To truly set your team apart from the rest of the FPL pack it’s important to have a mix of high end proven fantasy players as well as a selection of differentials. While it is often necessary to have highly owned players like Sergio Aguero or Dimitri Payet, you will also need to find players to fill in the gaps and round out the squad. Doing so can be a tricky task with the salary cap game. That is where differentials come into play.
For picking differentials I’m going to hold to a few bits of criteria. First, they must have lower than 6%. Their cost will be based on position: Forwards will £6.5 or less, Midfielders must be £7.5 or less, and Defenders and Goalkeepers must be £4.5 or less. I will also be looking to provide at least one player for each of the four positions. All costs and ownership percentages are current as of the time of writing on 8/12/16.
Lukasz Fabianski – £4.5 – 1.6% owned – Swansea
Swansea have two favorable opening matches starting out away to Burnley followed by a home match against Hull. Their schedule becomes more difficult after that, but Fabianski would work out well in a rotation with a second goalkeeper who would have more favorable matches after gameweek 3.
Steve Mandanda – £4.5 – 4.8% owned – Crystal Palace
Mandanda would be a good rotation partner with Fabianski and he’s under 5% owned at this point. For gameweeks 3-6 Crystal Palace face off against Bournemouth (H), Middlesbrough (A), Stoke (H), and Sunderland (A) all of which provide a good chance at getting some points.
Right now the likes of Hector Bellerin, Toby Alderweireld, John Stones, and Wes Morgan are dominating FPL teams with all four of these defenders being owned by at least 24% of teams. It also seems that the go to £4.0 guy this year is Juan Carlos Paredes with the Watford defender enjoying 19% ownership so far.
George Friend – £4.5 – 5.3% owned – Middlesbrough
Middlesbrough start out the season with a rather favorable schedule that includes Stoke (H), Sunderland (A), West Brom (A), Crystal Palace (H), and Everton (A). He’s a solid choice to start throughout this season as well. While picking up 22 clean sheets in the Premier League is not going to happen, Middlesbrough have proven that they have a strong defense.
Lamine Koné – £4.5 – 2.9% owned – Sunderland
With Patrick van Aanholt taking most of the Sunderland FPL places in teams, Koné is one that easily slips under the radar. Koné played 1,656 fewer minutes than van Aanholt and managed to pick up just fewer than half as many points with 60 compared to 127. Not a bad return for a player that was only with the club for half of the season.
With the likes of Dimitri Payet, Riyad Mahrez, Mesut Ozil, and Kevin De Bruyne dominating the midfield ownerships, there is a chance to carry up to two of these powerhouse midfielders and include the likes of Sergio Aguero AND Harry Kane up front, if you are will to take a shot at some differentials across the rest of your team. Here are a few cheap options in midfield.
Stewart Downing – £5.5 – 1.5% – Middlesbrough
In previous FPL years Downing was a great addition to any team and should continue to rack up points this season as well. As noted above, Middlesbrough do start the year with a decent set of fixtures.
Jason Puncheon – £5.5 – 1.2% – Crystal Palace
With Yannick Bolasie most likely leaving this could open things up for Puncheon in midfield. His value could also increase if Palace is able to complete the signing of Christian Benteke, although, it doesn’t look likely that this will take place just yet. With Palace hosting West Brom to start the year, there is good fantasy value to be found here.
Imagine being able to carry both Sergio Aguero and Zlatan Ibrahimovic up front and have a viable third forward option. It is possible, but does require picking up multiple differentials across the entirety of your team.
Callum Wilson – £6.5 – 3.7% – Bournemouth
The start of last season was an excellent one for Wilson until he ended up getting injured. Prior to that he was able to score 5 goals in 771 minutes and finished his debut FPL season with 46 points. The only problem with Wilson to start the season is the Cherries difficult fixture list starting out against Manchester United (H) and West Ham (A). This is followed by Crystal Palace (A) and West Brom (H) before taking on Man City (A) and Everton (H).
Jordan Rhodes – £6.0 – 1.6% – Middlesbrough
Yet another Middlesbrough player makes it into my list because of their opening fixture list. The one difficulty with Rhodes is that he’s not guaranteed playing time with Alvaro Negredo also on the team. Still, he should see some time, even if it is coming on as a sub. At £6.0 it’s not a bad gamble considering his sub 2% ownership.
As you can see, there are several Middlesbrough players that made it into my list of differentials. They have a decent set of fixtures to start the season and are all moderately priced. They have the chance to be high upside selections and create room in your team to bring in the big hitters at Midfield and Forward.
That wraps up the week 1 FPL tips and hopefully some of these differentials can help to set your team apart from the rest of the crowd. This can be especially beneficial if one of these players really takes off and you manage to snag them early. As always, good luck and have fun!