Differential picks are always important for fantasy managers who are doggedly chasing the lead in their mini-leagues. Naturally, now that the final game-week is upon us, they are all the more crucial. If you are not one of the lucky few managers who stride well-positioned in first place looking over their shoulders, what lightly-selected player should you look to bring into your team as you approach the finish line in an effort to surge past the front-runners?
CHRIS: Southampton MF James Ward-Prowse (£5.1, 3.5% selection)
Take a gander at the number of games with 8+ points that the Premiership’s brightest offensive stars (most of them highly-selected) have delivered since Week 22:
- Nine: Liverpool’s Sadio Mane
- Six: Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero, Chelsea’s Eden Hazard, Liverpool’s Mo Salah, and Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling
- Five: Wolverhampton’s Raul Jimenez and Leicester’s Jamie Vardy
- Four: Bournemouth’s Callum Wilson
- Three: Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino, Bournemouth’s Ryan Fraser, Arsenal’s Alexandre Lacazette, Manchester United’s Paul Pogba, Everton’s Richarlison, Everton’s Gylfi Sigurdsson, and Tottenham’s Son Heung-Min
- Two: Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Now would you like to know how many 8+ point efforts that James Ward-Prowse has notched in that time? Seven, or in other words, more than all but Sadio Mane amongst that heralded list of attacking stars above! On top of that, the Notorious JWP costs less than half of what many of those more distinguished players go for, so you won’t have to dump a pricey producer to bring him in.
Furthermore, Southampton plays the finale in front of the St. Mary’s faithful who will want to see an eventful show. Beyond that, the visiting side is last place Huddersfield, which has conceded the second-most times in the league. And why stop there? JWP is a dual threat with his feet, able to score from both set pieces and open play. Simply put, I see a mighty strong chance of the talented Saints’ youngster to bring joy on Sunday for the lucky few who have him.
DARRYL: Manchester City MF David Silva (£8.5, 4.3%)
A key component of choosing a differential for the final game week is looking for someone who has something to play for. We just witnessed how tense getting over the final hurdles can be with the 1-0 win over Leicester. That goal was scored by a man who is a Manchester City legend, having been at the club for many years, Mr. Vincent Kompany. This week I believe another legend will get them over the finish line, David Silva. He will pull the strings to break down a stubborn Brighton back line and get himself a couple of assists.
DAVID: Fulham MF Ryan Babel (£5.6, 1.4%)
My differential pick for the EPL’s final game week is Ryan Babel. The 32 year-old Dutch international’s contract with Fulham is now at its end, but his signing in the January window has absolutely been worth it. In just 15 games he’s tallied five goals and four assists, and he’s done it both at home and on the road, against both weak opposition and strong.
In FPL he’s averaging 4.9 ppg, with 46 points over his last 7 games, for an extremely affordable price. On Sunday Fulham will host a Newcastle team that has kept just one clean sheet in its last ten games. So Babel ticks all the boxes this week: form, fixture, and price.
STALL: Leicester MFs J. Maddison (£6.6, 5.1%) & Y. Tielemans (£6.0, 1.7%)
There is only one week of the season more unpredictable than the opening weekend, and that’s game-week 38. Rotation, upcoming medical operations, summer holidays and transfer ambitions are just a few of the factors muddying the waters of predicting player performance. Finding a pick away from the obvious Man City/Liverpool and whoever is playing Huddersfield potentially at least should be easier than your average gameweek.
First up, I expect all players in the two title deciding games to treat the games with the respect they deserve. We have seen multiple times in this season’s run-in that when in the spotlight, teams still do perform: Take Burnley against City and Southampton against Liverpool as examples. The world will be watching the games, and the pressure is all on Liverpool / Manchester City. Wolves and Brighton meanwhile get chances to headline the main event and create their own moments in history. Wolves have handled the big sides all season, and one or two of them may have a final audition in the shop window. Brighton meanwhile held City to a 1-0 Cup Semifinal defeat and only lost 2-0 at the Etihad in September. They will defend deep and in numbers just as Burnley and Leicester did at times, and we saw how City found it hard to break down an obdurate side in a pressure situation. I think we will most likely see two tight games.
Outside the title games there is little to play for, so I can see plenty of rotation and plenty of going-through-the-motions performances. Where to find a little desire then? Well there is one side that strikes me as playing as if the season is still live, and that’s Leicester. They ripped Arsenal apart in their last home game, and they gave the champions a brilliant game on Monday. Meanwhile, we’ve seen Chelsea’s players turn their performances on and off when with mixed results. They don’t seem to want Sarri as manager, and one gets the view they would be happy to manage themselves at times. I fancy that with top-4 safe, then if they make it through Thursday’s semi, some of their players will have their minds on the Europa Cup final. Even if not, I see heavy rotation on Sunday, and Chelsea minus Antonio Rudiger look ripe for picking by the Foxes’ improving fluid attack. The Foxes can follow up their recent performances and score at least a couple of goals in this one. Both James Maddison and Youri Tielemans have form and are full of confidence right now. I’m tipping them to provide us with fantasy points this week.
A bonus Fantrax selection from our editor Jeff:
JEFF: West Ham DEF Ryan Fredericks
If it were Fantrax, I’d suggest cheap-as-chips Ryan Fredericks of in-form West Ham. He’s a defender who has exploded offensively in the last two weeks while also scalping Spurs and Saints for clean sheets. He will be at Watford for Sunday’s finale.
Are you adding a differential player (or two, or more) to your FPL team for the final week of the season? Did we highlight too many midfielders; which differentials at other positions are you considering? Take the survey below and share your thoughts in the comments!
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