Chips Please

This time last year, I entered the later part of the FPL season with all but my Triple Captain Chip. This year, I’ve done one better and have held that TC to go around with allotted second Wild Card, Bench Boost and Free Hit chips. FPL managers continue to watch and wait to see where the blank games will fit into the congested Premier League schedule. This is when the insight and percentages of Ben Crellin come into play. As I wrote earlier in the week in Addicted vs Don’t Care, “I couldn’t continue pumping countless hours into FPL.” While that still remains a fact as of this writing, I have taken some time, to piece together my opinion on chip strategy.

I don’t consider myself a pundit or so-called “expert” when it comes to FPL. I haven’t read any chip strategy articles or listened to some of the podcasts I used to frequent, but know those guys do a good job putting together options for the community to consider. Let me lead by saying, there is no “one size fits all” strategy when it comes to activating chips. I still remember the first season I played and before the mid-season, I had burned all my chips. Chalk that up to a learning experience, but as I got more involved in the community, I realized there was a method to the chip madness.

This season, holding all my chips until late allow me the benefit of having unlimited options as to their activation. A stick I use to measure my success is the top 1000 FPL managers and the data at Fantasy Football Fix, once of the few sites  I still use for the statistics generated.

  • 69.0% – have not played the second wild card
  • 54.8% – have not played the free hit chip
  • 61.8% have not played the free hit chip
  • 30.9% have not played the triple captain chip

Those are some pretty health numbers when it comes to managers with the discipline to hold their chips in an attempt to climb the OR with a late season push.  As late as GW33 I was peaking over the fence at the top 10k, but four out of five red arrows to finish the season didn’t help me final OR of 31k.

GW29 & GW31 – Roll of the Dice

I haven’t been swayed by the Twitter trolls to buy in on the DGW that will see Manchester City and Arsenal feature twice in GW29. Currently, the only player I own from either team is Kevin De Bruyne, ahead of GW29 is flagged due to a shoulder injury. Can we count on him to play? Fuck if I know. I know we can’t trust the words coming out of Pep’s mouth. I decided to hold the midfield maestro because there were no other good options that would see me through GW31. More importantly, I couldn’t bring myself to transfer him out for an unproven, Ismaila Sarr, who has one good week all season long, returning from injury.

There were thoughts to move on Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka (£4.6), as a cost savings move, but since the Gunners don’t feature in GW31, I couldn’t justify the transfer, as there is no guarantee he plays both games. Then again, it’s FPL there are no guarantees at all, are there? Nicolas Pépé (£9.2) was another name on my list, but like Saka, I couldn’t justify his inclusion because of GW31. As for the highly priced, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, his price was too restrictive and would have caused me unnecessary hits to get him into my squad for just two weeks.

Gameweek 31 is interesting, as MANY managers posted big scores last season, riding Crystal Palace and Liverpool players in a season-high 120 point week on the back of teams blanking. What will we see this season, as the Reds lead eight teams out that weekend, one that should see Mo Salah the most highly captained player, as many will own three players from Liverpool. GW31 had the possibility of chip activation; wild card? Maybe free hit? Much like GW29, I couldn’t justify the activating as many FPL managers will go into that game week with triple Liverpool (vs CRY) and Wolves (vs BOU) players. There just aren’t enough players to pull from, if you need to make this wild card last through GW34 or GW37.

I decided I will build for GW31 using free transfers, which might include a -4 point hit for GW31 to bring my team to a full starting XI. That hit is fact, as I might run out 10 players and hold KDB, even hosting Liverpool the following week. I don’t believe the data, unlike Twitter supports moving KDB for Ismaila Sarr, which seems to be quite popular, after the Watford winger posted 19 points against Liverpool, in a 3-0 Watford victory. The Hornets are still near the bottom of the league in goal attempts (320), shots on target (89), goals (27) and a league worst 27.8% shot accuracy.

GW33 – Wild Card

After doing some research and updating my “Beautiful Mind” spreadsheet, the data tells me GW33 works the best for my teams to active my second wild card, keeping an eye towards GW34 and the small potential of a few teams playing twice. The wild card allows some flexibility, as we should know the those teams featuring twice in DGW34 by the end of GW31.

For me, treble Liverpool (Robertson, TAA, Salah) make up the core of my starting XI, as I will plan on retaining KDB, the only City players. Wolves seem to be peaking, even deep into Europa League, but I do have plans to own three Wolves. A few teams seem to have favorable fixtures; Manchester United, West Ham, Watford and Everton are teams I am watching.

GW34 – Bench Boost

Why? This appears to be the week in which players I am considering have the best fixtures that could equate to extra points when activating the bench boost chip. Looking back the last 6 weeks my bench has scored 21, 11, 16, 14 and 13 points, with GW28 being just the second time this season my bench hasn’t scored.

As mentioned previously, there’s a possibility of up to four teams playing twice in GW34, based off the information from Ben Crellin. With any luck I will roll at FT in GW32 that will allow me multiple moves ahead of GW34, once the teams are announced and the games are scheduled.

GW37 – Free Hit

This will potentially be the biggest game week of the season, but as I’ve seen in the past, sometimes it’s not all that lucrative, as managers rotate players and some of the big named players feature just once during the game week, causing pain, loss of points and much frustration. That said, I am still willing to roll the dice and activate the free hit for this game week.

There is the potential of 10 teams featuring twice in GW37, which are contingent on the FA Cup Semifinals. I had a fleeting thought of the wild card, but feel it’s just too late in the season to benefit from activating it. This could be the game week that makes or break my season, as I’ve posted green arrows in 13 of the last 17 weeks, jumping up the OR from 1.3 million to 263k.

This feels like last season, as my team is rolling in green, hopefully chip planning and activation works to benefit my team unlike last season that saw a very disappointing run to the finish.

CONCLUSION

Chip strategy, it’s your decision. Don’t try and shoehorn a strategy that doesn’t fit your team. I believe with planning and a bit of luck you can make ANY chip strategy work to your benefit. I am hoping there is a bit more luck this season that how I experienced the end of the 2018-19 season.

Unlike last season, I am going to continue to “monitor” Twitter but avoid those articles and podcasts as it relates to chip strategy. Take nothing away from those individuals who put the time and effort in to make serve up some fancy chip strategies. This season, I am using my own recipe. Good luck to all FPL managers on deploying your strategy.

Oh, as for the triple captain…pfft…your guess is as good as mine. With all the DGWs accounted for, I will probably place it on Salah or KDB. I do have some thought of dropping it on Kevin this week, flagged for City’s DGW against Man United and Arsenal.

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