WFC's FPL Super Differentials - Five Less Than 3% Ownership Players To Free Up Funds And Help Separate You From The Crowd
Alli, De Bruyne, Coutinho, Lukaku, Kane, Lacazette. The list goes on and on. This Fantasy Premier League (FPL) season, there are a lot of expensive players, most of whom justify their price tag with regular goals and assists. Due to this vast array of expensive options at our disposal, there are a significant amount of players with high ownership. Although the ‘template squad’ (where everyone owns the same players who score well each week) may not play as great a role this season as previous ones, it is still imperative to mix up your squad with high and low ownership players to stand out from the crowd and separate yourself from the rest. In this article, we at WFC have selected five super differentials (players owned by less than 3% of managers) who have the potential to obtain large hauls this season, whilst simultaneously acting as budget enablers allowing us to select more premium players.
So, here are who we believe to be five of the top super differential picks for the 2017/18 FPL season.
Pablo Zabaleta (£5.0) – TSB 2.9%
We are all aware of the quality of Pablo Zabaleta. Over the years, he has proved himself to be one of the best all round defenders in the world, rewarding FPL managers with a steady stream of both attacking and defensive returns. His balance between surging runs forwards and tough tackling saw his FPL end of season price reach a high of £6.5, after 1 goal, 6 assists and 14 bonus points during the 2013/14 season. During this time, he was a fantasy must.
However, during the past two seasons, he Zabaleta fell down the pecking order at Manchester City, and was subject to rotation. Last season, he only made 11 league starts. Nevertheless, Zabaleta still managed to showcase his quality when given a chance. His potential for FPL points was highlighted when Manchester City played Leicester at the King Power Stadium last season. In this game, Zabaleta fired off 2 shots and also created 4 chances, which is impressive for a defender. Most significantly, however, he made 54 final third passes and 5 crosses (4 of which came from within 18 yards of the goal). On average, he made 25 final third passes per game when starting at right back. This highlights Zabaleta’s potential to get forward and be involved in attacking play, which is what FPL managers look for in their defenders.
Looking into his defensive statistics last season, Zabaleta was also extremely impressive when starting at right back. In his 10 starts from that position, he won 78 duels. If he can replicate such defensive output this season, Zabaleta will put himself in prime position to pick up bonus points should West Ham keep a clean sheet.
Now, Zabaleta arrives at West Ham on the back of a very successful eight seasons at Manchester City. In terms of his role at the Hammers, Zabaleta will almost definitely be the undisputed right back. Sam Byram will offer another option, but Zabaleta will be first choice. Due to his versatility, there is also the possibility of filling in at central midfield should Bilic be running short of players in that position.
At a price of only £5.0 this season, Zabaleta has the potential to significantly out-perform his price tag. Due to his attacking instincts and also his defensive output, FPL managers should keep an eye on Zabaleta and seriously considering his selection.
Robbie Brady (£5.5) – TSB 0.4%
Throughout his career, Robbie Brady has always been a quality player. Since leaving Manchester United, spells at Hull and Norwich granted him valuable first team action, but both resulted in relegation to the Championship. Hoping to take a step forward in his career, Brady signed for Burnley in January 2017. This seemed like a great move, but Brady was only afforded 7 starts in three and a half months. In these starts, Brady showcased his potential, but could not gather enough momentum to turn it into solid form. However, the Burnley record signing will be hoping to make a much greater impact this PL season.
Despite limited chances last season, Brady’s FPL returns were highly impressive. In 7 starts, he netted 1 goal (the equaliser vs Chelsea) and 3 assists. Delving into his underlying statistics, last season Brady was relatively impressive. Shooting wise, he managed a one every 44.69 minutes. This is reasonable considering his role as a midfielder in a defensive minded side, not an out and out winger. Surprisingly, despite his 3 assists, his creative stats were less impressive, creating a chance every 52.82 minutes.
This definitely should not deter FPL managers from acquiring him though.
In his 7 starts, he averaged 13 attacking third actions per game, highlighting his influence in the forward zone of the field. This is further reinforced by his averaged of 7 crosses per game. As the creative hub of the side, this influence should continue in the 2017/18 season. In fact, the acquisition of Jon Walters, as well as the blossoming partnership between Vokes and Gray, will heighten Brady’s appeal, as he will be the provider for smart finishing and aerially dominant attackers.
Last time we saw Brady in the PL, he played mainly as a left back for Norwich, yet still managed 3 goals, 4 assists and 13 bonus points. In terms of his position at Burnley, Brady is a sure starter at left midfield. However, his positional maps from last season at Burnley show that he has been granted a licence to roam, rather than strictly sticking to the wide left channel. In this way, he generally has the greatest influence in the central region of the field. This bodes well for his FPL prospects, as it evidences how he is the central creator in Burnley’s side, and he will also have more room to fire shots at goal. Subsequently, we can ascertain that if Brady could pick up such returns from left back, his attacking role at Burnley should see him excel.
Finally, Brady’s set piece prowess further adds to his appeal. He is Burnley’s corner taker, and a free kick specialist, evidenced by his strike against Chelsea. Out of all clubs, Burnley scored the most free kicks last season (3), and Brady should help to improve this amount this season. Also, although he does not appear to be the first choice penalty taker at the club, he is proven from the spot, and was first choice at Norwich, as well as in the Irish national team.
As a result, due to Brady’s attacking freedom and set piece prowess, FPL managers should consider his inclusion as a 4th or 5th midfielder, capable of regular attacking returns.
Bojan Krkić (£5.5) – TSB 0.2%
Throughout his career, Bojan has always possessed bags of talent and potential. This is clear, as he made 104 appearances for Barcelona, and is the second youngest player to ever play for the club. He has also played for Roma, AC Milan and Ajax, and represented Spain at senior level, making for a highly impressive CV.
His Stoke City career started very brightly, but was halted due to a ruptured ACL, which saw him miss the majority of the 2014/15 season. Since then, he has struggled for momentum and regular game time. Nevertheless, he has still netted 14 goals in only 41 starts for Stoke. This goal scoring record highlights how despite not yet reaching the heights that were expected of him at the start of his career, Bojan is still a classy player, capable of excelling in the PL.
Last season, Bojan only made 5 starts, but still managed 3 goals. Despite this record, Mark Hughes decide to loan Bojan out to Bundesliga club Mainz for the second half of the 2016/17 season.
Although his time at Mainz did not yield many goals or assists, Bojan’s performances promise well for the 2017/18 FPL season. During his loan spell, he registered a shot frequency of 1 every 44.67 minutes (2.01 per game). He also created a chance every 59.56 minutes (1.51 per game). These stats are not overly impressive, but still highlight his attacking capabilities.. Most impressively, Bojan managed on average 14 final third passes per game, which demonstrates his influence on team attacking play. An average of just over 4 crosses per game also illustrates his excellent movement, where he does not just stay in the middle channel of the field, but strays out wide into space.
Now, the former Barcelona starlet returns to Stoke with a point to prove.
At Stoke this season, Bojan will have opportunities to build on this form. The Stoke City Chief Executive has stated that Bojan could be “absolutely key” to the side this season. Expected to start in the number 10 role, or possibly even the left wing, Bojan should form part of a dynamic attack featuring Shaqiri, Allen, Berahino, Diouf and Sobhi. What may convince FPL managers to include Bojan in their squads is the fact that he is Stoke’s first choice penalty taker. This bodes well considering the Potters won the equal 5th most penalties in the PL last season (6). He may also take his fair share of corners, boosting his assist potential. Although it is unlikely he will take free-kicks with Shaqiri also at the club, Bojan’s average of over 2 fouls won per game means that he has the potential be rewarded assist points from free-kick goals.
Therefore, it is evident that Bojan has great potential to become a genuine FPL option, not just as a cheap 5th midfielder. With a price of only £5.5, his significant attacking involvement and penalty taking duties make him one to watch out for this Premier League season.
Tom Ince (£6.0) – TSB 2.5%
Tom Ince is one that has really flown under the radar. From the promoted clubs, everyone is talking about Knockaert, Ritchie and Gayle, yet Tom Ince could be the best FPL option out of them all.
Last season, Ince (playing for Derby) dominated the Championship. In his 41 starts, he netted 14 goals and provided 6 assists. However, it is not only his final product that was highly impressive, but also his underlying statistics. In terms of shooting, he finished the season with a shot frequency of 1 every 27.55 minutes, which is superior to that of Ritchie and Knockaert, as well as Dele Alli, De Bruyne and Mane, just to name a few. In fact, he registered 4+ shots in 14 games last season. Creatively, his statistics were less impressive, only managing to created 1 chance every 51.85 minutes. However, his average of 16 final third passes per game suggests that his creative output could improve.
Looking further back than last season, it is clear that Ince is not a one season wonder. In his past 3 seasons, he has scored 10+ goals in each of them. In fact, he has netted 37 goals and provided 15 assists in his past 97 starts, which is remarkable considering he is not a striker, but a winger.
Now, he moves to Huddersfield Town on the back of his success at Derby. His life at the Terriers has gotten off to a blistering start, netting 3 goals in his first 3 appearances for the club in pre-season. Despite Huddersfield being short for goals in the Championship last season, Ince’s start to life as a Terrier suggests that this could change. Expect Ince to be the main attacking outlet that Huddersfield have.
Last season, Ince played predominantly as a right winger. At Huddersfield, it is expected that he will continue to be stationed in that position for the entirety of the PL season.
Another point worth noting is his set piece taking abilities. The Australian wizard Aaron Mooy will be the first choice set piece taker at the club, but should he be unable to play or take a set piece, Ince should step in, boosting his appeal. It is also possible that Ince may take some penalties as he was the first choice taker at Derby, so this point is definitely worth monitoring.
The major aspect that may deter some managers from purchasing Ince is that he is unproven in the PL. Such a precaution is fair, but due to Ince’s attacking and creative attributes, it is worth including him in your squad. Another point to note is that he can be ill disciplined at times, picking up 7 yellow cards last season, but this shouldn’t act as much of a deterrent.
Overall, Tom Ince is definitely worth serious consideration for a place in your FPL squad. A natural goal scorer, he will be central to Huddersfield’s attack, and has the finishing ability as well as pace and crossing to see him excel in the PL this season.
Jordan Ayew (£5.0) – TSB 2.0%
It’s fair to say that Jordan Ayew has not yet reached the heights of older brother Andre. A move to Aston Villa in 2015 saw him net 7 goals in his debut campaign in England’s top flight. However, this ended in relegation, where he languished in the Championship before earning a move to Swansea in January 2017. Although his career has not taken a large step forward since this move, the 2017/18 season could be the one where he announces himself as a star.
Looking at his performance in the Championship last season for Aston Villa, his returns were less than impressive, registering 2 goals and 4 assists in 17 starts. However, his underlying stats were far more noteworthy. In his 17 starts, he managed a shot frequency of 1 every 31.85 minutes, which is only 2 minutes worse that Sigurdsson, and 16 minutes better than Llorente. His creative stats are less impressive (1 chance created every 52.57 minutes) but still demonstrate his ability to set up teammates as well as shoot himself.
Upon joining Swansea, his shot and shot assist frequency worsened, which was expected. However, his productivity increased drastically. In his 9 starts for Swansea, he managed 1 goal, 4 assists and 2 bonus points, which is an excellent return.
These returns become even more impressive considering the lack of stability he has faced upon joining the Swans. In his 9 starts, he shifted from right midfield, to striker, to the wing and to attacking midfield. As a result, he could not pick up much momentum. This season, it is expected that Ayew will nail down a spot on the right wing. This consistency, and the fact that he will be playing with higher class attackers, boosts his appeal.
Another area that bodes well for Ayew’s FPL prospects is his foul drawing ability. Before his move to Swansea, he was one of the most fouled players in the Championship. Should Sigurdsson remain at the Swans, Ayew therefore has the potential to pick up many assist points from free kicks. If Sigurdsson departs, Ayew, who is a capable free kick taker, will battle Tom Carroll for free kick duty, and possibly even corner duty.
Furthermore, so far in pre-season, Ayew has made one start, and netted one goal. This demonstrates his increased productivity since joining Swansea, which suggests he could be bound for a big season.
In conclusion, in the 2017/18 PL season, Jordan Ayew has the potential to improve on his 7 goals in the 15/16 season, and his impressive start to life as a Swan last season. Due to the substantial amount of premium players this FPL season, Jordan Ayew is one to monitor as a budget enabler who still offer the potential for point hauls.