FPL 2023-24: Blank Gameweek 26 preview

Before we bring you our FPL gameweek 26 preview, it should be noted that at the moment of writing one game from double gameweek 25 is still to be played. Tonight, Liverpool host Luton Town at Anfield, but seeing as both teams are blanking in the upcoming gameweek, we figured we could already move on with our gameweek 26 preview. In any case, do keep an eye on that match for the longer term, especially if you’re carrying Liverpool and/or Luton assets right now. The Reds, in particular, have got a fixture run worth considering after the blank.

Anyway, that intro has immediately brought us to the most important part of GW26, which is the fact that it’s a blank gameweek and a serious one at that. Besides previously mentioned Liverpool and Luton Town, Chelsea and Spurs are also without a fixture this weekend. This means that the likes of Mo Salah, Cole Palmer and Richarlison will all be sitting this one out. As a result, don’t be surprised to see more than a few fantasy managers activating chips in the build-up to Saturday’s deadline; the Free Hit and the second Wildcard in particular.

Check out FISO’s FPL Forum for the latest discussion and don’t forget, the deadline for gameweek 26 is set at 13h30 (UK time) on Saturday, February 24th. If you fancy playing a fantasy premier league game just based on Saturday’s or the Weekend’s fixtures then have a look at FanTeam’s Daily Fantasy Games (18+ only).

Most transferred in/transferred out players (as per February 22nd, 2024)

GKAlisson (LIV), Leno (FUL), Vicario (TOT)Pickford (EVE), Martinez (AST), Raya (ARS)Alisson injury doubt
DEFPorro (TOT), Alexander-Arnold (LIV), Udogie (TOT)Gabriel (ARS), Saliba (ARS), Dalot (MUN)Arsenal form, all transferred-out defenders injured + blanks
MIDJota (LIV), Richarlison (TOT), Palmer (CHE)Saka (ARS), Salah (LIV), Hee Chan (WOL)Salah return and in form, Saka form, Jota injury, Richarlison + Palmer blanks
FORDarwin (LIV), Alvarez (MCI), Cunha (WOL)Hojlund (MUN), Watkins (AST), Solanke (BOU)All transferred-in forwards in form, Cunha injury

Premium pick

With Liverpool and Spurs blanking this weekend, and with £9.0m being the cut-off minimum for a player’s eligibility in our premium fantasy pick category, we don’t have a lot of options for BGW26. Fortunately, in this sense, Manchester City are not blanking, but visiting Bournemouth on Saturday evening, which means that Erling Haaland (£14.4m) is set to play. While his 10-pointer during double gameweek 25 was perhaps considered somewhat underwhelming by some managers (especially those using their Triple Captain chip on him this week), the Norwegian striker did score the only goal of the game against Brentford on Tuesday evening. That makes it 3 goals and 1 assist from four league starts since fully returning from injury in gameweek 23, and 17 goals and 6 assists from 19 league starts in total. We considered including his teammate Kevin de Bruyne here, as the Belgian was rested for the recent Brentford game, but still ended up going with Haaland for City’s visit to the Vitality Stadium this weekend. We don’t think the Cherries will keep him from making it four games with attacking returns in his last five league starts.

Non-premium pick

Despite starting the 2023-24 season with a price tag of £8.0m, Ollie Watkins (£8.7m) is close to being eligible for our premium fantasy pick category 25 gameweeks in. The Aston Villa forward is once again having a great season, having already scored 13 goals and provided 14 assists for a total of 161 FPL points. Everything is pointing at him by far beating his best season so far, which was last season when he managed 15 goals and 8 assists. As far as his current form goes, we can be brief as well: 4 goals and 3 assists in his last four league starts, or in other words, an average of 10 FPL points per game. We dare you to find other starting players with such a points average over that same period in the official fantasy game. On top of that, in this upcoming blank gameweek 26, Watkins has a home game against Nottingham Forest. The Tricky Trees have conceded 24 goals in twelve away games so far this season, while Villa are amongst the best home sides, so in his current form, we even consider Watkins a serious candidate for the armband.

The budget enabler

It’s shame that Matheus Cunha is injured at the moment, because the man in form for Wolves this season would be facing Sheffield United at home this weekend. The Blades look like the most likely relegation candidate at the moment, in big part due to their leaky defence. No team has conceded more than the 65 goals conceded by Sheffield United in 25 league games and the same goes for goals conceded in away games (29). Wolves, on the other hand, are decent and aiming for a mid-table finish this season. This has made their roster a rich source of budget enablers, including Pedro Neto (£5.7m). The Portuguese winger is classified as a midfielder in the official fantasy game and in that capacity, he has already collected 80 FPL points this season, courtesy of 2 goals and 11 assists. Only Ollie Watkins has created more goals for his teammates so far (14), which puts Neto above the likes of Mo Salah, Kieran Trippier and Bukayo Saka. Not bad for £5.7m, especially not considering that he can try and build on those stats against the weakest team in the league on Sunday.

The differential

The Aston Villa spotlights are pointed at Ollie Watkins most of the time, and deservedly so, but the England striker is not the only player with fantasy potential on the Villa roster. Looking at ownership percentages in the squad, a number of players seems to be going under the radar, despite the team’s exceptional season so far. One of those players is Leon Bailey (£5.6m), who also comes in at a more than affordable price. The Jamaica international has managed 7 goals and 7 assists from twelve league starts already this season, which represents fantastic value at his current price. At the same time, manager Unai Emery tends to rotate Bailey from time to time, which has surely dampened his fantasy appeal a bit. Still, an ownership of 3.5% feels too low in our opinion, especially considering the fact that Villa have got Nottingham Forest at home this weekend followed by Luton Town away in gameweek 27. If you’re looking for a differential with a high ceiling for the short to medium term, Bailey should definitely be on your scouting lists.

The (vice-)captaincy

Blank gameweek 26 is offering us eight fixtures instead of the usual ten, but there are still a few very good captaincy options available. We are going with Erling Haaland for the visit to Bournemouth’s Vitality Stadium, though it was a close call between him and Kevin de Bruyne.

Besides the two Man City players, Ollie Watkins at home to Sheffield United stands out, as does the in-form Bukayo Saka at home to a Newcastle side that doesn’t travel very well this season. More differential armband picks include Rasmus “Scored in 6 consecutive games” Hojlund at home to Fulham, Bukayo Saka at home to Newcastle and even Dominic Solanke at home to Manchester City.