Pro Pundits - Tom

Why I’m Wildcarding before a Double Gameweek 27 Bench Boost

Tom Freeman has finished inside Fantasy Premier League’s top 1k a staggering five times in his career. He is back with his latest column outling his plans for Double Gameweek 26 and beyond.


So, where were we? The last time I checked in, Gameweek 23 had drawn to a close and I sat just outside the top 300k overall.

I talked up Burnley’s prospects ahead of their double, specifically focusing on Matthew Lowton (£4.5m) and Johann Berg Gudmundsson (£5.4m), and also touched upon Lucas Digne (£6.1m) and Raheem Sterling (£11.6m).

Since then, it’s all been a bit meh for my own team with no real rank movement, but for context, here’s how Gameweek 25 shaped up:

So, in this my latest column, I’m going to discuss my Gameweek 26 Wildcard and also run through my chip strategy. I’m not quite ready to share my final team as I’ll be tinkering right up till deadline, but after reading this you should know which players I’m leaning towards.

CHIP STRATEGY

The Complete Guide to Scout’s tips and advice to FPL Gameweek 23

Firstly, it’s probably best to talk chips.

The original plan had always been to follow up my Gameweek 16 Wildcard with a Free Hit in 18 and Bench Boost in 19. However, the fixture rearrangements that were announced on New Year’s Eve involving Burnley, Manchester United, Manchester City and Aston Villa, plus Leeds United and Southampton later losing their double, meant that I shelved that strategy.

So now, after much deliberation, I’ve decided to Bench Boost in Gameweek 27. Why 27? Well, I don’t want to hold too much value on my bench for too long after Wildcarding, and I also want to target two specific fixtures which I’ll come to later.

This new strategy of course effects the way I build this Wildcard, and as a result, there has to be some sacrifices as I attempt to spread funds around the squad. I’m pretty sure it won’t be for everyone, but I hope by reading this, you can at least see why I’ve included some players and dismissed others.

I should also point out that I still have my Free Hit and Triple Captain chips available, and plan to use the former in either Gameweek 29 or 33.

THE GOALKEEPERS

Villa bank 11th clean sheet as Martinez bags another haul

Emiliano Martínez (£5.3m) is a bit of a no-brainer in goal, given Aston Villa’s fixtures.

Though the team’s overall level has dropped in recent weeks he’s still making lots of saves. In fact, over the last four Gameweeks, he’s comfortably ahead of any other keeper in the division:

The second spot is harder to decide on, but for now I’ve landed on Sam Johnstone (£4.5m). 

West Bromwich Albion have looked much better in recent matches, now that their new arrivals have been properly integrated into the starting XI. I am realistic though, and do expect more save points than clean sheets.

Alphonse Areola (£4.5m) and Alex McCarthy (£4.5m) are other names I considered, and may still turn to, but for now, Martínez and Johnstone are in my draft.

THE DEFENDERS

A Manchester City double-up makes a lot of sense here, given that their 10-point lead at the top of the table has been built on a solid defensive platform. That’s seen them concede just nine goals in their last 23 Premier League games, which is pretty remarkable. 

However, given my OR and the fact I’m playing catch-up, I’m tempted to double-up in midfield which would give me the opportunity to pair Kevin De Bruyne (£11.8m) with Ilkay Gündogan (£6.1m).

Going in with one City defender, which would be either João Cancelo (£6.1m) or John Stones (£5.2m), does come with risk though. 

For example, the advantage I gained from Sterling’s goal against Arsenal was pretty much wiped out once they registered a clean sheet. I’ve just got to hope we see a bit more rotation in the coming weeks. It’s probably wishful thinking, but it does feel like I’ve got to at least try something different.

Fit-again Pereira already showing signs of last season's form

Elsewhere, I’ve also found a spot for differential Ricardo Pereira (£5.9m) who took up an advanced role as a right-winger against Aston Villa. 

There was talk that Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers had put Timothy Castagne (£5.7m) and Pereira on the same side to double-up on Jack Grealish (£7.6m), who eventually missed out. However, I don’t buy that, and these comments from Rodgers after the game do suggest it’s a tactic we might see more of:

“It’s been something I’ve been waiting to do for quite a long time, but this is the first period where both of those boys were fit to play. They’re different types. Because of how we play, they find themselves in that attacking third of the pitch quite a lot. Tim will run more without the ball and penetrate, and Ricky’s one who can be inside and manipulate the ball. I just thought that combination of those two, because Ricky is comfortable coming inside, he can turn, he can pass, he’s very aggressive when he attacks. I thought the two of them were very good and combined well together.” – Brendan Rodgers

Pereira finished the match with 33 final-third touches, more than any other player on the pitch. He also took three shots, twice testing Martínez, and took up some nice position’s infield which you can see on his touch heatmap from the game below:

I also like Digne, who is currently owned by just 8.8% of FPL managers.

Everton’s defence isn’t exactly watertight right now, but Tom Davies’ (£5.2m) recent performances and the return of Allan (£5.2m) offers encouragement that they can add to their total of five Premier League clean sheets.

It’s also worth noting that their opponents on Monday night, Southampton, have conceded the highest number of chances from their right-flank over the last six Gameweeks, and will be without Kyle Walker-Peters (£4.7m) and Oriol Romeu (£4.5m).

Luke Shaw (£5.1m) and Antonio Rüdiger (£4.6m) are also in my thoughts, I’m just not convinced now is the time to invest given their immediate schedules. 

THE MIDFIELDERS

The biggest decision here is that I can only pick one of Bruno Fernandes (£11.6m) and Son Heung-min (£9.5m).

Potential reasons for losing arguably the best asset in the game include fixtures (che + cry, mci, WHU, blank) and the fact I probably won’t captain him until at least Gameweek 32. Despite this, Fernandes usually finds a way to return so I need to think this through carefully.

The alternative is Son. I’ve heard some say he isn’t in form, which is probably fair, but tougher fixtures can do that to a player and we are talking about one of the league’s most clinical forwards. There is potential to do well beyond the double too, with games against Crystal Palace and Arsenal to follow.

City duo De Bruyne and Gündogan will be included, and I’m also considering Harvey Barnes (£6.9m).

The 23-year-old has already netted 13 goals in all competitions this term, and I see him getting plenty of joy down Arsenal’s weaker right-flank this weekend. James Maddison (£7.3m) being out isn’t ideal, but I’m hoping it won’t disrupt their flow too much.

Above: Harvey Barnes’ xG shot map in 2020/21

However, if I decide on Fernandes over Son, I might need to drop down to a cheaper option in this slot, someone like Ademola Lookman (£5.0m), Bukayo Saka (£5.2m) or Bertrand Traoré (£5.9m).

This of course means I can’t fit Mohamed Salah (£12.6m) in, which is kind of scary, but if there is ever a time to leave him out it’s probably now. 

Since beating Palace 7-0 back in December, Liverpool have played 11 Premier League matches and won just two. The injury to Jordan Henderson (£5.4m) is a further setback, and my feeling at this moment is that I’ll make a move for Diogo Jota (£6.6m) once fit. The Portugal international recently returned to full first-team training, and it’s hard to argue against the value he offers when available, having scored nine goals in his first 17 appearances.

THE FORWARDS

harry kane fpl injury return spurs west brom gameweek 23

Harry Kane (£11.1m) and Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£7.7m) are obvious inclusions given their respective schedules, and it’s likely I’ll hand the former the armband too.

The final forward spot is still up for grabs, which unfortunately means I have to lose Patrick Bamford (£6.9m) who has been in my team since Gameweek 1, and is one of the few highlights of my season so far.

I’m looking at Mbaye Diagne (£6.0m) as a possible replacement, who has made a big impact since he joined West Brom and has been getting shots off in some good areas.

Above: Mbaye Diagne’s shot map (shots on target in green) since making his debut in Gameweek 21.

In fact, no forward has registered more big chances since he made his debut, despite sometimes looking isolated. 

Other options include Michail Antonio (£6.5m) and Ollie Watkins (£6.5m), and it’s likely I’ll make a late call on that one.

THE BENCH BOOSTERS

As I mentioned earlier, I’m planning a Gameweek 27 Bench Boost with an idea to focus on two fixtures.

West Bromwich Albion v Newcastle United

Albion have put in a couple of much improved displays against Man Utd and Burnley in recent weeks, and appear to have found a system which seems to be working. Signing a proper holding midfielder in Okay Yokuslu (£4.5m) is huge for them, and that improved defensive setup means I’m willing to take a risk on differential Ainsley Maitland-Niles (£4.5m). 

Following Semi Ajayi’s (£4.8m) red card at Burnley, the on-loan Arsenal man shifted out to a wider attacking role, which manager Sam Allardyce has hinted we might see more of in the coming weeks. I don’t have any stats to back it up, it’s more of an eye test thing, but for just one match I’m willing to give it a go.

West Ham United v Leeds United

The second matchup I want to target involves West Ham United, who are now in the top four and have a few players tailor-made for a Bench Boost.

Opponents Leeds United have now conceded eight goals from corners this season, a league-high alongside Sheffield United. Jannik Vestergaard (£4.7m) almost added another earlier this week, and given that the Hammers approach is largely based around crossing, I’m considering Craig Dawson (£4.5m). He’s already scored two goals in 10 games this season and always carries a threat from set-pieces.

I also think Marcelo Bielsa’s side can struggle against players who run directly at them, which is why I like Jesse Lingard (£5.9m) who has looked lively since moving to East London.

Above: midfielders sorted by shots since Jesse Lingard made his West Ham United debut in Gameweek 21.

So, I know this Wildcard won’t be for everyone but I hope having read this, you can at least understand why I’ve chosen the squad I have.

Also, before I sign off, earlier this week I was fortunate enough to join fellow Pro Pundits Lateriser and Zophar again on The FPL Wire.

We talked strategy, Wildcards and captains, plus loads more.

The chat complements this column, and goes a bit deeper into some of the players and teams covered, so if you’re into that kind of thing please check it out on the link below…

I’ll update you on how it’s going next time I check in, but for now, thanks for reading and best of luck in Double Gameweek 26.

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4,459 Comments Post a Comment
  1. S3
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 2 Years
    1 month, 25 days ago

    Son or Kane or both on wildcard?

    1. Steve
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 11 Years
      1 month, 25 days ago

      Kane

    2. JJeyy
      • 5 Years
      1 month, 25 days ago

      both

    3. Niho992
      • 2 Years
      1 month, 25 days ago

      Both for me. Mainly because i will C Kane and if he do well Son should too.

      Also they have good fixtures in next 5/6 and they have BGW29.

      I will sell them in GW 31 probably

    4. TIME TO VARTY
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 2 Years
      1 month, 25 days ago

      Both

  2. Muscout
    • 1 Year
    1 month, 25 days ago

    What looks best below?

    BB26, no FH left

    Martinez
    Cancelo Shaw Dier Rudiger
    Salah Bruno Gundo Barnes
    Kane Ings

    McCarthy Bam Raphinha Dallas

    Planning Ings to Watkins and then one of below for a -4:
    A)Raph to Lookman
    B) Dallas to Aina
    C) Bam to DCL (one less player for 29 but may have double in 28?)

    1. TIME TO VARTY
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 2 Years
      1 month, 25 days ago

      C

  3. Niho992
    • 2 Years
    1 month, 25 days ago

    Anyone else going without Salah on WC

  4. Carrick Doesn't Deserv…
    • 8 Years
    1 month, 25 days ago

    FFix has Areola at 49% to rise but FPL statistics has him at 49%, which is more reliable?

    1. GoonerGirl
      • 1 Year
      1 month, 25 days ago

      Lately, I've noticed that Fix has been more accurate but both don't have Areola likely rise tonight.

  5. Wally711
    • 2 Years
    1 month, 25 days ago

    Hey everyone

    which one to start?

    1) Mee (tot, LEI)
    2) Raphinha (avl)

    Thanks

    1. Steve
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 11 Years
      1 month, 25 days ago

      Raph. 4 pointer for mee imo

    2. Uncle Gamst
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 9 Years
      1 month, 25 days ago

      Raphinha for me

    3. TIME TO VARTY
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 2 Years
      1 month, 25 days ago

      Raph

  6. Saves the day
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 2 Years
    1 month, 25 days ago

    Don't forget to hit that BB/TC button before you wake up hungover tomorrow at 11:05am!

  7. Uncle Gamst
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 9 Years
    1 month, 25 days ago

    Martinez*
    Cancelo*, Stones*, Dier*, Digne*
    Salah*, Gundo*, Fernandes*, Raphinha
    DCL*, Kane*
    Sanchez, Bamford ,Soucek & Coufal

    GTG, bench in right order?

    Thanks

    1. TIME TO VARTY
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 2 Years
      1 month, 25 days ago

      GTG

  8. TIME TO VARTY
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 2 Years
    1 month, 25 days ago

    Keep Son and Bamford or
    Kane and Barnes for a -8!
    Please I need some advice before I'm priced out.

    1. boroie
      • 2 Years
      1 month, 25 days ago

      Keep. Son and Kane are a much of a muchness. No point taking a hit to swap 1 for the other.

    2. Snevitz
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 11 Years
      1 month, 25 days ago

      I wouldn't get get caught up in the hype for - 8.
      Son and Bamford are both excellent value in their positions and price brackets.

      1. TIME TO VARTY
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 2 Years
        1 month, 25 days ago

        Cheers guys, yea the hype is getting to me! I'll stick. Good luck

  9. JJeyy
    • 5 Years
    1 month, 25 days ago

    The Watkins 'news' was a troll then?

    1. Niho992
      • 2 Years
      1 month, 25 days ago

      We cant know that before lineups

  10. toonstar
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 1 Year
    1 month, 25 days ago

    Which one to start for GW26?

    A) Dunk
    B) Saint-Maximin

    Cheers

    1. TIME TO VARTY
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 2 Years
      1 month, 25 days ago

      A

  11. boroie
    • 2 Years
    1 month, 25 days ago

    Final decision... Please help...

    Current squad...

    Ederson
    Cancelo Maguire Targett
    Salah(VC) Son Gündogan Barnes
    Kane(TC) DCL Bamford

    Meslier; Strujik Soucek Coufal

    Is it worth a -4 to switch Bamford to Watkins?

    1. TIME TO VARTY
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 2 Years
      1 month, 25 days ago

      I would. Basically a -2.

      1. Snevitz
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 11 Years
        1 month, 25 days ago

        Not convonced this is completely correct as good chance you'll want him back in 29

        1. TIME TO VARTY
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 2 Years
          1 month, 25 days ago

          Watkins gets an extra game(s) before 29. Then you can bring Bamford back in for DCL in 29.

          1. boroie
            • 2 Years
            1 month, 25 days ago

            Yep that’s the plan... Bamford will come back in for GW29 for DCL.

  12. S3
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 2 Years
    1 month, 25 days ago

    On wildcard...A or B?
    Plan to BB GW 28

    A.
    Martinez
    Digne Pereira Stones
    Salah Bruno Gundo Barnes
    DCL Watkins Kane (C)

    Sanchez AMN Raphina Shaw

    B
    Martinez
    Pereira Stones Shaw
    KDB Bruno Gundo Barnes Son
    DCL Kane (C)

    Johnstone Maja Burn Targett

    1. TIME TO VARTY
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 2 Years
      1 month, 25 days ago

      A but tough

  13. Disturbed
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 7 Years
    1 month, 25 days ago

    Start Mee or Dallas?

    1. Werner Bros
      • 5 Years
      1 month, 25 days ago

      Mee

    2. AK_FC
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 6 Years
      1 month, 25 days ago

      Mee

    3. TIME TO VARTY
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 2 Years
      1 month, 25 days ago

      Mee

  14. Werner Bros
    • 5 Years
    1 month, 25 days ago

    GTG? BB active

    Martinez Areola
    Cancelo Dias Targett Lowton Dallas
    (vc)Son Salah Bruno Gundo Barnes
    (c)DCL Watkins Bamford

    1. TIME TO VARTY
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 2 Years
      1 month, 25 days ago

      Yup similar to mine. GTG I hope

  15. Pandastar5
      1 month, 25 days ago

      worth to take a hit antonio --> dcl?

      1. Kiwivillan
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 6 Years
        1 month, 25 days ago

        Yes for DCL I would

      2. TIME TO VARTY
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 2 Years
        1 month, 25 days ago

        I would

    • davies
      • 6 Years
      1 month, 25 days ago

      BB active... what to do with 0.2 ITB?

      Martinez Areola
      Cancelo Stones Targett Dallas Amartey
      Salah Bruno Son Gundogan Raphinha
      Kane Bamford Watkins

    • grumpyman
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 5 Years
      1 month, 25 days ago

      BB activated. Bamford to Richarlison, Ings to DCL -4.

      GKP: Lloris (Martínez)
      DEF: Cancelo, Digne, Stones (Aina) (Dallas)
      MID: Gündogan, Barnes, Fernandes, Son (Raphinha)
      FWD: Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin, Kane

      Big week coming up. Good luck everyone.

      1. TIME TO VARTY
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 2 Years
        1 month, 25 days ago

        All in on Everton. Good luck, I'm on the train too.

        1. grumpyman
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 5 Years
          1 month, 25 days ago

          Choo-Choo!

    • Openboxman
      • 2 Years
      1 month, 25 days ago

      Anyone considering aguero over kane?

      1. boroie
        • 2 Years
        1 month, 25 days ago

        No

      2. Niho992
        • 2 Years
        1 month, 25 days ago

        Hell no

      3. Kiwivillan
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 6 Years
        1 month, 25 days ago

        Based on what?

        1. Openboxman
          • 2 Years
          1 month, 25 days ago

          Just based on Spurs being Spurs.

          Kane gets nothing and everyone's captained him, might as well take a punt.

          I'm about 300 points behind my ML rival and having Aguero seems like more fun than Kane. Because everyone has Kane.

          1. Openboxman
            • 2 Years
            1 month, 25 days ago

            *If Kane gets nothing.

            Seems to be the way with the popular picks "P

          2. TIME TO VARTY
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 2 Years
            1 month, 25 days ago

            I hope you're on to a winner here!

    • boroie
      • 2 Years
      1 month, 25 days ago

      Need all of your FF expertise... Which scores more points over the next 4 GWs?

      A)
      Pope (tot LEI, ARS, eve, —)
      Bruno (che cry, mci, WHU, —)
      Ings (eve, shu mci, BHA, —)

      B) With a -8 hit
      Ederson (WHU WOL, MUN SOU, ful, —)
      Barnes (ARS bur, bha, SHU, —)
      Kane (BUR ful, CRY, ars, avl)

      1. Jon Snow
        • 5 Years
        1 month, 25 days ago

        B edges it imo

      2. Shatner's Bassoon
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 10 Years
        1 month, 25 days ago

        Probably B. Certainly more fun!

      3. TIME TO VARTY
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 2 Years
        1 month, 25 days ago

        B. Dammm I want kane and Barnes to!! Faaaakkkkk

    • Niho992
      • 2 Years
      1 month, 25 days ago

      Anyone on WC risking with Watkins?

      1. Kiwivillan
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 6 Years
        1 month, 25 days ago

        I'm selling him and keeping Bamford

      2. Shatner's Bassoon
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 10 Years
        1 month, 25 days ago

        I'd be spooked enough to avoid him personally

        1. Niho992
          • 2 Years
          1 month, 25 days ago

          Same...

    • Mr. Chimes
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 1 Year
      1 month, 25 days ago

      What is the better move?

      1. Play Mitchell and hope for a CS against Fulham

      2. Play single GW player (Raphinha or Bamford)

      1. AK_FC
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 6 Years
        1 month, 25 days ago

        2

      2. Jon Snow
        • 5 Years
        1 month, 25 days ago

        having same dilemna but Dallas vs Mitchell. If it's attacker I would say Leeds but I'm leaning towards Mitchell over Dallas

    • PogChamp
      • 9 Years
      1 month, 25 days ago

      Jealous of everyone with BB for this GW.

      1. Kiwivillan
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 6 Years
        1 month, 25 days ago

        Same. My earlier one was good but really want to play all 3 Leeds players

        1. PogChamp
          • 9 Years
          1 month, 25 days ago

          Yeah same. It's those Leeds players on the bench.

    • Zilla42
      • 11 Years
      1 month, 25 days ago

      Start Bamford or Raphina?

      Thank you for your input.

      1. AK_FC
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 6 Years
        1 month, 25 days ago

        Raphinha

      2. Niho992
        • 2 Years
        1 month, 25 days ago

        Bamford. Pens.

      3. Shatner's Bassoon
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 10 Years
        1 month, 25 days ago

        Raph

    • AK_FC
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 6 Years
      1 month, 25 days ago

      Which move? 1 FT, 1.5 ITB

      A) Raphinha > Harvey Barnes (play Mee, will need a -4 to get 11 in for GW 29)
      B) Mee > Digne (play Raphinha, no hits to get 11 in GW 29)

    • iL PiStOlErO
      • 1 Year
      1 month, 25 days ago

      Targett or Stones for dgw? Fear of Stones rotation

      1. AK_FC
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 6 Years
        1 month, 25 days ago

        Stones

      2. The Count of Monte Cristo
        • 8 Years
        1 month, 25 days ago

        Stones

    • Carrick Doesn't Deserv…
      • 8 Years
      1 month, 25 days ago

      FFfix or FPL Stats - which is most reliable for price changes?

      1. AK_FC
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 6 Years
        1 month, 25 days ago

        I use FPL stats

      2. Shatner's Bassoon
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 10 Years
        1 month, 25 days ago

        Wonder this too. Both seem frequently inacurate but in different ways.

    • FantasyClub
        1 month, 25 days ago

        Can’t wait for Jota to be fit, slotting straight in. Best Pool option imo

      • Richarlidad
        • 3 Years
        1 month, 25 days ago

        Martinez, Pope
        Digne, Pereira, Stones, Shaw, Reguilón
        Sterling, Gundo, Bruno, Pereira, Raphinha*
        Kane(c), Richarlison, Bamford*

        13 DGW'ers, BB activated. (-8 hits)

        I've had one of Barnes / DCL in all my drafts this week and ended up with neither ha. Probably a classic case of overthinking, but following my gut to go for a stacked defence and to keep both Raph & Bam. I know gut instinct means absolutely nothing... but following it is easier to take if it all goes wrong! Good luck everyone.

      • GCM0803
          1 month, 25 days ago

          Raphinha+ings > Barnes+Watkins (-4)

          1. The Count of Monte Cristo
            • 8 Years
            1 month, 25 days ago

            Don't think so

            1. The Count of Monte Cristo
              • 8 Years
              1 month, 25 days ago

              For this GW yes but until GW29 I think latter wins

        • Judders
          • 4 Years
          1 month, 25 days ago

          31k OR Thinking a -12 don't want to use WC. But will use BB. Madness? Getting Barnes Kane (c) DCL Lookman Burn in for Grealish Antonio, Cavani, Salah, Cresswell. Plan is to set up toward 29 then WC 30