FPL BlackBox’s Az talks Double Gameweek 24 players, when the best time to play the Bench Boost is – and spreadsheets.
After a relentless run of games in which I feel like I have lived, breathed and slept football, we now have a few days off until we enter Double Gameweek madness.
Since my last article, things have been pretty unspectacular. Good to know that all the planning and sleepless nights were worth it, then.
In came my Everton and Manchester City players, but in true Az 2020/21 style, I’ve managed to dodge quite a few points by failing to hand llkay Gündogan (£6.0m) the armband at the right time and, of course, leaving Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£7.7m) on my bench for his huge 12-point haul away at Manchester United.
I’ve been around the million rank before, of course, and it feels bad, but I’m just waiting for that one big Gameweek that can really kick-start my season.
Looking at other managers, many are treading water at the moment, finding it hard to get ahead due to a strong template having emerged. Of course, plateauing for someone nestled snugly in the top 10k isn’t as bad compared to where I’m at.
I’ve tried to play my own game and be a bit more aggressive, captaining the likes of João Cancelo (£6.0m) and Michael Antonio (£6.7m). I even took a failed -8 in Gameweek 21. This has seen my rank barely shift in any direction. Frustrating.
But now things are getting exciting. This is the time in which the spreadsheets are out, the Double Gameweeks are starting and in theory, it’s when the sharpest and most engaged managers can start to separate themselves from the rest of the pack. My time is now. Well, in theory.
Planning for the DGW
I think I’m in pretty decent shape going forward. The -8 I took a few weeks ago, while not generating huge points for my team, has at least allowed me to get ahead of the curve this week.
I’ve got six Double Gameweek players in place and really, I’m not sure I want to triple up on Everton with their game against Manchester City not looking particularly inspiring and some fitness concerns with James Rodriguez (£7.7m).
If I was going to take a punt, I might consider the likes of Richarlison (£7.8m), but he’s without a goal now since Gameweek 13 and it’s difficult to strongly advocate a striker double-up from Everton, or breaking up a decent trio also containing Patrick Bamford (£6.7m) and Antonio.
Manchester City present an interesting selection dilemma for us this week. We never really know who Pep is going to play, but the fact that both Spurs and Everton present real challenges for his team, I would like to think that we will see strong teams in each match.
John Stones (£5.2m) put in another good performance against Liverpool, even scoring a disallowed goal in the process. But there is now the real threat of Aymeric Laporte (£6.0m) filling in for him on occasion. It is worth noting however that in his last appearance, Laporte played at left-back, meaning that all three of himself, Stones and Ruben Dias (£6.1m) took to the pitch. I still think Stones is pretty safe in that backline given his performances – but looking at it from a Double Gameweek perspective, I wouldn’t be too surprised to see him miss one of the games. The FA Cup tie with Swansea may provide some clues on who will line up at the back for City.
I would be very reluctant, however boring, to go without Gündogan however. His form is incredible and doesn’t even look unsustainable given the role he is playing in the team and the quality of his finishing at the moment. Raheem Sterling (£11.6m) looks to be hitting form at an interesting time, too, and may even be a viable captain option this week over the likes of Calvert-Lewin and Gündogan.
I think those who have gone for three at the back for City have some decisions to make. Stick with what you’ve got and hope for a couple of clean sheets against quite tough opposition, or make the move for one of Gündogan or Sterling. For free (i.e. with two free transfers), I think I’d make the switch. If you are looking to captain one of them, then a hit probably is the right thing to do, too. I’d still be backing Gündogan over Sterling though, given his form.
Bench boost fears
While I’m pretty happy with how my team is set up, a bit of a monster bench score last week has brought into focus that I need to time my Bench Boost right, and the best opportunity to do so might be while my funds are so evenly spread out across my team, rather than waiting for another moment further down the line.
If I’d played it last week, I’d have got a solid return of 24 points. Looking at my team this week, I’m not sure there’s going to be a better time to play the chip. I could even move Son Heung-min (£9.6m) out for Marcus Rashford (£9.6m) and target the Red Devils against West Brom, in what is arguably the best fixture to have right now.
It would also solve my bench dilemma of who to drop out of Tomas Soucek (£5.4m) and Vladimir Coufal (£4.7m), who both have a home game against Sheffield United. It’s actually a bit of a shame that the potato-salad loving man from the Czech Republic went and got his ban overturned. Zero points and now a dilemma… great.
Alternatively, I could wait until Gameweek 26. I’ve still got the Wildcard to play, and I know a lot of people are thinking of using theirs in Gameweek 25 to attack whatever Double Gameweek we get. But a Wildcard/Bench Boost double-up would see me continue with funds spread right across my team. It would be nice to really focus on my starting XI with the Wildcard and not have the Bench Boost burning a hole in my pocket.
The other thing is that I’m looking at my team and not really seeing that much wrong with it in the longer term. While I am keen to readdress the “balance” (probably by moving for Harry Kane in a few weeks), I’ve got the majority of players who I want to keep in place. I’m not convinced that ripping this all up for one week is the answer – but of course, I will wait to see what doubles we have before making this decision.
If you’re into spreadsheets, this is the time to fire up Excel and get planning.
It’s important to have a strategy in place of the players/teams you’re targeting and with strong benches, having a roadmap of the ones you think you’re comfortable benching can help not bring in unnecessary players and waste precious free transfers. Mark out your transfers (in a nice shade of yellow like I have) and your captains (try a nice calming blue) to make sure that your squads are in good shape for the weeks to come.
Something like the above took me about 10-15 minutes to fill out and I think I’m going to try and keep this going until the end of the season.
Good luck to you all for the coming Gameweek and get planning. It’s exciting times ahead!
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