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Fantrax EPL: Gameweek 25 Sleepers XI

Our Gameweek 25 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 25 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.


As always, let's begin with a quick look back at the week that was. As I mentioned in my Gameweek 24 Sleepers XI article, we've recently been made aware of some discrepancies in the Fantrax roster percentages and those of more active leagues, and I made an adjustment to my selections to offer players more likely to be available across the majority of leagues, including those that have remained very active throughout the season. That decision resulted in a pretty sharp decline in points, with the GW24 score of 59.75 not too far removed from GW23's 69, but a far cry from the 100+ scores from the previous three gameweeks. The season score jumps up to 1981 points, still good for an average of more than 86 points per week, but I think there's a good middle ground to be reached between my previous recommendation approach and the one employed last week.


Thanks to some much-appreciated grunt work from community member Sean Conley, I have a list of average player rostership across the divisions in the DraftPL Community League and International Genie League, comprising twenty 12-team divisions of some of the most active and experienced managers in the Fantrax EPL game. While the Fantrax rostership numbers you find on the site include all leagues (even those that are no longer active, or never were), this "Community List" should offer a look into what managers in more engaged and competitive leagues can expect when searching for those under-the-radar picks. The true rostership percentage for a player likely falls somewhere in the middle. I'll indicate the roster percentage for both Fantrax and the Community List with my selections this week to provide additional context.


Turning our attention to the week ahead, it's a rare week with some teams playing twice, some once and some not at all. Arsenal, Everton, Liverpool and Wolves have two fixtures this week and their players should be high-priority pick-ups if you're prioritizing a win this week. Arsenal and Liverpool have the best of the doubles on paper, but their best assets are almost surely already rostered and their fringe players may not get two matches, so for sleepers you're likely confined to risky picks or players from Everton and Wolves. It's up to you to decide whether you believe two opportunities to score points outweighs one even when one of the fixtures is less than favorable, but as a general rule it's good to recognize the risk of buying in on defenders who don't typically offer much in the way of ghost points; you could easily be looking at an initial score being canceled out, or worse -- the dreaded double negative.


You'll want to avoid players from Brentford, Brighton, Man United and Newcastle, who all blank this week, but keep an eye on who may have been dropped in your leagues - many of these teams will have double gameweeks of their own in the near future and could be worth a stash if you've got the space. I've landed more in the middle with my selections this week, highlighting mostly players who I believe can deliver in a single fixture, but I've also called out a few doublers who may not be on everyone's radar and could come through for you this week should you opt to bring them into your team.


GK: Lukasz Fabianski

Team: West Ham

Opponent: Nottingham Forest (home)

Rostered: 40% (Fantrax) / 41% (Community)

Points Last Gameweek: 5.5

Prospects: With some of the league's highest scoring goalkeepers in David Raya and Nick Pope blanking this week, many managers will be looking for cover. Lukasz Fabianski offers both a promising match up at home against Nottingham Forest (who are better than they are often given credit for, but still not the most potent attacking side away from home) as well as a solid run of fantasy scores in the black. In fact, the keeper's last negative score was all the way back at the beginning of September, a span of time that includes 9 losses by his woeful West Ham side. Not a bad bet if you're looking to add a couple points where you may have otherwise had none, or for a little more certainty than a boom-or-bust option like Illan Meslier or Gavin Bazunu may offer.


DEF: Nayef Aguerd

Team: West Ham

Opponent: Nottingham Forest (home)

Rostered: 4% / 5%

Points Last Gameweek: 3.75

Projected GW25 Points: 8.3

Prospects: Sticking with West Ham (there aren't as many teams to choose from, after all), I have been very impressed by the composure shown by Nayef Aguerd in his few appearances for the Hammers. The Moroccan has struggled all season with injuries (including at the World Cup), but looks like he's got everything else going for him to be a very good Premier League defender. He hasn't had a massive ghost point performance in claret and blue just yet, but has delivered a solid floor of 6-10 points from peripheral points across the last four matches. This is one of those situations where you might consider a similar player who plays twice - someone like Craig Dawson or even Conor Coady, if they're available - but if they're not, this isn't a bad place to look.


DEF: Alex Moreno

Team: Aston Villa

Opponent: Everton (away)

Rostered: 26% / 68%

Points Last Gameweek: 9.75

Projected GW25 Points: 8.6

Prospects: The first real case where we can start to see a discrepancy between Fantrax numbers and those of the community leagues is seen in the more than 40% difference in rostership for Alex Moreno. A big portion of this is likely due to the number of mock draft and/or abandoned leagues that haven't seen the January arrivals get picked up, but there's also a case to be made that it's not a clear-cut decision to roster the Spanish fullback. Manager Unai Emery hasn't yet provided us with a clear-cut view to who his preferred starter is at left back, with Lucas Digne making a few appearances since Moreno signed. The signs are good for the former Real Betis defender to take up the mantle, though, and with Aston Villa's very favorable run of upcoming fixtures (third best for defenders among all teams in our Fixture Difficulty Tracker despite not having any DGWs in the next four weeks) I am a big fan of bringing him in now if you're able. He is very attack-minded and can provide a high floor of points to build from, as evidenced by the 9.75 he scored despite conceding twice to Arsenal prior to being subbed off last week.


DEF: Jan Bednarek

Team: Southampton

Opponent: Leeds (away)

Rostered: 3% / 27%

Points Last Gameweek: 14.5

Projected GW25 Points: 8.9

Prospects: While Southampton fans may have something else to say about it, Jan Bednarek being recalled from his ill-fated loan at Aston Villa should be seen as a win. The Polish CB earned an immediate call-up to the starting lineup a few weeks ago and, to borrow a phrase from my colleague Ryan, has been ghosting out of his fn mind. 13 points in a 3-0 loss is incredible, as is the fact that he managed not to go into negative numbers with an own goal and two goals conceded the week following. In last week's shock victory over Chelsea (is it shocking at this point?), Bednarek only managed a "lowly" 8.5 ghost points, but had the clean sheet bonus to boost his score. If there's one thing you can say about Saints at the moment, it's that their defenders are kept busy. That's proving to be a positive...at least in fantasy terms.


MID: Idrissa Gueye

Team: Everton

Opponent: Aston Villa (home) / Arsenal (away)

Rostered: 9% / 36%

Points Last Gameweek: 9.5

Projected GW25 Points: 11.0

Prospects: While more typically fantasy-relevant players like Alex Iwobi and Dwight McNeil are unlikely to be available by now ahead of Everton's double gameweek, there is a case to be made for bringing in the likes of Abdoulaye Doucoure, Amadou Onana and Idrissa Gueye this week, as they represent the quintessential solid-floor type of midfielder that's worth playing in DGWs. I've opted for the Senegalese international as perhaps the most available option as the deepest-lying midfielder of the three occupying the engine room in Sean Dyche's setup, but his numbers are comparable to both Doucoure and Onana. I think you can reasonably expect about 12-15 points, which isn't a bad return at all if you've got a hole to fill in your squad.


MID: Ainsley Maitland-Niles

Team: Southampton

Opponent: Leeds (away)

Rostered: 1% / < 5%

Points Last Gameweek: 10.5

Projected GW25 Points: 7.7

Prospects: It's time for my hunch pick of the week, and it's the nearly forgotten man, Ainsley Maitland-Niles. The former Arsenal utility player kept his place in the starting lineup in last week's win over Chelsea, even after the sacking of Nathan Jones. Interim boss Ruben Selles may look to stick with a winning side for the trip to Elland Road, with AMN (not to be confused with last season's MAN - we miss you, Mainsley) deployed at right back. Maitland-Niles put up 10.5 points last week, despite earning only 1 point for a clean sheet as an out-of-position midfielder. It's possible that we see Selles go for Kyle Walker-Peters instead, but I'd be willing to take a punt on Ainsley this week. I'd be shocked if he isn't available in your league; he didn't even make the Community List!


MID: John McGinn

Team: Aston Villa

Opponent: Everton (away)

Rostered: 46% / 55%

Points Last Gameweek: 8

Projected GW25 Points: 7.0

Prospects: It's hard to believe now, but John McGinn was being taken as early as round 3 in some drafts this season. Let's just say things haven't gone quite as expected for the former fantasy darling this campaign, but there has been a glimmer of hope for the Scotsman with his reintroduction to the starting lineup in GW24. McGinn managed a respectable 8 points in a tough 4-2 loss, splitting his points between attacking and defensive contributions. I think he'll find some more creative freedom in the center of the pitch against Everton, despite Dyche's historic defensive solidity. A decent short-term pickup with an eye to the upcoming run through Villa's double in GW29.


MID: Pablo Sarabia

Team: Wolves

Opponent: Fulham (away) / Liverpool (away)

Rostered: 25% / 86%

Points Last Gameweek: 10.5

Projected GW25 Points: 12.6

Prospects: Rounding out the midfield is another new transfer, this one with a DGW. While I'm not surprised Pablo Sarabia is nearly 90% rostered in the super-active community leagues, I still feel confident he's sitting on the waiver wire or in the free agent pool of quite a few leagues. He certainly had reason to be prior to finally delivering on the hype with his first double-digit return last week. Prior to the 10.5 he managed against Bournemouth, Sarabia managed just 3.5 points total across his first three games for Wolves. The former PSG winger may continue to have sub-par games like this, but the signs are positive that he's settling into life in the Premier League. His command of set pieces certainly puts him at an advantage over some of the other DGW players who have flattered to deceive.


FWD: Matheus Cunha

Team: Wolves

Opponent: Fulham (away) / Liverpool (away)

Rostered: 18% / 73%

Points Last Gameweek: 5

Projected GW25 Points: 14.1

Prospects: Despite scoring a meager 5 points against Bournemouth when I included him in my picks last week, I'm keeping the faith with Matheus Cunha, largely because it appears his manager is doing the same. Cunha has started each of Wolves' last three EPL matches and has been getting into really good scoring positions despite not putting the ball in the back of the net. It seems to be just a matter of time before he breaks his duck. The fixtures aren't the most attractive at first blush, but as we've seen midweek, Liverpool aren't the most inspiring defensive unit at the moment. Wolves aren't Real Madrid, but they have also found success against the Reds this season. Fulham, surprisingly, appears to be the more difficult of the two fixtures. I guess what I'm getting at -- and it pains me to write this as a Liverpool supporter -- is don't get too discouraged if Cunha doesn't score well against the Cottagers. The second match is the one you're targeting for him to get his goal.


FWD: Neal Maupay

Team: Everton

Opponent: Aston Villa (home) / Arsenal (away)

Rostered: 11% / 27%

Points Last Gameweek: 6.5

Projected GW25 Points: 14.0

Prospects: I swore after the last time I recommended him that I wouldn't be putting Neal Maupay back in this column. Hello darkness, my old friend / I've chosen Maupay yet again. The Everton forward looked like he was on the outer fringes of Sean Dyche's plans when he threw 18 year-old Ellis Simms into action from the start in the Merseyside Derby, but Maupay was called upon for the victory over Leeds last gameweek and I think he'll keep his place for the match against Villa at Goodison Park this weekend. In true Happy-learned-how-to-putt fashion, Maupay has come through with some ghost points this season after being the 9-points with a goal poster boy in years past. You may actually feel better about him not starting the Arsenal match given his history there (yellow card, or worse, waiting to happen), but this game wouldn't be as much fun without taking some calculated risks along the way.


FWD: Paul Onuachu

Team: Southampton

Opponent: Leeds (away)

Rostered: 19% / 91%

Points Last Gameweek: 7

Projected GW25 Points: 11.2

Prospects: I was shocked to see Paul Onuachu at 91% rostership in the Community List after making my selection based on his appearance on only 19% of rosters by Fantrax's calculations. The discrepancy can't just be down to him being a January transfer - we've seen with Alex Moreno that there is some investment accounted for beyond the small sample size of leagues in the Community List. Is this an indication of overhyping among the most vocal members of the community (TDS included), or is there something else factoring into the massive difference in the number of teams who are calling upon the giant striker? I'm hoping this is a case where a player has truly gone under the radar in most home and casual leagues and will live up to the community's apparent excitement. It's easy to see why a striker for Southampton wouldn't be in particularly high demand given the club's results this season, but Onuachu represents something different for the Saints: a strong, aerially dominant striker who can bring his fellow attackers into the play. This type of forward can be fantasy gold even without scoring many goals, as they tend to rack up the points for aerial duels and key passes. In his three EPL appearances, the Nigerian has already won 19 aerial duels. That alone is worth the price of admission. If he can add a goal or assist to his name against Leeds, he could be in for a massive score.


Note: If you're in a league where Onuachu is already rostered, I've got a couple other options lined up in the reserves that are much more likely to be available.



The Reserves

If you're playing on Fantrax with Live Lineup Changes, you should 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 do get a start for their team, snap them up and plug them into your starting eleven!

  • Liam Cooper, Defender, Leeds United. Opponent: Southampton

  • Kostantinos Tsimikas, Defender, Liverpool. Opponent: Crystal Palace / Wolves

  • Fabio Vieira, Midfielder, Arsenal. Opponent: Leicester / Everton

  • Jhon Duran, Forward, Aston Villa. Opponent: Everton

  • Manor Solomon, Forward, Fulham. Opponent: Wolves


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