While gameweek 29 of the Fantasy Premier League season saw just eight teams take to the pitch, elite FPL bosses deemed some gameless players too important to part with.
In order to analyse the moves of the best managers, we have created a sample of 1,000 FPL bosses with multiple top-10,000 finishes to their names.
Two men from Manchester retained the faith of these managerial maestros despite GW29 being reduced to four fixtures.
Bruno Fernandes was the most popular gameless player among this group of managers in GW29, owned by more than 62 per cent of them.
The £11.5m man might seem rather expensive to keep on the bench, but being the leading FPL points scorer this season is not the only thing that makes him difficult to sell.
Manchester United have a game in hand on Manchester City, offering 90 minutes more of point-scoring potential, while Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side only have Tottenham and Liverpool left to play from the traditional top six.
Furthermore, Fernandes has played in every league game for United this season, scoring bonus points in 12 of those – with 16 goals, 12 assists and 12 clean sheets, he really is the ultimate FPL acquisition.
Just a few miles away is the elite’s other favourite gameless player, Ilkay Gundogan.
The £6.1m man remains value for money considering the points he has returned in recent weeks – that has been reason enough for more than 60 per cent of our sample to retain him in GW29.
This seems like more of a gamble than keeping Fernandes – Gundogan’s minutes have been inconsistent of late, and with City still competing on four fronts, rotation may become an issue.
That said, when he does play, Gundogan’s Creativity and Threat scores remain strong – the coming weeks will tell us whether he is indispensable or not.
Manchester City’s defenders remain as popular as ever with the cream of the crop, with Ruben Dias, Joao Cancelo and John Stones all maintaining ownership of more than 30 per cent among them.
Dias remains the most popular of the three, with 369 of our 1000 managers retaining his services – the £6.1m man has played in every league game but one this season, a quality which may prove desirable if he can resist rotation.
Cancelo and Stones meanwhile are more inconsistent in the minutes department, but both offer things further up the pitch that Dias does not.
Stones, for example, has four goals to his name this season, his most recent coming in the 3-0 win against Fulham, and Cancelo has three assists, more than any other City defender this year.
Best of the rest
Among the players that round out our top 10 are Mohamed Salah and Luke Shaw.
Another expensive player to keep on the bench, the £12.5m Liverpool forward has failed to score since GW24 but remains the top-ranked midfielder for Threat in the division.
Furthermore, Salah has a mouth-watering fixture list approaching, with Arsenal to come, followed by Aston Villa, Leeds and Newcastle.
Shaw, meanwhile, has emerged as one of the game’s most desirable – and affordable – defenders in 2021 thanks to returns at both ends of the pitch.
A total of 180 elite bosses kept the left-back in GW29 thanks to the £5.2m man’s record of four clean sheets and a goal in his last four games.
Owned by more than one million managers these days, Shaw is quickly winning the hearts and minds of managers everywhere, elite or otherwise.