The Fantasy Premier League (FPL) Gameweek 1 deadline is now upon us, which gives us an opportunity to have a look at some differential options for the start of the season.
As always, we’ve selected three players with an ownership of five per cent or less at the time of writing, who represent viable alternatives to some of the more popular assets out there.
- FPL ownership: 4.3%
- Price: £5.0m
- GW1-5 fixtures: bou | EVE | cry | WHU | ars
Lucas Digne’s (£5.0m) performances towards the back end of last season were particularly strong, as he settled into his new role as one of Steven Gerrard’s attacking full-backs.
From Gameweek 22 onwards, his first outing in an Aston Villa shirt, the Frenchman created more chances than all defenders bar Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.5m). In that time, he ranked third for successful crosses and fifth for final-third touches, while as a corner taker, he also has an additional route to points.
Villa produced some decent defensive displays under Gerrard, as they ranked eighth amongst all Premier League sides for actual goals conceded from his appointment in Gameweek 12 onwards. Not only that, but they look set to tighten up further at the back in 2022-23 following the acquisitions of centre-back Diego Carlos (£5.0m) and defensive midfielder Boubacar Kamara (£5.0m).
Villa have played five matches during pre-season, winning four whilst keeping a trio of clean sheets. Now, with an appealing run against Bournemouth, Everton and Crystal Palace inside the first three Gameweeks, there is potential to start strongly.
In all of Gerrard’s favoured set-ups, be it a narrow 4-3-2-1, 4-3-3 or diamond formation, Digne will be handed plenty of freedom to attack, and as a result, could be a nice differential pick for the opening rounds.
- FPL ownership: 5.0%
- Price: £8.0m
- GW1-5 fixtures: BRE | ars | SOU | che | MUN
James Maddison (£8.0m) has performed well in pre-season, notching four attacking returns which included an assist against Sevilla last weekend.
“James Maddison, it’s the best I’ve seen him in the three-and-a-half years I’ve been at Leicester. He looks now really physically strong, technically confident and tactically, his view of the game is outstanding.” – Brendan Rodgers on James Maddison’s pre-season form
The playmaker had a slow start to 2021/22, producing just one assist in the first 12 Gameweeks. However, he went on to register a whopping 22 attacking returns in his final 23 appearances, averaging an eye-catching 7.4 points per start in that time.
As a result, he ended the campaign as the fifth highest-scoring midfielder in FPL.
While Leicester City’s first eight fixtures aren’t anything to shout about, they do face Brentford and Southampton in Gameweeks 1 and 3, opponents Maddison scored against last season.
Zero summer signings may have contributed to a sense of a worry around their assets in FPL, but the Foxes hit over 60 Premier League goals last season, despite a demanding European campaign and an injury-hit squad.
Now, Leicester will benefit from the easing of fixture congestion in 2022/23 as a result of their non-involvement in Europe, and given that Maddison is in contention for an England call-up for the World Cup, could pick up where he left off last season.
- FPL ownership: 1.3%
- Price: £7.5m
- GW1-5 fixtures: WOL | sou | CHE | bha | EVE
Patrick Bamford’s (£7.5m) fitness has been carefully managed over the summer, in the hope that he can now leave last season’s injury woes behind him.
The striker was restricted to just nine top-flight appearances in 2021/22, but registered just under 200 FPL points a couple of years ago, as he netted 17 goals and 11 assists under Marcelo Bielsa.
Bamford has made four appearances throughout pre-season and in his last outing against Cagliari, captained the side and scored an excellent brace in a 6-2 win.
Now, he is expected to start against Wolverhampton Wanderers after gaining 90 minutes of action against the Italian Serie B outfit, with manager Jesse Marsch giving an encouraging update earlier this week.
“It’s been a huge week for him, he looks great, he looks fit, he looks sharp. The good thing as well is now having Patrick closer to 100%, we’ve been able to work tactically through what we want him to look like. I believe there’s a lot of room for improvement and that’s our goal to help him. He looks great, he’s psychologically incredibly excited and I know we have a great player on our hands. Is he at 100%, probably not but he’s close.” – Jesse Marsch on Patrick Bamford
He should also be on penalty-taking duty, too, having previously scored two from two.
2021/22 was a difficult campaign for Leeds United which involved a change in the dugout, and as a result, they are a bit of an unknown quantity ahead of this new campaign. However, according to our Season Ticker, only Arsenal have a better opening seven matches than the Whites.
Undoubtedly, the sale of Raphinha to Barcelona will be a huge loss, but if Bamford can stay injury free, he could re-emerge as one of the best mid-price forwards in FPL.