This regular article puts the spotlight on three players who all have an ownership of 5% or under in Fantasy Premier League.
There is, of course, a smaller pool of players to draw from this week as we ready ourselves for Blank Gameweek 27 – the deadline for which is an earlier-than-normal Friday evening at 18:45 GMT.
With just 12 Gameweeks of 2018/19 to go, we’re heading towards the time of the season when those Fantasy managers who are chasing a sizeable mini-league deficit may have to consider options from outside the “template” if they are to make ground on rivals ahead of them.
All of our selections not only enjoy excellent fixtures in Gameweek 27 but have appealing matches beyond this weekend, with two of our picks in action in Blank Gameweek 31.
James Maddison (£6.6m)
FPL ownership: 4.3%
There was a point earlier this season when James Maddison (£6.6m) was the Fantasy community’s darling, a mid-price midfield gem whose impressive form and semi-regular attacking returns took his FPL ownership beyond the one-million mark.
Gameweek 26 saw Maddison’s ownership fall to its lowest since early September, however, with the Leicester midfielder now in differential country after extending his goalless run to ten league matches in the 3-1 defeat to Spurs.
Leicester’s forthcoming run of matches is – according to our Season Ticker – the best in the division over the coming nine Gameweeks, with the Foxes not meeting any of the “big six” again until the end of April.
Maddison’s fixtures certainly appeal even if his form doesn’t but the underlying statistics suggest the former Norwich star is long overdue some attacking returns: no FPL midfielder has created more chances over the last eight Gameweeks, while Maddison sits joint-sixth for attempts on goal among players in his position during that time (only five premium midfielders priced at £8.8m and up can better his shot count).
A lack of involvement in many “big chances” tempers his appeal but there is a sense among Leicester fans that the capture of Youri Tielemans (£6.0m) could prove to be a significant one to the Foxes’ attacking prospects.
The box-to-box midfielder was excellent against Spurs in Gameweek 26 and there were some promising signs that both he and Maddison could dovetail nicely together in the 4-3-3/4-1-4-1 that Puel employed at Wembley.
Tielemans himself popped up in a couple of encouraging positions but it was Maddison who appeared unleashed by the Belgian’s arrival and composed distribution in midfield, with Tielemans’ ability to pick a difficult pass in behind opposition defences boding well for the likes of Maddison and Harvey Barnes (£5.5m) ahead of him.
DeAndre Yedlin (£4.5m)
FPL ownership: 1.0%
If we are to take “differential” to mean a player owned by fewer than 5% of FPL managers, then every single member of the Newcastle United squad is just that.
There are plenty of names on the Magpies’ roster who perhaps deserve their cases to be heard this week and, judging by the selections of our Scout Squad panel, the likes of Martin Dubravka (£5.0m) and Fabian Schar (£4.6m) may get the nod when the Scout Picks article is put together on Friday.
Salomon Rondon (£5.8m), United’s most-owned player and the subject of over 50,000 transfers in FPL ahead of the Gameweek 27 deadline, is another stand-out candidate.
Goal-scoring has been an issue for Newcastle this season and, although the capture of Miguel Almiron (£6.0m) could prove to be a help on that front, it is arguably their defence that appeals most ahead of their forthcoming fixture run.
Wolves are the only club outside of the “big six” who have conceded fewer goals than Newcastle this season, with Rafael Benitez’s side having banked more clean sheets and shipped fewer goals than the likes of Manchester United, Arsenal and Everton.
But for a couple of uncharacteristic late errors from Dubravka against Spurs and Wolves in the last two Gameweeks, the Magpies’ shut-out count would be more impressive still.
DeAndre Yedlin (£4.5m), ironically, is perhaps Newcastle’s weakest link from a defensive perspective. Much like Marcos Alonso (£6.5m) is/was at Chelsea, though, a positionally suspect full-back can still appeal from a Fantasy perspective.
In the coming weeks and months, Yedlin will likely have to do much less defending than he has been forced to endure during the Magpies’ recent tricky run.
Newcastle sit top of our Season Ticker for the rest of 2018/19 and start off this favourable run with a home match against the division’s lowest scorers in Huddersfield Town on Saturday.
Yedlin has been playing in a more advanced role from around Gameweek 13 onwards, when Benitez adopted a wing-back system and largely stuck with it.
Over that time, Yedlin has created the joint-fifth-highest number of opportunities (albeit none of them “big chances”) among FPL defenders.
While Newcastle are well-stocked for centre-halves and Benitez could, if he wanted to, rotate in that department, the right wing-back slot is effectively Yedlin’s alone, with Javier Manquillo (£4.3m) a decidedly inferior option despite the American’s recent struggles.
Of the 24 league matches he has been available for this season, Yedlin has only failed to start one of them.
Callum Paterson (£5.0m)
FPL ownership: 0.8%
While he has lost his “out of position” tag and over half of his FPL owners in the last ten Gameweeks, Callum Paterson (£5.0m) remains a vital part of Neil Warnock’s battling side.
The Scottish utility player has started 19 of Cardiff’s last 20 Premier League matches and has most recently found a home on the right flank, again taking up a wing-back role in the win over Southampton to great effect.
This “new” position didn’t affect his attacking output too much at St. Mary’s in Gameweek 26: no Cardiff player recorded as many penalty box touches or key passes as Paterson in that match.
It seems odd to back a player who is without a shot on target in his last nine starts but Paterson’s prowess in the air (at both ends of the pitch) continues to catch the eye: the Scottish international has contested more than twice as many aerial duels as any other FPL midfielder this season.
Cardiff are up against Watford on Friday and the Hornets rank bottom for
headed chances conceded in the last six Gameweeks. Only Newcastle have allowed more opportunities from set plays during that time.
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