Just before the Gameweek 14 deadline, the news broke about Blank Gameweek 18 and double Gameweek 19.
This news means that Fantasy Premier League managers around the world suddenly start looking further ahead with the transfers and start to plan a chip strategy that will, they hope, bring the most points returns.
We talked to the Scout Network to see how they are managing the extraordinary Gameweeks after the festive period.
I have already used my first Wildcard and my current team is only a few transfers away from a decent Double Gameweek 19 side. Therefore my plan is to Free Hit in Blank Gameweek 18, bringing in the likes of Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Callum Wilson, Kevin De Bruyne, Heung-Min Son and Wilfred Zaha just for one week, reverting back to my permanent squad for double Gameweek 19.
By that time, I will have 15 playing players (12 of which have a double Gameweek) without taking any hits, making it an ideal time to activate the Bench Boost chip. The team will most likely consist of Emiliano Martinez and Alex McCarthy in goal, Vladimir Coufal, Ben Chilwell, Victor Lindelof, Stuart Dallas and Reece James (if fit) in defence, Mohammad Salah (who will be my captain), Bruno Fernandes, Kevin De Bruyne, Jack Grealish and Jarrod Bowen in midfield, with Patrick Bamford, Che Adams and Michail Antonio up front.
Many FPL managers would be considering the use of several chips across Gameweeks 18 and 19 to maximise the advantage. We, however, believe in caution. There are three reasons behind our pragmatism – firstly, blank Gameweek 18 actually offers few genuine high-scoring options, in our opinion. We think FPL Managers should be fine with seven players who are players who will be playing so probably not worth using any chip here.
Secondly, there will be 19 more Gameweeks after Double Gameweek 19, any over-utilisation of chips here will hamper your flexibility as the season enters its crucial stages around March and April.
Thirdly, there will likely be other Double Gameweeks later in the season – although these will likely be smaller than the one in January. There are three games are yet to be rescheduled and both the FA Cup and the League Cup competitions will no doubt cause more fixtures to be reshuffled. Saving the Wildcard and Bench Boost for those double Gameweeks to come appears to be a safe option here.
We would advise on only using the Free Hit on double Gameweek 19. This offers more flexibility for you to plan your squad up to double Gameweek 19. If you plan to use the Bench Boost on double Gameweek 19 without the Wildcard on Gameweek 17 or Gameweek 18, you will need a lot of free transfers or even hits to build a team of 15 playing players. This may lead to sacrificing Manchester City players like Kevin De Bruyne (who plays Newcastle and Brighton at home on Gameweek 15 and Gameweek 18) or Everton players like Dominic Calvert-Lewin (who plays Sheffield United on Gameweek 15).
Double Gameweek 19 is still three weeks away but given current form, there is a need to target this trio with the Free Hit
1) Mohamed Salah (who has home games against Man Utd and Burnley) – the Egyptian cannot stop scoring, having found the net five times in the last four games.
2) Bruno Fernandes (away games to Liverpool and Fulham) – the Portuguese is hardy, durable and consistent. He is first on Manchester United’s team sheet and is the architect of every meaningful United attack
3) Tomas Soucek (home games to Burnley and West Brom) – on paper the Hammers have the best fixtures and Soucek is the perfect enabler for other Premiums.
At this moment, I have seven players who will play in Gameweek 18, so my plan is to avoid using my Free Hit chip that week. Over the next four weeks I will try to make a squad that will have eleven starters (or at least ten) in Gameweek 18. My current plan is to play the Free Hit in Gameweek 19 so that I can have as many double Gameweek players as possible.
By using this strategy this will keep my Wildcard and Bench Boost intact, which I plan to use later in the campaign when we will likely get another double Gameweek. I also have the Triple Captain chip intact, however I am someone who prefers playing the Triple Captain chip as late as possible.
I think keeping the chips intact gives one better control over the last leg of the campaign. However, taking a Wildcard in Gameweek 17 with an eye on Gameweek 18 and 19 and playing the Free Hit in the latter is also a good idea.
Double Gameweeks are a gift to FPL managers. The opportunity to over achieve is huge, especially if you deploy a chip in that week too. For me attacking the Double Gameweek is aggressively is key. Using a chip like the Triple Captain or the Bench Boost can grow the points scored by a Manager with greater potential to over achieve than the Free Hit chip can. Free Hit’s are perfect, in my view, for blank Gameweeks as they allow the most aggressive approach to that Gameweek.
My plan is to use my free transfers to build a team for double Gameweek 19. Using free transfers I can get to a Gameweek 19 team which I think combines the perfect numbers of double and single Gameweek players (there are some single Gameweekers who have fixtures which are too good to overlook) meaning that the Bench Boost or Triple Captain chips look like a great option. I’ll likely play my Bench Boost as I will have 15 players who all look good ahead of that week.
With this likely to be the biggest blank and double of the season I will also use my Free Hit in Gameweek 18 to get a full squad of players. This will allow me to use my Wildcard to deal with any later blanks and hold my Triple Captain for a later double Gameweek.
What’s happening in the Scout Network?
In January we will be launching our new Scout Network Podcast – Scout The Gameweek hosted by Sam from FPLFamily. Each week Sam will be joined by a member of the Scout Network, Scout Academy or from FFS International. Sam will kick off the new Podcast with Ted from Ted Talks FPL to look back on blank Gameweek 18 and ahead to double Gameweek 19.
Ted Talks FPL
Ted appeared on the Gameweek 14 Scoucast alongside with Joe and fellow member of the Scout Network Sam from FPL Family. Ted lived through the highs of Lindelof’s assist and the lows of a Fernandes blank live on air which made from great viewing. Ted also had the chance to show off a couple of pieces of content that he produces regularly on the Scoutcast, which received a great response from the Scoutcast viewers. Ted also continued with his regular content across the week, however it was even more crowded with the additional Gameweek in the schedule last week. Ted also released a blank & double Gameweek fixture chart, which is pinned on his twitter page, along with a video and many other infographics.
It’s been a good week for El Statto’s website Jumpers for Goalposts which has seen a 35% increase in visitors in comparison to the previous week. This increase was largely driven by two articles from his ABC Transfer guide series. The first looked at the players who fit into our hauls and return categories based on their previous six weeks form. The second looked at the Gameweek 13 games and how these players performed and whether there are any stand out players you need to be considering for your transfer plans.
Last week it was Sam’s turn to pick a differential on the Scoutcast – Sam went on to pick Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino, who went on to register a brace and an assist straight away in Gameweek 14 – probably one of the best Scoutcast differential picks we have had. Lee also appeared on a late night FPL Show with Gianni last week, looking back at Gameweek 13 and ahead to Gameweek 14. This week you can catch Sam on the Official FPL Podcast as well as both halves of the FPL Family on the FPL Show on Christmas Eve.
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