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Spotlight: Crystal Palace Defender Jeffrey Schlupp

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With a double game week coming up for the Eagles, should you consider adding in-form, under-the-radar attacking “defender” Jeffrey Schlupp to your team as a strong differential?

Jeffrey Schlupp - Crystal Palace - Premier League
Jeffrey Schlupp has largely escaped notice since leaving Leicester, but he is now coming back into view at Crystal Palace.
Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Differentials — players who are owned by a paucity of fantasy managers — are always an intriguing option, offering the savvy manager an opportunity to leapfrog ahead in the standings versus teams that have stocked up on more commonly-owned players. But, differentials are speculative when you’re merely taking a toss at the dart board. On the other hand, they sweeten significantly when you spot a player who is in excellent form, who is a dual offensive and defensive threat, and who enjoys a DGW to boot. Beautifully checking off all of those boxes, please allow me to present... Crystal Palace defender Jeffrey Schlupp!

[Note: FPL give Palace its DGW in GW-32. Fantrax gives Palace (and Chelsea) its DGW in GW-33) ]

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Comparison to Aaron Wan-Bissaka

The Palace defense does have plenty of fantasy participation, but that is mostly invested in Aaron-Wan Bissaka, a true fantasy favorite currently selected by a bit over 26% of Official FPL managers. Available at a bargain basement price early on, AWB has delivered very nicely. Teammate Jeffrey Schlupp — currently available at the same price (£4.5m) as AWB — has been selected by only 4.0% of managers. Looking at the picture from the overall season, it is easy to see why:

Schlupp v. Wan-Bissaka, 2018-19

PLAYER PRICE SEL. % FAN. PTS. GAMES MINUTES GOALS ASSISTS CS BONUS PPG PPM
PLAYER PRICE SEL. % FAN. PTS. GAMES MINUTES GOALS ASSISTS CS BONUS PPG PPM
J. Schlupp 4.5m 4.0% 77 26 1369 4 3 2 3 2.96 0.056
A. Wan-Bissaka 4.5m 26.4% 90 27 2656 0 2 9 14 3.33 0.034

However, the more popular wing-back’s FPL production has tailed off significantly as the season has progressed. Much of his production came early, when he delivered 5.6 ppg in his first five games. Taking an even more expansive view, while AWB averaged 4.17 ppg in the first half of the season, he has slipped to 2.5 ppg since the start of Game-Week 20.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka - Crystal Palace - Premier League
Aaron Wan-Bissaka has been outstanding this season. But if you really want a Crystal Palace defender, should you sail on with AWB or jump ship to Schlupp?
Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

By comparison, Jeffrey Schlupp got off to a poor start, and fantasy managers deservedly paid him absolutely no attention. Following an 11-point effort in the season opener where he scored a goal, Schlupp scored a total of 5 points in his next three games, after which he mostly languished as a sub. From GW5-24, Schlupp played 40+ minutes only four times, earning a paltry 29 points in the 20 matches.

Since Week 25 however, Schlupp has roared back into the starting line-up, cementing his spot with a goal, three fantasy assists, a clean sheet, and three bonus points. That’s returned an average of 5.33 ppg. Advantageously, he’s listed as a defender but actually plays in an attacking midfield role. Given recent form, who looks to be by far the better investment at the moment between Schlupp and Wan-Bissaka?

Schlupp v. Wan-Bissaka, Last 6 Game Weeks

PLAYER PRICE SEL. % FAN. PTS. GAMES MINUTES GOALS ASSISTS CS BONUS PPG PPM
PLAYER PRICE SEL. % FAN. PTS. GAMES MINUTES GOALS ASSISTS CS BONUS PPG PPM
A. Wan-Bissaka 4.5m 26.4% 12 4 360 0 1 1 0 3 0.033
J. Schlupp 4.5m 4.0% 32 6 540 1 3 1 3 5.33 0.059

It’s an easy answer: Unless you’re in position for Trading Places, Schlupp offers a far greater offensive threat, and will earn the same defensive returns as AWB. The choice is not only a no-brainer because the two players are on the same team and come at the same price, but also because Schlupp is an excellent differential opportunity.

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Comparison to Other Top DGW Defenders

Of course, you’re not only looking at Wan-Bissaka from the same team. How has Schlupp’s performance compared to other top defenders in the game during his recent purple patch of form, particularly those whom fantasy managers will be strongly considering and who also enjoy a double game week?

Besides Crystal Palace, a bevy of other teams — Brighton, Cardiff City, Chelsea, Fulham, Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham, Watford, and Wolves — also enjoy double game weeks in FPL’s GW-32. [In Fantrax, only Chelsea also has a DGW, and like Palace, it’s also in GW-33.]

Let’s compare Schlupp’s recent performances to those of the top defenders on other sides who seem fairly likely to play both games.

Schlupp vs. Other Top DGW Defenders, Last 6 Game Weeks

PLAYER TEAM PRICE SEL. % FAN. PTS. GAMES GOALS ASSISTS CS BONUS PPG
PLAYER TEAM PRICE SEL. % FAN. PTS. GAMES GOALS ASSISTS CS BONUS PPG
J. Schlupp Crystal Palace 4.5m 4.0% 32 6 1 3 1 3 5.33
C. Azpilicueta Chelsea 6.3m 9.5% 29 6 0 3 2 4 4.83
A. Laporte Man. City 5.9m 8.2% 26 3 1 1 2 3 8.67
S. Duffy Brighton 4.7m 6.5% 25 5 1 0 2 3 5
V. Lindelof Man. United 5.1m 6.9% 22 5 0 1 2 3 4.4
B. Manga Cardiff 4.4m 0.4% 17 6 0 0 2 1 2.83
D. Janmaat Watford 4.9m 0.3% 17 6 0 0 2 0 2.83
M. Doherty Wolves 5.4m 23.5% 15 6 0 2 0 0 2.5
K. Trippier Tottenham 6.0m 14.6% 13 4 0 0 1 4 3.25
C. Chambers Fulham 4.2m 1.0% 10 6 1 0 0 0 1.67

Over the past six game weeks, Schlupp boasts more points than the top defenders from each of the double game week teams, and only Aymeric Laporte — who played just three games during that stretch due to injury — has a higher points per game average. Additionally, compared to the defenders on the elite or otherwise fantasy favorite teams — Manchester City’s Laporte, Chelsea’s Cesar Aziplicueta, Manchester United’s Victor Lindelof, Tottenham’s Kieran Trippier, and Wolves’ Matt Doherty — Schlupp is not only cheaper, but he is also held by a much lower percentage of fantasy managers, again presenting a fine differential opportunity.

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What does Schlupp Bring to the Eagles’ Offense?

Clearly, you’re not adding Schlupp based on pure defense. Instead, you’re looking at his offensive potential. Despite having played only the 11th most minutes among Palace players this season — roughly half as many as top man Luka Milijovevic — Schlupp ranks #3 on the team in goals, #4 in fantasy assists, #7 in shots, and #4 in shots on target. In Schlupp’s EPL career from 2014-15 to date (he was at Leicester through mid 2017-18), he has notched 8 goals and 13 fantasy assists in 8,168 minutes. Prorating that to a single 3,000 minute season, that would translate to about 3 goals and 5 fantasy assists. Not bad for a so-called defender, eh?!

Take a look at Schlupp’s most recent goal, the capping strike of Palace’s 2-0 win against Fulham in GW25. Newcomer Michy Batshuayi’s shot was saved by Sergio Rico, but positioned just outside the six-yard box, Schlupp was able to convert the rebound into an easy goal (the sequence starts at the 1:28 of the video):

Verily, Schlupp works particularly well with Batshuayi — who has given a shot in the arm to the Eagles’ offense as a big upgrade over “Big Chances Missed” Christian Benteke — accentuating mainstays Wilfried Zaha, Andros Townsend and Milivojevic. In the 4-1 win at Leicester in GW27, Schlupp crossed precisely from deep down the left wing to the Batsman for a shot on target, which led on the rebound to Schlupp drawing a penalty kick and earning the fantasy assist as Milijovevic converted (the sequence begins at 1:01).

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What Does the Palace Schedule Look Like?

In the upcoming FPL DGW-32, Palace has a favorable first fixture hosting Huddersfield, but the second looms as considerably tougher at Spurs (and it’s the celebration opener of the new Tottenham Stadium to boot). [In Fantrax, Palace’s first is the Tottenham stadium fixture (while Chelsea hosts Brighton), and the second is the following weekend at Newcastle (while Chelsea hosts West Ham).]

Many FPL managers will consider using the free hit chip for GW-32. Is Schlupp a good buy? It’s not a slam dunk, but the hope is that he can nab a clean sheet in the first game and perhaps nick a goal or assist between the two fixtures. Paying a mere £4.5m for a quality double-start should offer you mountains of joy. If not, well, it’s only a cheap roll of the dice that enables you to afford bigger names elsewhere.

For fantasy managers who have already used their free hit chip (likely in GW-31), you may consider using your wildcard in GW-32. If using your wildcard, will the Crystal Palace schedule the rest of the season justify adding Schlupp? Here’s what Palace has for the run-out: at Newcastle, v. Manchester City, at Arsenal, v. Everton, at Cardiff, v. Bournemouth. It could be worse, but it could also be a whole lot better. It might prove beneficial to add Schlupp for the rest of the season, but given the fairly tough schedule, the best move may be to use your free hit chip on him in GW-32 and then go back to your old team.

As for the differential angle, of course that could go slightly out the window if a large enough percentage of fantasy managers use their chips this week and themselves turn to cheap differentials in defense. But even then, the window is likely only cracked open a bit. After all, how many fantasy managers have their eye on Jeffrey Schlupp? And how many should?

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Do you plan to add Jeffrey Schlupp to any fantasy teams? How do you feel about Schlupp versus Aaron Wan-Bissaka and other fantasy favorites in defense going forward? Is there anybody else under the radar who you prefer, or are you going with the heavy hitters instead? What rock-solid defenders have cemented positions in your defense so you can’t find room for my latest recommendation? Let us know in the comments!

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