Back on the rollercoaster: is it time to go differential?

It’s a pivotal point in the MotoGP™ Fantasy season and bragging rights are on the line – who should we be looking at this weekend?

The penultimate round of the 2021 season is here and at the Grande Prémio Brembo do Algarve, MotoGP™ Fantasy players have the luxury of having a race, in the same year, to have a think about who you’re backing. It’s also crunch time, so decisions in Portimao could be the difference between owning bragging rights – or being on the receiving end.

Marc Marquez to miss Algarve Grand Prix

The first thing to note is the absence of Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team, $3.8m) this weekend. So, unfortunately, if you own the eight-time World Champion, then the ‘which rider to transfer out’ your team decision has been made for you. The only good news is Marquez’ price. Depending on what you have in the bank, $3.8m gives you a chance to get to most riders. The bad news is if anyone has moved for the number 93 early, then you’re in a sticky situation.  

Potential differential picks – Mir, Binder & Oliveira

Aforementioned, the MotoGP™ circus has already tackled the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve this season, so Fantasy players have something to go off. 2021 World Champion Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP, $4.8m) and Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team, $4.1m) are both highly owned riders who finished 1-2 in Portimao back in April, and both are expected to go well again this weekend.

But there’s two races to go, and some players will be needing to make up some points to their friends and rivals. 2020 World Champion Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar, $3.4m) has endured a trickier than expected campaign, but the Spaniard did stand on the podium in Portimao this season.

Mir is also the fourth-highest scoring rider in MotoGP™ Fantasy this season, while the Suzuki star sits P3 in the World Championship – hardly a bad season. There’s no doubt Mir will be wanting to end 2021 on a high after conceding his title to Quartararo, so backing the number 36 this weekend looks like a decent shout before track action has begun.

Another name to ponder is Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing, $3.6m). Apart from his heroics at the Austrian GP, the South African’s 2021 season has been fairly quiet. But Binder has been racking up some serious Fantasy points. He’s the third-highest points scorer behind Quartararo and Bagnaia, yet Binder isn’t in the top 10 most owned riders ahead of a return date with Portimao, a track he finished 5th at earlier this year. As differential picks go, the current bronze medallist points scorer in the game is a fantastic shout.

And what about home hero Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing, $1.8m)? A podium return was well on the cards at Misano before his crash towards the end of the race, but if the Portuguese star had to choose anywhere to come to next, it would be Portimao.

Dominant winner in 2020’s curtain closer, the 2021 race was a relative disaster for Oliveira after he and KTM were struggling in the early part of the season. But Misano’s performance, forgetting the crash, was hugely promising. Oliveira is more owned than teammate Binder, but both look like strong candidates in Portimao. There’s nothing like a home race, and we all know if everything is clicking, Oliveira will be a hard man to stop on the rollercoaster.

Back the Beast… again

Enea Bastianini (Avintia Esponsorama, $2.6m) is a man in form. P6, P3, P6, P3, from qualifying results no higher than ninth on the grid, is the Italian’s last four results. His classy Sunday comeback performances have seen Bastianini accumulate 143 Fantasy points in the last five races, a tally only Quartararo and Marc Marquez can beat – and not by much.

741 players traded Bastianini in before the Emilia-Romagna GP deadline, and it’s safe to say the 2020 Moto2™ World Champion rewarded those who backed him. There will be more this weekend as long as FP1, FP2, FP3 and FP4 go smoothly for Bastianini, especially when you consider he finished P9 at the rollercoaster earlier in the season in just his third MotoGP™ race. With a Rookie of the Year title up for grabs too, Bastianini should be a rider at the top of your Fantasy wish lists.

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