Barnes offering differential FPL potential between now and end of season

Double Gameweek 28 of Fantasy Premier League (FPL) is almost upon us, which gives us an opportunity to have a look at some more differential options.

This time, we’ve selected low-owned picks at Leicester City, Newcastle United and Manchester City, who we think have the potential to make an impact.

As always, to qualify, the player must have a ownership of 5% or less at the time of writing.

HARVEY BARNES

  • FPL ownership: 2.1%
  • Price: £6.5m
  • GW28-32 fixtures: LEE | ars | BRE | mun | CRY

With two goals and six assists from his last 11 appearances, two of which were as a substitute, Harvey Barnes (£6.5m) is an appealing midfield differential.

During that time, he has produced 18 shots in the box, whilst his 0.43 minutes expected goal involvement rival (xGI) per 90 is only just behind positionals. Jarrod Bowen (£7.1m) Rafinha (£6.5m), and level with team-mate James Maddison (£6.8m).

The main drawback is concerns over rotation. Barnes is not just competing with others for his place but one of the natural fall guys when Brendan Rodgers decides to go winger-less in, say, the 3-5-2 that he used in Gameweek 22.

However, Leicester City’s form has picked up in their last two matches, which has coincided with them using a 4-3-3. They were unfortunate to leave Molineux without a point in Gameweek 26, whilst their midweek win at Burnley suggests they can kick on and finish the season strongly.

Notably, Barnes earnt rave reviews at Turf Moor, as he forced two good saves from Nick Pope (£5.4m) and assisted Jamie Vardy‘s (£10.3m) late strike.

The Foxes can’t offer us a ‘double’ any time soon. In fact, they should progress in Europe, they won’t have one of those until Gameweek 33, but for Fantasy managers on the lookout for long-term investments, they can’t be beaten for their quantity of fixtures remaining. Ten of their last 14 matches are also against teams currently sitting ninth or below in the Premier League table, with all of their remaining home matches against sides outside of the European places.

Crucially, they are among just eight teams who have a fixture in Gameweek 30. It’s arguably the pick of the bunch, too, at home to a Brentford side who have kept just two clean sheets in their last 22 matches.

With some appealing home fixtures coming up, Barnes can make a real impact, and could be a bargain at just £6.5m.

MATT TARGETT

  • FPL ownership: 2.6%
  • Price: £4.7m
  • GW28-32 fixtures: BHA + sou | che + eve | – | tot | WOL

Matt Target (£4.7m) joined Newcastle United on transfer deadline day, and has since performed well in his three outings for the club.

Just over a month since making the move, the Magpies have gone unbeaten. In fact, they have now kept three clean sheets in their last five matches, with their expected goals conceded (xGC) tally reflecting their defensive improvements.

Now, with back-to-back Double Gameweeks in 28 and 29, the on-loan Villan is an appealing budget option at the back, who has the potential to deliver points at both ends of the pitch.

Across his three starts, Targett has already created an impressive eight chances, whilst he has also taken on a share of set-pieces, delivering nine of his new side’s 22 corners. His contribution at the back is telling, too, with three of his five attempted tackles won, plus five recoveries, 17 recoveries, eight clearances and one block.

Longer-term, it’s worth noting that Newcastle do blank in Gameweek 30 and have a tough run to follow. However, given his £4.7m price tag, Targett can easily be benched and step in when his fixtures ease, for example, in Gameweeks 34/38.

Newcastle’s performances under Eddie Howe do suggest they are building some momentum, and as Targett settles into his new surroundings, he could become a smart differential for our Fantasy Premier League (FPL) squads.

JOHN STONES

  • FPL ownership: 2.6%
  • Price: £5.2m
  • GW28-32 fixtures: MUN | cry | – | bur | LIV

With Ruben Dias (£6.3m) ruled out for four to six weeks, plus Nathan Ake (£4.7m) also on the sidelines, John Stones (£5.2m) looks set for a run of games at the heart of Manchester City’s defence.

The England international has had a stop-start campaign, but when called upon has performed well either at centre-half or right-back, remarkably keeping a clean sheet in each of his seven Premier League starts.

As a result, he is averaging a whopping 7.3 points per start, and now offers the cheapest route into the division’s best defence.

Across the season, Pep Guardiola’s side have conceded just 17 goals in 27 matches, keeping 16 clean sheets during that period, two more than next-best Liverpool. No team has conceded fewer goal attempts, shots in the box, efforts on target or big chances either, whilst their 18.30 expected goals conceded (xG) figure is another league-leading total.

Now, if FPL bosses can navigate their blank in Gameweek 30, Stones could be a shrewd differential pick, with Manchester United, Crystal Palace and Burnley up next.

He also carries a bit of goal threat from set-pieces, with his legendary 27-point haul in Double Gameweek 19 last season – courtesy of two goals, two clean sheets and three bonus points – one of the standout FPL moments for his owners in the 2020/21 campaign.


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