Hit me with your best shot.
Or, as it is know in FPL, time to unleash the free hit chip. Well, perhaps. You may be playing your wildcard for this round, though I am not sure why. Otherwise, you have been working for weeks on building a squad to deal with the ten clubs not playing this week. Any way you slice it, when it comes to transfers, the only ones to consider are the ones who have a game, so this column will be presented in a different way this week.
Rather than using my typical system of buy/sell/hold/avoid - we will simply be looking at the top options for this week at every position. It made sense to me because, as I've already pointed out, no matter what your strategy is for dealing with this round, the players you need to consider stays the same.
Personally, I am using the Free Hit chip. In my opinion, this major blank round (and we have one every season) was made for this chip. The blanks are a result of other clubs being cup tied and, as is usually the case, the top sides are still in the cup, so you are left with only one or two big clubs playing this round. In my view, it is the perfect amount to load up on Liverpool and get the best of the rest. Before we get started...
As a reminder, clubs who do not have a match in Week 31 include: Arsenal, Brighton, Cardiff, Crystal Palace, Man City, Man United, Southampton, Tottenham, Watford and Wolves.
Also, keep in mind as well that in Week 32, we have two clubs on a double - Man United and Wolves. So, if you are not using a chip, keep players from these sides on your bench, cause they will be monumentally valuable in Week 32.
Right, if nothing else, picks for this round are focused. Spoiler alert - not one mention of a Huddersfield or a Fulham option. Surely, someone from those sides will do something, right?
*Just as a reminder, keepers should always be the last position to think about using transfers for, unless there is an urgent need. So, when you see who I have listed here, bear in mind that my keeper advice does not carry as much weight as the outfield positions.
1) Allisson - Best defense in the league, clear cut clean sheet favorites
2) Lukasz Fabianski - the clear second choice, home to Huddersfield is always a solid clean sheet bet
3) Tom Heaton - Burnley's form in 2019 has been solid, could keep out a Leicester side in transition.
4) Kepa Arrizabalaga - Dropoff here. Would rather take a CHE defender with some attacking potential.
5) Kasper Schmeichel - I'm betting Burnley score but would not be shocked if they didn't
1) Andrew Robertson/Virgil Van Dijk - Slight edge to Robbo but its close enough to give them a share of the top spot. Probably cannot afford to splurge for both, with Mane and Salah calling. VvD gets the edge for safety of start, Robbo more dependable for attacking returns.
2) Trent Alexander-Arnold - A fine backup choice to the top Liverpool options if funds are an issue. James Milner could always make a sneaky start but, otherwise, if TA-A is in the XI, he's the best value out there.
3) Ricardo Pereira - Only non-Red defender that I could see a legit chance of attacking and returning points.
4) Declan Rice - Best Hammer rep for a clean sheet shot versus Huddersfield. Playing out-of-position and has a taste for bonus points.
5) César Azpilicueta - Up there in form at the moment and always, always reliable to start.
6) Issa Diop - cheap option, strong likelihood to start and good shot at a clean sheet against the Terriers.
7) David Luiz - Always capable of pulling off something special in gameweeks like this.
8) Charlie Daniels - At 4.1m and seemingly back in the XI for a run, Daniels is my favorite super-budget play with a bit of hope for returns on both sides of the ball
9) Charlie Taylor - For those that want to take a stab at a Burnley clean sheet, I would opt for Taylor among the prospects.
1) Sadio Mane - Yes, factoring in price tags and form, I think you gotta give the red-hot Mane the first slot in your midfield. Armband material as well.
2) Mo Salah - Don't worry, Mo. You haven't fallen far. Yes, his form is not up to standards but in a gameweek like this, you should be able to open your wallet and hope for vintage Salah returns. Still armband material.
3) Eden Hazard - As long as Chelsea show any signs of life, odds are Hazard will get a piece of the pie. Expensive, but worth it this week.
5) James Maddison - Maddison is the top of the next tier of options with this influence for Leicester and a solid fixture the main reasons for his position
6) David Brooks - The Cherries could be up for scoring a few. If so, Brooks will get a piece. Some chance of not making the XI though
7) Robert Snodgrass - Giving Snodgrass the edge over teammates Felipe Anderson and Samir Nasri because he is in better form than the others and for a cheaper price. Some chance of not making the XI but again, you are only paying 5m flat for that potential snag.
8) Gylfi Sigurdsson - Even if Chelsea are looking strong defensively, Sigurdsson has anytime potential with his set-piece skills.
9) Richarlison - He is back on the map after a goal next week but likely not enough for me to include him in this week's XI. Still, the potential is undeniable and he deserves mention among the options.
10) Miguel Almirón - If you are looking for a fun, one-shot chance on a guy, why not Almiron? Coming off his first attacking return, he will be at the heart of whatever Newcastle will have on offer.
1) Roberto Firmino - Firmino jumps to the top of the list after bagging a brace last weekend, though to be fair, they were two poachers' goals. Still, that's the benefit of playing in a lethal attack.
2) Jamie Vardy - Leicester's identity is still taking shape under Brendan Rodgers but Vardy will certainly be leading the line and is the best bet to score at Turf Moor.
3) Callum Wilson - He's baaa-aaaaack. This would have been Josh King's spot as of last week but Wilson hit the ground running after his injury return and makes for a fine play at home to the Magpies.
4) Gonzalo Higuaín - Higuain got on the scoresheet last week and, with limited forwards to choose from, should be given a chance in this truncated gameweek. That said, wait for confirmation on health status before the deadline.
5) Chris Wood - Quietly one of the steadiest goal scorers since the calendar flipped to 2019. Burnley's best bet to score.
6) Salomon Rondon - Betting on Bournemouth in this one but see goals for both sides. Rondon is Newcastle's best option.
TOP CAPTAIN CHOICES
1) Mo Salah
2) Sadio Mane
3) Eden Hazard
4) Jamie Vardy
That's it from me this week folks. Please, bear in mind much can change between the publishing of this column and the FPL deadline on Saturday. Remember, some injuries are not revealed until just before the deadline. Always try to refrain from executing your transfers for as long as possible to avoid wasting it on a player who turns out to have had a problem in training. That said, if you only have just enough money for the player you are looking to bring in and that player is at risk of rising in price, then sometimes you need to take a calculated risk and hope the fantasy gods will be kind to you.
Good luck, and may your arrows be green.