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Fantrax EPL: Gameweek 18 Sleepers XI

Our Gameweek 18 Sleepers XI article provides Fantrax managers with a lineup of Fantasy EPL hidden gems. Our starting eleven of Draft Premier League differential picks will help you find a golden ticket to a big score this weekend! These hints and tips will give you a better chance of picking up an all-important victory, as one of our picks could easily make the difference in a Head-to-Head game!

We'll be focusing on players that will bring us not only attacking returns or clean sheets, but also those players that score Ghost Points in the sophisticated and statistics based Fantrax Scoring System!

Fantasy EPL Gameweek 18 Sleepers XI

For this article, we use the % rostered from Fantrax. Our only rule is that each player we highlight is required to be rostered in 60% of leagues or less at the time of writing. Therefore there's a good chance some of these players will be free agents in your Fantrax Draft League! As always, we'll take form, fixtures, projected points and a healthy dose of intuition into account to make our selections.

The dust has barely had time to settle on Man City's victory over Leeds, yet we must turn our attention to the next set of fixtures kicking off on Friday. I, for one, am looking forward to putting Gameweek 17 behind me. Not only did I lose both my fantasy match-ups by considerable margins but the Sleepers squad failed to deliver on its promise, combining for a disappointing 60.25 points. That brings the season total to 1319.25, or an average of 82.5 points per week.

It's to be expected that there would be a drop-off in weekly points as the season wore on, as preferred lineups become clear and the best fantasy assets become clear. However, with a couple new managers and plenty of fixture congestion, there's hopefully still some solid fantasy value to be found in the free agent pool. Here are a few I believe should be on your watch list heading into Gameweek 18:

GK: Kepa Arrizabalaga

Team: Chelsea

Opponent: Nottingham Forest (away)

Rostered: 42%

Points Last Gameweek: 16.5

Prospects: The reversal of fortunes for Chelsea's goalkeepers over the past six months has been nothing short of incredible. Edouard Mendy's fall from grace has been matched by the stunning redemption of Kepa Arrizabalaga. The Spanish shot-stopper has made the starting role his own under Graham Potter, taking advantage of the shoddy form of his Senegalese teammate. Kepa has been crucial to his side's success since reestablishing himself in the starting lineup, and continued his resurgence with an excellent 16.5 points in GW17. A trip to struggling Nottingham Forest offers the chance for another clean sheet.

DEF: Cesar Azpilicueta

Team: Chelsea

Opponent: Nottingham Forest (away)

Rostered: 45%

Points Last Gameweek: 5.5

Projected GW18 Points: 9.7

Prospects: Continuing with Spanish Chelsea players, Cesar Azpilicueta graduates from the reserve role I assigned him last week to claim a starting spot for the trip to face Forest. That decision is made easier by the unfortunate injury setback suffered by Reece James in his first match back. The English right back is set for another spell on the sidelines (reportedly around a month), and we'll likely see Azpilicueta as his replacement for the majority of that time. However, as may be the case with many players over the next two weeks, we may see him earn only one start in the next two. With Ruben Loftus-Cheek unavailable and Raheem Sterling performing better in a more advanced role, I am hopeful Azpilicueta will be in the starting lineup this weekend.

DEF: Ethan Pinnock

Team: Brentford

Opponent: West Ham (away)

Rostered: 43%

Points Last Gameweek: 8

Projected GW18 Points: 8.3

Prospects: Brentford weren't able to keep hold of their lead over Tottenham to claim a victory in Gameweek 17, but they performed admirably and proved they can keep pace with the teams in the top half of the table. Ethan Pinnock managed a respectable 8 points despite conceding twice, a callback to last season when he was a set-and-forget defender with his strong ghost point outings. This season has been more hit and miss, but there's a glimmer of hope that the Jamaican can get back to his best for the rest of the season. West Ham have been pretty accommodating to opposition defenders, allowing 8.3 points per match on average. The Hammers have been pretty anemic in attack, so Thomas Frank's side will hope for a better result and a potential clean sheet this time out.

DEF: Kenny Tete

Team: Fulham

Opponent: Southampton (home)

Rostered: 23%

Points Last Gameweek: 19.25

Projected GW18 Points: 8.5

Prospects: I mentioned last week that getting a jump on Fulham assets was a good idea ahead of their double gameweek in GW19. Unfortunately, I recommended Harrison Reed rather than any of the Fulham defenders for their clean sheet against Crystal Palace. Tim Ream was the best of the bunch from a points perspective, but his 23.5 points included his first ever Premier League goal. Kenny Tete managed 19.25 without an attacking return, solidifying the fact that he's been the better option over the course of the season. The Dutch fullback will have some competition in the near future, as Cedric Soares is set to join in January, but should retain his starting role for at least the next few weeks.

DEF: Jordan Zemura

Team: Bournemouth

Opponent: Crystal Palace (home)

Rostered: 5%

Points Last Gameweek: 1

Projected GW18 Points: 6.4

Prospects: As you'll see below, I'm investing pretty heavily in assets from some traditionally less-favorable teams, with multiple picks from Bournemouth and Southampton. Part of that is because I feel relatively more confident in the players from these teams keeping their spots than teams with more depth, but I also think there's some fantasy value to be found in some of their players. Jordan Zemura has a very high 57% reliance on goals, assists and clean sheets that doesn't typically make him a strong asset, but he's facing a Crystal Palace side that is terribly out of sorts. Bournemouth have shown some attacking potential, by contrast, so an attacking return and/or clean sheet are a definite possibility for Zemura and company. This pick is much more intuition than logic to be fair, but I think there's room for that in the fantasy game as long as it's in moderation.

MID: Lewis Cook

Team: Bournemouth

Opponent: Crystal Palace (home)

Rostered: 10%

Points Last Gameweek: 3.5

Projected GW18 Points: 7.6

Prospects: Sticking with the Cherries, Lewis Cook earns a call due to his tendency to deliver better fantasy scores when his team is on the scoresheet regardless of whether he is directly involved. Bournemouth's Gameweek 18 opponents Crystal Palace are in rotten form and allow opposition attackers more than 11 points per match on average. That doesn't directly translate to Cook as a midfielder, but does bode well for the trend continuing and him putting up a much more respectable score than the 3.5 he managed in the 2-0 loss midweek. Plus, with Marcus Tavernier out injured, he may take a share of the set piece duties (he took 2 against Chelsea).

MID: Mohamed Elyounoussi

Team: Southampton

Opponent: Fulham (away)

Rostered: 8%

Points Last Gameweek: 11

Projected GW18 Points: 8.3

Prospects: Following the results in Gameweek 17, Southampton are now propping up the rest of the Premier League in 20th place. Newly promoted Fulham are up in 9th with more than double the points total of the Saints heading into this matchup. But, despite the poor performances to-date (including the 3-1 loss to Brighton midweek), I think Mohamed Elyounoussi is worth a deeper look. His 11 points against the Seagulls marks the third time in 5 matches he's scored 11 or more points. He had also seemingly nailed down a starting role before Ralph Hasenhuttl was sacked. While fantasy points and real-life performances don't necessarily have any correlation, I think Elyounoussi is one of the players Jones will look to provide some experienced play as the Saints do their best to march out of the relegation zone. Keep an eye out for a few other players from Southampton's midfield in Stuart Armstrong and Joe Aribo if they get a start instead of or alongside the Norwegian, as their upcoming run of fixtures is a good time for them to turn things around.

MID: Alejandro Garnacho

Team: Manchester United

Opponent: Wolves (away)

Rostered: 29%

Points Last Gameweek: -1.5

Projected GW18 Points: 8.4

Prospects: As is usually the case with players from the traditional "Big Six" sides, it takes injury or rotation for players to be eligible and warrant selection in Sleepers XI. That's what I'm hedging my bets on for Alejandro Garnacho, who I think has a good shot at starting at the Molineux in Saturday's early kickoff. The Argentine teenager had just broken through to the first team before the World Cup and will be eager to put himself in national team consideration for the next World Cup squad as soon as possible. Given the current situation with United's attackers (Sancho off the boil & Martial always on the precipice of an injury), it seems likely the youngster will have a chance to impress Erik ten Hag and his national team scouts very soon, perhaps against a Wolves side still finding their feet under Julen Lopetegui. It's a gamble, but the match being early in the slate should afford you the opportunity to take the risk if Garnacho is available.

MID: Christian Norgaard

Team: Brentford

Opponent: West Ham (away)

Rostered: 41%

Points Last Gameweek: 14.5

Projected GW18 Points: 7.3

Prospects: Sometimes you don't recognize how much an injured player has been missed until they return to the starting lineup. That certainly was the case for me (and Brentford) with Christian Norgaard. The Dane has spent most of the season sidelined with an injury, but was restored to the starting lineup against Spurs and contributed to a much more competent midfield performance than we've seen from the Bees in his absence. He contributed an assist on top of his stellar play at the base of the midfield, and will look to control the contest in the middle of the pitch against Lucas Paqueta and Declan Rice this week. I don't expect another goal contribution, but do think this could be an opportunity for Brentford to take their positive performances into the new year and Norgaard will be at the heart of it.

FWD: Jaidon Anthony

Team: Bournemouth

Opponent: Crystal Palace (home)

Rostered: 8%

Points Last Gameweek: 12.5

Projected GW18 Points: 8.2

Prospects: As I mentioned in my write up for Lewis Cook, there is a pretty considerable hole to fill given the absence of Marcus Tavernier through injury. Jaidon Anthony didn't start last gameweek against Chelsea, but came on at halftime and made an immediate impact, particularly for fantasy purposes with 12.5 ghost points in 45 minutes. Anthony took over set piece duty when he came on, taking charge of four dead ball situations. If he is called upon from the start against Crystal Palace, I expect him to continue taking the majority of set pieces. That should provide the young winger with ample opportunity to replicate his fantasy output from last week. If he can turn that into a goal or assist, you could be looking at a massive score from a player almost sure to be available for you to pick up in your league.

FWD: Samuel Edozie

Team: Southampton

Opponent: Fulham (away)

Rostered: 4%

Points Last Gameweek: 10

Projected GW18 Points: 8.5

Prospects: I've been waiting for Samuel Edozie to get his chance from the start since he made his first appearance for the Saints back in September. Ralph Hasenhuttl viewed the teenager as an impact sub at best, never giving him more than half an hour to make his mark. That changed in GW 17, with new manager Nathan Jones throwing Edozie in from the start. He didn't disappoint, showcasing his technical ability and pace in a strong performance and earning his side a penalty that was ultimately dispatched at the second time of asking by James Ward-Prowse (robbing him of an assist). The former Man City man has the tools at his disposal to make him a fantasy darling in the second half of the season. Jones can ill afford to relegate the teenager back to a substitute role, lest he face a relegation of his own. If you need a new forward for your team, look no further.

The Reserves

If you're playing on Fantrax with Live Lineup Changes, you should definitely keep an eye on starting lineups for the following high upside players who have some question marks around their starting status this week. If any of these guys does get a start for their team, snap them up and plug them into your starting eleven!

  • Ryan Sessegnon, Defender, Tottenham Hotspur. Opponent: Aston Villa

  • Kostas Tsimikas, Defender, Liverpool. Opponent: Leicester City

  • Fabio Vieira, Midfielder, Arsenal. Opponent: Brighton & Hove Albion

  • Hakim Ziyech, Midfielder, Chelsea. Opponent: Nottingham Forest

  • Jordan Ayew, Forward, Crystal Palace. Opponent: Bournemouth

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