The week in Fantasy Premier League: Simple ways to avoid the pitfalls of blank Gameweeks

We're now at that point of the season where many FPL managers start to unveil their secret weapon to leapfrog their less prepared mini-league rivals.

It’s all due to the prospect of upcoming Blank Gameweeks (weeks where two or more teams won’t have a fixture) and Double Gameweeks (teams having two fixtures in one week).

Put simply, the idea is not to buy players until after their Blank Gameweeks, and instead wait until before their Double Gameweeks, thereby maximising their points potential.

It can all seem a little complicated at first, but with a little careful planning, starting right now, you can exploit any false sense of security your mini-league leader may be harbouring.

First things first - you need to make sure that you have 11 active players for GW26.

This isn’t as easy as it sounds - Southampton, Arsenal and both Manchester clubs miss out that week, taking some of the most highly-owned players in the game out of contention.

So check out the Custom Squad Planning Tool (click the calendar icon) on Fantasyfootballfix.com, or grab a pen and paper and get planning.

 

List your team, then cross out any Blank Gameweek players, along with any injured and/or out-of-favour players (your Amat’s, Pickford’s etc). Now - do you have 11 players to choose from, in a valid formation? If not, you’ll need your next transfers to sort it out.

Keep in mind also that just two weeks later, we’ll have another round of blanks to contend with.

 

Then, after GW28 has passed, the tantalising prospect of Double Gameweeks galore awaits - and if you’ve kept your wildcard and chips, bumper Gameweeks of 100 points or more are not uncommon.

 

Here’s the takeaway:

  • Make sure you have 11 players for both GW26 and, if possible, GW28. Everton, West Brom, Bournemouth, West Ham, Hull and Swansea players all play both weeks.
  • Avoid adding Man United, City, Arsenal and Southampton players to your squad until after GW26.
  • Try to save a free transfer for GW29 to buy players with future Double Gameweeks.
  • Don’t play your wildcard or chips until GW29 at the earliest.

 Players to blank-proof your squad

As players from those four teams with a blank GW26 drift from our transfer thoughts, the question now is - who to bring in?

Certainly, players from those “safe six” teams are appealing, so let’s have a look at them.

Bournemouth: The Cherries’ defence hasn’t been the same since the loss of Nathan Ake, conceding to both Hull at Watford. Daniels (BOU, 5.3) still offers some attacking threat though, and Stanislas (BOU, 5.3) remains an exciting midfield differential.

Everton: With 27 points in his last two matches, Seamus Coleman (EVE, 5.6) is emerging as a favourite pick as the Toffees gather momentum. Romelu Lukaku (EVE, 9.6) divides opinion, but remains the focal point of their attack.

Swansea: The Swans made a real statement of intent against Liverpool - were we too quick to write off the likes of Gylfi Sigurdsson (SWA, 7.2) and Fernando Llorente (SWA, 6.2)?

West Brom: The 300,000+ FPL managers who brought in Matt Phillips (WBA, 5.9) for GW21 have been disappointed with his five-point return, but his general play shows promise. Elsewhere Chris Brunt (WBA, 5.0) has become a veritable FPL cult hero lately.

Hull: Obviously Robert Snodgrass (HUL, 5.5) is at the centre of most of Hull’s attacking play and is the only Hull player worth considering.

Oh, hang on a minute...

West Ham: Robert Snodgrass (WHU, 5.5) could be an outstanding value pick, provided he shakes off that muscle injury and assumes free-kick duties.

 

Sam Byram (WHU, 4.2) is also one for the watchlist - if the 23-year-old right-back can keep his place ahead of Havard Nordtveit and the returning Alvaro Arbeloa, that pricetag suddenly becomes very tempting - especially with the arrival of Jose Fonte to shore up the Hammers’ defence.

 

Scratching around for transfer window bargains

Let’s be honest - it’s hardly been a transfer window for the ages so far, has it?

Even the rumour mill has little to get the pulse racing, but who knows? It could yet be worth saving that free transfer for when the dust settles at 11pm on Tuesday night.

Having said that, we have seen the emergence of some mildly interesting prospects, from a FPL perspective.

Saido Berahino (STO, 6.0) could be soon added to the growing list of viable cheap third strikers, and at just 0.5% ownership, could bring rich rewards for early adopters.

A rumoured move for Arouna Kone (EVE, 5.1) to Sunderland may offer an interesting option for 3-5-2 devotees, who continue to make a pretty convincing case for it.

Perhaps the most intriguing rumour is that reported £25m bid for Wilfried Zaha (CRY, 5.5) from Tottenham. Should be become a starter for Spurs at just £5.5m in FPL, he won’t be a bandwagon - try juggernaut.

 

 

QUICK TIP

Don’t take those new fixture difficulty ratings on the official FPL site completely at face value, especially when it comes to attacking players.

For instance, with just four clean sheets in the league this season, does the prospect of facing Man City at home really merit a 4?

Make your own determination based on form, injuries etc.

 

BUY

With Burnley safely out of that tricky run of fixtures, Andre Gray (BUR, 6.2) is poised to offer great value for his owners in the coming weeks. The penalty-taker is coming into some good form, and is relatively fresh following his “winter break” of sorts, courtesy of some ill-advised Twitter activity.

Andy Carroll (WHU, 6.3) is another in-form option for those happy to stick with 3-4-3, but Gray just about gets the nod, for me.

 

TRY

Remember when the idea of spotting a first-team defensive midfield enabler for £4.4m was so appealing, you had to get him in straight away? Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Swansea’s Tom Carroll - an attacking midfielder - for £4.2m.

A massive tip of the hat to those who spotted him before his electrifying performance against Liverpool, by the way…

 

GOODBYE

Similarly, there was a time when £5.1 for a Man City goalkeeper would seem like a bargain. This is not one of those times.

The much-maligned Claudio Bravo (MCI, 5.1) has been a disaster at City this season, second only to teammate John Stones.

Unless Pep can swallow his pride and make a surprise move for a new keeper in the transfer window, it looks like Bravo, and consequently rest of the City defence, will remain a no-go area for FPL managers.

 

Top of the League

We have a new name at the top of the Official Irish Examiner League (join code: 251768-521616)!! Micheàl Nevins finally paid the price for some disappointing Gameweek scores, tumbling to sixth overall after last week’s 35-pointer. Hopper Delaney’s Atletico are now the team to beat with an impressive 1,302 points and all available chips yet to play.


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