Fantrax EPL: Gameweek 26 Sleepers XI
Our Gameweek 26 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 26 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.
If you've been following this column the past few weeks, first of all - thank you! And second of all, you'll likely be aware that I've begun including both Fantrax roster percentages and "Community" rostership numbers, which represent the average roster % across all teams in the DPL Community League and International Genie League divisions. This inclusion is to help paint a fuller picture of availability for the players recommended here. While they may not always be "sleepers" in every league, it can be helpful to identify where investment has been made to help justify your decisions as to whether to bring in the players who happen to be available in your leagues.
I outlined this approach and the rationale behind it in more detail in my article from Gameweek 25, so I'd recommend checking that out if you missed it or are new to this article series (in which case, welcome!). Last week was a good one for the Sleepers XI, with multiple double-digit scores contributing to 106.75 points for the week. That brings the season tally to 2087.75 points, good for 87 points/week on average.
That score may have been slightly inflated due to GW25 being a mini-DGW, but only Pablo Sarabia and Neal Maupay scored 10+ from the double-gamers I selected, so perhaps not. Gameweek 26 is one of the few weeks remaining this season where there will not be any blanks or doubles. Let's take a dive into the FA pool and see who we can dredge up for some points.
GK: Fraser Forster
Team: Tottenham Hotspur
Opponent: Wolves (away)
Rostered: 12% (Fantrax) / 9% (Community)
Points Last Gameweek: 14
Prospects: I find it really amusing when the Community roster percentage is lower than Fantrax, as is the case with Fraser Forster. The fact that all leagues are counted for Fantrax and the community is still lower means they are really not fans of the Spurs keeper (though, to be fair, he has only been a starter for a few weeks). That said, Tottenham have kept clean sheets in the last two matches when he's been in goal, so he can't be that terrible of an option. I have my suspicions that stand-in manager Christian Stellini is actually a better defensive coach than Antonio Conte, but that's totally unfounded, so let's just say Spurs are an improved side defensively in recent weeks and should be well positioned to deliver another clean sheet or two in the near future given their favorable fixture run. They face Wolves, Forest, Southampton and Everton in their next four.
DEF: Matty Cash
Team: Aston Villa
Opponent: Crystal Palace (home)
Rostered: 48% / 61%
Points Last Gameweek: 12.25
Projected GW26 Points: 8.6
Prospects: I sadly got my Alex Moreno prediction incorrect last week, as Lucas Digne was preferred from the start by Unai Emery. With some uncertainty over who, if anyone, will nail down the left back position at Villa for their enticing schedule, I'm instead opting for what I believe to be a more secure choice in Matty Cash. The Polish right back appears to have stepped ahead of Ashley Young in the pecking order and, while he doesn't offer the same upside as Digne or Moreno, he should be a steady option for the next several weeks, where they are second only to Brighton in our Fixture Difficulty Tracker for defenders.
Team: Nottingham Forest
Opponent: Everton (home)
Rostered: 20% / 85%
Points Last Gameweek: 6.25
Projected GW26 Points: 9.1
Prospects: Sometimes I think I'm ahead of the curve when I pick a player who is less than 25% rostered in Fantrax, but it appears the super-active managers in the community leagues are already clued in to how well Felipe has been scoring since making his first appearance for Nottingham Forest in Gameweek 23. The January transfer has put up scores of 9.25, 10 and 6.25 so far, despite his team not keeping any clean sheets and conceding 7 goals in that time. The center back earns a fair share of points from aerial duels and clearances, which should work in his favor against Sean Dyche's Everton...particularly if Dominic Calvert-Lewin is back in the frame. Put the Brazilian in the same category as your Liam Coopers/Max Wobers of the world - solid-floor defenders on questionable defensive teams who can earn you the odd clean sheet and pump out 15+ points.
DEF: Victor Kristiansen
Team: Leicester City
Opponent: Southampton (away)
Rostered: 10% / 33%
Points Last Gameweek: 4.5
Projected GW26 Points: 8.5
Prospects: Now that the matches against Man United and Arsenal are out of the way, we can turn our attention back to Leicester defenders like Victor Kristiansen (who still managed positive points across both matches). The Dane has passed the eye test at left back and should be the first-choice option for Brendan Rodgers in the Premier League. Southampton offer the second most points on average to opposition defenders (9.5/game, behind Bournemouth's 9.7), so there's every chance for Kristiansen to put up his best score yet for the Foxes this weekend.
MID: Moises Caicedo
Opponent: West Ham (home)
Rostered: 52% / 71%
Points Last Gameweek: N/A
Projected GW26 Points: 6.6
Prospects: I'm returning to the Moises Caicedo well, not only for the home match against West Ham, but for Brighton's upcoming schedule that includes two double gameweeks either side of a blank in GW28. The Ecuadorian and many of his Seagulls teammates may have been dropped for the blank in GW25, but he won't remain after waivers if he's been dropped, so get a claim in if you can. He's an ideal candidate for a DGW with his floor of 7-8 points.
MID: Abdoulaye Doucoure
Opponent: Nottingham Forest (away)
Rostered: 20% / 80%
Points Last Gameweek: 15
Projected GW26 Points: 7.1
Prospects: This is likely more of a hold than a pick-up, as Abdoulaye Doucoure was almost certainly rostered in most active leagues for Everton's double last week, where he put up 15 points across the two matches. I don't love the match-up on the road to Nottingham Forest, but Doucoure looks back to his best with Dyche restoring him to the starting eleven, and I expect him to be a solid option when he's not taking on the league's top teams. If the Malian midfielder was dropped ahead of waivers this week, I think he's worth a pick up if you could use some predictability in your team.
MID: Jeffrey Schlupp
Team: Crystal Palace
Opponent: Aston Villa (away)
Rostered: 5% / 19%
Points Last Gameweek: 6
Projected GW26 Points: 6.9
Prospects: While this may seem like a recommendation with one eye on the future given the fact that Crystal Palace have a double gameweek in 27, it's actually more of a one-week punt for Jeffrey Schlupp. Palace have an awful double, with matches against Man City and Brighton set to be followed by a match against Arsenal, so I'm not super high on their players for the next few weeks outside of Michael Olise and Wilfried Zaha. That said, I do like Schlupp as a true under-the-radar pick this week against Villa. While Palace have struggled for goals, Schlupp has always been a player who can pick up a host of peripheral points. The Ghanaian has surprisingly been preferred over Eberechi Eze for the past month, and I could see him keeping his place even if Eze does return with a shift a bit further back to replace Sambi Lokonga. Villa allow 9 points on average to opposition midfielders, so if Jeff does get the start, he should be a good option.
MID: Jonjo Shelvey
Team: Nottingham Forest
Opponent: Everton (home)
Rostered: 2% / 9%
Points Last Gameweek: 8
Projected GW26 Points: 7.7
Prospects: I wasn't sure we'd ever see Jonjo Shelvey return to fantasy relevance given the form of the players ahead of him at Newcastle this year. But I was happy to see the former Liverpool and Swansea midfielder find his way back into a Premier League starting lineup for Forest last week. 8 points in a 4-0 loss isn't too shabby, even if one of them came from a clean sheet (you read that correctly - all four of West Ham's goals came after Shelvey left the pitch in the 67th minute...maybe he should have stayed on!). I'm not 100% confident of who will start for Forest given their massive squad of new transfers, but Shelvey is one of the few that offers Premier League experience, so I like his chances of continuing in the engine room and delivering more points, especially at home.
FWD: Samuel Edozie
Opponent: Leicester City (home)
Rostered: 1% / 0%
Points Last Gameweek: N/A
Projected GW26 Points: 8.4
Prospects: I'm reaching deep down into the depths of the FA pool for this one, but I am predicting a return to the starting lineup for Samuel Edozie this week. Southampton put in one of their most dreadful performances of the season so far against Grimsby Town in the FA Cup midweek and, while a host of first-team regulars were left behind, it's telling that Ruben Selles turned to James Ward-Prowse and Edozie to try to salvage the first-half deficit. Edozie's trajectory has been a strange one; he seemed like a surefire starter and one of the keys to survival coming out of the World Cup break, only to fall out of favor with Nathan Jones by the end of his brief tenure as Saints manager. Selles has so far turned to new arrivals Kamaldeen Sulemana and Paul Onuachu to deliver the attacking threat for his side, but is in need of change quickly, so the youngster could be set for a recall. That said, neither of the aforementioned attackers were in the squad for the FA Cup defeat, so they could keep Edozie in the role of bit-part player. This suggestion is more of an "add if he is starting" type of play than "set up a waiver claim," but Southampton need a spark quickly and Edozie is one of the few in their squad who can provide it.
FWD: Evan Ferguson
Opponent: West Ham (home)
Rostered: 39% / 90%
Points Last Gameweek: 4.5
Projected GW26 Points: 11.0
Prospects: Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of managers in the community leagues (myself included) have decided to keep hold of Evan Ferguson for Brighton's impending double gameweeks. The Irish teenager is being hailed as the next big thing in the Premier League - a true number nine with all of the qualities to make him a star goalscorer. He has dealt with some injury issues (most recently from a Fabinho horror tackle), but made a return to the starting lineup a few weeks ago against Fulham and scored the winning goal in the FA Cup match against Stoke midweek. With Danny Welbeck returning to fitness and Deniz Undav getting a look in recently as well, there are no guarantees that Ferguson will start every match across the next 4-5 matches, but he does appear to be first choice for Roberto de Zerbi when fit.
FWD: Manor Solomon
Opponent: Brentford (away)
Rostered: 3% / 14%
Points Last Gameweek: 15.5
Projected GW26 Points: 8.7
Prospects: Four straight appearances with a goal must mean Manor Solomon gets his chance to start a Premier League match this week, right? I think that will be the case given the Israeli's recent heroics, but this recommendation isn't as straightforward as it may seem at face value. Fulham are unfortunately not in action until the last match of Gameweek 26, so you will have very few options available to pivot to if he doesn't start. If you have backup or if you don't mind the risk, Solomon looks to be a very dangerous attacking prospect for Fulham. One other potential detractor from buying in too heavily on the hype is that Fulham have fewer fixtures remaining than the majority of the league (13, compared to 14-15 for most teams and 16 for Brighton). I still think he's worth adding to your team if you can afford the downsides.
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!
Wesley Fofana, Defender, Chelsea. Opponent: Leeds
Kieran Tierney, Defender, Arsenal. Opponent: Bournemouth
Hakim Ziyech, Midfielder, Chelsea. Opponent: Leeds
Arnaut Danjuma, Forwards, Tottenham. Opponent: Wolves
Noni Madueke, Forward, Chelsea. Opponent: Leeds
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