Our favorite sport of football is coming back this month! That’s right, the much-awaited restart of the Premier League’s 2019-20 season will finally arrive on June 17.
English top-flight football has been absent since March, placed on pause along with virtually all other professional sports due to the pandemic. But society has begun to re-open, and our football will be back in just a matter of days. It will be different, no doubt, but safety must come first. And at the end of the day, we’re just happy to finally watch our favorite teams and players performing live on our televisions (and earning fantasy points) again!
Which means we have to get our strategies in place! With “Project Restart” altering the landscape of the remaining campaign — cups remain on hold, and each team will play two league game-weeks per calendar week until the season is complete — we may need to implement new thinking and tactics.
For instance, FPL recently announced that all fantasy managers will be granted free unlimited transfers ahead of GW 30+! In other words, FPL managers will be able to begin Project Restart with the same transfer freedom last enjoyed prior to the season’s first kick, and that’s in addition to any chip you might play in our first week back!
This unusual set of circumstances has significant implications for how managers should play their remaining FPL chips. Below we outline logical strategies to follow depending on which chips you still have available.
The first decision point hinges on whether you have a Wild Card left. Remember that FPL grants managers two WCs per season, one that must be played in the first half of the campaign, and another that can only be played in the second half. A manager with a WC in his pocket is free to pile into as many DGW players as she likes for DGW 30, comfortable in the knowledge that she can then use the WC to rebalance ahead of GW 31. If you are in this camp, jump ahead to the Bench Boost section.
Managers without a remaining WC will need to be more judicious in their approach to DGW players, since they will have more difficulty rebalancing for GW 31. If you have no Wild Card left to play, proceed to the Free Hit section.
Managers who have no Wild Card available but are content with how their current squads are set up for the run-in may want to employ their Free Hit chips for GW 30+.
Were these managers to take advantage of the unlimited free transfers to overweight their GW 30+ squads towards DGW players, then their GW 30+ teams would become permanent and they would have no Wild Cards to subsequently rebalance them.
By Free Hitting instead, these managers can still max out on DGW players for GW 30+, but their squads will then revert back to GW-29. Assuming that squad was previously positioned well for the run-in, that’s a good play, but it misses out completely on the power of unlimited free transfers going into GW-30.
As a side note, I was briefly enamored with the notion of using free unlimited transfers to finalize a team geared toward GW-31 and then using the Free Hit chip to play a temporary squad geared toward GW 30+. But it turns out the FH chip doesn’t work that way. After the Free Hit week, your squad reverts back to what it looked like coming out of the prior game week*, rather than to what your most recent saved team looked like.
Managers with no Wild Card and no Free Hit should use the unlimited free transfers to create a squad that works well for GW 30+ and beyond, of course.
* And the prior GW in this case is uncertain. By rights it should be the empty GW-38 for those who stayed with the game and used free transfers each week during the shutdown. But the coming week is not GW-39; it is GW-30, and programmers being programmers, the prior GW might be GW-29! Look to the comments for debate and possible reports relayed from FPL Q&A.
Because unlimited free transfers or a Free Hit is available to everyone ahead of GW 30+, and because GW 30+ looks to be the only remaining DGW of the campaign, we believe that most managers should play their Bench Boost chip in GW 30+ if they still have it available.
Here’s why: Although the Triple Captain chip effectively gives you an extra five games if you put the armband on a DGW player, you still have a maximum of just 26 player-games even if all ten of your other players are also DGW players.
On the other hand, the Bench Boost chip allows for a total of 29 player-games during GW 30+. Your captain, assuming he is a DGW player, offers four, while 11 other DGW players would give you 22 (you can have no more than three players from each of the four DGW teams). Your remaining 3 SGW players would give you, well, three.
Managers who play their Bench Boost chip in GW 30+ and can later use a Wild Card are free to load up on DGW players, while those who don’t have a WC available should build a squad of players who will all get minutes in GW30+, but who will also set the manager up to be successful in GW 31 and beyond.
FPL does not allow the use of two chips during the same game week. While we prefer the Bench Boost chip for GW 30+, managers who do not have a BB but do have a Triple Captain chip should TC their most promising Arsenal, Aston Villa, Manchester City, or Sheffield United asset for the the DGW.
Similarly, if you are unable to build a GW 30+ team of 12 DGW players and 3 SGW players who all have a high probability of substantial minutes and solid returns, then TC is probably the way to go even if you still have the BB chip in your pocket.
While we have attempted to lay out a logical approach to FPL chip usage over the run-in, it isn’t possible to account for every possible scenario and several caveats apply. For instance, we all know that betting on DGW players can turn out to be a bust. Sometimes they simply underperform, other times they fall victim to injury, rotation, or early substitution.
On the subject of substitution, remember that EPL clubs will be allowed five per game for the rest of the season, instead of the usual three. In the midst of the upcoming fixture congestion, this could make it less likely that your expensive stud fantasy player sees the full 90 in every match. On the other hand, it could also turn players who fill a super-sub role into viable options, especially if you have a Bench Boost chip in play.
Given that the league has gone dark for the last three months, it’s also possible that we won’t have a full understanding of each club’s fitness situation, especially since the transfer deadline for GW 30+ will expire days ahead of the kickoffs for the teams who have only a single game that week. Expect unreported injuries, surprise benchings, etc. Many of those GW 30+ pre-match press conferences will come much too late to benefit FPL managers!
These kinds of uncertainties, along with the ever-present possibility of positive COVID tests, might even persuade you that a GW 30+ Bench Boost on a squad full of DGW players is not as likely to pay off as a straightforward bet on a GW 30+ Triple Captain. We can’t argue with that line of thinking!
Finally, managers who use unlimited free transfers to transform their GW30+ rosters could end up sacrificing discounts on players they may not be able to afford to buy back later. But keep in mind that no prize is awarded for highest team value, and we are getting late in the season to regard discounts as precious.
When was the last time you even looked at your fantasy teams? How long has it been since you made any adjustments to your lineups? Who do you think will get you maximum points in GW 30+? What players are you planning to transfer in? What FPL chips do you still have? Please let us know your strategies and tactics for the remaining fixtures in the comment section below!