Buyer’s Remorse – The Perils of the Double Gameweeks

Posted: January 11, 2013 in Game Strategy

In case you missed it, here’s a guest post I wrote for regarding the dangers of double gameweeks…that’s right…the dangers? Want to know more? Read on!

As I sit here at home writing my first guest post for on the subject of wildcard strategy I have to admit that I’m a little distracted. I’m sifting through my article notes, but from the corner of my eye, I can see it. It’s getting on my nerves from the opposite side of the room. This large cardboard box filled with brand new electronic and sporting goods.

I bought them all online during a two-hour period of shopping frenzy during the January sales. I became intoxicated by the seemingly incredible discounts and the perfectly written descriptions.

“Why can’t I buy these things? I deserve them! I need them!”

But isn’t that what stores are counting on? That the swirling of colour and the cacophony of sound will override the judgement areas of your brain so that you purchase items that you don’t really need or wouldn’t even consider during the other eleven months of the year. Retailers tell you that you need these products in your life, and that you won’t ever regret your decision.

Sounds crazy that we fall for this, right? Yet I sit here knowing that FPL managers all over the world are making the same ridiculous purchases right now! But, unlike me, not on squash rackets…

A squash racket? I’m actually hopeless at squash and I have a dodgy ankle. And it’s day-glo yellow! Silly!

No, we are buying fantasy players who, for the most part, have no place in a long term strategy and would never even warrant a place in our team had there not been a pending double gameweek. It seems we have all become intoxicated by the impending double fixtures and the promises of unbelievable bargains! I can imaging the sales ads…“It’s a Double Gameweek!!! Check out these players who have two fixtures for the price of one! Two fixtures! All stock must clear before Saturday morning! Don’t regret missing a bargain!”

Chelsea and Southampton are first up for your perusal. They are followed next week by Arsenal and West Ham United. It sounds so tempting just to load your team on the stars from both teams at the expense of all of those tatty “single gameweek players”. After all, single gameweek players are soooo last season! As I browse the forums, I see managers using their wildcard to stock up on two to three players from each of the four teams while getting rid of season-long stalwarts…like that trusty kettle that has served you well throughout its life, but now finds itself antiquated by the shiny kettle that can now boil water in five seconds flat!

What was I thinking? I don’t even drink tea when I’m at home. I’m drinking orange juice right now and the old kettle I have is perfectly fine!

I have seen managers transfer Michu out for the likes of Gaston Ramirez and Mark Noble. I know of at least a dozen teams who are benching Michu, Bale or Walcott for Puncheon. These examples are the tip of the iceberg. It is as if the community as a whole has lost their collective marbles.

Now, under normal circumstances, the number of transfers made prior to double gameweeks is limited by the fact that we are penalised with point hits for excess transfers, but many of us have active Christmas wildcards right now. Since it is clear that this week is as good as any to activate the winter wildcard, we are being sent to the fantasy sales with unlimited transfers for a definite period. We are in a complete frenzy, and this frenzy to get in as many double gameweek players as possible using these unlimited transfers is overriding that intuition and logic that has served us so well since the start of the fantasy season.

The problem is that this frenzy is damaging to our teams both in the short term and in the long term. Not only are people transferring in certain players who have no long term future in any good team, they are then selecting those players ahead of ones with excellent single gameweek fixtures. I could list a half dozen such players who could easily outscore their double gameweek counterparts in gw22, and who are much better long term additions to your team. The fixtures for gameweek 23 are even more favourable.

It’s time for reality to slap us all in the face. If you are squeamish, look away now because this is not going to be pretty. Ready? OK.

“As far as double gameweeks go, the ones in gameweeks 22 and 23 are pretty poor overall. In addition, many of the top players have incredibly strong single gameweek fixtures in those same gameweeks”

Breathe. Relax. There are plenty of good picks out there. It’s not all raggedy oversized jeans and technology that’s three years out of date. There are solid choices available, ones that are great additions long term additions to any team. We just have to know where to look.

First and foremost, only Chelsea have what I would consider a decent set of double gameweek fixtures. The home tie against Southampton on Wednesday is very favourable, but their other fixture sees them head to Fortress Britannia where they face the best defence in the league. Fantasy managers have to hope that Chelsea do the damage against Southampton to make the double gameweek viable. But remember, this is a Chelsea side under the command of Rafa Benitez, whose love for rotation is legendary. Against the teams that Chelsea are expected to beat at home, he seems to let the foot off the gas and rest some of the players that he feels require a break. He has only recently stated that some of his players are tired and games such as Southampton at home are a good option to let them take a breather. To compound matters further, there is huge uncertainty regarding the returns of John Terry and Petr Cech. If Terry comes back, it would see Ivanovic threaten Azpilicueta’s place in the team and it is difficult to predict who Benitez will select at right back. In more definite terms, a return for Petr Cech would immediately end Ross Turnbull’s participation in upcoming games. It seems that the only two defenders that I could trust to start both double gameweek games are Ashley Cole at left back and David Luiz. In midfield, things are a little more solid and I would expect Mata and Hazard to start both games as both have been rested in recent premier league games and I do not think Benitez will rest both again after what happened against QPR. Up top, the debate rages as to whether Demba Ba or Fernando Torres will lead the line. Ba has looked like the final piece of the Chelsea puzzle since he arrived. Having started on the bench Wednesday night versus Swansea, he had a goal disallowed and had a strong penalty appeal turned down in the ten minutes he was afforded. I have to say that I think Ba should start both games, but Chelsea have pandered to Torres for so long that it would not surprise me if Ba was a substitute in one of the games.

Chelsea’s next five games after the double gameweek are quite favourable as they face Arsenal (H), Reading (A), Newcastle (A) and Wigan (H) before facing a crucial game at the Etihad versus Manchester City. Therefore, it makes sense to stock up on Chelsea players for the double gameweek. They have the opportunity to reward their owners handsomely and should do well over the next 4 games.

Conclusion: If you are going to have three players from any double gameweek team, Chelsea are that team. However, be wary of rotation and select those players who are most likely to start. Mata, Hazard, Cole and Luiz seemed assured while Demba Ba may also be a good bet.

Meanwhile, Southampton travel to Aston Villa and the aforementioned Chelsea. The Saints have won just one of their last seven league games, and it is not unreasonable to suggest that the Southampton attacking players will come out of the Chelsea same with the bare two points, and it is highly likely that the defence will return even less. I can see Chelsea putting at least two goals past the Saints, and the trickery of the Chelsea front line might draw a few yellow cards which could push their defensive scores to zero or below. There is some merit in buying the likes of Clyne or Fonte as a cheap way to accruing double gameweek returns now and have use them as cheap squad players for the rest of the season, but at the time of writing, both players are doubts for the Villa game which is the game their owners would hope they get a sneaky clean sheet or assist. Shaw is a decent bet, but I just do not think Southampton will keep a clean sheet. Further up the field, the same can be said for Jason Puncheon. He is cheap and can be used later in the season in squads looking for a cheap fifth midfielder. The problem is that if you want to play Puncheon this week, who do you drop from your midfield? Michu? Walcott? While logic suggests that Puncheon will get a minimum of 4 points over the two gameweeks, do you really want to leave explosive players on your bench? Up front, Rickie Lambert is the only forward worth mentioning, but again considering that most managers favour 3-4-3, it would be unwise to look at transferring him in while so many better long term strikers also have strong fixtures this week. I fully expect Robin van Persie, Luis Suarez, Dimitar Berbatov and Jermaine Defoe (to name a few) to do well in their single games this week.

Immediately after the double gameweek, the next five fixtures are absolutely dreadful for Southampton. They must play both Manchester sides, as well as games versus Everton, Newcastle and Wigan. It is likely that any Southampton players you do transfer in your team for the double gameweek will be a priority to transfer out almost immediately.

Conclusion: If you have Puncheon in your squad, he is probably worth playing unless you have 4 other very strong midfielders. I would avoid playing Clyne or Fonte unless you get a clear indication that they will be fit for both games. I would avoid transferring in any Southampton players just for this week…you will regret it immediately afterwards.

“A bloody universal remote control – why would I even need that! I don’t have time to watch TV now I have a full time blog!”

In gameweek 23, Arsenal face a tough test away to Chelsea followed by a home tie with West Ham. Clearly, fantasy managers will hope that their Arsenal players will come out of the first game unscathed so that they can face a West Ham side that show signs that they could capitulate to a side like Arsenal under the correct circumstances. The Gunners have shown recently that if they score early, they will go for the jugular. Unlike Chelsea, predicting the Arsenal line up is much easier. The only concern for people on their Christmas wildcard right now is that it is unwise to get in three Arsenal players just before a game against Manchester City. With Walcott and Cazorla being prime candidates for the double gameweek next week, this week they are only taking the place of a player who could do brilliantly, such as Bale, Mata, Hazard or Felliani.

Arsenals five fixtures immediately after the double gameweek are quite reasonable. They have 3 home games against Stoke, Liverpool and Aston Villa, while away games to Sunderland and Tottenham should be good for attacking returns.

Conclusion: If you have Arsenal players, keep them for this week but do not transfer in any Arsenal players in unless you do not have one of Walcott or Cazorla or you plan on getting their goalkeeper and putting him on the bench vs City in gameweek 22. You can use your transfers next week to bring in up to three Arsenal players for gameweek 23.

We stay in London for our final dose double gameweek fun as West Ham take on QPR at home before travelling to the Emirates for the derby game. Luckily for fantasy managers, West Ham have their easier fixtures as their first fixture and so, unlike Arsenal, your West Ham selections are not at risk of missing an easier second game due to an injury in the tougher first game. However, it is difficult to identify a player who would provide good double gameweek returns coupled with longer-term returns over the next few gameweeks. Certainly, those with Puncheon in Gameweek 22 might exchange him for either Noble or Nolan. Mark Noble has 2 goals, 1 assist and 4 bonus points from his last five and certainly fits the bill of cheap fifth midfielder in a 3-4-3 formation. On the other hand, Kevin Nolan has not scored attacking points since the Newcastle game in gameweek 11. In attack, I cannot trust Carlton Cole or the returning Andy Carroll to outscore the likes of Van Persie, Suarez, Berbatov, Defoe, Ba or Hernandez. This leaves us with defensive options, and just like Southampton, the best choice of defender for West Ham is currently a major doubt for the double gameweek. Joey O’Brien has already over 100,000 new suitors who may regret the decision to get him in so early in the gameweek. It seems that the only defender worthy of inclusion in our double gameweek team is Guy Demel. Priced at just £4.0, he can be used as a squad players after the double gameweek, when West Ham face Fulham (A), Swansea (H), Aston Villa (A), Tottenham (H) and Stoke (A).

Conclusion: Be wary of West Ham. Although they have a better double gameweek than Southampton and better fixtures thereafter, I would avoid investing too much money in them. Guy Demel is worth a look as is Mark Noble – Kevin Noble is a riskier prospect despite his superb early season form.

I have to laugh at my impulsive decision to buy a squash racket, a kettle and a universal remote. They were all stupid mistakes and I regret purchasing every single one of them. They might have seemed like good ideas at the time, but in hindsight, they were anything but that.

But here’s the thing…I have my receipt!!! I can simply return all my unwanted goods and get all my money back. Hurrah! Despite the fact that I let my shopping frenzy get the better of me, I can simply return the products and get all my money back, thus reversing my error in judgement and reverting my life and bank balance to a pre-sale condition.

However, wild cards and frenzied point hits don’t come with receipts.”Sorry, all sales are final here, friend!” In fantasy football, if you load your team with short term players from poor teams with tough upcoming fixtures, then you will spend the next month rueing your decision. You will subsequently spend all your transfers for the next 4-5 gameweeks clearing out the cheaper players who are picking up minimal points when your transfers should be used to bring in top players instead.

Now unless you are happy to blow your second wildcard on correcting your team, just stay away from those players you know you are going to regret buying just because of a measly second fixture. Opt for quality goods over quantity and select those players who are sure to start and who have strong fixtures, both during the double gameweek and beyond.

Personally, I will be entering gameweek 22 with 3 Chelsea players (Mata, Hazard and either Cole or Ba), 2 Arsenal attacking players (Walcott and Cazorla), 2 Southampton players (with perhaps one playing) and 1 West Ham Defender. I will probably transfer in an attacking Arsenal defender in gw 23 as my free transfer and I may take a litte gamble on Noble. That would be 4/5 double gameweek players for gameweek 22 and 4/5 players for dgw23. It means I have chosen players from the teams who have decent fixtures after the double gameweeks have passed and who I will surely regret buying.

Because trust me, there’s nothing worse than buyer’s remorse…

Now where is that e-mail receipt…

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