It’s gameweek 28, and we are starting the build towards the explosive weeks of the season in FPL. With limited gameweeks left, many of us still hold some or all of our chips: free hit, bench boost & triple captain. Critically, we will soon hit our first blank week of the season in week 31 and a smaller version in week 35.
Yewy has already given plenty of helpful strategic options for the blank/double week planning. The best tactic to suit you will depend on, amongst other things, your current global/private league position, the number of players you already have that may blank, your team value, and your playing style.
Our gameweek 28 free transfer then should consider the approaching week 31 blank week and the purchasing of key players from those able to play in then.
Week 31 currently has 5 fixtures:
Friday 16th March
Tottenham v Newcastle
Saturday 17th March
Bournemouth v West Bromwich Albion
Huddersfield v Crystal Palace
Liverpool v Watford
The first caveat here is that the Spurs v Newcastle fixture is unlikely. If Spurs just beat Rochdale in their FA Cup replay, then the Newcastle fixture will be postponed in favor of a Cup Quarter Final. Nothing is certain in football; maybe just maybe Rochdale can pull off an upset to rival Wigan’s amazing win over Manchester City this week. For now though, the most likely result is that Spurs v Newcastle will be rescheduled.
The strategy and picks
Maximising the starting 11
Similar to any game week, the desire is to be able to field 11 players. Many fantasy sides in FPL will still be playing week by week without planning ahead. Thoses who still have the free hit chip may use it in week 31, allowing them to select a full 15 man squad with the potential to score fantasy points. I currently already have 7 players from the 8 teams playing, but Mason Holgate hasn’t played for 3 matches and can be considered a likely blank. Ideally, I want to assemble an 11 that will play if fit as I will be wildcarding in week 32/33 but you will be wanting to field at leasy 7-8 players.
Reds all the way
Liverpool are the standout side looking at the week 31 fixture list. Coming into the game week, you will want to be holding 3 players from Klopp’s squad.
Their 3 fixtures leading into week 31 are West Ham (h), Newcastle (h) and Manchester United (a). While the United game is expected to be tight, it gives ‘Pool 3 very strong Anfield games meaning any pool player brought in is a 4 week choice.
Most of us already have him, but if you don’t, then you are missing the most obvious captain choice for both gameweek 28 and 31. Unless Harry Kane is playing a league game in week 31 (which would mean Spurs somehow lost to Rochdale), then Salah is a must.
Firmino is a brilliant team player now in the best form of his Liverpool career. There is little option within the Pool squad to give him a game off, and the battle for the top-4 CL qualification should see him start.
The obvious alternative to Firmino, his hat track in Porto last week caught the eye. Mane’s ability to be explosive with multi goal hauls possibly makes him a great differential. The concern is that, with Lallana and Ox both now fit, either could take Mane’s spot if Klopp considers rotation.
On his a day, Lallana is a superb player still seeming to be improving. Coming back from injury, his starting status is not yet reestablished, meaning that he isn’t one to transfer in this week.
Virgil Van Dyke
I’m a fan of VVD as a fantasy asset. A strong commanding central defender who offers a constant threat at set pieces. There are signs his match sharpness is coming and he may be my choice of transfer this week.
At 4.8m, Karius is the best keeper selection for the 4 week period up to and including week 31. It’s just a question of how sure we are he is now clear 1st choice?
The best of the rest
The cherries host a West Bromwich Albion side that can’t sit back in their league position so have to go for goals. The additional space this will leave can help AFC Bournemouth pick them off, and Wilson remains the liveliest Cherries attacker, capable of explosive returns. I see him as close to a must-have in week 31, but the 3 fixtures prior suggest caution. Home to Newcastle this week is fine, but it’s then Leicester (a) and Spurs (h).
Theo Walcott or Siggy
Everton’s week 31 fixture is a potentially tricky trip to Stoke City who have improved a little. Prior to that, it’s Watford (a), Burnley (a) and Brighton (h). 3 away games in 4 for a side that have found travel difficult makes it hard to love them as a transfer for a couple weeks. It’s a choice of proven fantasy players against the side’s current form. Having said that we know Watford are easy to counter in home games making Theo an attractive pick, while Burnley struggle to hold possesion whihc may suit Siggy and his set pieces.
Until Everton hit that 40 point mark, it seems that Niasse’s familiarity with the Premier League will hold the starting post over January signing Tosun. At 4.9m, Niasse offers an even cheaper third forward than Wilson. Once again, like other Everton options, I’d suggest a watching brief until week 30.
After gameweek 1, we thought we may have the budget forward season keeper as he scored a brace in destroying Palace. Whom does he play in week 31? That right, Palace once again.
Mounie scored a brace in a 15 point haul against Bournemouth last time out so has some form heading into the next 4 weeks. At 5.7m, he is a little higher-priced than I’d like, but his 4 game run of West Brom (a), Spurs (a), Swansea (h) and Palace (h) has its merits. That gives us 3 great fixtures in 4, and the troublesome trip to Spurs comes just 3 days before Spurs’ Champions League 2nd-leg against Juventus. With the race for the top four being so tight, Spurs won’t be expected to rotate much, but they could have more than one eye on the Juve game. Spurs have also had their issues against the lesser sides at Wembley.
He has form with 2 goals and 1 assist in his last 4, so he has his fans for week 31. Facing Leicester (a), Southampton (a), Man City (h) and Everton (H) I’m not fully convinced, but the thing with Shaq is that he can produce something from nothing at any time.
Those who dont play in 31 but have a nice 3 game run into the gameweek
Jamie Vardy or Riyad Mahrez
Leicester face a very tempting trio of games Stoke (h), Bournemouth (h) and West Brom (a). You can make a case for the Foxes winning all 3.
Vardy has scored 4 league games in a row and with the World Cup closing in, Vardy is making his case to replace/support Kane in the squad.
Mahrez has no World Cup to go enjoy so his shop window will be the final league games and the FA Cup. His form prior to the January drama was excellent and he offers Leicester attack cover if you have no room for Vardy.
Harry Kane, Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli and Son
Spurs are in great form having dominated Man Utd and Arsenal recently and came from 2 down against Juve. All four players have hit form and Spurs 3 game run into week 31 are Palace minus both keepers (a), Huddersfield (h) and Bournemouth (a). In all 3 games they will be expected to win and win with comfort.
It was around this time last season they had a purple patch chasing Chelsea and they look like they are back in that run.
Nick Pope and the Burnley boys at the back
They have found it tough to win games recently but a couple more wins will push them to safety. Its Southampton (h), Everton (h) and West Ham United (a) for Burnley and they are 3 fine shots for a picking up a clean sheet.
A rematch of the League cup final against City before Brighton (a) and Watford (h) are the 3 before week 31.
City haven’t been the same descrutive side away form home in recent weeks in the domestic game and Arsenal have a great home record. Brighton away is a potential little bannana skin but Watford at home could be a big home win.
Arsenal do seem to pick up form when chasing and I think they score in all of these matches. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang may be unffordable for most players but if you have the money and are chasing in your private league, he is a great alternative pick.
Much cheaper but more frustrating is Henrikh Mkhitaryan who we could get anything from. I think the run of games will suit him and I prefer him to Mahrez over the run which may be madness but we will see.