Picking a Captain to double down on in the Fantasy Premier League is the most important question asked ahead of each of the 38 Gameweek's in the Premier League season. There's a lot of self-help out there for FPL enthusiasts, with our Hype Team providing three major considerations for the armband for each and every Gameweek. We'll be detailing the Essential choice for captain, a popular alternative that's pushing the consensus, and a Wildcard pick to add to the chaos. Captaincy can make of break a Gameweek so strap in tightly, it's time to lose your marbles. All aboard.
Fantasy Premier League: Gameweek 31 Deadline
For the 2016/17 Premier League season, the FPL deadline will be one hour before the commencement of the week's first game. The Premier League website lists each FPL deadline, you can always ask on social media, and you can also view a real time countdown on our Weekly Hype page
CAPTAINCY HYPE: THE ESSENTIAL PICK
Our Essential picks for captain are selected each and every week on our main Twitter account, @RealHypeTrain, with four highly selected FPL options battling it out for alpha status amongst fellow FPL players.
Gameweek 31: Essential Captain
Player: Mohamed Salah (LIV)
GW31 Fixture: Fulham (A)
Player Price: £13.4 million
Player Selection %: 45.3%
The end is nigh in FPL this season, with Gameweek 31 marking the decisive strategy planning for the end of season run-in. With a minefield of fixture rescheduling ahead, Gameweek 31 this weekend is set to be the biggest reduced Gameweek.
One constant due to their inability to perform in domestic trophies, Liverpool attempt to balance Premier League and Champions League ambitions this week, with the FPL Community largely in favour of captaining Mohamed Salah this week, regardles of how well Sadio Mane has been performing in recent weeks. Callum Wilson and Eden Hazard just didn't pose any real threat due to some potentially difficult encounters with Newcastle and Everton respectively.
There's a sense of déjà vu this season with Liverpool best primed for points in the first reduced Gameweek of the season. In the 2017/18 campaign on the same weekend, Salah scored 4 in a 5-0 rout at home to Watford to spare the blushes of an otherwise disastrous weekend. A season on and The Reds find themselves in an identical situation, with an ideal fixture on the horizon.
Liverpool travel to a Fulham side who have lost 6 consecutive matches, last winning 4-2 at home to Brighton during Gameweek 24. Scott Parker's side have gone 10 games without a clean sheet, last managing this in a narrow 1-0 home win against Huddersfield during Gameweek 20. Fulham's last 2 home games have been defeats to Man United (GW26) and Chelsea (GW29) and are 13 points off the safety line, which means they could be relegated in their next 2-3 fixtures if results go against the Cottagers.
Burdened with responsibility this weekend, Mo Salah continues to fly the flag of captaincy for FPL players, though this encounter might be a last-chance saloon for millions of players given the fact that Salah has a single Fantasy return in just 2 of his last 7 league appearances.
A lone assist at home to Burnley during Gameweek 30's 4-2 home win was the least The Egyptian deserved. Salah was unlucky not to be awarded another 2 assists, with defenders pinching the ball off Salah in tackles twice that led to goals for Mane and Firmino. The 5 points amassed against Burnley was hardly enough to compete with Mane (14) and Firmino (13), and we'd love to know that state of the captaincy poll if Mane and Salah's ownership levels were reversed.
There is an extent of over-hyping the downturn in Salah's form as of late. Gameweek 30 was another milestone for the top FPL player this season as Salah became the first player to reach 200 points. That said, Salah's 26 points (1 goal, 1 assist) from 7 fixtures is massively dwarfed by Mane's 58 points (7 goals) in the same period since Gameweek 24.
Backing Salah this week ultimately comes down to believing that form and Salah's class will turn on and the tap runs hot immediately. Salah is certainly capable of a big haul, and perhaps fear is deciding matters this week, as well as fellow FPL players managing their expectations in mini-leagues and head-to-head encounters. On that basis, given the 5-game format this week, we'd not be surprised to see most play it safe and fail together, rather than to jump on an alternative in a bid to runaway with a lead in case Salah's Fantasy frustrations continue.
CAPTAINCY HYPE: THE ALTERNATIVE PICK
Our Alternative selection for captain typically commands a smaller FPL ownership percentage, but can be reserved for The Hype Train's own gut instincts on who could be captaincy inspiration.
Gameweek 31: Alternative Captain
Player: Jamie Vardy (LEI)
GW31 Fixture: Burnley (A)
Player Price: £9.0 million
Player Selection %: 10.5%
We continue our captaincy rundown by keeping things on the road this week, with a second away day player in captaincy contention due to a surge in form and change in circumstance at his chosen club.
With Brendan Rodgers returning to the Premier League with Leicester City, Jamie Vardy has continued the habit he has developed - undergoing a honeymoon period under a new Manager. The Englishman scored in the first games after Craig Shakespeare, Claudio Ranieri and Claude Puel were let go by a ruthless ownership group that doesn't allow more than 6 consecutive losses.
Vardy has entered a phase of the season where he is owned by more than 10% of players due to scoring in 3 consecutive matches. Having just scored his 100th goal for Leicester in the 3-1 home win against Fulham during Gameweek 30, the Forward is finding himself with some bright attacking talents in Harvey Barnes, James Maddison and new signing Youri Tielemens, with Barnes and Maddison both providing assists for Vardy against The Cottagers.
On the horizon for Leicester this weekend is a trip to a Burnley side who have lost their last 3 Premier League matches against Newcastle (GW28), Crystal Palace (GW29) and Liverpool (GW30). Sean Dyche's team are in danger of relegation this season, with Leicester poised to add to the tension around the home side this weekend if Rodgers' side can keep up their attacking verve.
The only drawback to potentially captaining Vardy is the nature of Leicester and Burnley as being erratic sides to bank on, constantly delivering unpredictable returns and points this season - and even though Vardy has scored in back-to-back matches 3 times in the 2018/19 campaign, there is a sense of potential banana-peel for those that might end up with a low-scoring and tight encounter.
CAPTAINCY HYPE: THE WILDCARD PICK
Our Wildcard selection is one of the ten differential picks that is featured in our Weekly Wildcards article. This captaincy selection has a very small percentage of owners in the FPL, and is our left field option.
Gameweek 31: Wildcard Captain
Player: Ayoze Perez (NEW)
GW31 Fixture: Bournemouth (A)
Player Price: £6.1 million
Player Selection %: 1.4%
Lower down the ownership pecking order regarding captaincy, there are some delicious options to consider for Gameweek 31, though from our selections this week we finished on the road at the south coast.
Rather than considering Callum Wilson or a Ryan Fraser, the true differential in Newcastle’s visit to the other end of the country is Ayoze Perez, currently selected by just 1.4% of players. The Forward has seen a spike in Fantasy returns since Miguel Almiron’s arrival to the club, with Perez forming a traditional and effective strike partnership amongst Newcastle’s 3-4-3 formation.
Perez scored twice and assisted against Everton during Gameweek 30’s remarkable 3-2 comeback, with Rondon claiming a goal and an assist of his own. The Spaniard is finding himself picking up on loose balls in the box, and generally has the freedom of the box as opposing defenders are occupied trying to restrict the speed and precision of Almiron on the left-wing.
This enabling factor will be vital for Newcastle in their visit to Bournemouth. The Cherries lost 2-1 to Newcastle earlier this season during Gameweek 12 and have only kept 1 clean sheet in their last 6 Premier League outings, earning a shutout against Huddersfield last weekend in a 2-0 win. Newcasttle will be boasted by Bournemouth’s defensive fragilities and with Perez fresh off 3 attacking returns, it might be another weekend for Rondon’s supporting cast to punish teams defensively.
With eyes on the likes of Wilson, King and Barnes as replacements for Raul Jimenez, it might be Perez that offers true value and difference this weekend.
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.