For those still aiming to have the Free Hit chip left in play from GW31+ onwards, you may now wish to plan for when you intend to deploy it.
With no further scheduled DGWs or blanks, the common strategy of free hitting to cover either scenario will have fallen by the wayside.
I shall therefore list the pros and cons of two particular gameweeks stand out in particular before coming to my own conclusion.
Gameweek 32+ Deadline Saturday 27th June 11:30am BST
A wonderful opportunity to navigate your FPL side around the toughest remaining fixture for each of the two best sides in the Premier League to date this season; Manchester City vs Liverpool on Thursday 2nd July.
- Last fixture to take place in the gameweek, a whole five days after the deadline. Bigger window of time in which a player could get injured.
- Unlikely that both the defensive and attacking assets from each team will obtain returns, thus reducing your likelihood of a high points score. For example, in this season’s reverse fixture in Gameweek 12 (Liverpool 3 – Man City 1), highly owned players at the time like TAA, Ederson, KDB and Aguero all blanked.
- A rare and golden chance in the season’s remainder to be different and make big gains. Remember that are no further doubles and blanks from GW31+ onwards. Most other FPL managers are very likely to own at least four assets like the above players from both sides given that each team has attractive fixtures either side of the gameweek:
- Other good sides like Wolves (possible early team news vs Aston Villa), Man Utd (vs Brighton), Arsenal (vs Norwich) and Chelsea (vs West Ham) all have decent fixtures in Gameweek 32+. An FPL side with multiple assets from each of those four teams is likely to be rare given that each club has a tricky fixture either before or after this gameweek. It would therefore be very acheivable to produce a strong Free Hit side in Gameweek 32 full of handy differentials.
- Early usage of the chip could pay off if season is curtailed later on due to the pandemic.
- Ownership of Liverpool and Manchester City FPL assets is very high for a reason; they each have fantastic goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders and forwards. FPL returns from over half of the six most popular players across both teams are still very feasible, even if unlikely as explained above. It is a gamble for sure.
- Why play a valuable chip when many potential players will be in FA cup action after the gameweek’s deadline and could therefore get injured before their league fixture days after?
- No leaked line-ups (aside from potentially Aston Villa vs Wolves) and powerless to take action on any injury news revealed in press conferences post-deadline.
- May pay off in waiting to deploy the free hit chip in case a fixture or two gets postponed in later gameweeks due to the pandemic. Such a situation would lead to a blank for some teams and a probable DGW later on in the season if the delayed fixtures can be rearranged.
Gameweek 38+ Deadline Sunday 26th July 2pm BST
Often touted in previous seasons as a very promising gameweek in which to deploy the free hit, what better time is there than to put this into action before the players hit the beach?
Year on year without fail, the last round of fixtures is high scoring with plenty of goals (think golden boot race), surprise results and more differentials than ever thanks to rotation and young debutants taking their chance to shine.
- Crucially, this is the only gameweek of the season in which ALL teams will kick off at the same time. Any team news and leaked line-ups can therefore be acted upon immediately and taken advantage off in free hit teams.
- Goals=points. In FPL, goals are worth more than clean sheets in terms of points. Goal difference and the golden boot race can play a massive part in this and expect that to be no different this season with the race seemingly being very, very open.
- Build your team up until then and know what you have to do to make up ground on any mini league rivals in the last gameweek. You will be aware of whether they have already played this chip or not. If they have not, you can target players who your rivals won’t be able to get easily in the hope that they perform really well and give you the chance to overtake. There are lowly-owned players who score fantastically well at the end of every season e.g. the respective hattricks of Theo Walcott in 2015 and Olivier Giroud in 2016 immediately spring to mind.
- Any earlier postponements from the pandemic, if even rearranged, are likely to fall into Gamweek 38+ due to the lack of time beforehand. This could therefore lead to potential doubles.
- Too little, too late. If you are not doing well, then this is the last chance to save your season and you are therefore heavily reliant on it coming to fruition.
- Season could be curtailed by this date due to pandemic.
- Other FPL managers will also be able to move for popular players and differentials for this particular gameweek with no need to worry about their set-ups for future gameweeks and player values. This is especially the case with two free transfers. This could effectively reduce the power of the free hit chip.
Conclusion or TL;DR
Beween Gameweeks 31-38+, I prefer to play my Free Hit chip in Gameweek 32+ because I think this gameweek, compared to the seven others, provides the biggest difference in terms of the upsides outweighing the downsides.
The chance to be greatly different to other FPL managers is even more enticing than usual now that there are no scheduled blanks or doubles during this period of the season, which is why it is one I am set to grab with both hands.