Fantasy Premier League Gameweek 24: tips and wildcard planning as Aston Villa face Man Utd
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Welcome back to our regular Fantasy Premier League advice column, where our high-flying fantasy head coach will take you through his thinking ahead of Gameweek 24 – and with a ton of new information on forthcoming double and blank gameweeks, this week’s column is a pretty big one packed with ideas on how to use your chips going forward.
Before we hand you over for some forward planning tips and transfer ideas, a reminder that your deadline for GW24 is 11:00 BST on Saturday 10 February, ahead of Everton’s trip to the Etihad. Make sure you don’t miss it!
The big decisions ahead
Hello everyone – this is maybe the most important advice column I’ll write this year, as we now have a huge amount of extra information about how double and blank gameweeks will shake out later in the season, thanks to the results of the FA Cup fourth round. Teams who make it to the sixth round will wind up with a blank in GW29 and will take the teams they would have played with them - and it looks increasingly likely that a whole bunch of teams will miss out. That shapes the way we’re going to use our free hit, wildcard and other chips going forward.
There are two main strategies for using your chips that I endorse, but before I take you through them I wanted to make a note of the addition of Liverpool and Luton Town to the miniature double week in GW25. Liverpool blank in GW26 but you should now prioritise hanging onto Liverpool assets until they’ve played their double, and we would be making a plan to bring Mohamed Salah back into the fold when he returns from injury as he could pick up a huge haul against Brentford and Luton.
I don’t recommend having more than two players from teams who are blanking in GW26 by the time we get there (and remember that includes Chelsea and Spurs too), so plan your transfer accordingly to have a max of four players from the blanking teams – so you can transfer two out that week. I also think Thomas Kaminski is a trap, despite him generating some social media hype because Luton also have a double in GW28. Luton simply don’t keep enough clean sheets, and I don’t love using a transfer on what would likely be a back-up goalkeeper going forward. Unless you have no other transfer needs, I’d swerve that one.
Anyway, let’s head back to the long view. Here’s the breakdown – a huge number of teams are likely to blank in GW29, as Bournemouth, Newcastle United, Chelsea and Liverpool have all been handed FA Cup games against lower-league teams while Manchester City play Luton. There is a very real chance that seven Premier League teams make it to the last eight, which would mean only six teams with a fixture in GW29.
As compensation, it’s strongly expected that we will end up with a huge double gameweek in GW37, right towards the end of the season, with a few doubles scattered around elsewhere in less predictable fashion. There are some reasonable doubts, but the overwhelming likelihood is that 29 and 37 and now the two gameweeks our planning will hinge around – and those are the weeks when we’ll need to make use of our chips to get the maximum out of our teams.
There are two main ways of navigating this, at least as far as I’m concerned, and the best way for you will depend on the make-up of your team, and how easily you can get yourself in a position to have 11 players on the field in GW29.
If that’s plausible for you, then you can use your transfer to move towards a functioning GW29 team, and then wildcard out of it in GW30. Spurs, West Ham, Burnley, Brentford, Fulham and Aston Villa are all guaranteed to play their games, so you would need to focus your transfers on those teams between here and 29.
If you do that, then you can snap back into a much stronger team for GW30 and save your free hit for GW34, which will most likely be another awkward week with some blanks and some doubles thanks to the FA Cup semi-finals. For GW37, you would plan to use your bench boost, having slowly moved your team as close as possible to having 15 players on doubles in the penultimate week of the season.
The advantage of this method is being able to maximise GW34, which is likely to be another awkward one. The disadvantage is that there is a big gulf between the team you want for GW25’s doubles, GW26’s blanks, and then GW29, and it will need some very careful planning and a little bit of luck to get there.
The other way to navigate things – and my preferred method as it stands – is to use the free hit chip on GW29, and otherwise to ignore it for planning purposes. This is easier, and allows us to maximise on 25 and 26 without making awkward compromises or taking possible minus fours when we make transfers.
I would then use my wildcard before GW37 – either for GW34 if it’s especially awkward or simply the week before if it isn’t – with the intention of bench boosting for maximum points in GW37, with 15 players playing twice. This is the path of least resistance, but also a very sensible plan which carries fewer major risks. One bad injury between GW25 and 29 could throw a massive spanner in the works when it comes to the first plan. The downside of the second path is that you arguably reduce the power of your wildcard in terms of the number of weeks it can affect, but if the stars align in such a way that you can use it for GW34, that isn’t necessarily true.
Either way, I think we’re getting close to the perfect time for the triple captain chip. GW34 might throw something up, but it seems unlikely to be substantially better than either Erling Haaland or Kevin De Bruyne against Brentford and Chelsea or Salah against Brentford and Luton.
Of course, all of this becomes rather tricky to work through if you’ve already burned your wildcard – simply put, this is a fine example of why you don’t do that. But if you were forced to, then I’d recommend going for a free hit in GW29 as it’s probably the single most awkward week to navigate otherwise.
Captain picks and injury updates
Of course, there’s also the small matter of GW24, which is happening this weekend, to worry about. With Manchester City doubling up next week and at home to Everton on Saturday, I’d certainly want to transfer into triple City this weekend if at all possible, although I’d also be planning my moves in such a way that I could bring Salah back in as triple captain should he be fit for next week – which is a very plausible scenario.
I’d also recommend skippering either Haaland or De Bruyne this weekend, given recent form – although Diogo Jota, who plays at home to Burnley, is a tempting alternative for those that have him. City players are the safe way to go, however.
Elsewhere, Ezri Konsa is out for a month, Lisandro Martínez is out for even longer, and Marc Guéhi and Oliksandr Zinchenko are doubts, so there will be quite a few people scrambling for a defender – City defenders have an obvious upside, as do Liverpool players, although their only worthwhile defenders are expensive and won’t play in GW26. A good safe, cheap squad filler right now could be Brighton centre-halves like Lewis Dunk or Jan Paul van Hecke. They will play, and have good fixtures in the near future. The same applies to Villa defenders like Pau Torres and Alex Moreno.
3 Added Minutes FC
Finally, a quick update on our example team, which has sadly slipped out of the Top 500 and down to around the 2,000 mark despite a 71-point week which comfortably eclipsed the global average. To make it even more painful, one thing you can’t see is our bench, which had 17-point Matheus Cunha in first position. Ouch.
Right now, I want to shed one of either Richarlison or Pedro Porro by the time GW26 rolls around, so I may plan to sacrifice the Brazilian striker for Salah if he returns in time for next week, and make transfer accordingly. The injury to Konsa is a nuisance, but not an urgent thing to fix as he wasn’t going to make the eleven this week anyway.
As a result of all this, even though I have two free transfers this time out, I will likely use just one on a City player – most likely Phil Foden. That probably means dropping Jarrod Bowen, but as always I will wait until the press conferences to make my decisions.
That’s all for this week – best of luck, and may all of your first bench players not score hat-tricks just to spite you. Honestly, that one really stings…