With forwards still struggling to bring in the points, we’ve chosen a pair of midfielders and a budget defender as our first trio of differentials for 2018.
A Bournemouth winger who has quietly been producing sensational numbers in recent weeks takes centre stage. A Chelsea stalwart with kind fixtures also catches the eye, while the prospect of a double-figure score has drawn us back to a West Brom defender favoured heavily in the early season.
Bournemouth’s Jordon Ibe is emerging as a fresh budget fifth midfielder option on the back of some fine recent showings.
Setting us back just 4.8 in Fantasy Premier League (FPL), the winger has impressively registered more shots (17) than any other midfielder over the last four Gameweeks.
Indeed, only Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah (seven) has produced more efforts on target than Ibe (six) over that spell.
The Cherries winger notched his fourth assist of the season in the 2-2 draw with Brighton & Hove Albion in Gameweek 22 and has also impressed with his creativity.
He has registered 13 key passes over the same four-match spell, which is bettered only by Brighton’s Pascal Gross (14) among midfielders.
Ibe is benefitting from a sustained run in the side.
The signing from Liverpool has started the last five, having previously only been selected in the starting XI for seven of the opening 17 matches.
It remains to be seen if Ibe can retain a starting role on the right flank, though Ibe’s convincing recent form could force the returning Junior Stanislas to compete with Ryan Fraser for a role on the left.
Eddie Howe’s men entertain Arsenal tomorrow, colliding with a Gunners rearguard that has shipped eight goals in their last four encounters.
Arsene Wenger’s side, who will be without key defenders Laurent Koscielny and Nacho Monreal, have also allowed 46 shots from inside the penalty area over their last four matches. Only West Ham United (47) have conceded more.
Ibe, meanwhile, has helped the Cherries fire 50 shots from inside the box since Gameweek 19, more than any other side.
With the fixture list (whu che STK hud NEW) also kind for some time to come, the 0.4%-owned winger looks an enticing option for those getting frustrated by the injury-prone Ruben Loftus-Cheek.
A home fixture against a Leicester City side that has managed just a single clean sheet on their travels this season brings Chelsea’s Cesc Fabregas into our thinking.
The Spain international has registered a modest one goal and four assists so far but is impressively creating a chance every 22 minutes – more frequently than any player who has made at least two starts.
Fabregas is currently benefitting from playing as the most advanced of the three central midfielders for the champions, pulling the strings behind Eden Hazard and Alvaro Morata.
Chelsea’s upcoming schedule remains favourable over the coming weeks (bha BOU wat WBA), so the 3.4%-owned playmaker could also provide a longer-term solution.
Available at just 6.8, Fabregas can be a cheaper option from the Blues attack at a time when Morata and, to a lesser extent, Hazard are struggling to justify their premium price tags.
For those Fantasy managers who need to find differentials capable of double-figure hauls, the Chelsea midfielder looks worthy of serious consideration over these next five Gameweeks.
Although the West Bromwich Albion defender is nominally part of 18.9% of FPL squads, a high proportion of those are doubtless unmanaged ‘ghostship teams’, ensuring that the Egyptian is now a differential of sorts among active managers.
It is fair to say that this afternoon’s home clash against Brighton has all the hallmarks of a 0-0 draw – both sides have had four goalless draws this season, more than any other teams.
The centre-back, who has now returned to his original starting price of 4.5, has picked up bonus points on three occasions when the Baggies have kept a clean sheet.
He has registered an eye-catching 219 clearances, blocks and interceptions, which is 102 more than any team-mate and third overall among defenders.
Hegazi also boasts a significant set-piece threat – only three defenders have had more big chances (four) than the three for the Baggies centre-back.
Most significantly, Brighton have conceded more goals (14) from set-plays than any other side this season and also rank first for the most set-piece chances allowed, with 112.
With the potential to produce points at both ends of the pitch, Hegazi is finally back on the radar as an option – albeit in the short-term.