I provide my justifications for and explore the viability of, using the Free Hit chip for GW10, or any single gameweek, as an alternative Fantasy Premier League strategy to using it in a blank gameweek
Ladies and gentlemen, I have activated my ‘Free Hit’ chip this week.
Particularly for those who aren’t high in overall rank right now, I believe this week could be a brilliant time to play the new ‘Free Hit’ chip that we’ve been provided with this year and here’s what my team currently looks like (although it’s likely to change several times before the deadline);
In the rest of this article, I will provide the justifications for my decision and explore the benefits and drawbacks of using the Free Hit chip in a single gameweek and a blank gameweek.
No Clear-Cut Captain Candidate
Lukaku: 53.7% ownership, Vs Spurs (H)
Whilst undeniably consistent so far this year, Lukaku hasn’t exactly been captain material in the last 4 games, where he’s scored 7, 6, 2, 5 FPL points. This against teams that Lukaku should be putting away with ease and now he faces a defence that really know how to defend, but more than that, Mourinho knows how to shut these ‘bigger’ games down – like he did at Liverpool where Lukaku got 1 sniff at goal and fluffed it, aside from that chance, he looked completely isolated and I can see the same happening again on the weekend. Mourinho will look to play a slow, controlled game and I can see this being a low-scoring one, which doesn’t bode well for Lukaku.
Kane: 41.9% ownership, Vs Man United (A)
I had a justification here, but now Kane has officially been confirmed OUT of the United match with a minor hamstring injury – the only justification that’s needed.
Salah: 32.5% ownership, Vs Huddersfield (H)
Now you might argue that this is a stand-out captain option this week, but I would argue against that. Huddersfield have just come off the back of a monumental win against United and they will be well and truly up for another massive game at Anfield. They will come to Anfield and sit deep, this will restrict the space for Salah to make the kind of run in behind the defence that he did for his goal against Spurs on the weekend. Liverpool also historically struggle to put the so called ‘weaker’ teams away at Anfield and with them just taking a hammering at Wembley, I’m predicting either a low-scoring win or for Huddersfield to knick something. Either way, I don’t see it as a game with lots of goals for Liverpool, perhaps only if they get a goal early on, then perhaps they could blow them away and that’s why I’ve included both Salah and Coutinho, but I’m not overly confident of it happening.
Jesus: 21% ownership, and Agüero: 14.8% ownership, Vs WBA (A)
Guessing the City line-up each week is really starting to become an issue for us FPL managers and it’s because of this I don’t see either Jesus or Agüero as a solid captaincy choice this week, as many managers will tell you through experience last gameweek. Jesus came off early in the Carabao cup on 81 minutes, after being a surprise inclusion in Pep’s team before Sterling and Agüero, who both played 120 minutes. Again, it’s a guess, but for me, Jesus starts and Agüero is on the bench for the weekend with Jesus coming off around the hour mark for Agüero. Captaining a player who’s either liable to rotation or being taken off early, is never a good option in my opinion, regardless of how well the player is playing, so a no-go for either of these for me.
Morata: 16.6% ownership, Vs Bournemouth (A)
Before his injury, I’d probably have no doubt whatsoever advocating this man as a fantastic captain candidate this week, but since coming back from injury, he’s looked a little rusty and last week he was poor, before being substituted on the hour mark for Batshuayi, who went on to pretty much win Chelsea the game with his brace. I still think he’ll start and is a good choice this week, but it’s not clear-cut in my eyes as, if he doesn’t perform, he’ll be hooked off early for Batshuayi who seems to play the impact Striker role perfectly with his late goals from the bench.
This leaves one man…Embed from Getty Images
Alexis Sánchez: 2.3% ownership, Vs Swansea (H)
Alexis is well and truly back, and to his best it would seem. Against Everton, he had 11 penalty area touches, fired in 7 shots, 4 of which were inside the box, as well as a minutes per attempt ratio of 12.9, oh and don’t forget the goal and assist! Whilst Swansea have been very solid, defensively, away from home, the Gunners have been very good in attack at the Emirates with 11 goals, 85 goal attempts, 13 big chances created – only City (31) and United (16) have created more – and have the second best ‘minutes per chance’ ratio (4.4) behind only Liverpool (4). Sánchez will be the key instigator in the majority of their attacking play and now they have Lacazette, Sánchez and Özil all now playing together, I can’t see anything other than a Sánchez haul.
Given the ridiculously low ownership, as well as everything mentioned above, a Sánchez haul this weekend with the armband on him would provide a huge overall rank boost on it’s own, let alone creating a whole other 10 players just for this gameweek to compliment it.
Fixture Changes/Avoiding Hits
I own Kane and Davies who have a poor fixture this week (United away), who then have a gorgeous fixture the following week (Palace at home).
With so many getting rid of Davies over the last few weeks, having Davies for the visit of Palace – a game he should play with Rose being slowly re-introduced after such a long time in the injury room – will be brilliant, as the potential for a big score in that game is very good.
Also, tripling up on Arsenal just for this plum fixture is perfect, as very few to no managers will have triple Arsenal assets, given that the fixtures after Swansea are looking pretty grim.
Furthermore, in a week where many are considering taking hits, with the fluctuations in personnel week to week at City, Davies missing out a lot through mystery illnesses and the return of Rose, the impressive performances/form of Brazilian talent Richarlison, as well as the fixture swings for the likes of Arsenal, Spurs and United after GW11, I can avoid taking the hit I was looking at, before hitting the Free Hit button.
Single Gameweek (SGW) Vs Blank Gameweek (BGW)
The general consensus amongst FPL experts and boffins, is that using the Free Hit chip in a BGW would be the most efficient way to use it.
For those that aren’t sure what ‘blank gameweeks’ are, they’re gameweeks where some teams don’t play due to them getting to the latter stages of tournaments, usually the FA Cup.
What has happened before this new chip, was that we would attempt to form a transfer strategy to navigate the BGW, once the fixtures had been confirmed for the cups and the teams had been identified to miss a certain GW.
This usually involved using our precious free transfers, or taking hits to bring in those who would play in the BGW for those who would miss out. The problem with this, is that after that, you’d be stuck with players that you didn’t want from that point onwards.
So, you would have to make numerous transfers going into the BGW and then make numerous transfers to tidy your team up after the BGW had passed, which usually involves hits.
With the Free Hit however, we wouldn’t need to use any of our free transfers or take hits whatsoever.
Convenience wise, this does make the most sense and if I was high in overall rank, I would definitely be using it in a BGW and I advocate to those who are doing well to hold the Free Hit chip precisely for that, but for those that aren’t, I think you can definitely have success with it in a SGW to give you an overall rank boost.
I think the ceiling for potential total points is higher for using it in a SGW, as ALL of the teams are involved in a SGW, whereas in a BGW, you’re limited for choice, as some teams will miss out and these teams are invariably good teams, as it’s the better teams that usually make it to the latter stages of tournaments.
When you look at the overall picture however, the longer term benefits of using the chip in a BGW probably just outweigh using it in a SGW, as you can save yourself many free transfers and hits, whereas, I will now have to use my free transfers and probably take hits to navigate the BGW.
The predicted outcomes of both these strategies are just conjecture however – we can’t ever really know for certain what the best way to use it is, as it ultimately comes down to luck i.e., which teams are/aren’t involved in the BGW (which we can’t know until it’s announced much later down the line), how the players/teams perform on the actual day etc.
It might work and it might not, but in my current predicament (2.4m overall rank), I need a boost and I think based on the above rationale, this is a good week for it.
Good luck to all for GW10 and once again, thanks for reading.