FPL 2021/22: Early Chip Strategy Guide

In the following article, we discuss our early impressions on when is the best time to utilise the chips in FPL. Building on last week’s fixture analysis piece, we look at the potential weeks to wildcard. We also discuss the merits of a gameweek one bench boost and how to best use the triple captain and free hit.

In a game where gains can often be hard to come by, maximising the four chips (Wildcard, Free Hit, Bench Boost and Triple Captain) can be the difference between a good and a bad season.

While the effective value of a wildcard or free hit is very hard to measure, both can be hugely powerful if played correctly. The impact of the triple captain and bench boost is normally easier to quantify, although often hard to predict.

Since their introduction, Fantasy Premier League’s chips have been a never ending mix of excitement and controversy. They have the power to make (or break) your season, but it is true that we often place too much value in them and sometimes to the detriment of our teams.

Love or hate them, the chips are here to stay. Planning your squad around their usage is part of the fabric of FPL today and taking them lightly can have potentially disastrous consequences.

Clearly, we are still some way off being able to firmly decide on a strategy, but it does help to be prepared.

So without further a do, let’s explore the optimum time to deploy each of the chips.  

Wildcard

We’ll start with the chip that arguably gains you the most amount of fruit. While the other three chips can achieve you very high point totals in any given gameweek, the reality is they can often underwhelm.

As far as the wildcard is concerned,, you could make huge gains over several gameweeks, so determining when to deploy it could one of the most important decisions you are likely to make in FPL.

In my personal opinion, there are three opportunities that are viable for the deployment of the wildcard.

The first of these instances comes after gameweek three, which coincides with the first international break of the season.

Although this would mean you would left without the means to make significant changes from GW3 until the second wildcard becomes available, it allows you to potentially make a rapid start. There are a couple of teams, particularly Aston Villa, who have a really friendly opening period but who’s fixtures take a nasty turn shortly after.

On a similar note, Norwich’s fixtures take a turn for the better after GW3, if they show some promise in their first three games then some investment in the Canaries may be on the cards.

Arsenal are another side worth targeting. After playing Chelsea and Manchester City in their opening three, the Gunners go on a prolonged run of kind fixtures, so it would seem a prime opportunity to jump on their assets. If however you come out of GW3 fairly happy with the state of your squad it might be worth saving the chip for later dates, which we will explore below. 

The second occasion that stands out as an opportunity to wildcard is after GW7, which again precedes an international break. The reasons for this are very similar to those stated above for a GW3 wildcard. Again, there are some significant fixture changes following this gameweek.

Firstly, Manchester United embark upon a frankly brutal period following GW7. In their seven matches after this week, they play every one of their fellow ‘big six’ teams, along with Leicester. Couple this with the fact that the Champion’s League group stage begins around this time and will inevitably result in some rotation, it’s likely that getting off your United assets could be a priority.

Furthermore, Chelsea enter a period of four consecutive fixtures with a fixture difficulty rating of just two on the official FPL site. This could be the perfect opportunity in which to invest in their attackers and the likes of Kai Havertz (£8.5m) and, dare we say it, Timo Werner (£9.0m).

Leeds’ good run actually begins in GW5, but they are also likely to be a high priority for those who wildcard just a few weeks later. Their fixtures look ideal from an attacking perspective, and while many are likely to own Raphinha (£6.5m) from the off it is probably around this time that last season’s golden boy, Patrick Bamford (£8.0m), will enter our thoughts.

As referred to earlier, Arsenal’s run of decent fixtures carries on through this period and we’ll have more information by this point on which of their assets are most appealing.

Another reason for playing the wildcard at this time rather than GW3 is that we will have more clarity about emerging patterns. Those who wildcarded early last season won’t have particularly fond memories of players like Daniel Podence (£5.5m), Tariq Lamptey (£4.5m) and Phil Foden (£8.0m), to name but a few who performed well in the opening weeks but failed to maintain this form.

As such, waiting a few weeks to gain a better understanding of proceedings may be invaluable.

If you’d like a more in depth look at the fixture runs and which teams to target at various points, check out this article:

The third instance for activating the wildcard comes at the final possible opportunity, after GW18. There are a number of reasons for this.

Primarily, if you can hold out until this long without relenting to the temptation of getting rid of half of your team, chances are your team is in a pretty strong position.

Wildcarding at this time when the vast majority of managers will have already used it could give you a huge chance to to take some risks with the safety net of the second wildcard available soon after. Moreover, FPL’s resident fixtures guru, Ben Crellin, has pointed out that Chelsea could potentially have a triple gameweek in GW21.

While it is unlikely, as Ben mentioned, the mere prospect of this occurrence is mouthwatering and reason enough to want to resist the urge to wildcard earlier on. Even if this doesn’t transpire, they are guaranteed to have a double gameweek due to their participation in the FIFA Club World Cup, so it could be a prime time to invest in them.

All of the above options have their pros and cons, and while this sounds terribly cliche, ultimately it comes down to the state of each individual’s team. Naturally, if your team is a wreck come GW3, you’re inclined to use the chip instantly. If you find that you have started well then it becomes easier to put off wildcarding.

Bench Boost

I think its fair to venture that there aren’t many of us who can say our bench boosts were much of a success last season.

If anything, the chip proved to be more of a bust rather than a boost. Most of us will have played this chip in either DGW19 or DGW26 and on both occasions Leeds United in particular let us down. As a result of this, many managers have come into this season with a view to getting this chip out of the way so as not to have to worry about it in the future.

The idea of attempting a GW1 bench boost has long circulated around FPL Twitter. In theory, this does have its merits. Going for an ‘all in’ strategy where, you could for example, go triple Brighton defence might end up being successful and having momentum at the start of the season is immensely important.

Also, bench boosting with the wildcard still in your pocket means that it is easy to remove players if they do not live up to expectations, so you don’t have to have to put up with benching head aches every week. 

All of that being said, despite the farce of last season, the fact of the matter is that more games equals higher likelihood of scoring points, in other words we should wait for one of the big double gameweeks to activate the chip.

Ben Crellin has stated that GW36 is looking likely to be the biggest DGW of the season, so bench boosting in this gameweek could be optimal. It is generally accepted that your four weakest players getting two times two points on your bench boost makes it a success, so 16 points is usually the benchmark.

Notwithstanding the anomaly of last season, this is more likely to happen in a DGW than a regular GW. In addition, the recently concluded Euro 2020 may result in some players not being available for GW1, so you could find yourself without your full complement of 15.

Triple Captain and Free Hit

Harry Kane Popular England Football Player HD Wallpapers | HD Wallpapers

There is little debate to be had when it comes to the triple captain. Managers ostensibly wait for a double gameweek in which to use this chip. Harry Kane (£12.5m) in GW26 and GW32 was an especially popular choice last season. Rather like the bench boost, your prospects are far greater in a double gameweek compared to a single week for obvious reasons, unless of course, you’ve been a victim of Sadio Mane (£12.0m) or Leroy Sane in previous seasons.

The Free Hit chip is generally used in either a blank or double gameweek depending on your approach. Some use it as an opportunity to maximise a DGW, if a number of teams have favourable fixtures. Alternatively, and more commonly, it is also viable to use it in order to cover yourself in a blank gameweek.

More to come

We hope you enjoyed our first look at chip strategy for the 2021/22 Fantasy Premier League season. We have plenty more planned for pre season and will be publishing advice, team reveals and more strategy guides right up until the big kickoff.

Be sure to keep your eyes on the FPL Connect twitter page for all our latest releases, this season promises to be our biggest yet.

*Fixture data and tables obtained via the editor’s subscription to Fantasy Football Fix*

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