After ten seemingly endless months of staring at phone screens and poring over transfer possibilities, the Fantasy Premier League season is finally at an end. By Sunday evening leagues will be won, humiliations complete, and bragging rights firmly earned.
Now is the time to keep across your differentials, use up those last transfers and try to configure your best possible team - no more doubles, no more forward planning, no more chips (well, unless you forgot one somewhere…).
We’ll kick off our strategy guide for Gameweek 38 with the latest injury news, suggest a couple of ideas for your captain, and then - with strategy basically going out of the window and short-term hauls the only remaining goal - we’ll throw a few wildcard asset ideas at you for the very last match of the season.
Injuries and armbands
Quite a few important players are already planning their beach holidays thanks to injuries - and a lot of fresh doubts have emerged thanks to a combination of managers preferring to be cautious and players perhaps inventing mysterious illnesses so they don’t mess up their chances of a big-money transfer. And a few people who just can’t be bothered, presumably.
Definitely out, barring remarkable recoveries, are Gabriel Martinelli, Nick Pope, Joe Willock, and of course Ivan Toney. Important players with some chance of missing out include (deep breath) Rodrigo, Philip Billing, Darwin Núñez, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Mateo Kovačić, Jesse Lingard, Danilo, Patrick Bamford, Jack Grealish, Marcus Rashford, Aymeric Laporte, Rúben Neves and Manuel Akanji. Phew.
Needless to say, key players from the three teams at threat of relegation are rather more likely to play than, say, Manchester City players who would rather spend their time wrapped up in cotton wool until the Champions League and FA Cup finals - so if you have any of the City players mentioned, it’s safe to assume their minutes will be limited at best.
As for the captaincy, with Erling Haaland likely to ease off the pedal a little against Brentford, we’d recommend Mohamed Salah, if you have him - Liverpool may or may not have anything to play for, depending on Manchester United’s result against Chelsea, but they’re playing Southampton, which is usually a guarantee of a goal or two. Or nine, of course.
We’d also pick Bruno Fernandes out as a good call, with Fulham more or less on the beach already ahead of the trip to Old Trafford. If you do fancy a City player, Kevin de Bruyne and Riyad Mahrez are probably your best bets, but with some many knocks and crocks, Cole Palmer is as likely to get minutes as either of them - so proceed with caution.
Five final day wildcards
A lot of people reading this will be understandably desperate for a differential - so here are five low-ownership, high-risk players we’d consider if we needed to pluck something out of leftfield. Needless to say, none of these players come with anything approaching a guarantee, but very few of your opponents will have them, so these could be the kind of gambles you need to take.
1. Julio Enciso
A bit feast or famine in his increasingly regular cameos, but with the season all but over, Roberto De Zerbi is likely to give his young Paraguayan forward another chance to repeat the trick he showed off against Manchester City on Wednesday night - and he’s scored in both of his past two starts. An away day at Aston Villa is not, admittedly, the easiest way to end a campaign, but Brighton don’t seem likely to sit back and relax.
2. Harvey Barnes
Suggesting a midfielder with 12 goals may seem like stating the obvious, but only 1.4% of FPL teams have the Leicester wideman in. He was dropped for the turgid draw away to Newcastle United, but with nothing less than a win acceptable against West Ham United, he will surely play and will surely be thrown into an all-out assault on the goal - and he’s Leicester’s most likely.
3. Julián Álvarez
Hardly a complete wildcard, and indeed one of the most heavily transferred-in players of the gameweek so far, but don’t forget that rest and rotation ahead of the impending cup finals all but guarantee him some gametime - and his goals per minute ratio is excellent. If other players in your league sleep on the Argentine, he could be a huge differential in the final week.
It’s easy to forget that Rodrigo was the highest-scoring player in the game before injury substantially stunted his season, but he’s looking back to his best with two goals and an assist in his last three games. He’s down as an injury doubt for the final game, but with Leeds United in dire straits, it would take a missing limb to keep him off the field. Leeds need a hero, and nobody else is more likely to play the part.
5. Alejandro Garnacho
United battered Chelsea 4-1 on Thursday night to confirm Champions League qualification, then they will give anyone who needs a break a decent chance to put their feet up before the FA Cup final. That means that bit-part players like Garnacho will start where the Rashfords of the world will be up in the stands nursing an ice pack - and Garnacho has always been good for a goal when he gets some game time.
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Right, that’s it for this week - and indeed this season. We’ll be back before the kick-off of the next campaign to help you plan the perfect team and with other, similarly dazzling FPL pre-season content, but for now we wish you the very best of luck - and may all your opponents’ players be on the beach with a margarita come Sunday afternoon.