Bruno Fernandes (£9.0m) is the dominant force among the world’s top 10,000 Fantasy Premier League managers in Gameweek 35+.
The Portuguese was captained by considerably more than any other option at that level of the game, securing over 100% effective ownership for the second round in a row.
As you can see from the pie chart below, 56.3% of managers inside the top 10k handed Fernandes the armband ahead of Southampton’s trip to Old Trafford.
Manchester United’s new midfield maestro has settled into life in the Premier League seamlessly, racking up 9.4 points per game in his first 10 appearances.
With three double-figure hauls in as many matches between Gameweeks 32+ and 34+, Fernandes was always going to be heavily backed for a meeting with Southampton.
But in a Gameweek with appealing options all across the captaincy debate, it is still staggering to see just how much power the £9.0m man will have to dictate rankings in the top 10k.
56.3% of managers at this level have handed Fernandes the armband, at least 41.4 percentage points more than any other option.
It is Mohamed Salah (£12.5m) who finished second to the Manchester United man in this battle, his backers perhaps already the most concerned about Southampton’s trip north on Monday night considering no attacking returns for the Egyptian against Burnley.
Fernandes’ large majority as far as the captaincy is concerned means that his effective ownership in the top 10k for Gameweek 35 stands at a huge 151.7%.
In Gameweek 34+, he was one of two assets over 100% effective ownership at this level; for Gameweek 35+ he is the only one, showing just how much more of this round will be dictated by his Monday-night exploits.
The 4.9% of top 10k managers who took the decision to captain Raheem Sterling (£11.7m) will consider themselves in a strong position ahead of Fernandes’ next outing though, after the Manchester City man registered a double-figure haul at Brighton on Saturday evening.
The Free Hit was the most popular chip for Gameweek 35+, although did not receive a great deal of attention.
2.8% of managers in the top 10k decided to go for temporary squads for this round, 1.6% went for a Wildcard while the Bench Boost and Triple Captain were barely touched.
Manchester United, Liverpool and Leicester were the teams targetted by the Free Hit managers in Gameweek 35+.
Unsurprisingly, there was plenty of demand for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s attacking assets, with Fernandes and Mason Greenwood (£4.8m) both chosen by more than 94% of such managers, Anthony Martial (£8.3m) sat in just under two-thirds.
Leicester’s Sunday evening trip to Bournemouth has led to heavy backing for Jamie Vardy (£9.8m) among Free Hitters, 87.2% of them going for the front-man, who has three goals in his last two.
But interest in the Foxes does not end there, with some of these managers going for a triple-up.
Kasper Schmeichel (£5.4m) was the most popular goalkeeper in top 10k Free Hit squads while 25.5% chose James Justin (£4.7m) for their defence.
Intriguingly, there was more demand for Sadio Mané (£12.3m) than Salah in these Free Hit squads, 60.4% going for the Senegalese international who had already been rested in Gameweek 34+. Of course, that mattered little in the end as both of Liverpool’s premium midfielders blanked against Burnley.
That same frustration will be felt by the 42.9% of Free Hitters who included Virgil van Dijk (£6.5m) for his Gameweek 35+, and the 38.6% who kept faith in Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.8m), only to see his outing restricted to a 21-minute cameo.
It does certainly look as if Free Hit managers were prepared to take some risks in an attempt to make up some ground on their rivals when we look at how Manchester City were covered.
There were more of these managers who opted for Sterling than Kevin De Bruyne (£10.8m) who went into Gameweek 35+ with 97% effective ownership in the top 10k, only Fernandes had more.
Those taking a more long-term view with their Gameweek 35+ chip (i.e. the Wildcarders) were not prepared to avoid the Belgian as much as the Free Hitters, or indeed Salah.
As you can see from the template above those two join Fernandes as the three most popular midfielders for top 10k managers Wildcarding this weekend.
At a time when the lack of reliable forwards has been a big concern in the Fantasy community, it is interesting to see that three have come through with more than 63.2% ownership by top 10k Wildcarders.
The inclusion of Greenwood is becoming a no-brainer these days, hence the 94.2% backing here, while Danny Ings (£7.4m) and Vardy complete the top-three.
It is noteworthy that defence has seen less consensus than the forwards’ department for the remainder of the season.
In those top 10k Wildcards, Alexander-Arnold is the only defender to be chosen by more than 37%. Outside of the Liverpool man, there is a collection of cheaper options taking up space in anywhere between a quarter and a third of overhauled squads, including Romain Saïss (£4.7m), John Egan (£4.6m), Charlie Taylor (£4.3m) and Lucas Digne (£5.8m).
With the end of 2019/20 on the horizon, it is no surprise that the main shifts in the template of most-owned players in the whole of the top 10k are in the attacking slots.
In an attempt to follow emerging trends, we are seeing a complete overhaul of the landscape among forwards.
For Gameweek 34+, the most popular options in this position among the top 10k were Raúl Jiménez (81.6%), Marcus Rashford (46.4%) and Greenwood (£46.4%).
However, as you can see above, Jiménez has dropped down to just 57.9% backing, Rashford has slipped out of the top three and Greenwood has become the most fashionable forward (70.7%).
Amid popularity on the Free Hits and Wildcards, enough other managers have used their standard free transfers to put Vardy into the top 10k template.
By comparison, very few managers are making changes to their defensive set-ups, the same five players who formed Gameweek 34+’s template retaining their places in the most recent one.
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