best fixtures.

The fixtures in Blank Gameweek 18 suggest that the most aggressive strategy for FPL manager who are playing their Free Hit chip is to triple up on Manchester United (away at Burnley) Manchester City (at home to Brighton) and Arsenal (at home to Crystal Palace).

Thus leaving two spaces in the starting XI to cover Spurs, Aston Villa, Wolves, Everton, Sheffield United and Newcastle – as well as potentially Burnley, Crystal Palace and Brighton if you don’t believe that the Manchester sides and Arsenal will keep a clean sheet.

On paper, this seems like a good idea. However the loss of just one of those three key triple up matches could have huge consequences for an FPL Managers free hit points scoring ability. During Gameweek 16, I owned Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£7.8m) and Rúben Dias (£5.8m) from the postponed Everton vs Manchester City match as well as Harry Kane (£11.0m) and Heung-Min Son (£9.8m) when the Spurs vs Fulham game followed suit. This meant that even with a solid performance from my bench I was still down to only 10 men. This has had a major impact on how I play FPL in the current climate.

Now I am looking to find a balance between the best FPL assets for the Gameweek and the risk involved in owning three from one team or match. Of the three big matches only Burnley vs Manchester United is on the opening evening of the Gameweek. The other two follow on Wednesday and Thursday evenings meaning that any postponements or players missing will likely not be known to FPL managers at the time of the deadline. Thus while I feel slightly more confident in having three Manchester United players because of the timing of the match, I can’t see myself risking owning three players from Arsenal and Manchester City also.

By owning two players from Arsenal and Manchester City that allows me to also own an extra couple from the other matches thus spreading the risk factor and hopefully enabling my free hit team to achieve the most points possible – which is after all the key aim of the chip.

My current plan is for a team that looks like this, however there are still a couple of games, such as Sheffield United vs Newcastle, that I may invest further in when it comes to my bench in order to protect my team further.

By setting up like this I believe I have covered the majority of the big assets for the gameweek, with the exception of a second Manchester City defender as well as setting up my team to cover all the matches. Doing this gives me confidence that my squad has the depth to cope with any unexpected eventualities, however it does meant that it lacks the likes of João Cancelo (£5.7m) or John Stones (£5.0m) and another Arsenal player. However, if I plan to play 4-5-1 then the lack of a further Arsenal player is less of a concern than the lack of a second Manchester City defender.

There is definitely a balance to be found between the right players and the safest formation, I’m not sure that this most recent draft has yet struck that balance, however it is definitely closer than the ones that preceded it. Thankfully there’s still plenty of time between now and the Gameweek 18 deadline to get it right!

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957 Comments Post a Comment
  1. rokonto
    • 5 Years
    3 months, 13 days ago

    Is the game 2morrow definitely off then?

    1. FPL.team
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 4 Years
      3 months, 13 days ago

      Villa? No, they are talking about putting out an U23 side.

    1. Daniel - When to BB?
      • 11 Years
      3 months, 13 days ago

      Spot on

    2. doher.ty
        3 months, 13 days ago

        Savage

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

      Damn, if the Spurs-Villa game is off, then that FH will definitely come in play for me. Got to wait till last minute...

      1. Zladan
        • 3 Years
        3 months, 13 days ago

        Is there any point?

        United Burnley now could be off too.

        That leaves City and Arsenal to target. Are Arsenal players even worth bringing in?

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

          Yeah, most likely best to save FT for later in the season.

        2. Weeb Kakashi
          • 5 Years
          3 months, 13 days ago

          Burnley game to go ahead. Only a couple of cases at Burnley

          1. Epic ⚽ 墅
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 10 Years
            3 months, 13 days ago

            Only a couple at pressent.

            1. Epic ⚽ 墅
              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
              • 10 Years
              3 months, 13 days ago

              *present

        3. FPL.team
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 4 Years
          3 months, 13 days ago

          Most are on triple Arsenal already for the FH aren't they? 2 cases at Burnley doesn't sound like much to worry about.

    4. Daniel - When to BB?
      • 11 Years
      3 months, 13 days ago

      Give us free WC, FPL Towers!!

      You've done it twice in history already

      1. doher.ty
          3 months, 13 days ago

          This would be blessed

        • Zladan
          • 3 Years
          3 months, 13 days ago

          I imagine the season needs to be postponed first? In which case you could gamble on using a WC now in the hope of another later.

        • Sanchit
          • 5 Years
          3 months, 13 days ago

          Only once last year, right?

          The other one was the one which they gave in GW2 because their site crashed before GW1?

      2. Zladan
        • 3 Years
        3 months, 13 days ago

        The importance of holding off on any move until the last possible moment, even if it means missing price changes.

        Many chips could well have been wasted on this gameweek.

        A possible further reduction in the number of games, if the gameweek even goes ahead!

        1. Steve The Spud
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 1 Year
          3 months, 13 days ago

          Surely in this case the fh becomes even better as anyone not playing it could have 2 or 3 players lol

          1. Zladan
            • 3 Years
            3 months, 13 days ago

            I’d disagree. There are now fewer good options and teams will be full of the likes of Newcastle, Sheffield and Arsenal players.

            I’d rather save my FH I think, and just have triple City and whatever scraps I have that also play.

            1. Steve The Spud
              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
              • 1 Year
              3 months, 13 days ago

              True, but if someone like Lacazette halls in there scenario it could be a huge gain for free hitters over anyone who doesn’t play it

            2. Zladan
              • 3 Years
              3 months, 13 days ago

              Furthermore, all these postponed fixtures will result in a later DGW. Would rather use a FH for double Bruno and Son etc rather than Brewster Holding & co.

              1. Steve The Spud
                • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                • 1 Year
                3 months, 13 days ago

                Good point although those players will be 50% + owned anyway

            3. Shineonme
              • 4 Years
              3 months, 13 days ago

              Even if there is only 3 games that go ahead I'll be playing my FH

          2. doher.ty
              3 months, 13 days ago

              This is fair. If the City or United game gets called off would mean my team only has 4-6 players.

            • Pep bites Kun
              • 4 Years
              3 months, 13 days ago

              Your comment may be slightly biased as you played your FH early (possibly prematurely)? I'm not sure you're in a position to 'lol' at anyone

              1. doher.ty
                  3 months, 13 days ago

                  This seems personal lol

                  1. Pep bites Kun
                    • 4 Years
                    3 months, 13 days ago

                    Not at all - just having a laaaff between gw's 🙂

            • FPL.team
              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
              • 4 Years
              3 months, 13 days ago

              If Spurs is off I'd love it as a FH user. The gameweek will go ahead, can't see a couple of cases at Burnley stopping that and Villa already planning to play an U23 team tomorrow.

          3. Inazuma X1
            • 3 Years
            3 months, 13 days ago

            Ughhhh shouldn't have sold Taylor. Hope he drops in price tonight.

            1. ChelseaGuy
              • 4 Years
              3 months, 13 days ago

              Why? Is he fit to play now?

              1. Bram
                • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                • 11 Years
                3 months, 13 days ago

                Back in training

                1. ChelseaGuy
                  • 4 Years
                  3 months, 13 days ago

                  Ohh alright then

                2. Inazuma X1
                  • 3 Years
                  3 months, 13 days ago

                  Don't think he is back in training. See post below

          4. doher.ty
              3 months, 13 days ago

              Would you FH this team:

              Martinez
              Dias, Cancelo, Mitchell*
              Bruno, KDB, Grealish, Son
              Martial*, Brewster*

              Concerned about Martials minutes, Brewster and Mitchell, no bench.

              1. ALI_G
                • 3 Years
                3 months, 13 days ago

                would wait

                chaos at the moment and may only be a few games at this rate

                I am on FH but regretting it

                1. doher.ty
                    3 months, 13 days ago

                    Definitely waiting until Monday/Tuesday but at the moment, I'm worried!

              2. Bookkeeper
                • 4 Years
                3 months, 13 days ago

                Surely those that hit the free hit button few days ago were aware of the risks? No?
                I warned people on here and was lambasted for it.

                1. doher.ty
                    3 months, 13 days ago

                    They were aware but I gather they decided there was more benefit to using it and getting on the price rises. It's all based on the individual teams.

                    1. Bookkeeper
                      • 4 Years
                      3 months, 13 days ago

                      Chasing value- the death of many!

                      1. doher.ty
                          3 months, 13 days ago

                          You're not wrong. If fixtures stay the same and their team was always set up to FH then I can't fault them for going early. They were going to either way.

                          1. Shineonme
                            • 4 Years
                            3 months, 13 days ago

                            ^^ this ^^

                          2. Epic ⚽ 墅
                            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                            • 10 Years
                            3 months, 13 days ago

                            Aye in a normal season. This is no normal season though but I guess it's a calculated risk.

                    2. Daniel - When to BB?
                      • 11 Years
                      3 months, 13 days ago

                      They could still be winners . Non fh-ters have Son and Kane, Grealish and Martinez. 4 massive players headstart i would say

                    3. Bram
                      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                      • 11 Years
                      3 months, 13 days ago

                      They only really lose out if the season is suspended which still looks unlikely.

                      Those who built for gw18 are most shafted (again after the gw16 carnage of losing City and Spurs players).

                    4. FPL.team
                      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                      • 4 Years
                      3 months, 13 days ago

                      Spurs off is an ideal scenario for FH users and that seems the only game at risk as it stands.

                      1. Shineonme
                        • 4 Years
                        3 months, 13 days ago

                        ^^ exactly ^^

                  • Westfield Irons ⭐️
                    • 11 Years
                    3 months, 13 days ago

                    Man City double in GW19 at risk??
                    In DGW19 Man City play CRY + AVL
                    The Villa fixture is 20th January, nearly 2 weeks from now.
                    What's the chance that fixture will go ahead?
                    I appreciate many players will be over their isolation period, but is there a good chance Villa players might test positive between now and then and jeapordise the fixture?
                    I want to consider if the City triple up is risky now...
                    Apologies if this has been posted/discussed already.

                    1. Daniel - When to BB?
                      • 11 Years
                      3 months, 13 days ago

                      I think it's on

                    2. Epic ⚽ 墅
                      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                      • 10 Years
                      3 months, 13 days ago

                      There's always a chance players test positive regardless.

                    3. Steve The Spud
                      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                      • 1 Year
                      3 months, 13 days ago

                      I think if games that far away are being scrapped after positive tests there is little hope all around!

                    4. Crunchie
                      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                      • 2 Years
                      3 months, 13 days ago

                      Newcastle was wiped out but were playing within a couple of weeks.

                      I dont think that one is a problem

                      Any new outbreaks mind.

                    5. Bram
                      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                      • 11 Years
                      3 months, 13 days ago

                      Arguably those with issues now are more likely to be playing by gw19.

                    6. FPL.team
                      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                      • 4 Years
                      3 months, 13 days ago

                      Should be fine. City had 3 new positive tests then went and smashed Chelsea and got to a cup final a few days later.

                    7. Westfield Irons ⭐️
                      • 11 Years
                      3 months, 13 days ago

                      It's how the Villa COVID outbreak has been described as 'significant' that concerns me. It might mean multiple players could be out with COVID for a long time (like Lascelles at Newcastle for example). I suppose looking at it like that, it might strengthen the arguement to triple on City, because Villa might be forced to play an under-strength team in the double. Over thinking this I guess, simple answer is wait and do nothing until the last minute with more info.

                      1. popey
                        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                        • 2 Years
                        3 months, 13 days ago

                        Significant could also mean say 5/6 people, of which first team players are fringe, some u23's and some staff

                        6 days before deadline and currently only going off a 1hr old press release

                  • SHOWSTOPPERRR
                    • 3 Years
                    3 months, 13 days ago

                    Had players if villa spurs is off I have one player Bruno and lamptey not counting though..

                  • Daniel - When to BB?
                    • 11 Years
                    3 months, 13 days ago

                    Pereira will not feature in the FA Cup. "Ricardo is coming along really well. It’s just too soon for him this weekend. He’s back in with the squad training."

                    Sell Justin or Mitchell for a city defender?

                    1. doher.ty
                        3 months, 13 days ago

                        I wonder how LEI will line up when Ricardo and Castagna are fit. Justin has played well this season, deserves some starts.

                    2. Inazuma X1
                      • 3 Years
                      3 months, 13 days ago

                      I don't think Taylor is back in training, he is?

                      "Making good progress"

                      Dyche: "We had to cancel a reserve game on Tuesday because of [COVID-19]. Jack Cork, Charlie Taylor and Dwight McNeil are making good progress as is Jay Rodriguez. Matej Vydra is training with us and is available."

                      https://twitter.com/BenDinnery/status/1347216185251803137

                      1. Inazuma X1
                        • 3 Years
                        3 months, 13 days ago

                        is he?*

                      2. _Ninja_
                        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                        • 10 Years
                        3 months, 13 days ago

                        Yeah thats a bit different from "Charlie Taylor, Dwight McNeil, Jay Rodriguez are all making good progress and been training, along with Matej Vydra."

                        https://twitter.com/BurnleyOfficial/status/1347216089403568133

                      3. Hazz
                        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                        • 3 Years
                        3 months, 13 days ago

                        Can you definitively tell me whether Ben or the Burnley account has transcribed it wrong?

                        Actual AC of the presser should clear it up.

                        All you're posting is what Ben has tweeted vs. what Burnley have tweeted.

                        1. Hazz
                          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                          • 3 Years
                          3 months, 13 days ago

                          AV* of the presser

                    3. Eh, just one more thing ...
                      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                      • 9 Years
                      3 months, 13 days ago

                      So with the newest Covid outbreak at Villa, we must now be cautious regards their game versus Spurs - a game that could now conceivably be postponed .... it just up down throw it all around .... transfers on hold until 10 minutes before deadline.

                      That, as I am sure is the case for many others, could be the difference between ‘go with what you’ve got’ and free hit .... for GW18.

                      1. HuttonDressedasLahm
                        • 11 Years
                        3 months, 13 days ago

                        Could replace it with Spurs v Fulham?
                        Tasty

                        1. Eh, just one more thing ...
                          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                          • 9 Years
                          3 months, 13 days ago

                          That would work nicely.

                          I just wonder at what point a FH becomes pointless ...if it gets to the point there are So few games left, I think I rather roll out there with three or four players as opposed to loading up with Burnley, Sheff U and Brighton On a free hit!

                          1. Shineonme
                            • 4 Years
                            3 months, 13 days ago

                            Like I said earlier even if there are only 3 games in gw18 being played I'm playing my FH

                    4. stxrty
                        3 months, 13 days ago

                        Anyone in the same boat? No FH left (due to me being pissed up one night and hitting it for no reason at all and leaving it) and now seem knackered for next week.

                        Current side I can field:

                        Martinez
                        Tierney - Mitchell
                        Fernandes - Smith Rowe - Son
                        Kane - Dom

                        Ride it out or play WC? Ahhhhh. Stuck.

                        1. HuttonDressedasLahm
                          • 11 Years
                          3 months, 13 days ago

                          Ride it

                          1. stxrty
                              3 months, 13 days ago

                              Seems logical. Given WC seems ideal more following GW.

                            • Shineonme
                              • 4 Years
                              3 months, 13 days ago

                              I did thanks

                          2. Shineonme
                            • 4 Years
                            3 months, 13 days ago

                            I was p****d up but I never used my FH.... I smashed my girlfriend instead 😉

                            1. Epic ⚽ 墅
                              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                              • 10 Years
                              3 months, 13 days ago

                              Any video evidence available for us?

                        2. Pep bites Kun
                          • 4 Years
                          3 months, 13 days ago

                          🙂 Play the whistle

                        3. NateDogsCats
                            3 months, 13 days ago

                            Big Sam confirms 2 new cases at West Brom

                            1. Pep bites Kun
                              • 4 Years
                              3 months, 13 days ago

                              Corruption? Who's the other person?

                              1. ⱼₐᵣᵥᵢₛₕ
                                • 6 Years
                                3 months, 13 days ago

                                Is Hegazi still there? As an Egyptian, he could be running a pyramid scheme.

                                1. My heart goes Salalalalah
                                  • 4 Years
                                  3 months, 13 days ago

                                  HA!

                            2. Jon Walter's Hatty
                              • 7 Years
                              3 months, 13 days ago

                              Johnstone probably - the only one floating about for the double.

                          • ⭐ Bemba_Da ⭐
                            • 10 Years
                            3 months, 13 days ago

                            Imagine spending weeks planning

                            1. Epic ⚽ 墅
                              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                              • 10 Years
                              3 months, 13 days ago

                              Sounds like a poor cover of a John Lennon song.

                              1. Crunchie
                                • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                                • 2 Years
                                3 months, 13 days ago

                                It's easy if you try

                          • Jon Walter's Hatty
                            • 7 Years
                            3 months, 13 days ago

                            One way to look at is maybe is that the Villa brigade like City will be through a batch of Covid so actually worth investing in - less likely for their games to be called off in the future.

                          • Mac90
                            • 7 Years
                            3 months, 13 days ago

                            Where is the Southampton-Leeds in BGW18 that I was promised? I have 5 players that can come in

                            1. _Ninja_
                              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                              • 10 Years
                              3 months, 13 days ago

                              Doubt that will happen

                            2. ⱼₐᵣᵥᵢₛₕ
                              • 6 Years
                              3 months, 13 days ago

                              Tweet @bencrellin with your concerns

                          • Super Saints
                            • 4 Years
                            3 months, 13 days ago

                            Salah dropping in price tonight!? Want to sell for Sterling....

                            1. marcos11
                                3 months, 13 days ago

                                Looks like it

                              • Pep bites Kun
                                • 4 Years
                                3 months, 13 days ago

                                I'm selling for a waffle iron - no idea what it does, but I'm assuming it makes them flat again

                              • theplayer
                                • 7 Years
                                3 months, 13 days ago

                                Stupid to make an early transfer with all this Covid around

                            2. marcos11
                                3 months, 13 days ago

                                Planning to go Salah > Rashford and then FH instead if some of the gw18 games are postponed, allowing me to get Salah back in for gw19 instead. Good idea?

                                1. Epic ⚽ 墅
                                  • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                                  • 10 Years
                                  3 months, 13 days ago

                                  I don't get you. Do Salah > Rashford for GW18 and then use your FH in GW18 too?

                                  1. Hotdogs for Tea
                                    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                                    • 5 Years
                                    3 months, 13 days ago

                                    only if he needs to

                                2. Pep bites Kun
                                  • 4 Years
                                  3 months, 13 days ago

                                  Depends if you want Salah v Rash going forward

                              • Fred54
                                • 6 Years
                                3 months, 13 days ago

                                Why is article still up, its already out of date?