Mohamed Salah (£12.7m) has the power to single-handedly define Gameweek 31+ for a much of the world’s top 10,000 Fantasy Premier League managers.
The Egyptian was the subject of much debate in preparation for the latest round of action and, after Tuesday’s 17:00 BST deadline, he was revealed as the most popular captain.
That fact is particularly ominous considering that Salah is currently only owned by half of the top 10k. Knowing that so many armbands have been handed to the Liverpool man will surely make the rest of Gameweek 31+ a tense affair for those that have avoided him.
As expected, the Gameweek 31+ captaincy has proven a fractured affair, with no asset managing to build up more than 30% support, even among the top 10k.
In fact, the gap between first and second place at that level stands at just 5.7%, opening the door for potentially sizeable green and/or red arrows depending on what transpires.
As already mentioned, it was Salah who emerged as the most captained option for the midweek round, but he managed only 27.2% backing from the top 10k.
A blank for the Egyptian combined with another haul from Bruno Fernandes (£8.7m) could see a sizeable change in rank for the 21.5% who captained the Portuguese international.
Likewise, any slip-up from Salah and Fernandes could leave the door open for the brave 12.6% of top 10k managers who skippered Raúl Jiménez (£8.2m) jumping for joy as well.
Sadio Mané (£12.5m) was backed by 8.3% while the 6.7% who went for Son Heung-min (£9.7m) were rewarded with an assist and clean sheet on Tuesday night – although they will be smarting at seeing his first-half goal disallowed for offside.
Not surprisingly, the Wildcard was the most fashionable chip for Gameweek 31+ after the Bench Boost and Free Hit took prominence for the Double Gameweek last time out.
43.2% of managers inside the top 10k pulled the trigger on new squads for the midweek round of action, taking the total usage of this chip at this level to 77.7%.
Interestingly, it means just under a quarter of them are holding fire before spending the second Wildcard, perhaps hoping to accumulate more data of football in the new post-coronavirus world.
The Free Hit also received some attention for Gameweek 31+, deployed by 8.5% of top 10k managers.
In the most part, those in the upper echelons of the Fantasy world rankings are keeping that chip in their back pocket.
As you can see from the graph above, it is the only one to have been used by less than half of those in the top 10k with seven Gameweeks left of the season.
For all the Wildcard’s attention in the top 10k, that did not make much of a dent on the overall usage of the chip.
As you can see, only 3.4% of managers worldwide deployed the second Wildcard for Gameweek 31+, and just under 70% still are yet to use it.
That goes some way to highlighting the drop-off of active players but also encourages those languishing in unfavourable rankings as it could theoretically mean green arrows are slightly easier to come by than usual.
The top 10k are proving to be big fans of Wolves and their upcoming fixtures, with three of their assets present in the ownership template.
The most popular of these Jiménez, owned by 83.6% at this level, nearly double that of the second-most-fashionable forward Marcus Rashford (£8.9m).
The England international forms one half of the double-up on Manchester United assets enjoyed by a sizeable chunk of the top 10k.
43.8% of them are invested in the centre-forward but it is Fernandes who is the more fashionable option. Having played just six matches in Manchester United colours, the Portuguese international already finds himself in close to 80% of squads in the top 10k.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£6.5m), who has excelled since Carlo Ancelotti took over at Everton, completes the forward line in the top 10k template, acquired by 43.6% of managers at this level. They will be hoping for big things from the Toffees forward when they travel to Norwich on Wednesday evening.
Exciting full-backs Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.8m) and Matt Doherty (£6.4m) are owned by 82.6% and 57.2% respectively, acting as a premium double-pivot in defence.
Therefore, it is no surprise to see the value offered by Jamaal Lascelles (£4.3m) taken up by so many as well, 43.5% of the top 10k including him in their Gameweek 31+ squads.
Interestingly, just under a third of managers at this level showing continued faith in John Lundstram (£4.9m) despite Sheffield United’s tough fixtures between now and Gameweek 38.
Considering the Wildcard was so heavily deployed by the top 10k this week, it is no surprise to see some level of overlap between the most popular players in such squads and the main top 10k template.
There are a total of 13 players sat in each template, but it is interesting to note where these two groups differ.
Bukayo Saka (£4.7m) appears to have become the new favourite fifth midfielder after his promising displays for Arsenal in the Double Gameweek.
Meanwhile, Serge Aurier (£4.9m) has been turned to as a replacement for Lundstram and immediately provided a reward in the form of a clean sheet against West Ham.
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