FPL: Differentials Defenders

We all want to get as many points as possible and get our ranks as high as possible. Now, there is an obvious correlation between getting more points and getting a better rank, however, that linear logic does not flow forward always.

Most players who have played a full FPL season would agree, GWs where popular picks like Harry Kane (TOT), M. Salah (LIV), Kevin De Bruyne (MCI), Trent Alexander Arnold (LIV) and B. Fernandes (MUN) score big point tally’s, the average score of that GW climbs very high. This is due to the massive ownership of these star assets, or in simpler words, these star players are present in the team of millions of FPL managers. Therefore, when they get a goal, or an assist, or some cheeky bonus points, every other person in the FPL gets those points and therefore in such a gameweek, your rank may even fall despite owning these start players.

In that scenario, how do you climb up the rank table? Enter Differentials.

Differentials are players that have very less ownership, preferably single digit ownership. These players are kind of hidden gems, not everyone knows about them, not a lot of people have them in their teams. Some differentials get overlooked, some even go under the radar.

Now imagine you are in a mini-league with 20 managers and you have a differential with a 10% ownership in FPL. That translates to roughly 1 manager owning that player apart from you. You have a good day and your differential forward pick scores a goal and assist (with 3 Bonus haha!). That gives you and your co-manager differential 12 points. These points can help you cover trails and establish leads. Because no-one apart from you and your co-manager had these 12 points. That is the power of differentials.

Now that we have learnt what a differential is, take a sneak peek at the Differential Defenders for this season.

Defenders are a probably the most argued upon in FPL conversations. Nobody seems to have the perfect answer on whether to splash the cash on premium defenders or to keep three starting 4.5M defenders to save money. Whether to pick full backs that cost higher than Centre backs of the same team for potential attacking returns or to be satisfied with the central defenders with occasional goal or assist in the entire season.

Keeping up with the debate, we present you all types of defenders, catering to all schools of thought. To steer you clear from the obvious picks, Defenders that have high ownership are –

1. Trent-Alexander Arnold (LIV): 7.5m 33% Ownership

2. Ruben Dias (MCI): 6.0m 26% Ownership

3. Luke Shaw (MUN): 5.5m 56% Ownership

4. Lucas Digne (EVE): 5.5m 20% Ownership

5. Ben White (ARS): 4.5m 26% Ownership

These usual suspects performed brilliantly over the course of the previous season and enjoyed high ownership through the season (bar TAA, who had to deal with injuries and a blip in form).

Let’s move past these and look at the Defenders that may compete with the premium ones, but with lesser ownership –

1. Ki-jana Hoever (WOL) – 2% Ownership – £4m

A £4.0m full back that will be in the starting line-up? Get in. Plays wing-back? Preach.

How Hoever is a differential is not explainable. A defender that has been listed at £4.0m and has started multiple times in the pre-season for a new manager and has performed nicely is bound to be trusted and started in the league. Especially, with no other reasonable options at that position.

Wolves have a brilliant run of fixtures from the GW4 and owning Hoever at that point should be a rule. Get this differential and improve your rank instantly.

2. S. Reguillon (TOT) – 3% Ownership – £5m

It will be fair to say that Tottenham Hotspurs had a very Spursy 20/21 season. The North London side showed glimses of quality under Jose Mourinho as they gritted their way through to the League Cup final before sacking Jose in the nights running up to the final, before losing casually to the rampant Manchester City. Spurs showed glimpses of quality through their individual star performers Harry Kane, who finished top of the charts for both Goals and Assists, H. Son and loanee Gareth Bale.

Defensively, the team did not have any remarkable outings, but still managed to finish the season with 12 clean sheets, the fourth highest in the division. Arguably, despite an inconsistent season, one thing that has become a trademark is consistently maintain clean sheets over the seasons. Tottenham have also tried their hand at the transfer market again after a rare season going without any new signings, and these new signings have started to gel into the team slowly.

One such new signing is Serge Regullion from Real Madrid, who has proved to be fresh breeze with his positive gameplay style going forward and reliability at the back. The Spaniard has got a deadly composure in the final third resulting into an impressive 6 assists in just over 2200 minutes (an assist every four matches). He also bombed in 62 crosses and created another 4 big chances in the limited game time he had showing the potential of his FPL points in the event of playing throughout the season.

The combination of Sergios attacking ability and being part of a formidable back line, along with low ownership make Sergio and absolute must have for your FPL team this season.

3. M. Keane (EVE) – 3% Ownership – £5m

Taking into account, the constant troubles Everton had with injuries shaking their defense, and half a dozen individual errors leading to goals, 12 clean sheets sound reasonable for a mid-table team. However, the future has better things in line for Everton as Nuno E. Santo has been now appointed as the Manager of the club. Nuno has been much famed for establishing a strict back line for multiple years at the Molineux for Wolves and it is only a matter of time that Everton become a similarly defensive outfit, giving direct benefit to the number of clean sheets our differential pick, Michael Keane will possibly keep over the next season.

Flying under the radar at just 3% ownership, Keane provides an excellent and cheap opportunity to get into the Everton defence, who as a club will be finally looking to break into the European spots. To add to the defensive potential, Keane also has proved to be an effective player in the opposition box with three goals to his name in the 20/21 season, up from two goals in the season before that. Further, Everton has an excellent run of fixtures.

4. Matty Cash (AVL) – 2% Ownership – £5m

Aston Villa had an impressive start to the 20/21 season with four straight wins including mammoth victories against Liverpool (7-2) and Leicester City. Their form tailed off with four defeats in next five matches to lower half teams. However, Villa fought back the poor form and won three of the next four with impressive clean sheets in all the matches. The season showed that Villa have massive potential to break into the top half of the table and firmly establish themselves there. The poor runs also showed the vulnerability and weaknesses of the team.

Aston Villa had two sparkling starts that rose in the 20/21 season, England stalwart Jack Grealish with his attacking finesse (who has now gone to Manchester City), and E. Martinez, with his responsible shoulder between the sticks. Between the two, a lot of attention was shared, which led to essential players like Matty Cash going under the radar. Matty Cash also suffered multiple injuries and a suspension, restricting his game time to only 2373 minutes. Good for us? We got a differential pick.

Matty Cash impressed throughout the season with his ready to die attitude to stop an opposition attack and with his runs down the right flank. The 23-year old made just two assists and created two big chances with 81 crosses. However, the fact that Matty provides an easy opportunity to get a Villa defender (for all the clean sheet potential) and has shown glimpses of excellent attacking ability makes him an ideal differential defender pick for us. The set-up provided to Aston Villa full-backs is fairly proven, with Targett owned at five times the ownership at 10%.

5. Charlie Taylor (0.7%) / Matthew Lowton (2%) (BUR): £4.5m

Burnley has slowly and steadily built a reputation for being a side too stubborn to break down. The defence line is marshaled by Taylor and Lowton on either flank. Both of them provide an excellent opportunity as a season keeper.

Fixture list of Burnley may not look very appealing; however, they face only 2 sides that finished in the Top 4 last season in the first 10 fixtures. Burnley has build their entire Premier League existence on the back of keeping clean sheets in between matches, especially when facing mid table and other smaller sides, of whom they face 8 of them in the first 10 fixtures. Burnley managing a few Clean Sheets in these fixtures might not be the most surprising thing.

With Burnley looking to start the 21/22 afresh, trust can be laid on Sean Dyches side, which has time and again proved their Premier League pedigree, especially in defense, as even the worst of seasons finish with 10+ clean sheets.

It is also to be noted that the Differential Defenders we have chosen also present excellent value as they help saving you funds for premium picks in your other players. With that, we hope you make the best choice and have an excellent FPL season ahead!