Fantasy Premier League mailbag: Top differentials, best goalkeepers and Nunez

We are in an unprecedented situation in terms of our FPL squads – the signings we make will now only have to be for the next two games before the one-month World Cup break.

Long term planning and patience are out the window, it’s a points mentality you need for the 15 and 16 game weeks.

The AthleteAbdul Rehman answers your questions on how to manage your team in the run up to the World Cup…

Looking for a fun player with high upside potential to play with for two weeks. Must be low owned, but with tilt and carry potential, and not on the radar of the FPL community right now. Who is this brief for? I’m thinking of someone like Michael Olise, Julian Alvarez or Allan Saint-Maximin, but I’m open to suggestions! — Ed W.

Alvarez (£6.0m) certainly matches the high standard, although that’s only if Erling Haaland is confirmed for Manchester City v Fulham tomorrow (Saturday). He had a goal and two assists against Sevilla in City’s Champions League clash on Wednesday. That would be about 15 points.

I also like the look Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£7.9m). He is a proven Premier League goalscorer and appears to be back on form, starting the last three games for Everton and scoring once. His next two games are against Leicester City (H) and Bournemouth (A), so you can’t really ask for much better. He is also the penalty taker and, at the time of writing, belongs to only 0.8 per cent of managers.

If you really want to push the boat out, Antony (£7.6m) of Manchester United is also a good shout.

United’s next two games are good for the attack, in my opinion, as Aston Villa and Fulham aren’t exactly tight at the back. However, he missed Gameweek 14 and their Europa League match last night with a slight injury, so you’ll have to watch.

The Crystal Palace Olise (£5.4m) is also a good option, but I think it might be too early Saint-Maximin (£6.2m). He only played four minutes for Newcastle in matchday 14 after being out for over a month with injury, so I think he’ll be eased back in.

Who do you see as having the most potential out of Scamacca and Calvert-Lewin over the next two games? — AbdulBasith T.

That’s a good question – I think I prefer Calvert-Lewin, mostly because of his expected minutes. West Ham have two nice home games in Crystal Palace and Leicester and Gianluca Scamacca (£6.7m) he is their first choice forward now. However, his pattern in the early substitutions disappointed me a bit.

Calvert-Lewin has less competition for his place and is more of a talisman for his team and, as mentioned, is also Everton’s first penalty taker. His next two games are also against teams in the bottom five for both goals conceded and expected goals (xGC).

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Who is the best goalkeeper for the next two game weeks? — Chris H.

Oh, that’s a tough one, as there are a few goalkeepers I like for the next two, such as Jordan Pickford, Dean Henderson and Lukasz Fabianski (or if he’s injured, Alphonse Areola).

However, I think I would choose Robert Sanchez (£4.6m), who then have Wolves (A) and Villa (H). The Brighton side have conceded 15 goals (fifth best) with an xGC of 13.31 (also fifth). Wolves and Villa are also in the bottom three for goals scored so far.

Henderson (£4.7m) it probably has the most long-range potential, though. Nottingham Forest then play Brentford and Palace, both at home. Forest take a lot of shots so if he’s fit Henderson will get salvage points. He already has three games in double figures this season.

On the other hand, he could get two points in the next two. It really depends on your risk appetite.

Hi Abdul, who are the best replacements for Ivan Toney for £8m and under? Is it worth a punt to land Callum Wilson at this point? — Venance R.

My top three Toney replacements for £8m and under are Wilson (£7.5m), Gabriel Jesus (£8.0m) and Calvert-Lewin, in that order. Wilson and Calvert-Lewin have decent fixtures and although Jesus has Chelsea and Wolves away in his next two, he is capable of dealing with any team the way this Arsenal side play.

As for your second question, it really depends on whether you have a decent sub to play this week.

If you have someone with good gear, I don’t think I’d take the hit. Then you can just remove Toney in Gameweek 16. If your secondary is really weak or you don’t have the right players to replace, then start hitting.

Hi, thanks for doing this. So I’m sending Wilfried Zaha off this week and considering replacing him with either Leandro Trossard or Marcus Rashford. I have £0.5m in the bank. Any other options you would advise? I’m already trebled to Newcastle and Manchester City and have Gabriel Martinelli in the ranks. Thanks! — Lawrence B.

For me, Trossard (£6.9m) and Rashford (£6.7m) are the top two options to replace Zaha given your budget. Both have been great this season. If you wanted to do some rubber, then Harvey Barnes (£6.9m) Leicester are not the worst choice in the world.

Given Fulham’s two games, what are your thoughts on a move from Andreas Pereira to Crysencio Summerville (Leeds, £4.4m)? – Alas.

I’m not too sure about this move, to be completely honest. Firstly, it seems like a wasted signing, unless Pereira is one of your starting 11. If it’s not, then it’s better to use the transfer on your weakest starter than on a bench player.

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However, I still think I wouldn’t make this move even if Pereira was a starter for you – he’s just a better option regardless. If you intend to remove him, then I’d rather go for it Leon Bailey (Villa, £4.6m)which has much more on it.

Hi Abdul, would you start Danny Ward (Leicester) or Robert Sanchez in goal this week? Thanks! — Momburak.

Sanchez, for sure. Brighton’s opponents Wolves have scored the fewest goals (six) so far, with an xG of 13.62 (fifteenth in the division). Furthermore, they have no recognized striker going into this game – Diego Costa is suspended and Raul Jimenez and Sasa Kalajdzic are both injured.

I’m considering swapping Aleksandar Mitrovic for Scamacca for his better performances in Game Weeks 15 and 16. However, I’m still not convinced about Scamacca as a consistent scorer and he might be replaced by Michail Antonio. That said, Mitrovic has Manchester City and Manchester United in these next two game weeks, which are tough – Phil B.

It’s not an easy decision to remove Mitrovic and it’s something I haven’t decided yet. However, I think if you can find a better transfer elsewhere, such as upgrading a midfielder, where you get Mitrovic this week, I would go that route.

If you can’t do that, moving to Scamacca isn’t bad. They have two decent home games, with Palace and Leicester next. His minutes will likely be hampered by Antonio, as we’ve already seen, but I think he’s their first choice and if he gets around 70 minutes in each of the next two games, he’ll be worth it.

I would also consider Dominic Solanke if you don’t already have him. Leeds United (A) and Everton (H) are good fixtures for Bournemouth and he is ready to start if fit and take their penalties. It’s also only £5.7m, so it will allow you to upgrade elsewhere.

I have slowly slipped over the last few weeks of play from 20,000 to 90,000. How do I stop the rot and get Green Arrows in the next two game weeks when I have an injured Bukayo Saka and no carry left (Toney to Wilson already)? Take aggressive minus four or play it safe? — Jack S.

When you have a bad week of play or a back to back pair, it’s important not to jerk off and make emotional decisions. The best thing to do is to keep your cool and keep playing your game. It’s tempting to kick back and cheat on your leader picks to try and make up for lost ground, but it’s really too early for that.

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Saka looks fit to play for Arsenal as he’s been training this week, so you should be fine there. The best bet would probably be to bench him and play a competent sub, but if you don’t have one then a swoop for Phil Foden (if you can afford him at £8.5m) would probably be the only that justifies a strike – I guess you don’t have enough for Kevin De Bruyne and Mohamed Salah.

Even with Foden’s move, there’s no guarantee he’ll start at home to Fulham (personally I think he will), so hopefully you’ll have a good option on the bench if it turns out to be the worst case scenario and Saka doesn’t play .

If you had to pick one player (besides the usual pick — Haaland, Martinelli, etc.) at each position for the next two weeks of play, who would it be and why? — Mark M.

My top differential picks for each position would be:

Goalkeeper: Sanchez. Brighton’s two games against Wolves and Villa aren’t much better defensively.

DEFENDANT: Kurt Zouma (£4.5m). West Ham play Palace and Leicester at home in their next two and are a solid defensive side, conceding just 13 goals with an xGC of 12.89 (fourth both). It’s a good price and ready to go if it suits. Zouma also has 10 shots in the box with an xG of 1.05, which is the best in West Ham’s defense and fifth overall in the position.

Midfielder: James Maddison (£8.2m). He is doing very well with six goals and two assists and is the best FPL option in Leicester’s squad. He’s also in set-pieces, which adds to his appeal – he’s the type of player who can bring points against any team. He already has goals against Arsenal and Tottenham this season.

Forward: Darwin Nunez (£8.9m). He plays as a key center forward for Liverpool now and will get most of the big chances for them. Spurs (A) on Sunday is not the best game but I think Liverpool will score there and their match against Southampton (H) in Gameweek 16 is as good as it gets. I don’t think many will be filling in for him because of the trip to Tottenham, so it could be a great opportunity to go ahead.

Make sure you check out The Athletic Football Podcast, hosted by The FPL General, for all the latest tips and tricks. Grab it free on all the usual listening providers and ad-free on The Athletic app.

(Main image: Brighton goalkeeper Sanchez could score in his final two World Cup games. Photo: Glenn Kirk/AFP via Getty Images)


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