Like many Fantasy Premier League (FPL) managers, I’ve racked up some big ol’ bench scores lately and, when I’m not kicking myself for having not played my Bench Boost, I’ve been wondering whether the way I and many others approach the use of this chip needs reviewing.
What I mean is, while Bench Boost is probably everyone’s least favourite chip, we tend to hold on to it as if it is something valuable that shouldn’t be wasted, like mini Bounties in a box of Celebrations. Traditionally Bench Boost sits on the sidelines until there’s a Double Gameweek, but is this actually sensible? Is Bench Boost actually more trouble than it’s worth and are we, in fact, better off just getting it out of the way? Those questions, and more, will be the focus of this article.
How We Fell Out of Love With the Bench Boost Chip
Esteem in the Bench Boost as a chip has slowly eroded ever since it first emerged in the 2015/16 FPL season. There was a time when it was a core part of a serious FPL manager’s strategy and, more specifically, their Double Gameweek strategy. It is undeniable that, going into a Double Gameweek with 15 players – all of whom had two fixtures – was indeed a blast, at least at first.
Then a couple of things happened. Firstly, since Double Gameweeks are notorious for rotation, we started to notice that our boosted bench players were often only playing one fixture (and, perhaps, a cameo) and the fixture they did play frequently wasn’t the best one anyway. Why were we saving this chip only to play it on some mediocre fixtures and, more to the point, why were we allowing this prospect to dictate how we structured our teams or even how and when we used our Wildcards?
Secondly, there was the emergence of the Free Hit chip which allowed unlimited temporary changes for one week and, it turns out, was a much better way of tackling Double Gameweeks as it didn’t necessitate the use of planning, restructuring or using a Wildcard. Bench Boost became a bit of an afterthought as chips go, yet we committed FPL managers still tend to save them for the Double Gameweeks.
A Successful Bench Boost
What even is a successful Bench Boost? Naturally, there is no formal answer but it seems widely accepted that anything over 20 points is a very decent return. Now, 20 points is nothing to be sneezed at; right now it could equate to hundreds of thousands in rank depending on where you currently are in the overall league. Or it could be the difference between winning and losing a mini-league come the end of the season.
But, 20 points? Is that enough for it to have a significant impact on our strategy? That’s really the equivalent of one or two good differential captain choices and, when you consider that an ‘unsuccessful’ Bench Boost might still be, say, eight points, we’re talking about a net difference of maybe 12 points between a successful and an unsuccessful Bench Boost. Nobody would rationally let the pursuit of a 12-point advantage dictate their FPL strategy to the extent that we often let the Bench Boost shape it.
When Should We Use the Bench Boost?
Even if you didn’t build your strategy around it, how you use your Bench Boost is still important. I mean, points are points. Looked at in isolation, there is obvious logic for using it in a Double Gameweek as, by definition, Double Gameweeks give an opportunity (if not necessarily the likelihood) for your player to play twice rather than once. If you can field 15 players instead of 11, then you potentially increase the opportunity for points even further.
But these decisions don’t come in isolation and, because you can’t play two chips in one Gameweek, fielding 15 (or close to) Double Gameweek players may necessitate the use of a Wildcard to plan for it, possibly in the Gameweek before the one you’re focusing on (which is less than ideal) and, simultaneously, using the Bench Boost negates the opportunity to use chips such as the Wildcard, Free Hit or Triple Captain directly in the Double Gameweek which, arguably, might be more effective for that scenario anyway.
So, if you’re not using it in a Double Gameweek, when should you use the Bench Boost chip? Well, knowing when to use your Bench Boost is much like knowing when you’re in love; you look at the fixtures, and you just ‘know’. Sadly, this particular revelation more often than not comes after a Gameweek has finished but, if you get that feeling in advance, I’m of the opinion that you should go for it. If it pays off, brilliant and, if it doesn’t, oh well, at least you don’t have to worry about it anymore, and not having to worry about it anymore can actually be an advantage in itself.
It’s worth pointing out though that, one sure-fire way to undo your Bench Boost is when one of your bench players gets auto-subbed in anyway as, obviously, this effectively shrinks your bench to three rather than four players. So, avoiding periods of heavy rotation such as immediately following an international break or during periods of heavy fixture congestion will make sense for maximising your Bench Boost opportunity.
Being sure that all 15 of your players are fit is obviously important as well and, despite what I said earlier, it is worth pointing out that playing the Bench Boost in a Double Gameweek does of course improve your chances of getting at least one appearance out of each of your 15 players, even if that fixture isn’t the ideal one.
That said, if you find yourself with a real benching headache one Gameweek, you could legitimately play your Bench Boost just to allow you to play that one player who you think could score well but who you can’t justify starting. Many would see this as a ‘waste’ of the chip but, if that player scores a double-figure haul, they’ve more or less justified using it on their own.
However, there is one final argument that suggests that the Bench Boost might be best kept in your back pocket, whether or not you use it in a Double Gameweek and that has to do with team value. Theoretically, if your team value goes up, the quality of your squad should also improve, meaning that your overall 15 should be of a better standard towards the end of the season than it is earlier on. This is a reasonable perspective and, even though it could be the worst time imaginable for rotation threat, I even quite like the idea of a Gameweek 38 bench boost, if only for the lolz.
Personally, I do think that the Bench Boost is ‘more trouble than it’s worth’ or, at least, it is if you allow it to be. The difference between a ‘successful’ and ‘unsuccessful’ Bench Boost is typically so small that it hardly justifies building for it or using a Wildcard and/or a Double Gameweek to maximise it. In fact, doing so could be detrimental, having negative knock-on consequences for your strategic options and performance otherwise.
However, this does not mean that the Bench Boost chip is of no use at all. As discussed, there are ways to maximise your return from it and, at the end of the season, every little will count (literally). What I would say though is don’t be afraid to use it if you feel it is the right time.
Finally, while many dislike the Bench Boost chip it is, in many ways, the best one because it comes with such low expectations. Not many FPL managers will get an extraordinary return from it so its failure won’t define your FPL season, thus you can approach its use with a ‘riskier’ mindset and view any return you do get from it as pure profit.
Full-year memberships, monthly subscriptions and a FREE trial are all now available.
Join now to get the following:
- Plot your transfer strategies using the fully interactive Season Ticker.
- Get projections for every Premier League player provided by the Rate My Team statistical model.
- Use Rate My Team throughout the season to guide your selections and transfers.
- Get access to Members content in over 250+ articles over the season.
- Analyse our OPTA-powered statistic tables specifically tailored for Fantasy Football Managers.
- Use our exclusive tool to build custom stats tables from over 100 OPTA player and team stats.
- Enjoy our Flat-Track Bully feature which introduces an opposition filter to your tables.
- View heatmaps and expected goals data for every player.
- Use our powerful comparison tool to analyse players head-to-head.