As the business end of the FPL season approaches, one of the biggest conundrums FPL managers are facing is that of when to deploy the free hit chip. In this article, I’ll be outlining the gameweeks that I believe to be the best options in which to play this chip.
I’ve had a long held belief that the free hit is the best chip out of the four that we are given. Whether or not the triple captain will pay off can be a lottery. Just ask those who used it on Mane a couple of seasons ago when he went off injured in the first game of Liverpool’s double gameweek, or Leroy Sane the season before when he too scored a 1 pointer due to the dreaded Pep Roulette. The bench boost is widely regarded as more of a nuisance than anything else but if deployed correctly, the free hit gives you the chance for making enormous gains.
FPL towers granting us an extra free hit for this season prompted plenty of backlash but it could be just the solution if your season has been stagnating up until this point as has been the case for so many.
If your team has landed for this week with very few players with a double gameweek, now may be the time to play one of the free hits, out of necessity more than anything else. With the sheer number of teams with a double in gameweek 26, if for some reason you have anything less than about 5 doublers, a Free Hit may be the only option. Although you’d be losing out on a Salah triple captaincy, many are moving away from that strategy amid fears of rotation following the amount of football he has played recently.Embed from Getty Images
Given it is in all likelihood a strategy very few will adopt, a free hit may actually be making you immense gains if the right players are selected. For example, going all in on the Arsenal defence, given they have a pretty nice double and have been defensively solid this season for the large part, could be a fruitful play. There will be very few managers with more than one defensive asset from Arsenal so the gains could be enormous.
The single gameweek fixtures are also very appealing this week. Of particular interest are Aston Villa and West Ham who play Watford and Newcastle respectively. As such, you could quite conceivably build a FH team which could compete with the Salah triple captaincy.
GW27 has the unique feat of being both a blank and double gameweek. The Carabao Cup final has resulted in Leicester City, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool having blanks. Due in particular to Arsenal and Liverpool having enticing doubles preceding that, you could well have four or five players from those teams if you’re not free hitting in GW26. If you have none playing players on your bench, you could be down to 7 or 8 players at most.
Burnley also have a double gameweek of Crystal Palace and Leicester City so if you haven’t already got any investment in them by that point, free hitting into a couple of their players could be wise.Embed from Getty Images
Teams like Tottenham and Southampton also have pretty appealing fixtures as they play Leeds and Norwich respectively. I always find that the best way to take advantage of a free hit is by going all in on a couple of teams and gambling on them doing well. Tottenham and Southampton are a perfect case in point here. Although tripling up would be excessive over the course of numerous weeks, this is the kind of week where you could benefit from their fixtures.
In all probability, this will be the GW with the highest amount of free hits being used. The FA cup quarter finals will result in a number of clubs blanking. Chances are that we’ll only have four fixtures that week. Wolves vs Leeds, Leicester vs Brentford and Arsenal vs Aston Villa have already been confirmed to go ahead in that week as they have all been knocked out of the FA Cup. Burnley vs Southampton will also be confirmed if the latter lose to West Ham in the fifth round but that is by no means a foregone conclusion. The way the draw has shaped up, it is unlikely that we’ll have anymore so options will be very spars.Embed from Getty Images
When that comes around you could be down to only a couple of players. Given the multitude of free hits being activated amongst FPL managers that week, this is the only week where it’ll be a very much defensive ploy, but one that is maybe necessary in order to manage even a respectable score.
For me, this is the week with the potential for the highest up side out of everything that has been discussed thus far. Whilst GW30 is a week where your hand is forced, this is the ultimate opportunity to try and make up some ground.
GW33 clashes with the FA Cup semifinals but it also has a free mid week which several games are likely to be rearranged into. Similarly to GW27 therefore, this could have a combination of doubles and blanks but on a far greater scale. Its very difficult to predict which games will be postponed and which will be added to GW33 at this moment in time but its fairly certain that there will be quite a few either way so it could be the perfect opportunity to capitalise.Embed from Getty Images
Many will have a preconceived plan to wildcard to cover off both GW33 and GW36 which is going to be the other big double gameweek this season. However, the majority of teams with a double gameweek in this one won’t have one in 36 and the same applies the other way so its a challenge to set your team up to facilitate both.
With all of this in mind, this may be the time which lends itself to being the biggest chance to make substantial gains.
As mentioned briefly, GW36 is likely to be the biggest gameweek of the season. We could have anywhere between 12 and 18 teams doubling so it even has potential of being the biggest double gameweek ever. The template plan, if such a thing exists, is to activate the bench boost here. However, there has been a growing movement to deploy that chip in GW26 instead because of how kindly the fixtures have fallen. If you have used the bench boost by that point, the free hit could be the best option. If you’re debating whether or not to wait the bench boost out until then, it may be worth getting it out of the way with now so as not to handicap your squad in the build up to GW36 by stacking your bench with players who will inevitably cause you more pain as they score double figure hauls.
Not having the bench boost to worry about can free you up to invest more of your budget in your starting 11. As such, playing the free hitting in GW36 could see you making gains not just then, but in the gameweeks building up to it too.
Ultimately, as cliche as it sounds, the answer to the question of when to play the free hit chip is very team dependent. When you decide to play it, be it in any of these gameweeks or another, is completely down to how your team shapes up.