Fantasy Premier League: Gameweek 31 tips, strategies and discussing differentials

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Hints, tips and ideas ahead of gameweek 31 in Fantasy Premier League.

We’ve only got seven weeks left to go before our work leagues are decided, bragging rights are earned, and the guy who insisted upon leaving Erling Haaland out of his squad week after week is justifiably shamed into never playing Fantasy Premier League ever again.

The Gameweek 31 deadline approaches on Saturday morning and if you’ve read last week’s article, you’ll probably have a pretty good idea already of how you’re going to navigate the next few weeks, leading up to the last handful of awkward blanks and doubles before we finish the season with a nice smooth run-in.

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Because we’ve already covered the considerations for the next few weeks’ transfers, today we’re going to do a quick flick through the big news ahead of the weekend’s fixtures – including the latest on Marcus Rashford – but not until after we’ve discussed one of the biggest issues we’ll need to bear in mind as we enter the home straight. Differentials.

A different kind of fix

For those of you who haven’t come across the term before, when we talk about differentials in FPL, we mean players who we put in our squads but our peers don’t. The trick is to know when to pull the trigger on transfers that set you apart from your peers, and when to stick to the script.

Think about what your target is for the end of the season – to finish at the top of your friends’ league, to avoid being bottom of the ladder at school – and compare your team with those of the players around you. If you’re behind a rival player and need to make up the gap, it makes sense to avoid playing too many of the same players. Erling Haaland might well score a lot of points, but if the person a place above you in the league also has him, that won’t help you overtake him.

So if you need to move on up the rankings, you need to keep an eye on what those ahead of you are up to and make sure you don’t follow them too closely. Conversely, if you’re in the lead and looking to stay ahead of the chasing pack, you need to try and mirror their teams where possible and avoid unnecessary risks. You might well have decided that Mohamed Salah isn’t the man to have, but if you’re ahead of two or three players who all have him, it makes sense to stand by the player knowing that there’s no way for the teams behind you to make points up as long as you keep hold of him.

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Of course, there’s a balancing act here, especially if you’re both trying to move up and protect your position – you won’t always be able to cover both ends of the bet, as it were. And while differentials are a good idea in the right circumstances, you also have to decide when to pull the trigger – we’ve still got seven weeks to go, so if you’re chasing down a big points gap you should probably gamble and go early, but if you’ve only got a small bridge to cross to move up the ladder, then we’d advise waiting until after the double gameweeks.

And just because you’re looking for differentials doesn’t mean you need to go completely wild. Deciding to run with, say, Gabriel Jesus over Harry Kane or Haaland is a reasonable gamble if you need things to run in your favour. That doesn’t mean you should leap all the way to, say, Patrick Bamford just to switch things up. All the usual rules of common sense and forward planning still apply, but just don’t miss out on a chance to increase your odds of improving your position.

Knocks, crocks and captaincy choices

Back to this week, and the big news is that Marcus Rashford will miss “a few games”, starting with Sevilla in the Europa League tonight and certainly including the away match to Nottingham Forest on Sunday. This is pretty bad news for about half of the players in the FPL, and rather begs the questions of what “a few” means. Will he be back in time for Manchester United’s double in gameweek 34? If so, we’d recommend keeping hold seeing as we all had him knowing that he’d miss gameweek 32 anyway. But we don’t know for sure and it may be a tense wait to see if he’s ready by then.

Elsewhere there were minor knocks for quite a few players you may well have in your team – Odsonne Edouard, Harvey Barnes, Kalidou Koulibaly and Matheus Nunes will all likely be able to play some part, while we’ll need to wait for the pressers to find out more about Luke Shaw and Pontus Jansson, both of whom are down as fifty-fifty to be in any fit state to play this weekend. Much less likely to lace up his boots is Alain Saint-Maximin, whose hamstring injury probably puts him out for a couple of weeks.

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In terms of the captaincy chip this weekend, there aren’t too many appealing high-risk plays on the table. Any of the usual big scorers – Haaland, Salah, Bukayo Saka and so on – make for good choices, with the best choice likely to be either Haaland or Harry Kane if you have them, with their respective home games against Bournemouth and Leicester City.

With all of the above in mind, here’s how we’re expecting to line up come Saturday morning, with Rashford still on the sub’s bench and - as discussed last week - Salah and Ibrahima Konate brought in to both balance the books ahead of re-signing Haaland and take advantage of Liverpool’s forthcoming run of fixtures:

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And before we go, a quick word on price changes – if your transfer plans come down to the odd 0.1m here or there, it’s worth keeping across players who are being bought and sold in volume as that could easily drive their price up or down. As it stands, Jesus and Alexander Isak are among the players not too far from adding an extra number on to their tags, so be aware and make your moves early if you’re planning to bring them in, or Lisandro Martinez or Jason Steele. William Saliba, Willy Gnonto and Mykhaylo Mudryk aren’t too far from going in the opposite direction.

Good luck for gameweek 31, and may all of your captains bag at least a brace for you.

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