Every week The Hype Train analyses the best wildcard options for your Fantasy Premier League teams. Historically weekly FPL Dream Team’s comprise of mostly wildcard players whose selection falls with a low selection % of overall players, to which there is no doubt that their influence cannot be ignored. With such an abundance of points coming from the FPL’s hidden gems The Hype Train selects one player from each Premier League match in the upcoming Gameweek to decide who could be the differential that sets your team apart. All aboard.
Weekly Wildcards: 2015/16 Season Review
The pursuit of Fantasy Premier League glory never hinges on the success of key 'essential' players, instead finding a differential with very little player ownership can help drive your team up mini-leagues and the global points ladders. The Hype Train invested a great deal of time last season trying to unearth the FPL gems that lay just beneath the surface of our thinking, and we have taken the journey to review our efforts from the 2015/16 season. We're reviewing what worked, what didn't, the teams and players to rely on, and those to avoid. All aboard as we review a season of Weekly Wildcard picks.
To read the full Wildcard Season review, click here, or on cover stars Troy Deeney and Gylfi Sigurdsson below.
DIFFERENTIALS: WHAT IS A WILDCARD PLAYER?
The rules for the 2015/16 season were easy enough to follow. The only rule was that a player had be to selected by less than 5% of the FPL's populace. With 2016/17's price changes, and player selection trends, we have been forced to revise our rules on what constitutes a differential. After testing the waters with selection, there are just not enough differentials with the 2015/16 classification in each position, so we have introduced position specific rules regarding what is and isn't a wildcard/differential player in the FPL that we believe is representative to the game this season.
We have set new boundaries for selection, and these rules listed below will be running throughout the 2016/17 FPL season.
- Any shot stopper outside of the top 5 selected. A differential Goalkeeper is now considered outside of the top bracket due to the overwhelming ownership selection % of the top 5 GKs for any one Gameweek.
- A GK's ownership must not exceed 10%
- Due to the pricing structure, a differential Defender is the uncommon picks for any one side. There is one or two overwhelming options for most teams in the FPL that consume ownership percentage.
- We cannot pick the top 2 selected Defenders, unless they fall below 7% ownership. We can only pick the second most selected for the same reasoning. This ensures 2 wildcard options are available for all teams.
- Any Midfielder under 8% ownership is classified as a differential.
- Our percentage criteria of 8% is due to a greater wealth of premium midfielders. There is a monopoly of top midfielders for most Premier League clubs, leaving only a handful of Midfielders that provide differential options on a weekly basis.
- We cannot pick the most highly selected Forwards in the FPL, most of which are over 10% player ownership. The exception is if the top selected Forward from any club falls below 9%.
- Our percentage criteria of 9% is high because there is already a monopoly of Forwards, and anything outside of that is considered to be a differential.
GAMEWEEK WILDCARD DIFFERENTIALS
For each FPL Gameweek we select a wildcard player from each game.
We do not select a back-up player for the differentials we bank on – that’s the whole point, being a wildcard.
The selection percentage and player price is accurate with the posting of the article.
Our rundowns of player selections are representative of the Premier League’s TV fixture list.
HULL VS. LEICESTER
Player: Danny Simpson (Leicester)
Player Price: £5.0m
Player Selection %: 2.7%
A new season, and another chance for Leicester City to prove Paul Merson wrong. The former Arsenal player has predicted Leicester City to finish 11th this season, 11th. All FPL players should be offended because Leicester were rightfully champions and also delivered huge returns all season, we know they are not an eleventh placed team (despite what the mainstream Manchester focused media will tell you). Leicester has nothing to prove to nobody and one of the biggest hallmarks of their title win was to get wins from nothing, built from pure defensive grit. Danny Simpson and Christian Fuchs were drafted in after eight weeks to boost the squad and the rest is history, and Simpson looks to be a wildcard for the remainder of the season with the popularity of Wes Morgan and the maverick Christian Fuchs getting the nod by FPL managers. Simpson was such a popular option last season because he started as a £4.0mil defender, this season he is now price bench-marked with Wes Morgan who is the more obvious pick in defence. The big concern defensively this year is that there are so many £5.0mil defenders that Simpson hasn't got enough merit as a specialist to be that popular in the community of FPL managers, there are better options out there from other teams.
Or are there? Leicester has been proven defensively solid and travel to an injury ravaged Hull City for the lunchtime kick-off. Nothing screams 'clean sheet' than this particular fixture. Simpson is an outside option but he exists as one of the three best opportunities to get a clean sheet alongside teammates Morgan and Fuchs. This fixture could be easy points for the Foxes and also for Simpson so we are opting for him as the first wildcard of the 2016/17 season.
BURNLEY VS. SWANSEA
Player: Lukasz Fabianski (Swansea)
Player Price: £5.0m
Player Selection %: 1.6%
Swansea have been getting a lot of bad press as of late. Ashley William's future is uncertain amid interest from Everton, including a £10 million bid that was rejected by the Welsh club. The club has also recently been bought out by the American duo, Jason Levien and Steve Kaplan. They have also seen every Forward depart the club, and it's expected that Andre Ayew's season at the Liberty still be a one-season stint. On a sunnier note, Veteran Spanish Forward Fernando Llorente has been drafted in, and FPL darling Gylfi Sigudsson has signed a contract extension.
Is there anything that's not an uncertainty at Swansea? Yes, there is, and his name is Lukasz Fabianski. Two seasons at Swansea, and it's been a couple of fantastic seasons for the Polish international, especially in the FPL. In 2014/15 Fabianski finished as the number one points scoring Goalkeeper with 151 points, whilst a mid-season dip for the Swans saw his FPL points reduced to 123 for the 2015/16 season. Having made 100 saves in successive seasons, Fabianski is going to be called into action a lot over the coming months as Swansea's resolve is tested against promoted sides Burnley and Hull.
We recently posted an article outlining the Essential player picks for just Gameweek 1, with Swansea pairing Glyfi and Williams on the list. Fabianski is the next best thing for the Swans, and we expect him to have good returns against both the promoted sides for GW1 and GW2. The only reason Fab's ownership is incredibly low is the price, but a £5.0m tag as a Goalkeeper is what you get with 2 solid seasons between the sticks. There is also the inclusion of Andre Gray, with a lot of players not wanting to clash Gray with a Swansea defender.
Francesco Guidolin began to figure Swansea out at the tail end last season, with good performances away from home (remember that 4-1 win at West Ham?) that ensured their survival. Against a side like Burnley, who might struggle for goals just like the last time they were in the top flight two seasons ago, Fabianski could foil the FPL hopes from Burnley right out the gate.
CRYSTAL PALACE VS. WEST BROM
Player: Andros Townsend (Crystal Palace)
Player Price: £6.5m
Player Selection %: 6%
Originally we opted for Yannick Bolasie as our wildcard, and the second we finished writing up about the wingers’ potential we then heard about the interest and bid from Everton, so we cooled our interest. In the interest of not repeating ourselves here is what we thought of Yannick Bolasie:
'Big Bo' is the driving force for Crystal Palace, when the energetic front-man was injured after Christmas it was no surprise to see the London clubs form to dip too. In the top four before his injury at Christmas it is easy to see why Bolasie is such an important player to Pardew's plans. With the acquisition of Andros Townsend it could see a permanent place up top with Connor Wickham for the African striker; he played their plenty last season and was effective too. A midfielder playing as a forward is just the best kind of union for an FPL manager looking for gems in their squad. West Brom are the opposition that come to Selhurst Park on the opening day, and following on from this the first ten for the Eagles aren't that bad on paper. You could argue that Bolasie could rotate in your team longer than just the first gameweek. Bolasie is the powerhouse of the West Brom squad so don't be surprised to see him make an instant impact on Palace's season, and going by their typical sort of form (and like any Pardew team) they always start the season strong.
There are now big concerns he will be left out of the match day squad so we can’t opt for him anymore, but instead we turn to new signing Andros Townsend who isn’t going anywhere having just moved to Crystal Palace.
In this crazy transfer market if Bolasie make the switch to Merseyside there will be even more emphasis on the former Toon to make an impact for the London club on his debut. There is no doubt that he will now get minutes with Bolasie’s future at the Eagles now in doubt. The same principals about driving the team forward are true for Townsend who was a lively spark in Newcastle’s failed attempt to remain in the Premier League. The England international may not be on set piece duties if Cabaye is in the squad but there is the potential he could be taking some corners from the right hand side. In summary, after impressing towards the end of last season there is no reason why Andros can’t resume it under the tutelage of Alan Pardew.
Let’s hope nothing happens to Townsend now we’ve written this.
EVERTON VS. SPURS
Player: Gerard Deulofeu (Everton)
Player Price: £6.5m
Player Selection %: 4.2%
Leading into the new season, the word potential is thrown around an awful lot by FPL players. Perhaps that singular word has the most weight when associated with Everton midfielder, Gerard Deulofeu. During the 2015/16 season the Spaniard managed 8 assists before Christmas, and finished the campaign with 9 assists and 2 goals in the FPL. Realistically, he'd have been accredited with 2 more assists in the league, but not the the meddling and grazing influence of Gareth Barry. A total of 82 points was achieved through 16 starts in the Premier League last season.
Everton's opening game against Spurs is one of the toughest in the league. Our Hype Team expect Spurs to be in and around the Premier League crown this season as they addressed the 2 problem areas they were the weakest: A CDM that can play with Eric Dier, and a back-up striker to rely on should Harry Kane find himself injured or severely out of form.
Deulofeu heads into the season with a lot of hype, mostly because he has been playing as a central striker during pre-season. 3 goals and a lovely free-kick have kicked players into overdrive regarding the skillful winger. It'll be no surprise to see him playing off and around Lukaku for the start of the season, and it's a combo that could dominate a lot of squads. This threat against a Spurs back four with Wimmer pairing Alderweireld in the middle could provide for an early boost of points, especially without Toby's usual playing partner. Those daring enough to pick Deulofeu are playing with fire though. Koeman's arrival puts Everton into new, unknown territory. Additionally, Leighton Baines might be taking (or sharing) set-pieces with Deulofeu this season. There's also the added risk of rotation that could limit a potential for points.
FPL managers love a listed midfielder playing up top. As of right now, there's no greater potential than with Everton's Gerard Deulofeu.
MIDDLESBROUGH VS. STOKE
Player: George Friend (Middlesbrough)
Player Price: £4.5m
Player Selection %: 5.1%
Karanka's assault of the Premier League following promotion has a lot of FPL players sitting up and paying attention. The signings of Valdes and Negredo are the stuff of dreams considering that just a few short years ago both players were highly coveted players that would fetch double figures in the millions, easily. Boro got both on the free, and have also added Atlanta's Marten de Roon, a highly capable CDM that has been linked with the playing style of N'Golo Kante, now of Chelsea.
True value ahead of the Stoke fixture is everywhere, but perhaps the cherry on top is left-back George Friend. A pivotal part of Boro's promotion, playing in 40 of the 46 games that led Boro to second in the table, scoring one goal in the process, Friend is the modern prototype full-back that will attack on demand and can actually defend and provide cover for centre halves when they go up for set-pieces.
Friend is a guaranteed starter and clever FPL players are bolstering their squads with at least one Boro defender due to their first 10 matches, but with Valdes facing competition from Guzan (even though the Spanish GK is most likely going to start) we're not even going to platy around with question marks,
The only question marks regarding Boro is that Stoke are a highly compact, dangerous team on their day and could well and truly bully Boro if the newly promoted team allow it.
Friend makes the cut over Barragan, and the FPL universe is tipping a strong opening for Boro back in the big time.
SOUTHAMPTON VS. WATFORD
Player: Dusan Tadic (Southampton)
Player Price: £7.5m
Player Selection %: 5.1%
Towards the latter half of the season the Serbian creator was on fire, he was a revelation as Southampton climbed up the table to sixth with convincing victories along the way. Tadic was either assisting or scoring in every Saint's goal and were it not for the season ending it looked like there was no end in sight for the form of the Serb. The attacker who can either play on the wing or centrally will be fundamental to Claude Puel's plans for the season and is a lock for the main team. Since Sadio Mane departed the Saints have brought in Nathan Redmond as a replacement so the South Coast clubs intent is still firmly looking at an attacking emphasis which Tadic will benefit.
One more feather in the cap for Tadic is that he is on set piece duty and most likely penalties too, so there is the potential that there will be an abundance of opportunities every game for Tadic to register crucial FPL points. We believe he has been largely overlooked because of the price-tag, with a wealth of mid-to-high priced attacking midfielders the Serb is barely getting a look, but should be kick on from where he left off last season he could be an absolute bargain.
The Hype Train will actually be present at the Southampton versus Watford fixture and we are all very intrigued to see how Southampton fare with the new manager in charge, the Saints are rightfully a wildcard team (as are Watford) so it is apt that we are present for the opening day of the campaign.
MAN CITY VS. SUNDERLAND
Player: Nolito (Man City)
Player Price: £9.0m
Player Selection %: 1.6%
Brought in to Manchester City's growing line of forwards the Spaniard joins Guardiola's side facing Sunderland on the opening day of the season. With so much hype around his teammate Sergio Aguero few have analysed other Manchester City forwards, and most likely is also that you won't be able to afford another attacker from Man City if you do end up opting for Aguero. Nolito has gone under the radar and might surprise a few people in Camp Aguero, the former Celta Vigo man who cost Pep £13.8mil in the transfer market is in his peak years and was brought in with the intention of playing in the forward line. Nolito is a player brought in not to wallow on the bench or wait for his opportunity, out of their new signings it might be Leroy Sane who waits as he acclimatizes to Pep's methods. The winger comes with good pedigree too and is known for being able to add goals to his game in crucial moments; people may remember he scored against Turkey in the summers Euros in a disappointing campaign for Spain.
In pre-season Guardiola has fielded Nolito on the left side of attack, with Aguero in the middle, and David Silva on the right. There is some logic in opting for Nolito who plays in advanced positions if you wanted to have a Man City forward but couldn't afford Aguero. Nolito's price in the FPL makes him a huge gamble but he looks to be among the key areas for City's attack which might turn your head. He is cheaper than Kevin De Bruyne, will play in a front three, and is also a proven goal scorer and is also capable of supplying too.
BOURNEMOUTH VS. MAN UNITED
Player: Callum Wilson (Bournemouth)
Player Price: £6.5m
Player Selection %: 4.0%
Poor Bournemouth, after a great summer of transfer activity and optimism you wouldn't hear about the great strides their team were making because the opponent on the first Super Sunday is the notorious Manchester United, led by their new manager Jose Mourinho. With the world surrounded by Pogba fever, the Zlatan detonation, the Bailly wall, and the Mkhitaryan marvel you would probably have forgotten AFC Bournemouth beat Manchester United last season at the Vitality Stadium. You may also have forgotten how Eddie Howe engineered a win at Stamford Bridge against Mourinho's crumbling Chelsea too. The worlds media only wants you to know about Manchester United, and that is why Bournemouth are the biggest underdogs on the opening day of the season, a team that last year were comprised of mostly FPL wildcard options.
Their talisman striker Callum Wilson has returned to the main team after a long injury layoff from last season, and prior to this injury he couldn't stop scoring for the Cherries. He is the quality Bournemouth has which could unlock the Red Devil's defence and cause the underdog upset, not to mention that he is on penalties for Howe's southern coast outfit. Whilst the whole world focuses on the antics of United's summer of transfers the whole of Bournemouth are planning to spoil the party.
ARSENAL VS. LIVERPOOL
Player: Dejan Lovren (Liverpool)
Player Price: £5.0m
Player Selection %: 3.0%
Many of you might be scratching your heads as to our inclusion of Dejan Lovren in the wildcards, after all the Reds travel to Arsenal...the formidable Gunners who finished second last season in a two horse race between Leicester and Spurs. Also, this is a Liverpool defence that had been mocked for its ineffectiveness. Why didn't we choose a wildcard from Arsenal? Well, Arsenal could be playing without a host of their top players for the visit of Jürgen Klopp's new look Reds. Liverpool are the wildcard team this season, they could surprise quite a few people. Recently they did Barcelona by four goals at Wembley in a thrilling encounter in pre-season, the most telling tale of that match was that Barcelona played very open and Liverpool exploited that, won the ball back, and countered relentlessly. Arsenal too plays wide, open football that can be easily pressed. Liverpool could relish the chance to face Arsenal on the opening day and repeat the feat that West Ham achieved at the Emirates on the opening day last season.
Arsene Wenger is risking an inexperienced attack on the opening day, and with the experienced Ragnar Klavan shoring up the defence Lovren could be a legitimate wildcard option, not just a shot in the dark. We don't see Arsenal causing Liverpool too many problems in this fixture, we really don't, it will be a tight cagey affair, but it Liverpool repeat the performance level that saw them dismantle Barcelona then Wenger should be worried for fate of his squad.
CHELSEA VS. WEST HAM
Player: Diego Costa (Chelsea)
Player Price: £9.5m
Player Selection %: 5.8%
In a world where all we hear about is Sergio Aguero and Zlatan Ibrahimovic we are left asking other questions such as...where is Jamie Vardy's name being mentioned, or Harry Kane? What about a notorious Chelsea striker who is now part of Conte's regime? Diego Costa by his nature is a wildcard and we are pleased to welcome him to the first edition of the series for this season, and it is apt he is included because like Liverpool the Blues are also without Europe with only the Premier League to hold their attention. Costa has been in good form in pre-season and in Chelsea's demolition of Werder Bremen Costa scored and assisted to help best the Germans. Diego is still the top striker for Chelsea and Conte has expressed his desire to keep the aggressive forward as part of his Renaissance at the London club.
Not enough people are convinced by West Ham's defence for the coming season with Antonio playing right-back and Aaron Cresswell injured until the Christmas break. We feel the same way and we can see there being goals in this fixture from both sides. Costa has been hugely overlooked because of the Aguero/Zlatan effect.
FPL Gameweek 1: Formations
Looking for the best fit for your Fantasy Premier League squad? Struggling to find money to stretch across your team? The 2016/17 season has seen an inflated rate of player prices, with players forced into playing a new type of game. This year your money only goes so far, and after much tinkering The Hype Train believes a profitable formation could be the 4-3-3. We evaluate the pros and cons of the formation, and why it might prove a popular formula. All aboard.
If you're looking at how to place your differentials in an FPL squad of 15, read below on our formation strategy by clicking here, or on cover star Luke Shaw below.
Want to know more about The Hype Train?
The Hype Train is an entertainment website founded in 2015 specialising in the Fantasy Premier League (#FPL), providing beautiful graphics and weekly insight for hopeful players attempting to climb ranking tables. We are also occasional media reviewers, with a keen interest to review movies, television, live music, festivals, and any relevant topic in the public eye.
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For all FPL Gameweek build up, check out the Weekly Hype page now.