Long, long ago, after a game-week far away (gw-31), we naive fantasy managers had scanned the schedule and were expecting a double game week 32 from only Manchester United and Wolves. How innocent, even trite. Then all of a sudden, the Official FPL schedule exploded, shifting eight more teams into the DGW-32 envelope (some leaving blanks in their wake in GW-33). As a wise sitcom character once noted, “Whoa!” And that’s just how we are all feeling right now.
Those of you who were planning on holding onto your free hit and/or wildcard chip and going chipless this week, you will want to re-examine your strategy. I’m not saying that you have to change it, but you will want to consider how many chips (particularly free-hit and wildcard) you have left, and balance that with how many players you have who will feature in an abbreviated GW-33 where half the teams will be absent.
I have a feeling that playing the free hit chip is going to be extremely popular this week, especially for those of you who still have both your free-hit and wildcard available. If you are using your free-hit chip this week, you will really want to stock your XI with the three DGW teams you think have the best match-ups, particularly those that you don’t expect to suffer rest/rotation in either of their games.
Before playing your free hit chip, you will want to use up your free transfer(s) with an eye to players from teams featuring in GW-33. Confirm/save that team, and THEN start using your free-hit for the week at hand. That’s because any free transfer you have this week will not carry over following use of the free hit.
The wildcard chip should also come into play as well, particularly for those of you who used your free hit chip in Week 31. It’s a tough call whether to use it now or hold for later implementation. A big factor in that decision will be how many double game week players you can get using your free transfer(s) and perhaps taking a -4 hit.
I also wouldn’t be surprised to see a fair number of managers toss the triple-captain chip into play. Any of the usual suspects on double-game teams with favorable match-ups will be extremely enticing. Be sure to check out the recent Staff Picks article for our best bets in that regard.
Although a double game week is perfect for the bench boost chip, most managers will likely prioritize using a different chip this week, and holding off to use the bench boost later. And those who are not using one of the other chips will probably not have enough double game week players on the bench to justify putting the bench boost into play.
As opposed to breaking things down positionally, this week I’m going to do so by team. You can only have three players per team, but there are several sides that can more than justify going to the max for:
Manchester City (at Fulham, v. Cardiff)
Pep Guardiola’s side suffers from absolutely brutal fixture congestion over the next month or so, leading to worry about rotation. This week’s pair of games are separated as far as possible (Saturday and Wednesday), which could prove beneficial. And given the (lack of) quality of the competition, it may not take two games to get a big haul from the Citizens’ stars. In that respect, don’t be shy about adding forward Sergio Aguero (£11.8m), midfielder Raheem Sterling (£11.6m), and/or midfielder Bernardo Silva (£7.5m) on offense. Sterling, with four double-digit hauls in his past eight games, and Aguero, with eight goals in seven, are absolutely on fire. But if you can’t afford them both, Bernardo Silva is not a bad fallback option; I prefer him to David Silva, who is more likely to be rested for one of the fixtures due to his age and injury history.
Having played 90 minutes each of the past four games, and with two assists in that time, midfielder Oleksandr Zinchenko (£4.7m) could prove an extremely profitable punt on the cheap if you’re willing to take the chance. The City offense tends to perform much better at home than on the road, but with the road game coming at extremely welcoming Craven Cottage, that lessens any worry of a muted attack in the first fixture.
City has kept four clean sheets in its past five EPL affairs, suggesting the best chance in the double game week for a pair of clean sheets, so don’t neglect the other side of the pitch. Unfortunately, a rash of injuries have created doubts about who will feature in the back. Defender Aymeric Laporte (£5.9m) and keeper Ederson (£5.6m) are probably the two best bets.
I don’t know about you, but a Big Six side taking on the #15 and #18 sides sounds pretty good to me. As a bonus, Chelsea play again in GW-33.
As usual, we start with midfielder Eden Hazard (£10.9m), who in the reverse fixtures delivered a hat trick v. Cardiff and earned a goal plus an assist at Brighton. Elsewhere in attack, forward Gonzalo Higuain (£9.6m) sure enjoys playing lower-level teams, as his three goals thus far have come against Huddersfield and Fulham. The Blues amazingly have not kept a clean sheet in their past five tries, but that surely has to change now, doesn’t it? Feel free to roll with keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga (£5.4m) in goal, along with defenders Cesar Azpilicueta (£6.3m) and David Luiz (£5.9m) who not only have the ability to chip in on the offensive end, but also seem the most assured of starting both games among the back four.
Manchester United (v. Watford, at Wolves)
The Red Devils’ pair of games is far from inviting but not impossibly daunting either. Manchester United has been in absolutely brilliant form since Ole Gunnar Solksjaer took over, and they have surely enjoyed the international break as a chance to get healthy. While Wolves and Watford are both in the top 8, as we all know there is a huge drop-off after the Big Six, as both teams are near zero in goal differential, which means that they’re about as average as you can get.
Since being unleashed by OGS, midfielder Paul Pogba (£8.9m) has exploded for eight goals and seven assists in 13 games. As Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, Alexis Sanchez, and Jesse Lingard have struggled with injury, forward Romelu Lukaku (£10.8m) has returned to the fore, scoring four goals in his past three games; unfortunately, though, the big Belgian is dealing with his own health concern at the moment, so be sure to check team news before adding Lukaku (or Rashford, who also deserves consideration if he passes fit).
David De Gea (£5.7m) has five clean sheets in the past 10 games, and defenders Ashley Young (£5.7m), Chris Smalling (£5.6m), and Victor Lindelof (£5.1m) seem pretty locked in to start. With two goals and three assists on the season, Young offers the best offensive angle, which makes him the most attractive choice if you can afford him.
Crystal Palace (v. Huddersfield, at Tottenham)
The opening game, at home to last place Huddersfield Town, is absolutely mouth-watering. Sure, the second is more daunting, particularly with it being the long-awaited EPL opener of Tottenham Stadium. That said, that could mean that Spurs will have other things on their minds, not only the pomp and ceremony surrounding the shiny new arena, but also the upcoming Champions League quarterfinal tie with Manchester City. Perhaps most importantly, Crystal Palace investment is much more affordable than that of the “Big Six” sides. Also, like Chelsea, Palace have a game in GW-33.
When you think of the Palace offense, whom do you think of first? The dazzling forward Wilfried Zaha (£6.9m), right? And if he can get over his injury, Zaha would be a fine choice; after all, he has netted five goals in the past seven games. But who has scored the most goals and fantasy points for the Eagles both last season and this? It’s actually midfielder Luka Milijovevic (£6.3m), thanks in no small part to PK and free-kick duty, which could come in mighty handy in this two-game spell. If you are worried about Zaha’s fitness, feel free to turn to fellow forward Michy Batshuayi (£6.5m) who has energized the Eagles’ attack with two goals and a helper in his six games.
If keeper Vincent Guaita (£4.2m) keeps his starting job, he’s an outstanding choice at the position on the cheap. But after conceding five goals while only making two saves in his past pair of appearances, Guaita could lose out to the slightly more expensive Wayne Hennessey (£4.5m); again, keep an ear to Roy Hodgson’s presser. In defense, the stand-out choice is Jeffrey Schlupp (£4.5m), as outlined here earlier in the week.
Wolves (at Burnley, v. Manchester United)
Nuno Espirito Santo’s team has been a fantasy favorite. The Championship promoted side has provided quite a few outstanding assets at more than a fair price for the FPL game this season. Forward Raul Jimenez (£6.8m) has been the best of the bunch, with 12 goals and 8 assists to his credit. His 153 fantasy points put him ahead of more famous and considerably more expensive stars such as Arsenal’s Alexandre Lacazette, Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino, and Leicester’s Jamie Vardy. Jimenez also seems to have taken PK duty from Ruben Neves, and he won’t mind the match-ups as he scored in the reverse fixture at Burnley and notched an assist against Manchester United.
Unlike the more consistent Jimenez, midfielder Diogo Jota (£6.1m) has taken a while to get going after a slow start. But he’s enjoying a purple patch of form with four goals and assists each across his past eight games.
Things are not as attractive at the back end. Despite having a pretty solid defense, Wolves have struggled to keep clean sheets, often frustratingly giving up a single goal to ruin the chance at the 4-point bonus. Even so, luck always seems just around the corner, so it could pay off to take a chance on keeper Rui Patricio (£4.5m) or defender Matt Doherty (£5.4m).
Watford (at Manchester United, v. Fulham)
Not so long ago in February, Watford beautifully encapsulated their up-and-down-and-up-and-down-again season, winning handily 5-1 at Cardiff, then getting crushed at home by Liverpool, 5-0. You just never quite know what you’re going to get. But that can be fun!
In the recent Staff Picks article, Matzy highlighted the appeal of midfielder Gerard Deulofeu (£5.6m), so I won’t go into that further. Forward Troy Deeney (£5.9m) has been on fire lately with three goals and assists each in the past four games. Defender Darryl Janmaat (£4.9m) is the most locked-in starter in the back, having started the past seven games; while he hasn’t scored yet this season, he has eight goals in the prior four campaigns, meaning that he’s due!
The teams above each warrant consideration of two or three players, which should well stock your squad. But if you’re still looking elsewhere, um, well, you may be able to come away with that needle in a haystack.
Usually it would be easy to be high on the third-place team having two games. However, with Spurs’ first fixture coming not only against Liverpool but at Anfield, it’s difficult to feel especially optimistic. However, a case can certainly be made for Tottenham’s star striker Harry Kane (£12.5m) any time he gets two bites at the apple, particularly when the second is at his (new) home against sub-par opposition in the form of Crystal Palace.
Fulham midfielder Ryan Babel (£5.5m) has a tough fixture pair — v. Manchester City and at Watford — but he already has a goal against Liverpool and an assist against Chelsea, so he doesn’t seem to mind difficult competition.
In defense, Brighton’s Shane Duffy (£4.7m) has been filling up the stat sheet with five goals, two assists, six clean sheets, and nine bonus points this season. The Seagulls are home to Southampton before traveling to Chelsea, so you’ll hope for one clean sheet and maybe something on offense too if you’re lucky.
Fellow Seagull Mat Ryan (£4.4m) isn’t a bad option at keeper, having kept two clean sheets in the past five games. You’ll be hanging your hat on the Saints to provide another, and there’s always a chance for a flurry of saves against the Blues.
How are you feeling as this mammoth double game week approaches? Do you have your strategy set? Be sure to take the poll below, and then share your thoughts along with any questions in the comments!
Which team is the most vital to load up with the maximum allotment of three players in DGW32?
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