It’s getting to that time of year again, and I thought it might be cool to get my thoughts down on how I’m going to probably end up using the late wildcard and all of my chips (I have them all intact) this season.
Apologies to those who have already used one or all (!) of the chips, but I think this will still be useful as a bare bones plan for you to adapt according to your own personal context.
This dates used in this article owes much to the great research of the godfather of FPL schedules, Ben Crellin.
The run-in is the biggie for FPL managers.
It’s often what decides how your season pans out, with the huge gains on offer from effective Double Gameweeks (DGWs) and chip deployment, alongside successful navigation of Blank Gameweeks (BGWs), presenting a prime opportunity for managers willing to invest a small amount of cognitive effort in planning to garner huge rewards for a little forward thinking.
Here’s some scribbles on how I (Tom) am (probably – reserve the right to change my mind as always) planning to play out this vital period using the information available at the moment.
Of course, bear in mind that I have all my chips intact which may not be the case for everyone, but I’m sure you can see how this could plan below could be adapted for use if you are missing one or two of them.
My strategy this year
I think how it’s looking at the moment can be broken down into three distinct phases.
Phase 1: The Dead End (present – Gameweek 31)
- As I spoke about on the podcast last week, my plan from here on out is to “dead end” my team into Gameweek 31
- This means setting up my team with a preference toward purchasing players who have a fixture in that BGW (although I won’t follow this blindly; if a player like Choupo-Moting, for instance, continues to return nothing he will be removed regardless of his game in the BGW)
- Currently, this is Stoke, Liverpool, Everton, Watford, however we will have to wait until 28th February – which falls on a longer than usual Gameweek 28 to incorporate the Arsenal v Man City Carabao Cup Final rematch – to know this entirely as this is when the FA Cup 5th Round replays conclude
- Before that Gameweek 28 (which starts at 11:30 on the 24th Feb) we will know a fair amount, though, with the majority of FA Cup round 5 matches being played in the week between Gameweeks 27-8: there’s a weekend off for FPL on the weekend of 17th-18th Feb
- To this end, I will be trying to roll my FT this coming week (Gameweek 27 at the time of writing) and try to have 2FT for use going forward – it’s time to look at points not profit, so I’m going to let a lot of price falls/rises go from now
- I am doing this to avoid using my Free Hit in Gameweek 31
- Although I said at the start of the season the benefit of the chip is to not have to plan the BGWs, the fact is that there is also very likely going to be a BGW in Gameweek 35 which I would prefer to use my Free Hit for over using it in Gameweek 31
- The reason for this is the time we have to plan ahead of Gameweek 31. To repeat the caveat above: this is not to say I am going to throw all caution to the wind and only bring in BGW players – I learnt last year that that does not benefit you long term – but I will favour bringing in non-blankers if that’s the deciding factor in a decision
Phase 2: The Wildcard Roll (Gameweeks 32-33)
- Wildcard in 32 (i.e. between Gameweeks 31-32) and roll transfer (i.e. between Gameweeks 32-33) so I have 2FT in for the final phase beginning in DGW 34.
- This allows me to remove all of the Gameweek 31 specific deadwood, alongside bringing in the key men that will be needed for the remaining 6-7 rounds
- Barring injury, I’ll roll it in Gameweek 33 – this will allow me to make the final 2-3 tweaks (a -8 hit is fine for a DGW) I need to optimise by team for the first DGW in 34
- Gameweek 32 is ideal to wildcard; players who have good fixtures in the DGWs will likely rise exponentially prior to those Gameweeks so you can get them for 0.1-0.2 less, plus we know the identity of doublers so you can be flexible and target bringing in a couple of players who have good Gameweek 32-33 fixtures in the immediate term before moving them out
Phase 3: All in with the chips (Gameweeks 34-end)
- I think I’ll play my Bench Boost in DGW 34.
- This is because it is the most likely destination for the blanks in Gameweek 31 – however it’s worth noting that this isn’t 100% certain at this point in time; we could get some Gameweek 35 blanks in DGW34 as well as some Gameweek 31 blanks in DGW 37
- Playing Bench Boost earlier on in the season run-in (rather than at the other candidate of probably DGW37) is perhaps the better strategy: teams are more likely to be continuing to field (to some extent) predictable lineups, meaning less shocks and dropped players not maximising their potential
- I’ll then Free Hit in Gameweek 35.
- This will be when whoever makes it through the the Semi-Finals of the FA Cup (usually at least 3/4 being PL sides) and their opposition will have BGWs. Accordingly, this could impact up to 4 fixtures (or 8 teams)
- A fair few will use their Free Hit in Gameweek 31 having not planned for that BGW, giving you a huge advantage here if you’ve followed the “dead end” strategy I am going to do. And you’ll be back to your very strong wildcard side after the fact – no hassle, no unnecessary hits to get an XI out needed
- I’ll try my damnedest to roll in Gameweek 36 so I can move as many players in, pain-free, for 37 who may have been good for 34 but have outlived their usefulness – I’ll have a plan for who these might be
- I’ll then Triple Captain in DGW 37 (provided there is one of course!)
- This will without doubt be used on a big ticket player (e.g. Kane, Sanchez, Salah) and be hoping to maximise the returns they can get through two bites of the cherry. The use of a big ticket player is to guard against any potential team shocks, and I’ll also bear contextual factors (e.g. goal records; team records) in mind as often the motivation to perform for league positions or Europe qualification has diminished at this point
- Gameweek 38 is always a bit random – I would advise against using chips on this Gameweek, especially as players are likely to be playing with caution given the World Cup looming
So that’s my thoughts on how I’m going to play it. Of course things may change, if fixtures, scheduling or anything else impacts the schedule as it stands.
I think that this is a nice and neat way to maximise my chips, along with ensuring I’m wildcarding in time to collect the key players for the upcoming DGWs alongside keeping the Free Hit in my pocket for Gameweek 35 which I’m sure will catch many non-planners (“casuals”) by surprise.
All that I’m waiting for now – as all us engaged managers are – is for the identities of the BGW/DGW teams to be revealed, and then we can start the chatter about who gets the TC and which teams to focus on for the BB.
As a skeleton strategy, I really like the above and hope it provides you with a bit of inspiration for how you might navigate this most exciting of times in FPL.
Tom’s strategy – TL;DR
Now-31 = Dead end team
32-33 = Wildcard 32, roll 33
34 = BB
35 = FH
37 = TC
Credits: Dead end icon by Myly; Sausage roll by parkjisun; Poker by Gan Khoon Lay. All found on Noun Project