What is a Differential?

Hello noobs!! It has been a relatively low scoring week except for a small number of noobs who still have Harry ‘one-season-wonder’ Kane in their ranks. Also, there were quite a number of unexpected results, like Leicester and Sunderland getting their first clean sheets of the season and the Manchester derby ending up goalless (zzz all the Martials and De Bruynes). To put things into perspective how the latter was a surprise, consider that more than 1/3 of our 38-team league benched either a City or Utd defender. And that’s not even counting those who transferred out City or Utd defenders!

Disclaimer: this is NOT a bragging post. Even if it does really seem like it, especially considering the ever uncannily coincidental timing.


Nope, definitely unintentional

What is a differential?

A differential is a captain that has the potential to make a key difference for your team relative to other teams. He is the player that teams around you are benching or dumping, because he is having a poor season, because he is getting 2-pointer weeks in a row, because he is injured and barely coming back, or because he is simply too expensive for most teams to want to gamble on.

Another way to think of it: A differential is the complete opposite of a bandwagon player.

Yes, you are getting the point – to get a differential, you need to be different, different from teams in your local leagues, and different from every other team in the FPL ecosystem (you can check the % of teams that own a particular player by clicking on the ‘i’ icon below the player). When your captain performs, the differential advantage lets you leapfrog your closest neighbours and make up ground on the top teams. Watch your global ranking rise as well!


How do I find a differential?

An Offensive Player

The first thing to note when you choose a differential is to always, always pick an offensive player or an attacker. As we have explained here and here, attackers are more likely to rack up points when / if they perform. I mean seriously, do you really expect your defenders to consistently prevent their opposition from scoring, week in week out? That is just too unrealistic.

If you are still unconvinced, here’s one statistic: In the past 10 GWs, there was only ONE time a defender finished as top point scorer for the week, and it was a lowly 15 points.

The Out-of-Form Class Player

Form is temporary. Class is permanent. And Patience is virtue few FPL managers have.

wise man

…says the bearded wise (old) man

Any idea why Aguero and Sanchez were priced initially at £13.0 and £11.0 respectively, while Kane began this season at £9.5 having started the last almost half price at £5.0? They (and their owners) were all beneficiaries of their abilities to bring in goals and points consistently and generously. More than being perpetual point-getters, they are at their most fundamental, terribly brilliant footballers. Look across the top brackets of the various positions (GK, DEF, MID & FWD) and you will notice that this trend is almost constant. Quality, classy players will eventually come good.

A Good Player with An Excellent Fixture

Sometimes, the best players in the game are already bandwagon players. Everyone has them or are bringing them in. 3/4 of the teams are going to captain them. What do you do? Finish reading this post, if by then you still decide that you really want a differential, here is one possible way.

GW 9 gave us an insight of exactly how this works. With Bournemouth and Norwich rolling into town visiting Man City and Newcastle respectively, it represented an opportunity to bank on an exceptional offensive occasion. The rest, as they said, is history. Raheem Sterling and Georginio Wijnaldum ran riot, chalking up 19- and 25-point week. 

Bear in mind that the heights of GW 9 are an exception rather than the norm. While there were some outstanding performances, there was only ONE time in the entire previous season the 25-point mark was achieved. Comparatively, with merely 10 GWs played, the record have already been reached twice.


Will this fallen hero be the next one to rise?

Should I captain a differential?

If there is just one thing you are going to take away from reading this lengthy, long-winded and nonsensical-sounding post, it is this:

When you captain a differential, you are going Y-O-L-O

What do we mean? When we go for a differential, we are essentially trying our utmost to be different. We want to be different! We want to gamble! We want to take risk! We want to have a shot at that elusive lottery… And most of the time, we miss, we fail, we fall flat on our faces.

We can’t tell you exactly when you should be different, but here are some suggestions:

  1. You are stuck in mid- or bottom-table anguish and need something to arrest your slide.
  2. You are a few places away from top place and you could do with an extra boost.
  3. Such a player is already in your team, or in your plans.
  4. The GW does not have an obvious choice of captaincy, e.g. Aguero against Norwich

Here are some suggestions when you probably do not want a differential:

  1. You are sitting on top of your league – play safe.
  2. You need to take a hit to bring in the differential – taking a hit + taking a gamble = 2 much risk.
  3. The GW has an obvious choice of captaincy – this is disputable, either (a) you can pray that the obvious choice flops and your differential shines, or (b) the obvious choice performs and you are left with a mountain to climb.

Anyhow, just know that when you captain a differential, you are taking a risk. You may have your reasons: you have done your homework and you “know” this is his week; or your secret source on Reddit is recommend(a)ing him; or you dreamt of him scoring freely. Eventually there is a huge degree of luck (or mere dumb perseverance) involved to pull off a differential captain successfully. Yes, it is rewarding, it is thrilling. But don’t go expecting to pull it off every other GW.

torres bury head in hands

Not every out-of-form class player will return to his glory days

That’s all folks!


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