Some of you may be familiar with this series, however if you’re an FPL Updates newbie then you may be asking yourself; “FPL Differentials XI, what the hell are they?”. Well luckily for you I’m here to explain just that in this introduction article. I’ll be explaining the rules that the Differentials XI must follow and the initial plans for the 2016/17 season, including the first draft for the squad (subject to changes in the final week before the season kicks off).
So let’s get started with the rules of the challenge. As the manager of the Differentials XI my task is to select a squad of differentials, which are simply players with under a 10% ownership (team selected by percentage). Now as you can imagine, this reduces my options drastically which is what makes this team such a challenge to manage so I have to choose carefully. As a result of this, if any player in the squad rises above this 10% marker then they must be removed from the Differentials XI squad before the next transfer deadline.
Picking the Side
It’s amazing to think that the likes of Vardy and Payet were differentials at the start of last season and just goes to show how form can start a mass bandwagon.
Although some of the side may change before the season kicks off, the core of the team is here in this first draft. Now when selecting a Differentials XI side it is important to take risks as this is essentially the whole point; to choose a player who may be overlooked or disregarded. However with this, a few problems arise: will the player even start? (i.e. if there are better options elsewhere) and is the player actually going to deliver? (or has he been forgotten for a reason?). As a result of this, it’s important to choose ‘star players’ from the smaller clubs, such as a newly promoted side or a side not competing in Europe. A final point to consider is our budget. Of course the most expensive players are usually quite popular and are therefore not available. This ultimately means we are simply unable to use up the entire £100m budget and as a result we will almost always have spare funds in the bank.
Taking these things into account I have selected my 15 man Differentials XI squad and here it is:
Mandanda (5.9%) & Forster (4.7%): Both goalkeepers provide exceptional rotation within the early gameweeks of this season and that is really why the two have been selected. As we are unable to pick up a big money goalie, due to ownership restrictions, rotation really is key. West Brom (H), Spurs (A) , Sunderland (H), Middlesbrough (A), Swansea (H) isn’t exactly a bad opening 5 fixtures!
Gabriel (2.5%): With the news that Mertesacker is out for up to 5 months, Gabriel looks a steal. His ownership will rocket up though as people select their teams, so I doubt he’ll be in the final draft. Arsenal have also been linked with Mustafi for defensive cover so Gabriel might find his game time limited.
Taylor (3.8%): The Welsh left-back had an impressive Euro 2016, a tournament that saw him score his first senior goal for club or country since 2010. That implies that he doesn’t have a lot of attacking potential which is true, but he could benefit from the ever reliable Ashley Williams and pick up a few clean sheets early on in the season.
Simpson (2.7%): I’m surprised at Danny’s lack of ownership. Perhaps it’s his inflated price putting people off him but last season’s performances warranted this jump. We witnessed last year that Leicester can keep a clean sheet against anyone and with a few of last season’s star men looking to move on, I think they’ll have to rely on defensive solidarity to replicate last season as best as possible.
Ward (1.2%): Joel Ward is a player who consistently performs. 100 Fantasy Premier League points a season sort of guy. Palace have a kind opening to the season and I think the double up with him and Mandanda could prove fruitful at the start of the season, even if Pardew doesn’t typically like defending!
Baines (5.8%): A former must-have. Despite having a few sub-par seasons riddled with injuries, Baines looks a bargain buy. The injuries have slashed his price and if he can nail down a starting spot under Ronald Koeman, he’ll be a treat to watch again. His attacking potential makes him a must have for me, but can he return to FPL gold status?
Ayew (8.4%): It’s a bit close for comfort on whether he can be considered a differential for the beginning of the season, but he currently is below that 10% marker! He bagged 12 goals and 5 assists for Swansea last season after arriving on a free transfer. With Gomis heading to Marseille on loan and Paloschi being sold, Andre will play in an advanced position and will look to replicate or better his 170 point tally from the last campaign.
Townsend (7.9%): When Townsend moved to Newcastle in January, it looked like he had revived his career. His individual performances weren’t enough to keep the Toon up, but he’ll be setting his sights much higher than survival with Palace.
Firmino (7.5%): With Liverpool’s midfield so stacked, Firmino will know that he has to perform to the level he did last season to keep his place in the side. The competition for places will spur him on and make him a viable FPL option. Liverpool have a tricky start to the season, but Roberto is a big game player.
Ibe (6.1%): 15 million? A little overpriced, but Bournemouth are paying for his potential. Hopefully he’ll live up to it and be the star man for the Cherries as they look to push on after a fairly impressive debut season in the Premier League.
Redmond (4.4%): Southampton’s replacement to the £35 million pound man, Sadio Mane. Certainly big shoes to fill. If the young Englishman wants to live up to his potential he’ll have to do just that and it could finally be Nathan’s big breakthrough season.
Costa (7.9%): I have no idea why he’s got under 10% ownership, but I give it until gameweek 2 or 3 until I have to get rid of him after a good run of form sees him break the 10% boundary. Diego’s a 20 goal a season man so hopefully we can benefit from his low ownership at the start of the season. In the 14/15 season when he joined Chelsea, he bagged 7 goals in the first 4 games. Let’s hope for some of that again!
Sturridge (5.5%): Let’s keep this one short and sweet. When fit, Sturridge is lethal… it’s just that he’s not fit that often! Let’s take advantage of when he can actually play.
Berahino (2.1%): Yes he’s like a spoiled little baby but if clubs are throwing around 20 million pound bids for him with only a year left on his contract, he’s clearly got talent. I fully expect him to move on in the summer window and if it’s to a team like Stoke, he could offer great value and be a guaranteed starter.
So there you have it, the FPL Differentials XI squad in the making. While I am happy with the team so far, some enforced changes may need to be made, so stay tuned for the gameweek 1 preview to follow this article next week.
Written by FPL Avids (@FPLAvids)