In this weekly series, we pair off potential ‘hot’ picks against alternative ‘not’ picks, in an attempt to help you find the next haul and avoid the next trap for your Fantasy Premier League Squads. Here, we preview Gameweek 24.
With Gameweek 24 fast approaching we are edging closer to discovering the long awaited fixtures that will make up Double Gameweek 26 and Blank Gameweek 29, with the FA Cup fifth round taking place this coming week.
As announced last week, GW24 is in fact now a double gameweek in its own right, with Man City, Everton, Burnley and Fulham all playing twice.
- Manchester City vs. Spurs (H) & Everton (A)
- Everton vs. Fulham (H) & Man City (H)
- Burnley vs. Palace (A) & Fulham (H)
- Fulham vs. Everton (A) & Burnley (A)
The debate for FPL managers in the coming days will be how best to maximise points potential in GW24, without compromising the double gameweeks that follow in GW25 and GW26.
For those following the GW25 wildcard strategy it will be much easier to attack doubles in GW24 with no consideration of making long term moves.
For anyone attempting a post-DGW26 wildcard strategy it will be difficult to have the optimal gameweek 24 side – compromise will have to be made.
In this week’s ‘Hot or Not’ we will take a look at the best picks for GW24 with both wildcard strategies in mind, while also highlighting the tempting assets that may be best avoided.
1. Pope vs. Mee/Tarkowski/Lowton
First we look at arguably the best pick for those dead-ending their team in GW24, with a view to wildcarding in GW25.
Nick Pope (£5.5m) has become FPL royalty in recent seasons, his heroics in goal for Burnley have yielded a high volume of save and bonus points.
Given Burnley don’t score many, Pope is usually in line to haul whenever the Clarets earn a clean sheet and often exceeds the regulation two points when they don’t.
Only Aston Villa’s Emi Martinez (£5.2m) can better Pope’s points tally (116 vs. 102), but the Burnley stopper has the league’s most double digit hauls (5).
Goalkeeper transfers are not usually high on an FPL manager’s ‘to do’ list, however GW24 is likely to be a week where exceptions are made.
With Burnley now having a favourable double, featuring matches away to Crystal Palace and at home to Fulham, there looks to be potential upside in switching keepers.
Nick Pope is the league’s best keeper (of those with regular minutes) for expected goals prevented (xGP), with an average of 0.27 xGP per 90 minutes and a total xGP of 5.90 for the season.
He is also one of the best for saves per 90 minutes, with his average of 3.87 ranking third overall, only behind Sam Johnstone (£4.5m) and Illan Meslier (£4.7m).
Since their GW10 loss to Man City, Burnley have only conceded twice or more in three matches, shaking off the slow start that saw them struggle to pick up points.
In goalkeeping terms Pope has a high ceiling and thanks to his side’s approach, the risk of losing points for goals conceded is low.
On the face of things Burnley’s stats don’t read well, their 115 total shots and 75 shots in the box (SiTB) conceded over the last six gameweeks puts them bottom of all teams.
This translates slightly better when looking at minutes per xGC, their 62.8 puts them sixth from bottom and level with Villa and Spurs.
Burnley are a defence that gets regularly tested but ultimately this is what gives Pope his value, with the high volume and varying quality of shots he faces allowing for plenty of saves.
The risk with looking outside of Pope and going for one of his colleagues is that none of them offer enough goal or assist threat to cover a clean sheet blowout.
Ben Mee (£5.0m), James Tarkowski (£5.3m) and Matt Lowton (£4.4m) have all been touted as potential options for DGW24.
The fact that Mee’s 4.3 points per match is the highest of all Burnley defenders yet significantly lower than Pope’s 4.85, says it all.
Burnley’s style of play doesn’t encourage their defenders to play out from the back, therefore reducing passing bonus, nor does it encourage the full backs to push high enough to provide regular assist potential.
Mee and Tarkowski are known to have set piece threat, their season-wide expected goals (xG) per 90 minutes of 0.9 and 0.10 respectively compares well with even more expensive assets.
However, this only suggests an average of three or four goals per season, meaning trying to predict when they score will be a difficult task.
Pope has to be the priority. His consistency and ability to pick up save points even in defeats makes him very low risk.
While Burnley defenders offer good value, they are probably better suited to complementing Pope, rather than covering him.
The double up looks appealing for DGW24 and it’s certainly not something that should be discouraged, but for those with only one transfer spare then Pope is likely the optimal choice.
With Fulham and Palace offering little in attack of late (both are in the bottom five for xG in the last six weeks), DGW24 looks prime for Pope to return well.
Despite playing West Brom in GW25, this is likely a short term move, with Burnley’s run after looking difficult.
However, as a one or two week punt that you can then wildcard out, Nick Pope looks absolutely ideal.
2. Slam Dunk? Or Better Alternatives?
Our second hot pick this week looks perfect for those planning to wildcard around GW30 or 31.
Lewis Dunk (£4.8m) normally finds his way into FPL teams at some point in any given season, his eye for goal and Brighton’s good underlying defensive numbers make for a potential goldmine.
In fact, Brighton have started to convert their excellent statistics into results on the pitch, with four clean sheets in their last five.
Their expected goals conceded per 90 minutes (xGC/90) for the last six gameweeks is 94.2, less than a goal per game.
Dunk has scored all three of his goals this season in the last nine gameweeks, his total now only bettered by the out of position Stuart Dallas (£4.8m) and out of favour Kurt Zouma (£5.5m).
Dunk’s six shots in the box in his last six matches is joint second best in the league.
We are dealing with a player who is among the most threatening in the division, playing in a defence that is at last delivering on its potential.
There will be temptation to shop around, after all it has taken until now for Brighton to get into gear, it wouldn’t be unfair to be cautious.
There are options available, the returning Jannik Vestergaard (£4.7m) presents goal threat equal to Dunk’s and Southampton have forged a reputation as a tough side to beat in recent years.
However, with five defeats in a row and a likely tough double-double of Chelsea and Leeds (GW25) and Everton and Spurs (GW26), it is difficult to predict whether this form is likely to turn in the short term.
A move for the powerful Dane relies on the assumption that Saints’ recent downturn has come as a result of missing one of their key men. A potentially good pick, but one laced with uncertainty.
The fact that Dunk is the fifth highest scoring defender under £5m despite 80% of his clean sheets coming after GW19 onward, illustrates that when in a good run there are few that can match him.
Brighton play to their captain’s strengths also, their 7.11 xG from set plays ranks fifth best this season.
The opportunity will always be there for Dunk to thrive while his teammates continue to create from deadball situations.
Players like Matt Targett (£4.8m) and the aforementioned Dallas are providing similar value to Dunk but both are far higher owned among FPL’s top 10,000 managers (11.3% and 31%).
Dunk at 0.8% represents the opportunity to pick a legitimate differential, at his price it would be easy to partner him with Dallas or Targett as well.
The appeal of picking Dunk for a GW30/31 wildcard strategy is that Brighton will likely play in blank gameweek 29, assuming they lose to Leicester in the FA Cup.
The Seagulls also have a great single GW26 fixture against West Brom.
Despite not having a second fixture that week returns look likely for Dunk and co versus the side ranked bottom of this season’s xG and xGC charts.
The fixtures around the blank and double weeks are favourable too, with a home tie vs. rivals Crystal Palace and an away trip to shot-shy Southampton the pick of the bunch.
Their GW29 fixture, assuming it is played, is against Newcastle and should Brighton progress in the cup they will then likely double in GW26 against West Brom and the Magpies.
Dunk’s appeal is further boosted by Brighton’s strong home form, with four of their next six matches being played at the Amex stadium.
Brighton rank second best for SiTB conceded at home this season, only topped by Man City.
With the introduction of Robert Sanchez (£4.5m) in goal Brighton have steadily become a reliable defence, with five of their six clean sheets coming after the Spaniard’s debut.
The signs are good that this upward trend will continue and with a favourable fixture run ahead Dunk has potential to be a huge differential.
*Underlying statistics and tables obtained via the author’s paid subscription to Fantasy Football Scout*