Gameweek 29 is upon us and, with just four games this weekend, it is time to hold your nerve my fellow fantasy managers.
Many a carefully crafted plan has been torn to shreds through injury concerns over the likes of Son Heung-Min, Patrick Bamford, Bukayo Saka, Bertrand Traore and Dan Burn but now is not the time to panic and start taking multiple points hits on transfers or, worse still, using a wildcard.
I promise you it won’t be worth it and much better to keep that wildcard for gameweek 30 or 31 to set yourself up for that big push on the run-in.
As Chris Sutton, Statman Dave and I discuss in this week’s Fantasy 606 podcast, gameweek 29 is likely to be a low-scoring affair and even those managers who are using their Free Hit chip might struggle to outscore those who don’t have it and by a massive amount.
Dallas for Robertson and a midfielder
If you’re like me, you might have seven players scheduled to play in gameweek 29 with injury doubts over a couple of them – in my case that’s Son and Bamford. If neither of them recover in time then I’m down to five starters and that’s if those five all start their respective games. Not ideal.
I’m going to keep Son and Bamford in my squad just in case they do make it but I’m still not going to take anything more than a four-point hit on transfers because I just don’t think it’s worth it.
You can justify it a little more if the player you’re bringing in is someone you see in your squad for the rest of the season – take the hit now, hope for an immediate return in gameweek 29 but, if not, then it’s still a long-term investment.
I’m already set on bringing Stuart Dallas in for Andy Robertson, partly because Leeds are at home to Sheffield United in the following gameweek and, if I am going to take a hit, then I would look at bringing in a midfielder, either Fulham’s Ademola Lookman or possibly Jack Grealish, if we get some positive news about his availability for Aston Villa’s game against Tottenham.
If you feel you are short on players this week then getting your captain selection right will also limit some of the potential damage. Harry Kane will undoubtedly be a hugely popular pick away at Villa and Raphina will be another one for Leeds’ trip to Craven Cottage, although don’t forget Fulham’s excellent recent defensive record.
And if you’re defending a lead in your mini-leagues then making the obvious transfers this week could be the way to go just to try and block your rivals – Gareth Bale, Jesse Lingard, Harry Kane, Raphina and Dallas have been the five most transferred-in players at the time of writing, and you can probably add the likes of Lewis Dunk, Aaron Cresswell, Michail Antonio, Lookman and maybe even Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to that list.
Playing a Free Hit?
The difficulty with maximising it this week and getting the jump on your rival managers is there are only four fixtures to pick from and they look quite tricky to predict.
You don’t really want to hedge your bets and pick Emiliano Martinez AND Harry Kane for the Aston Villa v Spurs game, knowing you’re likely to get points from one or the other. You really need to make a call and back it.
So if you think Kane will score then it would be sensible to ignore Martinez and the Villa defence, and maybe pair the England captain with Bale or Lucas Moura, who could provide the assist.
If you think Brighton will keep Newcastle out at home then you should go for Robert Sanchez and a couple of Brighton defenders. Or if you’re certain that’s going to be 0-0 then you would obviously add Newcastle defenders into the mix.
If you’re not confident of clean sheets this week then make sure you pick the defensive assets who are most likely to provide those valuable attacking returns – Dallas, Matt Targett, Sergio Reguilon, Cresswell, Craig Dawson, Jamaal Lascelles and Kieran Tierney all spring to mind.
Or if you’ve got enough players in your current squad to muddle your way through a low-scoring gameweek, then maybe hang on to your Free Hit and use it more positively to attack a full gameweek or even a double gameweek further down the line.