fpl blank gameweeks – Wildcardless Rob Reid’s strategy to navigate the doubles and blanks


Here’s an FPL blank gameweeks article from Rob Reid which Follows on from my overview of the blank/double fixtures in his article earlier today, I’m going to look further at a couple of strategies for navigating these from the perspective of the a manager who has already used his 2nd Wildcard.

fpl blank gameweeks – Wildcardless Rob Reid’s strategy to navigate the doubles and blanks

An overview

You can follow Rob on twitter here

Here’s the Geeks blanks and doubles article from earlier today

A reminder first up of what we’re dealing with.

Teams that progress from the FA Cup 5th Round to the 1/4 finals will have a blank in GW31 – this is when the 1/4 finals will be played.

The 5th round is being held between GW28 and GW29 so we’ll know what we’re dealing with by the start of GW29.

Teams that progress to the semi finals then lose their weekend fixture from GW34, though this could be moved into the midweek of GW34 provided that their GW31 hasn’t already been scheduled there.

Remaining fixtures will then likely be scheduled into the midweek of GW37. There are more connotations than this (see my Wildcard article last week about possible issues with rearranging Arsenal and Man City fixtures) but in it’s most simplistic form that’s how it is. Still with me?

The GW31 fixtures and permutations are as follows:

Spurs v West Ham – cancelled if Spurs beat Norwich
Chelsea v Man City ​- cancelled if Chelsea beat Liverpool or City beat Sheffield Wed
Burnley v Watford
Man Utd v Sheffield Utd – cancelled if Man Utd beat Derby or Sheffield Utd beat Reading
Newcastle v Aston Villa – cancelled if Newcastle beat West Brom
Norwich v Everton – cancelled if Norwich beat Spurs
Wolves v Bournemouth
Liverpool v Crystal Palace – cancelled if Liverpool beat Chelsea
Leicester v Brighton – cancelled if Leicester beat Birmingham City
Southampton v Arsenal – cancelled if Arsenal beat Portsmouth

​Teams in italics are still in the FA Cup. Fixtures in bold will go ahead in GW31 as both teams have already been knocked out the FA Cup.

At present we have only 2 fixtures in GW31, but we’ll definitely have a third – either Spurs v West Ham or Norwich v Everton. As for the others, well if the favourites on paper win each fixture they’ll all be blank. That would be 7 blank fixtures!

Strategy 1

This is still the safest strategy to me and the one I’m still currently favouring. I’ll bench 4 players who blank in GW28 for the EFL Cup Final meaning I have 4 players who (provided they stay fit) would have at least 1 guaranteed double further down the line. I’ll then use my Free Hit in GW31 to navigate this major blank and then use my remaining free transfers with points hits if necessary to give myself as many double players as I can for GW34 and 37, using my Bench Boost in one of those weeks. I reckon I could get quite close to 15 double players using free transfers only on this strategy.

For me, the Free Hit in GW31 would work best the fewer fixtures there are and the fewer of the bigger clubs there are. This narrows the player pool, hurting managers who have already used the chip but also opens the week up for a differential captain pick (remember that big blank a few seasons back where Josh King went wild?) I suspect Jimenez might be a clearer favourite in this respect, but he’s certainly not as massively owned as Salah, De Bruyne or Vardy for example leaving scope for some good ranking gains.

Strategy 2

Ok so here’s a different option although this one depends on the results of the FA Cup 5th round. This involves using free transfers to navigate the big blank in GW31 and then using the Free Hit in one of the doubles, with the Bench Boost being deployed in the other. For this to work, you need a few things to happen.

First of all, ideally you need to own some players from Wolves, Bournemouth, Burnley or Watford. Most of us have between 2 and 4 from this pool of teams. I have only 2 (Jimenez and Traore of Wolves) but am likely to be one of the leaner teams in this respect. I suspect there will be owners of Rico, Foster, Wood etc out there to add to their Wolves assets.

You then need to add to this your combination of Spurs and West Ham assets (do you own Aurier, Son or Noble for example) or your combination of Everton and Norwich assets (DCL, Cantwell, Sidibe are all in teams there somewhere.) One of these combinations will be added to your pool from the first 4 teams as one of these fixtures won’t be a blank.

Finally, for this strategy to come in to play, it would be very helpful if one or both of the following happens in the FA Cup 5th round: Chelsea knock out Liverpool and West Brom knock out Newcastle. Neither are beyond the realms of possibility. Liverpool may play an under-strength team away to Chelsea and The Baggies are flying high in The Championship so Newcastle won’t find a visit to The Hawthorns easy. Chelsea winning frees up Liverpool and Palace for GW31 and a victory for West Brom frees up Newcastle and Aston Villa. For me, that would free up another 5 players.

That leaves my team (for example) only 4 free transfers away from 11 players for GW31. I could carry 2 frees into GW29 which would give me the 4 I need to get a full 11. Liverpool getting knocked out for me would make this strategy very appealing. Most people have 3 Liverpool players anyway and it will probably make for a clear Shield Captain Choice which would slightly lessen the appeal of the Free Hit somewhat. In this case, I’d then probably use the Free Hit in GW34 and build for the Bench Boost in GW37.


For me, much depends on the result of the Chelsea v Liverpool tie – this could prove pivotal in terms of strategy for those of us who have already used our second Wildcard. I won’t be making any decisions as to which strategy I follow until after this, but it does give food for thought. We’ll know by GW29 either way!

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2 thoughts on “fpl blank gameweeks – Wildcardless Rob Reid’s strategy to navigate the doubles and blanks”

  1. Good analysis Rob, and I totally agree that the Pool v Chelsea cup tie result is pivotal.
    I personally think Chelsea will beat their second string.

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