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Fantrax EPL: Gameweek 27 Sleepers XI

Our Gameweek 27 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 27 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. Additionally, I've included the rostership percentage from the "Community List" -- the twenty 12-team divisions that comprise the ultra-competitive DraftPL Community League and International Genie League -- to provide some additional context for who is likely to be available and where you might want to follow the wisdom of the crowd.

Before we get to the week ahead, let's take a look back at the week that was in Gameweek 26. A few unexpected omissions didn't keep the squad from delivering a healthy 86.75 points, with stellar contributions from Matty Cash (19.25), Abdoulaye Doucoure (23) and Manor Solomon (16). The season total is now 2174.5, good for an average score of 87 points per week.

Turning our attention to the fixtures on the horizon, there are four teams who are scheduled to play twice in Gameweek 27: Brentford (eve/sou), Brighton (lee/CRY), Crystal Palace (MCI/bha) and Southampton (mun/BRF). If you listened to this week's Key Pass Collective podcast, you'll have heard that Joe is not a fan of the double for Palace, and I am in full agreement. Hard avoid for any of their assets who would qualify for selection. The other three teams are interesting, though, and I've chosen to highlight some players who otherwise may not be worth rostering that might still be hanging around in the free agent pool in your league. The rest of the squad is made up of interesting, albeit somewhat risky punts from across the league's other fixtures. Let's get into it.

GK: Alphonse Areola

Team: West Ham

Opponent: Aston Villa (home)

Rostered: 3% (Fantrax) / 4% (Community)

Points Last Gameweek: 3

Prospects: West Ham were abysmal in their 4-0 defeat to Brighton last week, but Alphonse Areola still managed to come through with 3 points. Lukasz Fabianski's backup deputized while he was out through injury and, while the Polish keeper may be back in training after having a metal plate put into his face, I'm guessing the medical staff will advise David Moyes to play it safe for at least this week. The Hammers face a less daunting opponent with the visit of Aston Villa this weekend, and among the goalkeepers likely to be available, I'm backing Areola to deliver the goods.

DEF: Jan Bednarek

Team: Southampton

Opponent: Man United (away) / Brentford (home)

Rostered: 5% / 71%

Points Last Gameweek: 11.25

Projected GW27 Points: 14.7

Prospects: While the community has largely invested in the DGW players who have a chance of starting both matches (just take a look at the roster percentages for the defenders), the significantly lower rostership across all of Fantrax suggests there may still be some hesitancy around buying in. For Jan Bednarek, that makes sense - Southampton have been in poor form and there are some question marks still hanging over who the preferred starting eleven will be for new manager Ruben Selles once he has a full complement of players to choose from. Mohammed Salisu may indeed be reinstated for one or both of the matches this gameweek, but Bednarek has reminded fantasy managers why he was a favorite in seasons past with his recent performances. The Polish CB is a magnet for ghost points, which helps to mitigate the potential negative scores that would come along with his Saints side conceding to difficult opponents in United and Brentford.

DEF: Lewis Dunk

Team: Brighton

Opponent: Leeds (away) / Crystal Palace (home)

Rostered: 33% / 95%

Points Last Gameweek: 9.5

Projected GW27 Points: 11.6

Prospects: One quick note on the Brighton front overall - there are some rumors circulating that weather may put the opening fixture against Leeds at risk of cancellation. If that happens, any streamer-level guys from Brighton are probably still worth rostering, but you may want to consider other options, particularly in the case of lower upside players like Lewis Dunk, who doesn't typically ghost very well and is often not worth rostering unless a clean sheet seems very likely. That second match against Palace is a game where the clean sheet potential is high, so Dunk could deliver in that match alone. Adding in a second game against an inconsistent Leeds team adds to the potential value. With recent injury/rotation concerns surrounding Tariq Lamptey, Joel Veltman and Pervis Estupinan, and the recent return to fitness of Levi Colwill (who would threaten Adam Webster's place in the XI), Dunk should be the safest bet to start two for the Seagulls.

DEF: Aaron Hickey

Team: Brentford

Opponent: Everton (away) / Southampton (away)

Rostered: 12% / 85%

Points Last Gameweek: 10

Projected GW27 Points: 11.5

Prospects: While Brentford's goalkeeper and center backs have been fantasy gold this season, their fullbacks have been lackluster at best. Aaron Hickey hasn't changed the trend since his return to fitness last month, offering 7 points with a clean sheet and 10 with an assist in recent starts, but the fact that both those returns took place is a good enough reason to bring the young Scot into your team for this week, at least. Brentford have been better at home than on the road, but face two of the most goal-shy teams in Everton and Southampton, so the chances of at least one clean sheet are high. Hopefully Hickey can find some ghost points somewhere to go along with any returns as well.

MID: Carlos Alcaraz

Team: Southampton

Opponent: Man United (away) / Brentford (home)

Rostered: 2% / 23%

Points Last Gameweek: 12

Projected GW27 Points: 11.9

Prospects: Had it not been for the ill-advised knee slide celebration that resulted in a knee injury and early substitution last week, I think Carlos Alcaraz would be much higher rostered heading into this gameweek. That said, the January arrival is still something of an unknown quantity. I thought he was a holding midfielder, so he wasn't on my radar prior to this past weekend's scouting mission ahead of the DGW. To my surprise, "Charly" was deployed as a very attacking central midfielder who played off Che Adams brilliantly to score his goal. The injury is reportedly minor, so the Argentine has a chance of returning to the starting lineup this weekend against United. Saints don't have the best fixtures, but Alcaraz offers attacking upside few other available players do at the moment, so I like him as a first-choice option. If he doesn't start, you could pivot to the more stable, but less explosive Romeo Lavia.

MID: Harvey Elliott

Team: Liverpool

Opponent: Bournemouth (away)

Rostered: 30% / 76%

Points Last Gameweek: 16

Projected GW27 Points:

Prospects: Liverpool's 7-0 dismantling of Manchester United was full of man-of-the-match caliber performances, and Harvey Elliott has to be right in the conversation after putting in his best display in a Liverpool shirt. The teenager has struggled at times this season to adapt to a central midfield role, but performed it to perfection against the Red Devils. Jurgen Klopp has an interesting selection dilemma on his hands with the second leg of the Champions League fixture against Real Madrid on the horizon; does he look to continue momentum with a winning team in the Premier League, or rotate in an attempt to overturn the 3-goal deficit against the La Liga powerhouse? More experienced heads may be reserved for the UCL fixture, so I expect Elliott to be afforded the opportunity to follow up his excellent performance with another start against Bournemouth.

MID: Ainsley Maitland-Niles

Team: Southampton

Opponent: Man United (away) / Brentford (home)

Rostered: 3% / 47%

Points Last Gameweek: 9

Projected GW27 Points: 12.7

Prospects: It figures that Ainsley Maitland-Niles would score 20 points across the two matches either side of the week I select him in Sleepers XI, only to put up a paltry 3 points in GW25. I'm willing to forgive and give the Arsenal loanee another chance to make me look like I know what I'm talking about. AMN has been the preferred starter at right back in recent weeks, and it may actually be to his managers' benefit that he is listed as a midfielder so he doesn't have to deal with the negative points from any goals conceded. He'll miss out on clean sheet points, of course, but I feel like those may be a bit hard to come by this week anyway. The 9 points last week came in the form of contributions on both sides of the ball, with Maitland-Niles chipping in with successful dribbles and interceptions, tackles and key passes. That's a good sign for his prospects to hit double digits. Fingers crossed it isn't a "fool me twice" scenario.

MID: Emile Smith Rowe

Team: Arsenal

Opponent: Fulham (away)

Rostered: 35% / 14%

Points Last Gameweek: 9.5

Projected GW27 Points: 10.4

Prospects: I feel for Emile Smith Rowe. He was working toward becoming a regular starter in the Arsenal setup before his injury and has had to watch from the sidelines as his teammates lead a title charge. It's taken injuries to Gabriel Jesus, Eddie Nketiah and Leandro Trossard for ESR to get his opportunity and despite playing well, it was his own replacement Reiss Nelson who stole the headlines with a goal and assist to earn a dramatic victory for the Gunners. With Nelson getting a start in the Europa League midweek and the injured trio still struggling for fitness, however, Smith Rowe stands a good chance of being called upon from the start against Fulham. A 9.5 point haul in just 45 minutes on the pitch in his first match back underscores the midfielder's potential. Worth taking a punt on for sure...just make sure you have a Plan B.

MID: Joe Willock

Team: Newcastle

Opponent: Wolves (home)

Rostered: 46% / 38%

Points Last Gameweek: 6

Projected GW27 Points: 8.4

Prospects: Newcastle have hit a bit of a dip in form after starting the season so brightly. Miguel Almiron and Callum Wilson are out of form and the midfield has out of necessity shifted away from the trio of Guimaraes, Joelinton and Joe Willock that was the go-to selection for Eddie Howe when his side were at their zenith. While Willock made his injury return last week, Howe still won't have his first choice midfield available as Joelinton begins a two-match ban for yellow card accumulation. I expect Willock to be reinstated as a starter, however, and see the match against Wolves as a potentially fruitful one for the Magpies to get their Top 4 aspirations back on track. Wolves allow 9.6 points to opposition midfielders on average, so Willock could build upon the 6 points he managed in his 25-minute cameo in GW26.

FWD: Georginio Rutter

Team: Leeds

Opponent: Brighton (home)

Rostered: 10% / 57%

Points Last Gameweek: 5

Projected GW27 Points: 8.4

Prospects: I'll be honest - the forward landscape is a complete minefield this week. Picking out a reliable DGW striker that isn't 100% rostered is nigh on impossible given the rotation we've seen recently in the advanced positions at all four of the clubs who play twice this gameweek. The single gamers don't offer much more security, either, but I have liked what Georginio Rutter has offered in the last two matches for Leeds so he is one of two begrudging recommendations from me this week. I don't love the match up and there have been some recent rumblings about returns to fitness for both Patrick Bamford and Rodrigo, but I don't think Javi Gracia will be in any rush to shoehorn either forward back into his lineup prior to the impending international break, so the young Frenchman should get at least one more chance to prove himself.

FWD: Yoane Wissa

Team: Brentford

Opponent: Everton (away) / Southampton (away)

Rostered: 23% / 66%

Points Last Gameweek: 1.5

Projected GW27 Points: 15.8

Prospects: Who else could I choose with my final pick than my Sleepers XI nemesis Yoane Wissa? Despite consistently letting me down, I keep coming back. As one of very few DGW attacking players I feel could start both matches, I almost feel obligated to include Wissa. That said, there's a very real possibility that new arrival Kevin Schade works his way into contention for a starting place. Hell, Mikkel Damsgaard could even move out to left wing to accommodate Vitaly Janelt or Josh Dasilva. But still, the promise of that late-season form from last campaign lives on. If for no other reason, Brentford players are worth consideration this week based on their strength of schedule (first for goalkeepers, midfielders and forwards across the next 5 GWs, and second for defenders), so if there are any out there you think could play in both matches, bring them in. Let's hope this is the week the Wissa curse is broken.

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!

  • Matt Targett, Defender, Newcastle. Opponent: Wolves

  • Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Defender, Man United. Opponent: Southampton

  • Alejandro Garnacho, Midfielder, Man United. Opponent: Southampton

  • David Datro Fofana, Forward, Chelsea. Opponent: Leicester

  • Reiss Nelson, Forward, Arsenal. Opponent: Fulham

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