As the new Premier League season draws nearer, so does the fantasy campaign.
Some of you may have drafted your squad already, others may be waiting until nearer the 11 August deadline, but many may have missed this year’s major change to the game.
There is a new feature to consider and its name is ‘Free Hit’. Here’s what you need to know…
Fantasy Premier League 2016/17 Team of the Year
What is Free Hit?
‘Free Hit’ is one of three ‘chips’ that can be played during the Fantasy Premier League season.
Like the other two, ‘Triple Captain’ and ‘Bench Boost’, it can only be used once throughout the campaign but has the potential to significantly boost a manager’s points total.
It replaces the rather unreliable ‘All Out Attack’, which allowed players to play an ultra-attacking 2-5-3 formation and generally produced mixed results.
What does it do?
The ‘Free Hit’ chip allows a manager to make unlimited transfers in a single gameweek.
In that way, it is like the Wildcard option, which allows managers to make wholesale changes to their team twice a season; once in the first half of the campaign, once in the second.
However, there is a key difference. While Wildcard transfers are permanent, Free Hit transfers are temporary. They last for just one gameweek, after which your old squad of players returns.
When is the best time to use it?
You only get one shot at the ‘Free Hit’ this season, so it’s important to use it wisely.
Let’s take a look back at last season, early March and specifically, gameweek 28. Due to cup commitments, only four fixtures were played and many managers had squads full of unavailable players.
Meanwhile, those who had planned and prepared racked up the points, thanks in the main to Josh King’s hat-trick against West Ham.
This would have been the ideal time to play the ‘Free Hit’ chip. Managers who found themselves with players tied up in the cups could have traded them all in for one week only, collected points from those in league action, then welcomed their old boys back the week after.
With that in mind, it is wise to hold off on playing it during the first half of the season. Instead, wait until the middle rounds of the FA Cup to see which of your star men ‘blank’.
Rather than playing it in a ‘blank gameweek’, it could also be used to effect in a ‘double gameweek’, when several clubs fulfil outstanding fixtures by playing twice.
The chance to field 11 payers who all play twice in one gameweek will be too good to refuse for most and should trump previous ‘double gameweek’ favourites Triple Captain and Bench Boost.