Greetings from beautiful Jersey City, New Jersey! My name is Charlie Connell and this is the first of many posts I’ll be doing here at FFH, so I wanted to introduce myself quickly. I first became aware of the Premier League after my father started dragging me to an English pub in Clayton, California every Saturday afternoon. He came for the beer and I loved the fish and chips. But I was also fascinated by the scarves covering every inch of wall space. There was one I found particularly interesting — a white and blue number with what appeared to be a bird standing on a ball with the words “Tottenham Hotspur” emblazoned upon it. This left me with many questions, the biggest among them being “what the hell is a Hotspur?”

After a little bit of research — asking the bartender — I would learn that they played a sport called soccer. And many, many years later I would happily scream my lungs out as Christian Eriksen scored 11 seconds into a match against United while I put together this article. And that gets us up to speed…

It’s Gameweek 26 and the January transfer window has slammed shut. If you find yourself out of the top spot in your FPL league it’s time to get a little crazy. Coming in third doesn’t earn you a trip to Europe in FPL; you can let it all hang out and gun for the title. This means taking calculated risks. One way to do this is to steer away from the highest scoring players that everyone has on their team in order to gamble on players that have the potential to give you a huge differential. 

We’re going to take a look at three players that are owned by more than 30% of teams (on premierleague.com) and make the case for dropping them for a less sought after replacement. Bear in mind, all of the following players are excellent and worth having in FPL, but you won’t make up ground on the league leaders playing safely.

Harry Kane (Owned by 44.9%)

Only a crazy person would get rid of the Golden Boot leader, right? Not so fast, my friend. Considering that Kane is owned by almost half of teams, and given his hefty £13 price tag those owners are likely captaining him. The thing that makes Kane a bit of a bother is that he scores in bunches. This season he has scored 2+ goals 8 times. Which is great when it happens, but on the flipside he has been held goalless 14 times. And considering he only has 1 assist on the season, Kane gives you practically nothing when he doesn’t score.

Thus, I recommend getting rid of Kane (and all that money) to pick up a striker who produces more consistently so that you are getting something out of him every week. You won’t make up the points entirely, but you’ll have extra cash in your pocket to spend more lavishly elsewhere, and this should help you gain some ground. I’m also looking at a few players that are extremely hot right now, in hopes that they keep it up for a bit longer. Some strikers to consider: Aguero (owned by 29%), Vardy (owned by 17.2%) or the extremely low priced Jordan Ayew (owned by 10.6%). It also might be worth taking a flyer on Aubameyang. Sure, we have no idea what he’ll do with a brand new team and league, but it’s definitely bold to switch him in right away and a lot of people might be skeptical.

Nicolás Otamendi (Owned by 31.6%)

Owning Otamendi seems like a no brainer. Manchester City have one of the stoutest defenses in the entire league with 12 clean sheets on the year, and Otamendi has 4 goals on the season to bolster his bonafides. The thing to remember about defenders is that it is essentially a team prize. Considering that Otamendi has 0 assists on the season, the only way that he outscores his teammates is through the rare goal and bonus points.

This is why I advocate picking up a different City defender for your squad. The safer and more known choice is Kyle Walker (owned by 12.6%), although I usually cringe at spending more money on someone less effective. So that’s why I say you should go crazy and pick up Aymeric Laporte (owned by 0.6%). We’ve only seen him play for City once after his transfer from Athletic Bilbao, but he got the clean sheet and cost so much that Pep has to play him regularly. It’s just gravy that he’s £1 cheaper than Otamendi.

David de Gea (Owned by 43%)

Normally, if I was pondering dropping the goalkeeper with the most clean sheets and second most saves in the entire league I’d pray that someone would slap some sense into me. Yet these is so much other value to be had at the position that it is worth the gamble. At £5.9 the Manchester United keeper is far and away the most expensive at the position, spending this much here can really spread the rest of your roster thin.

When Tom Heaton went down with an injury I thought that Burnley was cooked, but in stepped Nick Pope (owned by 8.6%). Not only is Pope a much cheaper option than de Gea (£4.8) but on a points per game basis his production is almost on par with the Spaniard (4.9 vs. 5.16). Another option to consider is Swansea City’s Lukasz Fabianski (owned by 8.1%). Making the switch to Fabianski over de Gea will free up £1.3, and I expect him to play strongly as Swansea tries to avoid relegation.

So there you have it, three calculated gambles that should help you pick up some ground on the leaders of your league. If this all backfires and these three chaps are in the Dream Team next Tuesday morning remember the following advice from a shirt I owned in the 1990s — Second place is the first loser. Take a risk!