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WEEKLY WILDCARDS 2018/19: FPL Gameweek 26

Ahead of each round of Premier League games The Hype Train analyses the best wildcard player options for your Fantasy Premier League teams. Historically, weekly FPL Dream Team’s comprise of mostly differential players whose selection falls with a low selection percentage 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.


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 were been forced to revise our rules on what constitutes a differential. In the 2017/18 season, after testing the waters with selection, there are just not enough differentials with the classification in each position from years past, 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.


- Any shot stopper outside of the top 8 selected. A differential Goalkeeper is now considered outside of the top bracket due to the overwhelming ownership selection % of the top 8 GK's for any one Gameweek.

- A GK's ownership must not exceed 10%


- A Defender's ownership must fall below 8%, with the top 20 owned defenders all harbouring 8% ownership or more.

- The Outsider Rule: This new rule applies to defenders who are the last defensive option in a team who we provide an exception to as the 4th of 5th most owned defender from one team if they offer a different value. For Example, if Chelsea or Spurs have three defenders with 10% plus ownership, and their 4th defender choice has downwards of 10% ownership, we will include them as a differential, as they are outside of the common conversation when picking defenders, even from within their own squad. This rule will mostly be used when adding defenders from top half clubs, who lack proper differential status for their defensive options.


- 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.


- The top 10 most owned Forwards in the FPL at any given time can not be touched as a differential.

- Any Forward outside of the 10% ownership range, who is not in the top 10 owned forwards.


  • 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.

Weekly Differentials (GW26)

Sam of The Hype Train checking in. We are already close to another international break, and boy do we have a show for you. In fact, I haven’t enjoyed writing this article more this season than this week. The January transfer window has given rise to some very interesting differential picks, including some of my old favourites, and some returning players into the mind of a differential enthusiasm as myself. There is even an addition to this week’s articles I didn’t think I’d ever write about, having reported on the MLS I think you will know who it is already.

Goalkeepers (0/10):


This season hasn’t been about differential goalkeepers which is a shame, but if you are looking for recommendations from us, we think that Alex McCarthy of Southampton has a great fixture on paper as the Saints host Cardiff.

Defenders (2/10):

Victor Lindelöf (MUN), Nicolás Otamendi (MCI)

Victor Lindelöf (Fulham vs. MAN UNITED)

We start with one of the defenders of whom I have had my eye on even for my personal team for quite some time. It has taken a few months, but I think OGS has finally started to see his central defenders fit enough to be a real impact. The Swede Lindelöf has been solid, and with the return of Eric Bailly it could be this duo that starts to reap the confidence that the Norwegian’s has injected into the team. Four fantasy returns from the last five has got people’s heads turning.

Nicolás Otamendi (MAN CITY vs. Chelsea)

Joining Lindelöf in defence is another defender who calls Manchester home. Is it a surprise that Man City have kept more clean sheets with Otamendi playing again? The Argentine has two from his last three Premier League games and was put back into the team due to his grit and experience in winning last seasons title. The Citizen was once a highly owned option so it is a welcome return to my differential picks in what could be a very interesting tie between City and Chelsea. Based on the performances, Chelsea are the new Arsenal. Against the big teams they aren’t scoring, but they are beating all the teams outside the top six.

Midfielders (5/10):

Xherdan Shaqiri (LIV), Gerard Deulofeu (WAT), Pascal Groß (BHA), Christian Eriksen (TOT), Miguel Almirón (NEW)

Xherdan Shaqiri (LIVERPOOL vs. Bournemouth)

If David Brooks was fit, I would have picked the Welshman, and I am a Liverpool supporter. The defensive grit hasn’t been here in January for the Reds. If you aren’t in the loop, ask any Liverpool fan what the month of January does to the club and it honestly is like trying to watch a new born horse stand on its legs. I didn’t expect the Reds to drop so many points based on Decembers form (which they won every game, by the way), but I am not surprised having experienced nothing but chills watching on TV.

Before the break Liverpool will field their best starting eleven, and right now that is the one with Salah as the central striker, with Shaqiri on the right-wing. Shaqiri has been a great addition to the club since he signed from Stoke and is still a wildcard player for Klopp to inject some pace and guile into the attack.

Gerard Deulofeu (WATFORD vs. Everton)

I have selected two former Everton players in the differentials this week, and the first of them was once upon a time in my actual team when the Toffee’s were transitioning new managers every other month. The Spaniard Deulofeu went to Barcelona, and it didn’t work, so Javi Gracia took a chance on him and I am glad he did.

Playing out-of-position he is pairing Deeney as the tip of the Hornets sting, and whilst Origi+6 has rattled Everton even to this day I expect their former player to remind them about his qualities. We always believe players try harder against their old clubs, and right now he would be a better option for Marco Silva than Theo Walcott which any Evertonian would agree with.

Pascal Groß (BRIGHTON vs. Burnley)

Last week I thought the German would be the play-maker, an assist machine. What we got from the thrilling goalless draw between Watford and Brighton was a surprise three bonus points being awarded to Groß ahead of all the defenders in the match, which is a rarity. This highlights his impact on the game, and even though I didn’t watch it, confirmed my suspicions when last week I told you that the German was ramping up his performances which was transitioning to points.

Four returns from the last five games is amazing for the £6.7mil priced midfielder, and with a promising run of fixtures upcoming it could be an inspired move to bank of the re-surging German midfield force.

Christian Eriksen (SPURS vs. Leicester)

The Dane has played the last six games in their entirety as Spurs learn to play without Harry Kane. Being the pivot of their midfield, Eriksen has been a creator for the rest of the team and chipped in with goals too. Against Watford and Newcastle, it may have been underwhelming returns, but if you look before that the form is still ridiculous. Normally I struggle having Spurs players for the differential selections, but with Son stealing the show I am happy to have an under-the-radar player of Eriksen’s quality to keep in this week’s picks.

Miguel Almirón (Wolves vs. NEWCASTLE)

Here we are, and for me it feels like a crossover episode of my work on the Fantasy MLS and the FPL. I have seen a lot of people asking the question ‘Just who is he?’ and being quite rude towards the quality of the MLS. I pinched myself when I saw the news that Mike Ashley went into his piggy bank and splashed the cash on the best MLS player of the 2018 season.

We are aware it is a different league, a different intensity, a different everything. Miguel Almirón starts over, and I am not jading my view because of the way the points were calculated in MLS Fantasy, but watching the player at his time in Atlanta was a true joy. You instantly recognised he was destined for a better league, there was no way they were going to keep him a secret for too long.

If you are unfamiliar with the MLS setup, it is just like the NFL where you have geographical divisions, and Atlanta played in the Eastern Conference. The top ranked teams advanced to a playoff to decide a nationwide champion. Atlanta were on the hunt for both the Eastern Conference Championship and the Supporters' Shield, an overall league table made up of both eastern and western conferences, basically the equivalent of the Premier League trophy in England.

During the last set of Gameweek's Miggy was injured and the impact on The Five Stripe’s quest for an unheard-of domestic double (Shield and MLS Cup) was instantly derailed. Atlanta missed out narrowly on both the Eastern Conference picking up a devastating loss on the final day at Toronto and draws to some of the league’s worst teams, allowing New York Red Bulls to usurp Atlanta in their Conference. Almirón watched as the Bulls pipped them to the Supporters' Shield by two points.

Atlanta has a sporting history of being ‘cursed’ and it felt like they were going to slip up and once again fail at the final hurdle, inflicting even more punishment on a City that is the living embodiment of the Icarus character. They had their chance to right their wrongs, and Almirón returned from his injury to inspire them to win the MLS Cup when they beat the Portland Timbers 2-0 on home soil, giving Atlanta a rare win on home soil of for a major honour, with Almirón playing in a central position alongside Josef Martínez playing in front of a regular crowd that was even larger than St James' Park where the Paraguayan is heading.

Almirón left MLS a champion and was the reason why The Five Stripes won the MLS Cup (with a large chunk of help from Josef Martinez). Without him, Atlanta were well short of match winners and not really a legitimate contender for any silverware. If that doesn’t tell you about his pedigree, then nothing will.

Almiron may be restricted to a cameo appearance, but I am hoping to see him make his debut against Wolves and turn some heads. He can score from open play, free-kicks, and has a deadly left foot that gives him all the qualities to fit right in at the Premier League. Newcastle have a dream transfer realised. For everyone at The Hype Train, I welcome Almirón to the league and can’t wait to see him start this new journey.

Forwards (3/10):

Michy Batshuayi (CRY), Alexandre Lacazette (ARS), Oumar Niasse (CAR)

Alexandre Lacazette (Huddersfield vs. ARSENAL)

Huddersfield away from home should be a goal magnet for Arsenal, and this one doesn’t really need a lot of explanation. Lacazette is the best differential in this fixture (ownership speaking, of course). Huddersfield are pretty much already back in the Championship, and if the Terriers can get a result against Arsenal, I will never pick the Frenchman again.

Oumar Niasse (Southampton vs. CARDIFF)

The second former Everton player on the list is the on-loan Senegalese forward Oumar Niasse, a personal favourite of mine, and an FPL player that once provided me with some of my best differential returns. Cardiff have been rocked by tragedy, and after Sala’s body has been identified hopefully there will be closure over the issue and may he rest in peace. The Bluebirds are still left with a class forward, and whilst we have suggested McCarthy as a goalkeeping option, it wouldn’t surprise anyone to see Cardiff honour the memory of Sala with a monumental win. RIP Emiliano.

Key Differential: Michy Batshuayi (CRYSTAL PALACE vs. West Ham)

The main event of the differentials is a familiar name. The on-loan Chelsea forward once played for Marseille and was a goal scoring sensation. Chelsea then took the plunge and picked him up in 2016 and it never really got the momentum the transfer was hyped for. Overlooked by Antonio Conte as Diego Costa was the star in Chelsea’s title win, Batshuayi was famed for last minute winners from the bench.

A loan to Dortmund in 2018 was a fruitful venture with seven goals from ten games, but a subsequent loan to Valencia was a failure, and now the Belgian has landed at South London of all places. Crystal Palace isn’t exactly the French riviera, or the class of Kensington, but he is at a place that will give him the opportunity that he has craved. One thing that Michy has craved has been taken seriously, he left Ligue 1 in France to show that he could do it at a better league, he showed his class in Germany, but Spain was a miss, and he has yet to be considered a success in England.

We didn’t honestly expect Batsman to end up at Crystal Palace, especially at a time when they have all their strikers fit and healthy. The Eagles always need players of better quality than what they already have, and Batshuayi’s eight-minute cameo showed the Selhurst faithful that he has what it takes to make an impact, ironically with a last-minute contribution. There was a time at Chelsea where the Blues should have had more faith in the striker, when he was in-form and couldn’t get in the team. It is undoubted that Palace will give him his first start of the Premier League season, and it is in a game against a club where he could have ended up…West Ham.

The irony could be complete with a goal to cement that he made the right choice. The move to South London doesn’t make sense, especially with the clubs interested in signing him, which makes a great story for a player looking to step down to step up. This is a fresh start for a talented player, one that may players have activated on their watchlist.

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, live sport, and professional wrestling.

As well as providing FPL articles on our website, we are a founding Contributor to the new Fantasy Football Hub, where you can find more unique articles, including weekly Power Rankings, from The Hype Team. You can support us and read exclusive members only content for just £2 per-month by clicking here.

The Hype Train were nominated and shortlisted for the 'Best Football Blog 2016' by the Football Bloggers Association at their annual Football Blogging Awards (The FBA's), with the final presentation held at Old Trafford in Manchester.

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All aboard.


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