Fantasy Premier League managers are set for an intriguing captaincy battle in Gameweek 17, especially those currently ranked inside the top 10,000.
At that level of the game, four different players have soaked up at least 20% support for the armband, which could lead to a weekend of significant green and red arrows.
Spurs’ meeting with Leeds is the most popular match of the weekend with the top 10k but there was also interest in Manchester United and Liverpool’s Gameweek 17 fixtures.
As you can see, Son Heung-min (£9.7m) proved to be the most fashionable Gameweek 17 captain among the top 10k in the end.
Despite attracting votes from only 19.1% of votes in the latest Fantasy Football Scout captain poll, 26.8% of 2020/21’s highest-performing managers handed him the armband for an appealing clash with Leeds.
The Whites’ last four matches have featured an average of 5.3 goals, a statistic that has evidently also influenced the 23.3% who captained Harry Kane (£11.0m).
That was marginally more than the 20.4% of Fantasy Football Scout readers who voted for the Spurs striker in our captain poll.
However, it is of particular note that the relatively routine winner of that ballot Bruno Fernandes (£11.2m) had to make do with a bronze medal in terms of support among the top 10k.
Just 21.9% of them chose the Manchester United man as their Gameweek 17 captain for a solid 10-point haul against Aston Villa
Nevertheless, Fernandes is still the most powerful asset among the top 10k for Gameweek 17, offering an effective ownership of 114.3% among the top 10k.
Mohamed Salah (£12.6m) is not far behind the Manchester United man in that regard.
He may be only the fourth-most captained among the top 10k for this round but his effective ownership of 111.0% is still ominous for any not in possession of the Egyptian.
Son is the more dangerous Spurs asset for non-owners, considering he is the third and final asset with more than 100% effective ownership in the top 10k.
However, those worried about not having Kane for Gameweek 17 might be relatively (the keyword here) relieved to see his effective ownership standing only at 70.5%, lower than Patrick Bamford‘s (£6.6m).
A small portion of top 10k managers have pulled the trigger on the second Wildcard at the first time of asking.
After 9.3% of them used up their first Wildcard last time out, it
perhaps suggests considerably fewer of the top-level managers have decided to get a new team in preparation for Double Gameweek 19.
We saw just 0.7% usage for Wildcards in the top 10k for Gameweek 14, 1.9% in Gameweek 15, 9.3% in Gameweek 16 and now 1.8% for Gameweek 17.
That adds up to just 13.7% top 10k managers preparing for Double Gameweek 19 with a Wildcard.
So, for all the talk of this tactic in the community, often combined with the view to Free Hit in Blank Gameweek 18, it means 86.3% of these managers were happy to approach the upcoming ‘chip season’ using only their free transfers.
Of course, some of these managers might use the Wildcard in Double Gameweek 19 (doing so in Blank Gameweek 18 seems unlikely) but that would, of course, prevent them from deploying a Bench Boost or Triple Captain.
That said, the most recent Wildcard template is still an important frame of reference for all Fantasy managers.
Fernandes (95%), Bamford (86.7%) and Salah (81.7%) are the must-haves, it would seem; unsurprising considering their Double Gameweek 19 fixtures.
However, 67.2% of this week’s top 10k Wildcarders are still interested in Son despite just one match in that round.
With 41.7% of these managers securing the services of Kane, it is clear that the argument of not overlooking single Gameweek players in a Double Gameweek is one shared by some at this level. After all, Spurs travel to face Sheffield United that week, the Premier League’s worst side this season.
And, of course, it shows plans to avoid Double Gameweek blinkers in the build-up to one either. Son and Kane face an obliging Leeds defence this weekend and boast a fixture in Blank Gameweek 18.
Meanwhile, Stuart Dallas (£4.8m) and Tomas Soucek (£5.2m) are the key budget enablers for those preparing for Double Gameweek 19, featuring in 55.6% and 43.9% of top 10k Wildcard squads in Gameweek 17.
The relatively differential options include Vladimir Coufal (£4.7m), Ezgjan Alioski (£4.5m) and Marcus Rashford (£9.5m), all included in between 20% and 26% of top 10k Wildcard squads.
There is some interesting disparity between the latest Wildcard template and the matrix of most popular players in the rest of the top 10k.
Andrew Robertson (£7.4m) appears in 31.7% of their squads but was not among the top-five most-fashionable defenders by those who Wildcarded for Gameweek 17.
Meanwhile, there is a gap of 13.2 percentage points between Son’s ownership among the top 10k as a whole and those who acquired his services on Wildcards at this level.
And it seems as if Jack Grealish (£7.7m) owners are at something of a crossroads. The most recent batch of Wildcarders are not too fussed with the Villa man (which was also the case for Gameweek 16) but he remains in 42.6% of squads at this level.
However, his stock has fallen significantly. In Gameweek 15, 68.5% of the top 10k owned Grealish. That number has fallen by 25.9 percentage points in just two Gameweeks.
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