I can’t believe Neale has asked me to write this (ED: I needed some Bench Boost coverage for Gameweek 37 and the bad Gameweek was a very happy coincidence).
I can’t promise this will be the most essential bit of reading you will take in before the penultimate Gameweek but hopefully, it will serve as a bit of entertainment.
At the time of writing, I’ve slipped to a 487% red arrow (thanks, LiveFPL.net), falling from just inside the top 1k (987th) down to 5,689th. If Son Heung-min (£11.0m) carries on his recent form tonight, things will get worse as well.
I’m sure I won’t get too much sympathy. Being nestled within the top 10k with just a few Gameweeks remaining is a great position to be in but it’s hard not to be disappointed when seven weeks ago I was 500th in the world, with two chips left, and ready to start an assault on the top 100. Some poor judgment has ended that dream, with the main problem being my dreadful decision to play the Free Hit chip in Gameweek 34. That cost me 30+ points on my original team and meant I couldn’t play it in Gameweek 36, where we have seen people use it to great effect.
But anyway, the past is the past and there’s no more time for lamenting. Onto my next decision, and my next chip, which is the much-maligned Bench Boost. Let’s see how I’m currently set up, with £1.3m in the bank.
GAMEWEEK 37 BUS TEAM
Oh, dear. A reluctance to stock up on pricier assets on my Gameweek 29 Wildcard now sees me scrape the barrel with some of my selections.
In truth, I don’t mind playing Martin Dubravka (£4.4m) and Bruno Guimaraes (£4.9m) in their home game against Arsenal, who have the small matter of the north London derby tonight. St James’ Park will be rocking and Newcastle have only lost once in their last nine home matches: a narrow 1-0 defeat to Liverpool just a few weeks ago. A minutes per non-penalty expected goal involvement (NPxGI) of 173.8 cements Guimaraes as the Newcastle option with the best underlying stats. The injury to Jonjo Shelvey (£5.3m), the deepest-lying midfielder in the team, is a concern but with Joe Willock (£5.4m) out too, I’m expecting to see Bruno continue in his box-to-box role and Sean Longstaff (£4.3m) to continue as the anchor.
Now, and I can’t believe I’m writing this, the question is what to do about Hwang Hee-chan (£5.4m) and Connor Roberts (£4.4m). The obvious thing to do is sell them. Hwang barely plays with Pedro Neto (£6.2m) preferred up front, and Roberts has little attacking potential and faces two decent attacking sides in Spurs and Villa.
However, are the hits required to move these players on worth sacrificing potentially more significant upgrades in the likes of Aaron Ramsdale (£5.1m) to Jordan Pickford (£4.8m)? Will using some of my saved £1.3m that I had reserved for a potential Matty Cash (£5.2m) to Reece James (£6.4m) move come back to haunt me in Gameweek 38 if I am priced out of it? By using transfers, I will also make it more difficult to move for Son in his final game against Norwich if I want to. With two free transfers, I could move Harry Kane (£12.3m) and Anthony Gordon (£4.6m) to Son and Ivan Toney (£6.7m) in Gameweek 38, for example.
NEGLECT THE BENCH BOOST?
This is the horrible bit about the Bench Boost. By focusing transfers on improving your bench for, and I mean no disrespect, more “mediocre” players, it can be harder to get in the assets that are more likely to bring home the big points. With so few games left, my instinct is telling me to just write this Bench Boost off, take the likely 7-10 points and better attack the final two Gameweeks with players I actually want to see in my XI.
POSSIBLE BENCH BOOST OPTIONS
If I do decide to upgrade my bench, Hwang to Danny Welbeck (£5.9m) is probably a move at the top of my list. I’ve been so impressed with how Welbeck has been leading the line for Brighton and with returns in his last three games, he’s been a key figure in our impressive recent form. He needs to work on his conversion rate though (I’m sure I’ve heard that before when it comes to Brighton strikers…) with just 5.6% of his shots finding the net over his last six games – but his minutes per NPxGI of 160.7 is encouraging and better than the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo (217.7), for example. Leeds seems a good game to target, given that only Norwich (44.8) and Southampton (43) have a worse minutes per expected goals conceded (xGC) average over the last six Gameweeks (49.7).
Another move I could make is upgrading Roberts to Marcos Alonso (£5.7m) which loses me a Double Gameweek player but strengthens me for Gameweek 38 given that he now appears to be off Thomas Tuchel’s naughty step. Alonso sits top of all defenders for minutes per NPxGI (210) over the last six Gameweeks and second only to Antonio Rudiger (£6.1m) for minutes per shot (37.1 vs 36).
Anyway, that’s my current thinking. I’d love to hear from people from Fantasy Football Scout who have had similar Bench Boost dilemmas or from those who still have the chip left to play. What are your plans? Is it worth prioritising the bench at the cost of strengthening your main team for the next two Gameweeks? Should FPL do away with the chip altogether!? Let me know in the comments!
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