The week in Fantasy Premier League: Double Gameweek disasters, cheap alternatives and mini-league strategy

Alvaro Negredo quickly became chief scapegoat in what turned out to be a classic case of valuing fixtures over player quality and team form.

As Christian Benteke (CRY, 7.3) gleefully sunk Liverpool, ‘Negredon’t’ replaced ‘Blankaku’ as a watchword for the false promise of DGWs.

We’ve been here before, of course.

Who among us hasn’t felt like a player only ever scores as soon as we sell him?

But while we curse the Negredos, Rashfords and Zahas, there’s an alternate lesson to be learned here, and that’s being open to forgive that player who so callously betrayed your faith in him.

We all have our heroes and villains in FPL, but disaster awaits the manager who lets history get in the way of sound judgement.

Those who stubbornly ignored 24-goal ‘Blankaku’ this season, for instance, can’t have fared very well.

So never completely swear off a player no matter how much he’s hurt you, and the same goes for Double Gameweeks - they can go pretty smoothly sometimes too, you know.

 

Are we seeing the end of the cheap alternatives?

As FPL managers, we’re always on the hunt for a bargain. The rewards can be great for those willing to pore over injuries and formations in the hope of pouncing on that perpetual benchwarmer’s transformation into first-team regular before anyone else does.

But for every circa 2014 Harry Kane there’s a dozen present-day Kelechi Iheanachos. And even the success stories can have the rug pulled out from underneath them at any given moment.

After a glorious run of 42 FPL points in four games, Heung-Min Son (TOT, 7.1) looks to be the latest casualty.

Time is also running out for other FPL squad players who have served us so well in recent weeks.

Son’s Spurs teammate Ben Davies has returned points in seven of the last 10 games he’s started, but could be replaced by Danny Rose (TOT, 5.8) as early as GW36.

So as we try to accommodate those big-name DGW stars, are there any new cheapies to chose from?

The FA Cup semi-final raised hopes of a new role for FPL’s cheapest defender, the swashbuckling Nathan Ake (CHE, 3.8) - but alas, it was not to be. Keep your eyes peeled though - he could be in line for a start should Chelsea wrap up the title early, along with John Terry (CHE, 5.2), who is surely hoping to ‘do a John Terry’ on the last day of the season.

After injuries to some key Palace defenders, it looks like centre-back stand-in Martin Kelly (CRY, 4.2) will safely see out the season.

If you’re happy to rotate him, there’s little to fear from home ties against Burnley and Hull.

Though far from nailed-on, Gabriel (ARS, 4.8) could offer a super-cheap route into the Gunners’ defence for those two Double Gameweeks, should Wenger keep faith in his 3-4-3 formation. We’ll know more when Mustafi returns.

Dirt-cheap out-of-position defender Geoff Cameron (STO, 4.2) now looks like a fixture in Stoke’s central midfield.

Adrian (WHU, 4.6), Maarten Stekelenburg (EVE, 4.7) and Jack Butland (STO, 4.5) seem to be back between the sticks for their respective clubs. The latter pair offer decent value, though hardly worth burning a transfer on at this late stage.

Mind you, should Claudio Bravo be ruled out for the season, Willy Caballero (MCI, 4.7) could be the answer for those hoping to invest in the new, improved (but frustratingly changeable) Man City backline.

There will still be those who will keep their faith in Marcus Rashford (MUN, 6.6), but willingly increasing your exposure to Mourinho’s rotation merry-go-round means you forfeit the right to complain about it.

And of course, we wait with interest to see how the game’s ultimate cheap(ish) stand-in - Gabriel Jesus (MCI, 8.6) - fares in what promises to be a free-scoring conclusion to Man City’s league campaign.

Gambling on the Brazilian prodigy now could prove a masterstroke - depending on how your team has performed so far.

 

Mini-league strategy

With just four Gameweeks to go, now is the time to really concentrate on what it’s going to take to win your mini-leagues.

First of all, be realistic - unless you’ve had a dream season so far, there are probably some you can win and some you can’t. Prioritise and see what’s achievable.

If you’re behind, you have no choice but to gamble. Bring in the players you know your opponent doesn’t have and is unlikely to get, and hope for the best.

If you’re in the happy position of enjoying a healthy lead, simply do the opposite. Match your rival’s players, particularly those with high points ceilings like Hazard, Kane and Sanchez.

It’s the Tony Pulis approach to FPL - boring, predictable… but bloody effective!

The ‘Fix Rivals’ section of FantasyFootballFix.com displays a handy view of opposing teams, but if you’re really serious about your FPL you could always check out the site’s Mini League Optimiser.

It’ll cost you a fee after the seven-day free trial, but you have a lot at stake it just might be worth it.

It basically “spies” on your mini-league rivals transfers, suggesting what move they might have made and recommending differential transfers you can make to counter them.

Cheating? Nope - it’s just a nifty way of presenting readily available data for those who can be bothered checking for and interpreting it. Indeed, it’s been happening for a while now on the Reddit FPL page as users try to predict the transfers of the famous Ville Ronka.

QUICK TIP

For all those lucky sods with their wildcard and Bench Boost chips intact, GW35 is the last chance to take a one-week punt before you tear up your teamsheet and load up on DGW37 players - and there are some exciting prospects to choose from.

The usual suspects from Southampton, Liverpool, Man City and Crystal Palace could all score big, given their fixtures. Go with your gut and enjoy the ride.

BUY

If you don’t have Eden Hazard (CHE, 10.3) you’ve probably noticed how he has found a way to punish you pretty much every week lately. Well, it’s about to get even worse.

Sure, Everton may provide some resistance, but if you don’t have the league’s form player in your side ahead of ties against Middlesbrough, West Brom, Watford and Sunderland, get best the Fabreeze out and make sure the back of your couch is at its absolute peak.

TRY

They may be enjoying imperious home form, but Hull City have conceded at least three goals in each of their last four away matches.

They travel to Southampton next, with Manolo Gabbiadini (SOU, 6.4) looking to replicate some of his incredible pre-injury form.

Get him in now, and you can look forward to having him for those two Double Gameweeks in GW36 and 37.

GOODBYE

Middlesbrough defenders. They may have salvaged some pride against Sunderland, but their upcoming fixtures may just prove a tad more challenging.


 

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