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Captaincy Picks 2019/20: FPL Gameweek 18

Picking the right captain in FPL can make or break your season and has a massive impact on your final overall rank come the end of the season. We attempt to ease the burden of any potential captaincy stress by offering a host of worthy selections ahead of each Gameweek - an Essential that is voted by the FPL Community, an alternative of our choosing, a Dark Horse who might spring a surprise, and a lowly selected Differential - to cover the bases. All aboard.

Fantasy Premier League: Gameweek 18 Deadline

For the 2019/20 Premier League season, the FPL deadline will be one hour before the commencement of the week's first game. Our website provides a real-world countdown timer for the the upcoming Gameweek, whilst you can read our latest Fantasy articles from the season on our 2019/20 FPL weekly hype sub-section.


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 18: Essential Captain

Player: Raul Jimenez (WOL)

Position: Forward

Fixture: Norwich (A)

Player Price: £7.5 million

Player Selection %: 17.9%

Captaincy poll results:

Reason for victory:

The 2019/20 Premier League season has been nothing like what many expected in August before a ball had been kicked. Either one of two things have happened and there’s a fine line between if either of these options are all that entirely different… Either, there’s an increasing polarity with the standards of Premier League teams. The big TV money and the exposure of the league is lifting up the mid-table and relegation threatened sides to the point that everyone outside of the established ‘Top 6’ is now potential relegation fodder or a side pushing for Europe, or those in the big six just aren’t living up to the billing, with Liverpool’s dominance of the league this year making every single team look subpar as a result.

The little kinks are there too that are delighting viewers, or destroying their very souls. Leicester have delighted and played expansive football. Their players are now a regular staple of the FPL season. So is a £4.0 defender named John Lundstram, with the majority of football fans in the top flight needing educating about him and Sheffield United as a whole. There’s also the damming, with VAR dominating every single match as viewers are distasteful over a slither of skin or sick being a hairline offside… Or in some cases, not even offside in a system that was designed to make the Premier League as error free as possible, given that lack of aptitude of the referees (why did we expect that anything else from the system in reality).

We’d also strongly argue that the script hasn’t followed its course in the FPL this season either. Sure, the likely suspects are in fine force, with KDB returning to his best and Liverpool’s sensational African wingers doing the business again, but there has been a shift from Salah to Mane as being ‘the man’ at Liverpool. Jamie Vardy is the top-scorer. Chelsea have provided Tammy Abraham a stage to perform at the highest level and the Englishman is thriving. Leicester (7) and Crystal Palace (6) have the most clean sheets. Man City 6) and Liverpool (4) have looked defensively frail in every game. Pre-season VAR talk about penalties and set-pieces dominating has only really made Marcus Rashford flourish, and there has been sustained form for Callum Wilson (BOU) and Danny Ings (SOU).

Consistency is the key word that ties the larger point of why Raul Jimenez has been selected as the essential captain. Amongst the sea of torment and randomness of the season, Jimenez has prospered as the voice of reason and logic in a week without Liverpool to guide FPL players to an easy captaincy decision against West Ham.

Raul has been involved in 10/17 FPL returns this season, scoring 6 and assisting 5, having started every game, despite the pressure of rotation due to Europa League commitments. Of those 7 blanks, 5 came before Gameweek 7, with only 2 in the following 10 games. Of the 10 attacking returns, he has managed just a sole return in 9 of the 10, with Gameweek 8 away at Man City the only anomaly, with Jimenez assisting Adama Traore twice in near-identical counter-attacks.

Wolves have also sustained form for a long period of time, with their last 2 defeats coming an age apart, first losing 5-2 at home to Chelsea (GW5), before Jose Mourinho’s Spurs side triumphed 2-1 at Molineux (GW17). The 11 matches between their losses saw 5 wins and 6 draws – 5 draws of which were consecutively drawn by a 1-1 scoreline.

This aids the mental process FPL players have to endure as they weigh up their options this weekend, especially as a visit to second-bottom Norwich, who have the second-worst defensive record in the league with 35 goals shipped in their first 17 matches back in the top flight (and it looks being only 21 more if they can’t stop shipping goals).

A large minority amongst our poll voters also agree that Jimenez is the right course of action this week, though being British and all, we’d almost certainly raise an eyebrow (or both), and take any result with a pinch of salt that any decision, especially when pressed with little alternatives on the tables, might eventually come to bite you in the rear – especially if you voted in the favour of the eventual winner.


Our Alternative selection for captain typically commands a smaller FPL ownership percentage than our Essential poll winner, though this pick is usually reserved for The Hype Train's own gut instincts on who could be captaincy inspiration for the upcoming Gameweek.

Gameweek 18: Alternative Captain

Player: Kevin De Bruyne (MCI)

Position: Midfielder

Fixture: Leicester (H)

Player Price: £10.3 million +

Player Selection %: 43.3%

Reason for selection:

With a mix of attacking talent on offer in the upcoming Gameweek 18, even in the absence of Liverpool, Man City’s main man, Kevin De Bruyne was also going to get his fair share of suitors, regardless of fixture, with Pep Guardiola’s side facing Leicester at home in a huge clash.

With Rashford and Jimenez in enticing away fixtures, KDB is the player the FPL needs right now to grab another Gameweek by the horns, with many hoping his undeniable influence can carry their Fantasy teams in a week with some tricky fixtures and clashes between highly-owned FPL assets. The Belgian was incredible in City’s most recent 3-0 away triumph at Arsenal, with the midfield maestro scoring twice and assisting, with his goals and assisting as easy and as well placed as any goal you’ll scored on FIFA 20 this season.

De Bruyne became the first player in the Premier League to reach 10 assists, though due to how FPL accredit assists, the game has the midfielder an assist ahead with 11 – 2 more than Heung-Min Son (9 assists) and clubmate David Silva (8).

The 19-point haul at Arsenal also jumped KDB up to 116 points – only Vardy (133) has more points in the game, with Gameweek 18 the fifth occasion in which the midfielder has managed 10+ points in a single Gameweek.

If you’re a fan of going with the form and not caring about the fixture, then De Bruyne is your man this weekend. City can’t afford to rotate their key players in a massive (and potentially title deciding) encounter at The Etihad, which in theory should put KDB as an indispensable option against the side denying City of a runners up spot in the league table right now. All you have to do is overlook a host of concerns that might linger in the back of your head; Leicester have the best defence in the league (11 conceded), Arsenal aren’t all that so puts gloss on a performance that other teams won’t want to repeat, the reality that City are a little behind their pace of last year, Pep Guardiola’s rotation wheel, a potential shock on the cards that will leave Riyad Mahrez distraught, and the pressure that anything but a win on Saturday afternoon effectively ends their title chances before Christmas day.


A new captaincy selection this season sees us introduce a Dark Horse pick, which will be a player who typically has a good scoring record against an opposing team, or a player in good form that is being overlooked due to other popular captaincy picks.

Gameweek 18: Dark Horse Captain

Player: Richarlison (EVE)

Position: Midfielder

Fixture: Arsenal (H)

Player Price: £7.9 million

Player Selection %: 9.0%

Reason for selection:

This week, the most interesting subject matter that we talked about when looking at a goo dark horse to choose from this week spawned our team talking about Arsenal's trip to Everton in length. We had initially considered a Spurs player in the form of Dele Alli or Heung-Min Son at home against Chelsea as there is a story with Jose Mourinho playing his old side Chelsea, whilst having taken up the reigns at another London outfit in Spurs.

There's no greater wildcard entity as a fixture though than Arsenal, who have only on this past Friday afternoon appointed Mikel Arteta as their new Head Coach, taking on an Everton side that are likely to announce that 3-time Champions League winner (and known Liverpool admirer) Carlo Ancelotti, as the new man at their helm in the coming days.

This melting pot of media drama and expectation surrounding each club, whether for the better or worse, has added a much needed spice to a fixture that on paper could swing either way, purely due to the inconsistency of both teams this season under old management regimes. The travelling Gunners have only won twice on the road this season, beating Newcastle 1-0 (GW1) and most recently in a 3-1 triumph at West Ham (GW16). Both sides have only won 10 league matches this season, with Liverpool (16), Leicester (12) and Man City (11) winning more games than both combined this season.

Under temporary care, Everton have showed some bite under the iron rule of club legend Duncan Ferguson, convincingly beating Chelsea 3-1 at home (GW16) before earning a respectable point away in a 1-1 draw at Man United (GW17). Arsenal, well they were five worlds apart in quality in their most recent outing, a demoralising 3-0 home defeat against Man City (GW17), a loss that Mikel Arteta was well aware of having been sat next to Pep Guardiola on the City bench during the glossy away win.

With an unpredictably around both teams, with new management structures currently being put in place, combined with the early kick-off this Saturday morning, and the inability of Arsenal to perform away, especially in the wake of some key defensive injuries to left-sided players in Tierney and Kolasinac, leaves Arsenal with even less protection than they'd like, against a side that has received 4 points from European sides in recent weeks.

For us, this all leads up to Richarlison being the man to call on in this situation as the real dark horse consideration. The Brazilian is in good form having scored 4 goals in his last 6 matches, looks a good threat in the air having had the most headed shots (16) in the league, with the second-most headed goals (3), only sitting behind Burnley's Chris Wood (4). This in theory means that the Brazilian international is going to probe and test a leaky Gunners defence that has conceded 27 goals this season from their opening 17 fixtures, and it wouldn't surprise us that this could be the tipping point for Richarlison to be taken more seriously again by the wider pool of FPL players, especially as Ancelotti has a habit of liking versatile wingers playing across the pitch (Mertens and Insigne come to mind).

Either way, Saturday has limitless possibilities in terms of scope of entertainment and expectation, so it may very well be worth a gamble if you have the the money in the your FPL squad to make some last-minute alterations to freshen up a Liverpool-free Gameweek.


Our Wildcard selection is one of the ten differential picks that is featured in our Weekly Wildcard Differentials article. This captaincy selection has a very small percentage of owners in the FPL, and is our left-field option.

Gameweek 18: Differential Captain

Player: Neal Maupay (BHA)

Position: Forward

Fixture: Sheffield United (H)

Player Price: £5.8 million

Player Selection %: 1.7%

Reason for selection:

We’ve had a crack at whip with Maupay before as differential captain, and it happened in GW11 against Norwich, which followed a decent run of form going into the game. Norwich had the worst defence in the league, and Maupay drew a blank. Flash forward seven weeks and here we are with another bout of form that has caught our attention. Pretty much every single fixture this weekend is evens, with the result being able to swing in any direction. The one thing that you must bank on this weekend is form. Let us break down every differential this week to explain our thinking.

Gameweek 18: Differential Considerations

  • Dominic Calvert-Lewin (EVE): Early game, no sustained form, tough fixture. Arsenal have a new manager and there is a risk of having a new manager bounce.

  • Tom Heaton (AVL): No sustained form, Ings is in form, but Villa do perform better at home.

  • Chris Mepham (BOU): A huge win against Chelsea puts Bournemouth back on FPL manager radars, but there is still the problem of having too many injuries and lightening barely strikes for teams outside of the top six teams. Burnley also pose a threat from set pieces, so Mepham is picked in hope that Bournemouth use this momentum.

  • Neal Maupay (BHA): The Seagulls forward has three goals in three consecutive games and has picked up five bonus points in those fixtures. The teams Maupay has scored against hasn’t fazed him, and there is no downside of picking him as captain. Sheffield United haven’t been as airtight as they were in the opening of the season.

  • Vincente Guaita (CRY): The Eagles goalkeeper has been an amazing option to have and has fixtures on his side. The Eagles defence has been eradicated by injuries, and Newcastle have a good record against Palace at St James Park. There are lots of risks with picking a goalkeeper as captain as their returns are usually capped unless there is a freak game with lots of penalty saves.

  • Matt Doherty (WOL): The wing-back has attacking potential, and Wolves have been competitive in most of their fixtures this year. Doherty has the bonus of defensive points, but that goes against him if Pukki grabs another goal.

  • Gabriel Jesus (MCI): City have a tough fixture against Leicester who are in fine form, and are scoring lots of goals, and have the best defence in the league. Jesus has scoring potential, but his chances may be limited.

  • Anthony Martial (MUN): Manchester United have been in fine scoring form, particularly Marcius Rashford. The eye test for Watford though is a huge doubt, the Hornets caused Liverpool tonnes of problems and on any other day would have beat the Reds. Martial is a great option to have,

  • Lucas Moura (TOT): Spurs are in a hotly contested London Derby, and whilst Moura has form on his side, derbies also have the risk of low scoring draws. This isn’t an easy fixture for either team, and whilst it would be nice to have Moura in your team, you wouldn’t consider him as captain.

Differentials have huge mental red flags, there is always the voice in your head asking, “why don’t more people own this player?” There are usually reasons, Maupay has had lots of competition from other strikers because this year you haven’t needed an Aguero or a Kane to compete. Brighton haven’t always had players that FPL managers gravitate to due to form, fixtures, and general talent.

Glenn Murray had penalties on his side when he was a legitimate fantasy option, and with VAR haunting forwards by scrutinising millimetre offside calls, the trend has been to put as much money into their midfield and trust the template forwards like Vardy (LEI), Abraham (CHE), and Jimenez (WOL). Other forwards in the FPL are spready scarcely across the board, and we can’t see many differential forwards such as Maupay becoming options that break ten percent ownership.

FPL generally look at fixtures to decide transfers, and they won’t touch Maupay because it may clash with John Lundstram (SHU). Once the process of elimination has been assessed Maupay isn’t even considered and immediately disregarded. The marginalisation of strikes like Maupay make them even bigger differentials, and more tempting for us to include him as our differential captain. Brighton have actually been playing really good football on the eye-test, and all of Maupay’s recent three goals have been because of exquisite technique ahead of simple poachers’ goals. Form is form, and that is enough for us to rely on Maupay against Sheffield United.

Want to know more about The Hype Train?

The Hype Train is an entertainment website founded in 2015, specialising in Fantasy sports reporting, starting with Fantasy Premier League (FPL), before expanding to MLS Fantasy coverage in 2018.

We pride ourselves in providing beautiful graphics, statistics, in-depth analytical reporting and free weekly insight for hopeful players attempting to climb rankings tables. We are also occasional media reviewers, with a keen interest to review games, live sport, and professional wrestling.

In 2019, Hype Train Football Club was formed, becoming the first Fantasy Football website to take to the field. HTFC is a socially active team across social and web channels, providing regular match highlights, match reports, comprehensive player statistics and unique player profiles.

The Hype Train were nominated and shortlisted for the 'Best Football Blog' in 2016 by the Football Bloggers Association at their annual Football Blogging Awards (The FBA's), and were again shortlisted as a finalist in 2019 in the 'Best Fantasy Football Blog' category.

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All aboard.


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