Fantasy EPL Sleepers: Chelsea
Updated: Jul 14, 2021
Our Fantasy EPL 21/22 Draft Kit promises to be the most comprehensive set of pre-season Draft Premier League articles ever produced! A key component of our Draft Kit will be the Team Preview articles which analyze key assets to sit alongside our all-important Draft Rankings. This article highlights three potential Fantrax Fantasy EPL Sleepers from Chelsea!
Check out our 21/22 Draft Kit for all the pre-season information you would ever need. Draft Rankings, Team Previews, Strategy, Draft 101. We've got it all!!!
As noted above, these are potential Fantrax Sleepers from Chelsea. These Fantasy EPL players are likely to be drafted in the later rounds. Read below for three under the radar players who could provide excellent value in your pre-season draft.
20/21 Points: 212 (120th)
20/21 Points Per Start: 9.9
Recommended Draft Pick: 50-75 (12 Team League: 3 Round Reach. Value beyond Round 5)
Overview: Captain America could be the steal of the draft.
No Chelsea player has had a further fall from grace that Christian Pulisic. Flashback to Project Restart, Pulisic capped that season with a whopping 12.2 points per game and was routinely ranked in top 5-8 midfielders going into the 2020-2021 season. Marred by injury, the wheels never got rolling for Captain America. As such, he was a bitter disappointment for every manager that drafted him near ADP. These types of season performances can be defining for a fantasy team, and they are not easily forgotten by the managers who invested in him last year. Add in the narrative of Thomas Tuchel - a manager who knows Pulisic better than most - coming in and only giving him substitution appearances for several weeks, and it's easy to see why he's been aggressively devalued to the lower tiers of midfielders.
The fact remains the same that few Chelsea players possess the dribbling ability of Christian Pulisic. He's able to break down 1v1 matchups forcing more defenders to cover the space he's attacking, which invariably creates opportunity for teammates. Despite his size, he is willing the drive to the net for close range shots to goal. Take a look at his first half performance against Crystal Palace on April 10th of this year; then, come back and honestly tell me you'd rather own Bertrand Traore or the currently injured Harvey Barnes. With Tuchel getting a full preseason to prepare, I expect more formations, more tactical flexibility, and a good chance that Chelsea roll out 4 attacking forwards/midfielders. This increases the likelihood of starts, where previously Pulisic was competing with 7 attackers for three spots in the 3-4-3 system.
Any league where he can fall to me in the 6th round or later is an immediate draft grade A in my books.
20/21 Points: 163 (161st Overall)
20/21 Points Per Start: 9.0
Recommended Draft Pick: 120-140 (12 Team League: Any time after Round 12 really)
Overview: Hudson-Odoi is the quintessential Fantrax Sleeper. He carries all the characteristics you look for in a sleeper: high ceiling potential, several obstacles hindering preseason assessment of value, available in the middle and late part of drafts.
He's been reclassified to midfielder this season, boosting his value, due to his starts as pseudo-right wingback under Tuchel. In line with other examples like Solly March, Hudson-Odoi demonstrated the positioning and traits of a classic outside creative midfielder sitting deeper than a typical winger forward.
Using FBRef's brilliant scouting report tool, Callum Hudson-Odoi profiles similarly to the following players: Jonathon Bamba, Mason Mount, Gio Reyna, Bukayo Saka, and Christopher Nkunku. Last season, Callum Hudson Odoi's 2.76 key passes per 90 minutes was good for 4th overall behind De Bruyne, Grealish and Fernandes for players with at least 1000 minutes played. Am I overplaying my case by setting the minutes cutoff at 1000 minutes when CHO had 1044 minutes played? Maybe. But the point is that the best sleepers are players with the right skillset that just need circumstance and situation to change to be given that influx of minutes.
Saka, Eze, and Neto are all widely considered Fantrax darlings because they were given the minutes last season. With the blend of pace, creativity, passing range, and finishing, those three converted minutes into Fantrax production and now comfortably sit in a tier of early/mid round Fantrax assets. CHO has all the same (if not better) skills but has Pulisic, Ziyech, Werner, Havertz, and Mount in front of him in the depth chart. Pulisic is injury prone, while Ziyech may not be wearing a Chelsea kit by the end of the transfer window. There is a not so unrealistic chance that CHO will find himself in a position not dissimilar to Phil Foden of Manchester City, who has several senior players in front of him. Given the number of tournaments Chelsea expect to compete in and win, I expect CHO to grow as the season goes on. If you have the patience to stash him with a late round flyer, he could be worth a 3rd or 4th round pick by season's end.
20/21 Points: 243.5 (77th Overall)
20/21 Points Per Start: 7.6
Recommended Draft Pick: 70-90 (12 Team League: 5th Round Reach, Value after Round 7)
Overview: Wishful thinking of the best double pivot in the league. Maybe dreams can come true and Rice is "Coming Home" after all.
Is this too cheeky? Maybe. Will I lose some love from the West Ham United fans that peruse the Draft Society site? Undoubtedly. Still, there's a good chance Declan Rice transfers from West Ham United to Chelsea this summer. To a similar but lesser extent with Harry Kane, interleague transfers invariably alter a player's value and are always worth discussing. In the case of Declan Rice, his minutes and role at West Ham meant he was likely owned in most 10 and 12 teams leagues. Although he's not the most exciting and flashy pick, he delivers a floor of points and starts that cement him into the middle to late rounds of most drafts.
My argument here, however, is Rice becomes a much more attractive prospect if he's wearing Chelsea blue by September. As mentioned here and in the Chelsea Best Players article, Chelsea's attack is top tier within the Premier League. Even with goal conversion issues, Chelsea can operate equally well as the possession-heavy final third dominant team or as the low block, long ball counter-attacking team when the opposition is stiffer. If Rice were to transfer, he'd be operating likely in the Kovacic role alongside Jorginho or Kante. Regardless of whether Chelsea's system is a five-back or four-back, Rice will find himself in more games as the possession team. In those cases, he can leverage his dynamic passing range and ball control to generate key passes, dribbles, and interceptions within the final third.
Avid managers will remember the months during Tuchel's reign where Jorginho, Kante, and Kovacic were all valuable waiver wire additions due to their engaged, active roles in the double 6 pivot. Tuchel would entrust Rice with the same role, but ask more of him going forward surely. The one knock on Rice at Chelsea is that the squad roster is deep. Rice may be prone to rotation which is the last thing you want for this type of player archetype.
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