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. The 12th Man
    • 7 Years
    3 months, 8 days ago

    Guess I’ll be using FH now if 3 Villa players out.
    Down to Dias,Cancelo,Fernandes, KDB and Kane .

    1. _Ninja_
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 10 Years
      3 months, 8 days ago

      Kane would be out as well.

      1. The 12th Man
        • 7 Years
        3 months, 8 days ago

        Yeh for now.
        Spurs may get the Fulham game .

    2. Caravagio
      • 6 Years
      3 months, 8 days ago

      Wait and see for as long as possible. But likely FH best option.

    3. Trophé Mourinho
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 1 Year
      3 months, 8 days ago

      And Kane out

    4. Gobigorgohome
      • 9 Years
      3 months, 8 days ago

      no kabne

    5. Did you see that throw-in?
      • 4 Years
      3 months, 8 days ago

      Kane not able

  2. Caravagio
    • 6 Years
    3 months, 8 days ago

    Is Sigurdsson becoming an option now if Spurs/Villa out for BGW?
    Has a few returns lately. Has anyone watched him play to comment on the eye test?

  3. Gobigorgohome
    • 9 Years
    3 months, 8 days ago

    ffs gutted

    now have to use FH

    1. Breezyy
      • 2 Years
      3 months, 8 days ago

      Same 🙁

    2. Old Gregg
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 4 Years
      3 months, 8 days ago

      Shame. It’s Looking that way. But also more unappealing

      Interesting to see people’s drafts.

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

    Standing outside Waitrose with the dog wtf has happened?

    1. g40steve
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 3 Years
      3 months, 8 days ago

      Villa Covid

    2. Well you know, Triffic
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 10 Years
      3 months, 8 days ago

      How many big issues have you sold?

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

        I would reply but I have frost bite

    3. Danno - Emre Canada
      • 6 Years
      3 months, 8 days ago

      Whole foods closed???

  5. RAFA THE GAFFA
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 5 Years
    3 months, 8 days ago

    Anyone blocking out 1 hour next Tuesday at 3.30 to FH! No point pulling the trigger before that is there

    1. TimoTime
      • 1 Year
      3 months, 8 days ago

      Seems the most sensible thing to do

    2. WE GO FOR IT
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 5 Years
      3 months, 8 days ago

      Yeah. Not activating anything until the last 1/2 hours.

    3. popey
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 2 Years
      3 months, 8 days ago

      Putting a 'meeting' in my diary to block an hour out as unfortunately falls on one of my busier work days of the year.

      Original plan for no FH with 2ft and 3 Villa players + Son is now looking a tad dicey

      1. RAFA THE GAFFA
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 5 Years
        3 months, 8 days ago

        I’ve just realised I have a meeting 3-5 🙁 trying to get out of it at 4 for a 30 minute FH haha

  6. TimoTime
    • 1 Year
    3 months, 8 days ago

    Just logged on, what’s this news about Kane being out?

    1. TimoTime
      • 1 Year
      3 months, 8 days ago

      Oh I see if villa is off, nightmare

  7. Manani
    • 9 Years
    3 months, 8 days ago

    without Spurs + Villa, I will have 3 players playing GW18 lol

    1. Trophé Mourinho
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 1 Year
      3 months, 8 days ago

      a minimalist approach to the GW

  8. Trophé Mourinho
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 1 Year
    3 months, 8 days ago

    Laca will have his highest EO ever known lol, 93%

  9. Booked4Dissent
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    3 months, 8 days ago

    Here is a new strategy I am contemplating to navigate covid postponements and isolating players:
    1. Always have 2 FT ready
    2. Never use FT on players you want, only make essential transfers to cover covid absences
    3. Max 1 player from each club
    4. Avoid players facing each other

    1. DannyDrinkVodka
      • 1 Year
      3 months, 8 days ago

      I lol'd

    2. WE GO FOR IT
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 5 Years
      3 months, 8 days ago

      Max 1 player from each club and avoid players facing each other? How would that be possible?
      10 teams play each other in a normal GW. You'd get 10 players max if you just pick according to fixtures and you'd need 15 if you want to stay true to the 1 per club rule.

      2 was a rule I followed in normal seasons as well. Same with 1.

      1. Booked4Dissent
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        3 months, 8 days ago

        Best effort. Max double up of 2

  10. Karan14
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 5 Years
    3 months, 8 days ago

    Spurs vs Fulham moving to GW18 would be great news. I would happily use my FH then!

    1. RAFA THE GAFFA
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 5 Years
      3 months, 8 days ago

      Haha. I think I’ve got a nice FH team below without Spurs but indeed that fixture would be very nice. Would also help the causals or the non-FHs though

  11. aleksaa2
    • 4 Years
    3 months, 8 days ago

    Assuming Tot vs Villa is off, would you FH this or save the chip for later?

    DDG
    Mitchell, Holding Dias, Cancelo
    KDB, Bruno
    DCL

    1. Booked4Dissent
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      3 months, 8 days ago

      Save, but wait for more info of course.

  12. Naby K8a
    • 5 Years
    3 months, 8 days ago

    Klopp will be fuming that Liverpool might get a bye to the next round

  13. Did you see that throw-in?
    • 4 Years
    3 months, 8 days ago

    This season is about as enjoyable as hardtalk

    1. Camzy
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 10 Years
      3 months, 8 days ago

      You know what, I kind of enjoy it haha. It's chaos but it's kinda fun to try and deal with it all.

      1. Black Knights
        • 9 Years
        3 months, 8 days ago

        Agree. Part of the fun is the challenge of navigating unexpected changes to the plan. I have 2FTs but may be about to waste them if i end up having to FH. But that's OK, it's all part of the ride.

    2. Trophé Mourinho
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 1 Year
      3 months, 8 days ago

      Hardtalk is good sometimes, when its the ginger guy interviewing and a good guest. Most of the time its a bit rubbish though

  14. The 12th Man
    • 7 Years
    3 months, 8 days ago

    If Spurs v Fulham got moved into 18 would mean another team to play in 18 and get a double in 19.
    Lookman anyone?

    1. Well you know, Triffic
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 10 Years
      3 months, 8 days ago

      Fulham already have an outbreak pal

  15. Well you know, Triffic
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 10 Years
    3 months, 8 days ago

    This is karma for all the people that rubbed salt in the wounds of WC16'ers when Villa got the double in 19.

    1. The 12th Man
      • 7 Years
      3 months, 8 days ago

      Stupid comment

  16. NateDogsCats
      3 months, 8 days ago

      Hm, just noticed the wording is that "a large number of first team players and staff... have returned positive tests", as opposed to simply having a number of positive tests that could have predominantly affected staff or possibly youth teams. Not a great sign for their near future matches then

    • RAFA THE GAFFA
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 5 Years
      3 months, 8 days ago

      New FH done; it’ll be much easier if we don’t need Spurs.

      Darlow
      Cancelo, Tierney, Maguire
      KDB, Sterling, Bruno, Rashford, Saka
      Lacazette, Wilson

      1. Rotation's Alter Ego
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • Has Moderation Rights
        • 9 Years
        3 months, 8 days ago

        Exact same as what I plan mine to be if there's no Spurs, but honestly wouldn't waste the effort. Don't trust the fixtures to stay as is so not bothering stressing over it.

        1. RAFA THE GAFFA
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 5 Years
          3 months, 8 days ago

          Yeah I’m not stressing. That took all of 3 minutes.

    • KAPTAIN KANE
      • 4 Years
      3 months, 8 days ago

      Bloody knew this would happen.

      So much for the planning that had gone into saving FH 🙁

      1. RAFA THE GAFFA
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 5 Years
        3 months, 8 days ago

        Get it played! Activate it 3.30 next Tuesday

        1. KAPTAIN KANE
          • 4 Years
          3 months, 8 days ago

          I really wanted to save it, had a lovely team of 10 as well - now down to 6 if Spurs vs Villa is called off

    • sirmorbach
      • 4 Years
      3 months, 8 days ago

      Lads, would you please help me out here?

      McCarthy / Steer
      Robertson / Dias / Cresswell / Saïss /  Dallas
      Salah / Bruno / Son / Grealish / Soucek
      DCL / Watkins / Bamford

      A. Steer to Martínez, DCL to Wilson (- 4)
      B. Steer to Martínez, Robbo to Cancelo (-4)

      This would give me 8 playing players for GW18, and good options for a bench boost on GW19. Sounds reasonable?

      1. FPL_Motty
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        3 months, 8 days ago

        It won't anymore. Likely villa spurs is going to be postponed mate. Probably FH time

        1. sirmorbach
          • 4 Years
          3 months, 8 days ago

          Thank you for that, sir, I appreciate it

    • Baines on Toast...
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 10 Years
      3 months, 8 days ago

      I think it's fair to say Ben Crellin didn't know what he was getting himself into when he found his niche.

      1. S.Kuqi
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 8 Years
        3 months, 8 days ago

        Logged in just to give this post +1

      2. DannyDrinkVodka
        • 1 Year
        3 months, 8 days ago

        the dude is probably chain-smoking a pack of Marlboro reds

    • Sarri-ball
      • 11 Years
      3 months, 8 days ago

      When you plan round avoiding any chips 18/19

      With 3 spurs and 2 villa

    • RAFA THE GAFFA
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 5 Years
      3 months, 8 days ago

      B*llox I have a conf call I can’t miss next Tuesday 3-5pm! FFS! Haha

    • Big Hippo
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 8 Years
      3 months, 8 days ago

      Pure speculation but will we know for sure if Villa v Spurs is on or off by the deadline?

      1. RAFA THE GAFFA
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 5 Years
        3 months, 8 days ago

        No

    • Boom XhakaLacaSaka
      • 1 Year
      3 months, 8 days ago

      Who gets more points in GW18

      A) Neto + Son
      B) Saka + Kane

    • Breezyy
      • 2 Years
      3 months, 8 days ago

      x3 City attack on FH?

      1. Boom XhakaLacaSaka
        • 1 Year
        3 months, 8 days ago

        No

      2. KAMARA-COPY
        • 3 Years
        3 months, 8 days ago

        I def 2 attackers

    • TheDragon
      • 3 Years
      3 months, 8 days ago

      How are those who have pressed the free hit button already feeling?

      1. Pukki Party
        • 3 Years
        3 months, 8 days ago

        Don't know about them. I'm on a -32 just haven't activated.

      2. Black Knights
        • 9 Years
        3 months, 8 days ago

        OK probably. They can still pick any player they want, regardless of what games are left.

      3. Andy_Social
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 8 Years
        3 months, 8 days ago

        MM, not great. Was sure I had the perfect squad. Losing key players make it more likely my next perfect squad will be the same as half the others.

      4. DOG GOD IT - KEANE 15
        • 7 Years
        3 months, 8 days ago

        Not feeling any differently. I can chop and change my team right up till the deadline depending on what other news comes out.

        If more people use their FH now, well that's up to them. Doesn't bother me.

      5. No end product
        • 5 Years
        3 months, 8 days ago

        Feels like the best week to play it tbh. Can chop and change based on Covid up to the last minute. As long as some good fixtures go ahead.

      6. Caravagio
        • 6 Years
        3 months, 8 days ago

        better after this news tbh. After the leeds game rumours thought i'd made a big mistake!

    • KAMARA-COPY
      • 3 Years
      3 months, 8 days ago

      STOP THE LEAGUE!

    • FFS Ultras are for Kinnear
      • 7 Years
      3 months, 8 days ago

      Do we know for sure that Villa v Tottenham is off?

      1. FPL_Motty
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        3 months, 8 days ago

        No. Speculation. But judging by how soon the game is, and the wording of "significant" outbreak, doesnt leave much hope that Villa would be able to turn out a team by wednesday.

      2. Andy_Social
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 8 Years
        3 months, 8 days ago

        No, not even sure tomorrow's game v Liverpool in FA Cup is off. Hopefully get official news asap.

      3. KAMARA-COPY
        • 3 Years
        3 months, 8 days ago

        Not formally announced, but am 90% sure it will be called off

    • The Train Driver
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 5 Years
      3 months, 8 days ago

      Can't wait to see Mourinho reaction if yet another game is postponed...

    • The Senate
      • 2 Years
      3 months, 8 days ago

      postpone the league for a few weeks and give us all a free wc again pls