Strap yourselves in for the biggest Double Gameweek 26 of the season, with 17 matches and 14 teams playing twice. The next six days promise to be another rollercoaster ride of unrelenting (Fantasy) Premier League action.
With potentially season-defining decisions to be made ahead of today’s 11:00 GMT deadline, the feeling among the Fantasy Community is that we are spoilt for choice.
The roll call of potential armband candidates ranges from the reassuringly expensive to enticing differentials. And for those with a selection of chips at their disposal the choice is made even trickier.
A Double Gameweek is the perfect time to deploy one of our four power-ups with the points ceiling raised for Bench Boost, Triple Captain, Free Hit and Wildcard thanks to the extra fixtures.
Indecision is final.– Alan Hansen
Famous words from the king of pundits and decorated centre-half Alan Hansen. Although, strangely, the former Liverpool captain wasn’t referring to his Fantasy football team. Given the furore surrounding Aston Villa and their players this week you could be forgiven for thinking otherwise.
But we’re not about to hesitate at the crucial moment when it comes to FPL decision-making. And you can’t fault the effort, attitude and commitment of our very own pundits and experts.
The captain poll favourite heading into the bumper round of fixtures is Harry Kane (£11.1m). A vote that left David and Joe somewhat perplexed. Never ones to dilly-dally when presented with an opportunity, the pair aren’t convinced of Kane’s credentials, despite the support among Community members.
The fixtures on paper do look nice but both Burnley and Fulham are very capable these days of chucking everyone behind the ball knowing full well that Spurs are having problems breaking people down … Both of these teams will take a point against Spurs, so they’re not going to overstretch themselves to go and win the game.
Over the last four matches, Burnley have the third-best expected goals conceded in the league, 3.18, the only two teams better than that are Chelsea and Man City. Fulham are in the top five, 3.23 goals they should have conceded, and they’ve only actually conceded the one goal. Their defence is doing much better as well and they’ve both got fantastic goalkeepers too … These are teams that can frustrate Spurs.– David, Captaincy Video
Alan Hansen once said that for Tottenham to be a successful side they will need to get away from the philosophy of ‘pretty football’. Well, with Jose Mourinho in charge they’ve arguably done just that. Except without the success.
But what does Alan Hansen know about Fantasy football? We need a real expert, a man with three top 10,000 finishes and a best-ever rank of 817. Step forward Az.
According to the FPL Black Box co-host, Harry Kane is the best captaincy pick. The handsome and dashing Az backs up his opinion with some impressive stats: citing Twitter user FPL_Swede he pointed out that in 10 games against the bottom eight teams, Kane has delivered an attacking return in every one, averaging 9.2 points a match.
And the trio of wise Pro Pundits appearing on the latest episode of the FPL Wire, Zophar, Lateriser and Tom Freeman, all have the armband placed on the top-points-scoring forward in FPL this season.
More heavyweight backing for the Spurs striker came from FFScout founder Mark Sutherns. Perhaps not that much of a surprise given that “Mark loves Kane”, to quote AZ, but Mark was worried he was being blinded by his own bias.
The best person to help us understand the flaws in our thinking is Pro Pundit and behavioural economics graduate, Simon March.
Stats are probiotics for gut feelings, reasoned the former FPL winner is his latest offering.
Instinct may help you see opportunities that other managers don’t, or avoid the traps that others will fall into, but it may also create such traps if followed without sufficient interrogation. This is why it is important to sense-check decisions with some form of objective data or a second-opinion.– Simon March
Jan Sienkiewicz noted in his Captain Sensible article that the form stats don’t favour Kane and co:
Both [Kane’s] and Spurs’ attacking statistics have been somewhat underwhelming in recent weeks. Only Crystal Palace have recorded fewer shots inside the box than Jose Mourinho’s team in their last six matches.– Jan Sienkiewicz
So was Mark able to find a healthy dollop of Bifidobacterium Statisticalus to support his gut instinct?
The expected data is a problem, but with expected data, you’ve got to bear this in mind – that Kane and Son are just complete outliers … Son and Kane are the top two players in the Premier League [for xG Delta], they have exceeded their expected data by the biggest margins for goal involvement … they don’t need a lot of good quality chances to score goals.– Mark Sutherns.
So convinced is Mark that he’s using his Triple Captain chip on Harry Kane.
But, as ever, other options are available.
Mohamed Salah (£12.6m), a player who’s perhaps been slightly overlooked by the masses, is Jan’s top pick. The leading goalscorer in the Premier League with 15 goals, Salah boasts impressive underlying stats: second only to team-mate Sadio Mané (£11.8m) for shots in the penalty box over the last six matches.
In the first of their two fixtures Liverpool take on a Sheffield United side down to the bare bones in defence. Their three first-choice centre-backs that helped them reach dizzying heights last season, John Egan (£4.7m), Jack O’Connell (£4.7m) and Chris Basham (£4.6m), are all ruled out for Chris Wilder.
But it’s their second fixture against Chelsea that, along with Liverpool’s poor form, is putting many off the Egyptian. However, Jan did unearth some encouraging news for Salah captainers:
Klopp holds an impressive head-to-head record against Thomas Tuchel. Out of the 14 meetings between the Germans, Klopp came out victorious on nine occasions. Additionally, those matches have produced as many as 43 goals, which makes it over three goals per game on average.– Jan Sienkiewicz
Meanwhile, city rivals Everton are top of the fixture ticker when looking at Gameweek 26 in isolation: the Toffees host Southampton before a midweek trip to West Brom. Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£7.7m) therefore comes into contention.
And once again the stats make impressive reading. The forward has been particularly threatening on the road in recent times, accumulating 4.32 xG in his last six away matches – more than any other forward in the Premier League.
But the list of armband contenders goes on. Let’s not forget the Manchester teams with the in-form Bruno Fernandes (£11.6m), İlkay Gündoğan (£6.2m), Raheem Sterling (£11.6m), and the returning Kevin De Bruyne (£11.8m).
If only we could fit them all in.
It’s Mo Sacrifice
Karam, Tom, and Zophar are all using their Wildcards and face several tricky selection dilemmas.
On the Scoutcast Karam was given a hard time by Joe and David over his omission of Mohamed Salah.
Joe argued that it was easier to run from Salah than it was to run to him, explaining that because of Salah’s lofty price tag, downgrading to the likes of Son or De Bruyne is easy, whereas upgrading would be harder without sufficient funds in the reserve.
However, Tom Freeman is also sacrificing the most expensive FPL asset in order to benefit from a more balanced squad. A particular concern for Tom given that he plans to Bench Boost in Gameweek 27.
One intriguing pick in his side is Jesse Lingard (£5.9m). West Ham take on Leeds United next Gameweek and Tom feels the direct running of the on-loan Manchester United midfielder could trouble Marcelo Biesla’s side.
Ricardo Pereira (£5.9m) is another differential to catch the eye, featuring in both Tom’s and Karam’s Wildcard XV’s.
Karam is going all-in on Leicester City – tripling up with Harvey Barnes (£6.9m) and Jamie Vardy (£10.2m) coming in alongside Pereira. He’s even trusting the evergreen Englishman with the armband.
Manchester City-fan Karam has decided to abandon his conservative approach and take a few calculated risks in the hope of surging up the ranks. Encouragingly, the Foxes are on a par with Man City when it comes to shots on target (21) over the last four Gameweeks.
Another forward to consider is Mbaye Diagne (£6.0m). The Senegalese has been on the end of five big chances in his four and a half games since joining West Brom, and is included in the Scout Picks, Tom’s Wildcard team, and was talked up by Lateriser.
Interestingly, all three Wildcarders still have their Free Hit chip available but none have committed to using it in Blank Gameweek 29.
When planning ahead in his usual meticulous fashion, Zophar identified Gameweek 33 as a better round for the Free Hit. The League Cup Final takes place between Spurs and Man City, meaning they will blank along with their scheduled opponents Southampton and Fulham.
The six-time top 5,000 manager sees greater potential for a big score compared to the four-match Gameweek 29.
Finally, Neale frisked the upcoming fixtures. The Team News compiler included a look at Gameweek 30 and beyond for those considering “dead-ending” their squads in Gameweek 29 and Wildcarding straight after.
Community Competitions and Head-to-Head Fixtures
The draw for the first round of the Fantasy Football Scout Cup has thrown up a real ‘David vs Goliath’ clash with the highest-ranked team, The Fighting Cock (273rd overall), taking on the lowest-ranked manager in the competition, Ahmed Eid, who is not far off the five-million mark.
A total of £300 in prizes is available across the two tournaments.
Elsewhere, RedLightning rounded-up the rest of the Community mini-leagues and competitions. And the Head-to-Head fixtures for Gameweek 26 can be found below.
The scores and tables update each night on the Head-to-Head Leagues main page, so you can keep track of the action as the Gameweek unfolds.
May your arrows be green!