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Five Questions for FPL Week 27: Time to Drop Players from Teams on Bye?

After a weekend off, the Premier League returns albeit with a reduced schedule for the first time this season. Four teams are absent from game week 27 due to FA Cup ties, leaving eight fixtures instead of the usual 10. With plenty of tough choices in play, be sure to ponder these queries as you pore over your fantasy line-ups.

Is it worth taking a zero by holding onto Sergio Aguero at discount or are you dropping him from your team?
Is it worth taking a zero by holding onto Sergio Aguero at discount or are you dropping him from your team?
Alex Livesey/Getty Images
1. Everton, Liverpool, Manchester City and Newcastle do not have games this weekend. Which players from those teams are you keeping in your fantasy teams and which are you dropping?

There is plenty of fantasy investment in players from bye teams including Everton's Ross Barkley, Seamus Coleman and Romelu Lukaku, Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino and Alberto Moreno, Manchester City's Sergio Aguero, Joe Hart, David Silva and Yaya Toure, as well as Newcastle's Georginio Wijnaldum. Additionally, you may have in recent weeks added less prominent players offering nice value on the cheap (such as Bryan OviedoJoel Robles and Steven Taylor), while you may have otherwise been tempted to grab goal scorers in GW26 expecting an uptick in price (like Daniel Sturridge and Andros Townsend).

Despite the reduced number of games, there is no shortage of attractive fixtures promising fantasy glory, so can you really stomach leaving any zeroes in your line-up? Generally speaking, there is a limited number of drops allowed in the Official BPL format as opposed to unlimited transfers in Fantrax. Which of your player(s) are the easiest and/or most important to replace in Official, and how much of a discount is necessary for you to justify holding onto your absent stars in Fantrax, knowing that you will be rewarded with a double game week with them eventually?

2. On that note, has your strategy changed regarding when you plan to use your remaining unlimited transfer chip in Official BPL fantasy?

Given this week's quirk of schedule, this could be a good time to use your transfer chip for the second half of the season if you have not already. If you were planning on keeping it in your back pocket, are you reconsidering your strategy? Do you have so many players out this week that you need to use it now? Do have a full enough roster of starters to allow you to save it for a few weeks from now when other teams might also suffer postponements? Or do you think you can wait for the payoff of the first double game week or even longer for the final double-up if there are more than one?

3. Is Troy Deeney the Watford striker of choice at the moment or will Odion Ighalo return to form?

Joining company such as Leicester City's Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy, Watford's Ighalo shot onto the scene as a surprise star in the first half of the season, with 13 goals in his first 19 games. However, things have dried up considerably as he has scored only once in the last seven contests. Deeney, meanwhile, has been somewhat the reverse, starting off scoreless in the opening eight games; but with a brace in his last appearance against Crystal Palace, he has contributed eight goals in his past 17 games, while also offering more in the way of assists (eight compared to six for Deeney on the season in Official fantasy scoring, and six vs. three via the more conventional Fantrax scoring).

Given the recent change in performance, along with the fact that Deeney has penalty kick duty and taking into account the price differential (5.2 for Deeney vs. 6.2 for Ighalo in Official and 11,558 vs. 19,398 in Fantrax, respectively), have Ighalo owners rushed over to Deeney already or are you holding out hope for a return to form? Who do you prefer given the favorable home fixture against Bournemouth?

4. Is Fraser Forster the fantasy MVP of the second half so far and can you afford not to have him (along with Southampton defenders) in your team?

We all recall the heroics of Kevin De Bruyne, Lukaku, Mahrez, Harry Kane, Ighalo, Mesut Ozil, Dimitri Payet, Vardy et al. in the first half of the season, but who has stood out thus far in the second half? In the seven games starting with game week 20, Sergio Aguero has scored seven goals for slipping Manchester City. Robert Huth has three goals and four clean sheets for resilient upstart Leicester. Meanwhile, Harry Kane has notched five goals for the surging Spurs. Amidst that stellar company, though, has anybody been more impressive than Southampton's Fraser Forster? With Forster out injured, the Saints kept six clean sheets in the first 21 games. In the half dozen tilts since Forster's return, they've kept the same number of clean sheets. That's every single game!

Forster's 16 saves have delivered five wins and one draw (with robust fantasy scores of 7.0 ppg in Official and 14.83 ppg in Fantrax), pushing Southampton from 12th all the way up to sixth place, just ahead of West Ham and barely behind Manchester United. Notably, the Saints offense has not been contributing too much, averaging only 1.5 goals per game during the stretch, so Fraser's heroics have been absolutely vital. On top of that, you could have gotten him for as low a price as 4.8 in Official and 1.000 in Fantrax, brilliant value in both formats. Meanwhile, defenders Ryan Bertrand, Jose Fonte, Cedric Soares, Matt Targett and Virgil Van Dijk have benefited greatly, delivering big fantasy hauls thanks to the parade of clean sheets. Do you expect Southampton to remain a top defensive team from here on out? Is there any other option than having the big keeper and at least one Saints defender in your team? Or do you think the run comes to an end against resurgent Chelsea, which has been shut out only once in its past seven games and is coming off a 5-1 thrashing of Newcastle?

5. Which Leicester City team are you counting on seeing from here on out, the offensive juggernaut from most of the first half of the season or the lock down defense witnessed in more recent weeks?

The Foxes, as we well know, have enjoyed a truly remarkable season so far. One of the most impressive things is how adaptable they have been, successfully utilizing distinctly different styles as necessary. For the first 17 games, high-flying Leicester City scored at least once at every turn in amassing a gaudy total of 37 goals (scoring an average of 2.18 goals per game), but also leaking a fair share itself (1.41 gpg allowed) in recording only three clean sheets. Over that time spent perfecting an entertaining, ruthless counterattacking style filled with goal fests, they lost only once, leaving them as the shock top squad.

Over the nine games since, the opposition has adjusted, slowing down Leicester's big guns in holding the Tigers to just 11 goals (1.22 gpg) and rendering them scoreless on three occasions. Plenty of teams would have fallen apart under those circumstances. However, Leicester City again sits atop the Premiership thanks to its ability to respond with a newfound defensive resolve of its own, recording five clean sheets and allowing a miserly 0.56 gpg average covering that stretch. Has your fantasy focus turned to keeper Kasper Schmeichel and defenders Christian Fuchs, Huth, Wes Morgan and Danny Simpson? Or with Leicester's next two games at home against Norwich and West Brom, do you think the offensive floodgates will reopen with Marc Albrighton, N'Golo Kante, Mahrez and Vardy retaking the fantasy spotlight?

Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments!