With only eight game-weeks left to play, the 2021-22 FPL campaign is entering its home stretch. If you’re leading your mini-leagues, then congrats! But if you’re not, then you’ll need to deviate from the template if you want to have a shot at gaining ground. With 80% of the season already behind us, time is running out to catch up.
To help you with that, several of our staffers have offered their best picks for thinly-owned differentials who could help you leapfrog the competition in GW-31.
Chris: Anthony Gordon (EVE, MID)
I’m looking at a DGW player, since that brings two bites of the cherry. Burnley has one very likely fruitless game against Man City, so let’s go with Everton; while the Toffees travel twice, at least matchups against West Ham and Burnley aren’t ridiculously daunting. Clean sheets have been difficult to come by this season, so I’ll avoid that end of the pitch. In attack, Richarlison and Demarai Gray are each just above 5% selection, while DCL can’t be counted on as a regular starter under Frank Lampard. So by the process of elimination that leaves midfielder Anthony Gordon £4.5, 2.4%) as my pick.
Starting each of the past seven games, delivering two double digit point returns in his past 10 appearances, coming in at the low price of just £4.5m, and currently only at 2.4% selection, Anthony Gordon could pay off handsomely if you decide to take a differential punt on him.
David: Trevoh Chalobah (CHE, DEF)
Several candidates come to mind as I contemplate my choice for the best differential for GW-31.
Back-up players deputizing for injured starters often make sweet short-term plays; remember when Kostas Tsimikas put up 17 points filling in for Andrew Robertson in GWs 1 and 2? Consequently Liverpool’s James Milner (£4.9m, 0.1%) pings my radar this week, as he’s likely to provide cover at right back for the injured Trent Alexander-Arnold. Unfortunately the 36 year-old utility man lacks TAA’s menace going forward, and his classification as a midfielder means he’ll get only partial credit for a Liverpool clean sheet. I love the guy in real life, but in fantasy I’m steering clear.
Given that he has scored 12 goals and put up 140 points this season, it’s perhaps surprising that Sadio Mane’s (£11.7m) ownership sits at just 3.6%. Technically that qualifies him as a differential, and the home match against Watford is certainly appealing. But his premium price tag means you’ll struggle to fit marquee assets like Mo Salah, Kevin De Bruyne, Harry Kane, or Heung-Min Son into your squad. That’s an opportunity cost that I’m not willing to pay.
Anthony Gordon’s (£4.5m, 2.4%) run of starts seems likely to continue after the news that Andros Townsend will miss the rest of the season with an ACL injury. With an ownership of just 2.4% he’s definitely a differential. But 28 of his 67 points have come from just two games, and the Toffees have scored just one goal in their last five league matches. Gordon’s volatility means he might be an all or nothing play, and Everton’s recent form makes it seem like nothing is the most likely outcome (although Everton’s double means that could still spell four points).
Trevoh Chalobah (£4.7m, 2.6%) has started three straight for Chelsea, registering a goal, an assist, and a clean sheet for a total of 26 points (four of them through bonus), and Saturday’s match with Brentford offers fertile ground for continued prosperity. There is an outside threat that Reece James could recover from injury in time to face the Bees, but given Chalobah’s form it seems to me that Thomas Tuchel will opt to preserve James for Leg 1 of the Champions League quarterfinals against Real Madrid next Wednesday. With Chalobah in top form and likely to start against a weak side, the 22 year-old gets my nomination for best differential this week.
Stall: Jadon Sancho (MUN, MID)
Back in August not many fantasy football players would have predicted Jadon Sancho’s FPL ownership to be a lowly 2.7% right now. Much like his club Man United, Sancho’s season has been a tale of odd brilliant moments combined with all-too-frequent disappointment. The youngster struggled to settle into his new team as Ole’s wheels steadily fell off and many players in the squad who felt hard-done seemed to throw their toys out of the pram.
However, it is promising that as many of his more senior colleagues’ standards and performances fell off a cliff, Sancho appears to be one of the few showing progress. He has two goals and three assists in his last six league games and in his last home game against Tottenham he provided a goal, assist and four key passes.
I like his matchup this week too. Leicester has lost five of its last six away games, conceding 14 goals. On the season they have given up 15.7 shots on goal away from home. And although the Foxes have looked a little better in recent games, they also have European distractions flitting about in their heads. In contrast, United now has nothing left to play for except securing fourth place and locking down a UCL berth for next season.
With the personal issues surrounding Marcus Rashford, Sancho will start if available. If you are looking for a player who can be explosive for your gamble, then consider giving Jadon a chance.
Guy: Tariq Lamptey (BHA, DEF)
Norwich has been on a terrible run of form (its four-game undefeated streak in GWs 11-14 seems only a distant memory now), so it is always worth checking to see who the Canaries are playing. This week they travel to face Brighton, another team who have not exactly been collecting points lately, but at least the Seagulls have enjoyed periods when they’ve at least played well.
It is always difficult to predict how teams will perform coming off an international break, so perhaps Norwich will return transformed (they are doomed if they don’t - and probably even if they do). But let’s be real: I fancy Brighton in this one and there is a decent chance they’ll keep a clean sheet too.
So my pick is Tariq Lamptey (£4.5, 2.2%), who should be well-rested and ready to play 90 minutes (he’s gradually been doing this more over recent games). Brighton aren’t safe just yet, so they’ll view this fixture as a good opportunity to pick up three important points, and Lamptey can produce at both ends of the pitch.
Fair warning: He’s in my team, which has been the kiss of death all season.
PPQ: Riyad Mahrez (MCI, MID)
I like the picks from all the other authors here, but this week I’m looking at Riyad Mahrez (£8.7, 4.2%). We’re all familiar with Pep roulette, so there is nothing certain about this pick. If you are looking Mahrez’s way, be sure you have bench coverage for him (and be sure the prescription for your heart medication is filled).
But assuming he plays, he could pay off handsomely. Mahrez has four goals in his last six games, including one from a super-sub appearance (so don’t panic if he begins the game on the bench). He’s also Pep’s first-choice penalty-taker.
Burnley has given up eight goals in their last three matches, and there are few offensive units in the world that are as lethal as City’s. There will be goals for Man City here then, and on his day Mahrez can light up the scoreboard like few others.
Olakunle: Kai Havertz (CHE, MID)
Kai Havertz has overcome an early season wobble to usurp Romelu Lukaku as the Blues’ go-to man for goals. Owned by just 6.6% of managers, Havertz (£7.9m) has been in sensational form, contributing four goals plus an assist across Chelsea’s last three matches. A home fixture against struggling Brentford looks like the perfect opportunity for Havertz to hit double figures for the third time in four game-weeks.
Are you playing it safe this week, or will you take a gamble on a differential? Which names are you looking at to set your squad apart from the pack? Please take our poll, then share your thoughts in the comments!
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