top of page

Fantrax EPL: Gameweek 31 Sleepers XI

Our Gameweek 31 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 31 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.

As always, let's take a quick look back at Gameweek 30 before turning our attention to the week ahead: If not for an excellent display from Aaron Wan-Bissaka (19) and a cameo goal for Anthony Martial (14) off the bench, last week would have been a truly ugly one for the Sleepers squad. Only Bernd Leno and Joachim Andersen (both 8) from the remaining nine players could be viewed as marginally successful. Those 4 players accounted for all but 16 of the 64.75 points scored last time around. That brings the season total to 2534.25 points and drops the weekly average to just shy of 87.5.

I knew I was taking some risks last week, but it was a good reminder to go for more certainty when possible. Thankfully, most teams will have had the benefit of a rare full week without matches to give their managers less of a headache when it comes to selecting their teams this weekend. At least, I hope that's the case. I did try to make some more nailed-on selections this week, but also tried to balance some calculated risk in to make a play for upside potential. If a player's ceiling is 8 points, they're really not going to change the balance of your matchup on most occasions. Here's where I've landed:

GK: Sam Johnstone

Team: Crystal Palace

Opponent: Southampton (away)

Rostered: 2% (Fantrax) / 4% (Community)

Points Last Gameweek: 12.25

Prospects:  When West Brom were promoted to the Prem a couple seasons ago, my Fantrax league at the time counted every save by a goalkeeper as 3 points, with only -1 for conceding. The scoring had been in place for years without any complaints, but was changed the following season to the 2/-2 setup that exists in Fantrax Default Scoring. Sam Johnstone is the reason for that change. I picked up the keeper at the beginning of that season and was thrilled to see him regularly put up double-digit scores even when Albion got pummeled and close to 30 on the rare occasions they kept a clean sheet. The point I'm trying to make with this anecdote is that the man is a save machine. That continued in his first match back in the EPL as he deputized for the injured Vicente Guaita against Leeds, where Johnstone made 7 saves and conceded once. While that won't earn you 20 points like it did for me a few years back, it still feels like a good bet to make with Palace in excellent form and facing Championship-bound Southampton.

DEF: Rob Holding

Team: Arsenal

Opponent: West Ham (away)

Rostered: 14% / 57%

Points Last Gameweek: 4.25

Projected GW31 Points: 9.4

Prospects: There were rumors heading into last week's match with Liverpool that William Saliba could be back to full fitness and ready to return to Arsenal's starting lineup. Those rumors turned out to be hogwash, with the young Frenchman not even making the squad. The news being reported ahead of this weekend is that Saliba is close to a return, but not yet ready to start. If those reports are to believed, Rob Holding should get the nod alongside Gabriel for the match against West Ham. The Gunners will be desperate to get another win to keep Man City at bay. West Ham have been surprisingly stingy against opposition midfielders and attackers this season, but relatively favorable for defenders (allowing 8.8 points per game on average), so there's a good case to be made for Holding improving on his poor scores from the past two fixtures.

DEF: Michael Keane

Team: Everton

Opponent: Fulham (home)

Rostered: 15% / 57%

Points Last Gameweek: 2

Projected GW31 Points: 9.0

Prospects: Sean Dyche is nothing if not predictable, and yet it continues to work out for him. The Everton manager moved immediately to bring his fellow ex-Burnley players back into the starting lineup, including nearly forgotten man Michael Keane. Like Tarkowski and McNeil before him, Keane has offered Everton a magical moment in the form of his stunning long-range strike against Spurs in GW29. It's a bridge too far to expect those sorts of heroics from him again, but a winnable fixture at home against a Fulham side that looks so much worse without Aleksandar Mitrovic bodes well for his fantasy prospects this week. Keane has delivered positive scores in all but the 4-0 loss to Arsenal since being restored to the starting lineup for the Toffees, and I expect that to continue even if they can't manage to keep the Cottagers at bay.

DEF: Ibrahima Konate

Team: Liverpool

Opponent: Leeds United (away)

Rostered: 53% / 57%

Points Last Gameweek: 8

Projected GW31 Points: 8.1

Prospects: Okay, we're starting to get into riskier territory again, here...buyer beware. While I'm of the opinion that we're likely to see Ibrahima Konate as the de facto CB partner to Virgil van Dijk for the majority of Liverpool's remaining fixtures, the fact that the match against Leeds is the final fixture of the gameweek makes this selection a gamble. Konate has been one of the few Liverpool players this season whose form hasn't fallen off a cliff, and a run of matches with a consistent back line should help the Reds' push for an unlikely Champions League berth next season. The other risk with this pick is that Leeds are a tough team to figure out. Will we see the team that conceded 5 goals to Palace, or the one that smashed 4 past Wolves? In any case, Konate has been ghosting fairly well and I'm not a huge fan of a lot of the other defensive streaming options out there this week. Liverpool also have a favorable fixture against Nottingham Forest in GW32 (which is a blank for a few teams), so you can consider this a medium- to long-term recommendation as well.

MID: N'Golo Kante

Team: Chelsea

Opponent: Brighton (home)

Rostered: 53% / 39%

Points Last Gameweek: N/A

Projected GW31 Points: 6.3

Prospects: As I'm writing this, Chelsea have not yet played their Champions League match against Real Madrid. Frank Lampard has suggested that N'Golo Kante is fit and available, but is it too much to expect him to start this early? If the French midfielder does get the start against Madrid, then you should probably disregard this pick even if he comes through unscathed. Given his injury woes this season, I can't see him being asked to start two matches in quick succession just yet. If, however, Kante is only fit enough for the bench midweek, I think there's definitely a case to be made for his inclusion against Brighton. Lampard will need some steel and guile in the engine room to combat the well-oiled possession machine at Roberto de Zerbi's disposal, and Kante fits the bill. We've seen in the past that the holding midfielder can rack up points from multiple sources, and this feels like a match that will keep him busy...If he starts. If not, maybe take a flier on someone like Joao Gomes or Amadou Onana, who could be similarly busy for their respective clubs.

MID: Kevin Schade

Team: Brentford

Opponent: Wolves (away)

Rostered: 6% / 57%

Points Last Gameweek: 8.5

Projected GW31 Points: 9.0

Prospects: As we've seen with other Brentford transfers (Mikkel Damsgaard, in particular, springs to mind), Thomas Frank isn't afraid to bide his time to let new players get to grips with his system and the rigors of the Premier League before throwing them in at the deep end. However, I think it's promising that we've seen as much of Kevin Schade as we have since the attacker arrived in January. The German offers pace and dribbling ability to go along with an eye for goal, and his ghost points so far have been very promising in his limited time on the pitch. With him earning his first 90-minute outing against Newcastle and Frank tending to go for a more attacking 4-3-3 setup in matches against non top-6 teams, I think there's a strong possibility we'll see Schade called upon from the start again. There's also the possibility for Schade to fill in up top should Ivan Toney's gambling ban ever happen or in the likelier event that he picks up a yellow card (which would see him miss two matches through suspension), so this is another recommendation where you could be getting in a bit ahead of the curve.

MID: Jeffrey Schlupp

Team: Crystal Palace

Opponent: Southampton (away)

Rostered: 11% / 52%

Points Last Gameweek: 18

Projected GW31 Points: 7.3

Prospects: The Palace resurgence under Roy Hodgson has been as shocking as it has been revitalizing for their survival hopes. As we've been bellowing from the mountain tops for a few weeks now, the Eagles have an excellent run of fixtures to close out the season, so their players are likely to be hot commodities right now after a dominant display against Leeds. Jeffrey Schlupp is a player Hodgson is familiar with from his previous stint in charge of the London club, and he's gotten the best out of the Ghanaian in recent weeks. Schlupp delivered 18 points at Elland Road, with an assist and a staggering 7 successful dribbles. That's not something that was typical of his game prior to Hodgson's reappointment, so it should be taken with a grain of salt or two, but Schlupp has always been a TDS favorite for his reliability when he's starting. He almost always delivers a solid foundation of 6-7 points with the potential to go big with a goal contribution. Sign him up if you can.

MID: Thiago

Team: Liverpool

Opponent: Leeds (away)

Rostered: 55% / 42%

Points Last Gameweek: 2.5

Projected GW31 Points: 8.6

Prospects: Similar to the Konate recommendation, this pick is risky for a couple reasons, but I think a start for Thiago on Monday is a reasonably safe bet. Liverpool have badly missed the Spaniard's influence in midfield and he helped turn the game around against Arsenal during his 30-minute cameo in GW30. I wouldn't expect Thiago to last longer than 60 minutes or so given he's just coming back from an injury layoff, but in matches where he has the space to operate at his best he can very quickly rack up a haul of points from key passes, successful dribbles and occasionally tackles and interceptions. If the Leeds midfield effort from the Palace continues, this could be one of the rare weeks where Liverpool midfielders are worth rostering.

MID: Bertrand Traore

Team: Aston Villa

Opponent: Newcastle (home)

Rostered: 1% / 4%

Points Last Gameweek: 12

Projected GW31 Points: 7.4

Prospects: Two scoring cameos in back-to-back weeks and an injury to positional competitor Leon Bailey means a start for Bertrand Traore this week is a distinct possibility. Given his rostership, he should be available in quite a few leagues heading into this weekend. Villa have been in excellent form under Unai Emery and are surprisingly now in contention for European football next season when relegation was looking the likelier option while Steven Gerrard was at the helm. There are a couple downsides to this pick, however; first, Villa are taking on another of the league's form teams in Newcastle (and their schedule is fairly difficult ROS), and second, Traore's goals are pretty much the only things he's scoring points for. This makes him a goal-dependent option in the same mold as the main he's replacing. In seasons past, Traore was capable of ghosting decently, though, as he is a high-volume shooter and decent dribbler. We'll have to hope more time on the pitch gives him more of a chance to bring in some ghost points in case he's not able to keep up the scoring streak.

FWD: Jordan Ayew

Team: Crystal Palace

Opponent: Southampton (away)

Rostered: 31% / 90%

Points Last Gameweek: 29.5

Projected GW31 Points: 8.0

Prospects: A third Palace player in the XI is giving me bad flashbacks to the week where I bought into the Bournemouth resurgence only for them to disappoint when I stuck my neck out for them. But I can't help but suggest you do your best to bring in Jordan Ayew if he's somehow still available following his near 30-pointer against Leeds. Some sort of switch has been flipped and the Eagles are flying as high as our expectations were for them heading into the season. With Wilfried Zaha out through injury, Ayew should get an extended run in the team -- something that was hard to predict when Vieira was in charge. It wasn't just the brace that contributed to Ayew's points, either. As called out by Ryan in his Ghost Point Hunters article, he's a regular fixture due to his propensity to pad the score sheet with peripheral stats.

FWD: Manor Solomon

Team: Fulham

Opponent: Everton (away)

Rostered: 44% / 90%

Points Last Gameweek: 0.5

Projected GW31 Points: 10.7

Prospects: After an extended run of starts, Manor Solomon was given a breather in GW30, but it was short-lived as he was called upon at halftime to try to restore parity against the Hammers. Fulham weren't able to get anything going on the day and Solomon could only manage half a point in his 45-minute appearance. I have higher hopes for the Israeli this week, beginning with his likely restoration to Marco Silva's starting lineup. As noted above, we've seen Fulham cool off considerably as they don't have a whole lot to play for over the course of the rest of the season, but it's still a bit too early to be completely on the beach. Prior to last week, Solomon had scored 8 or better in all of his appearances going back to a 14-minute cameo at the beginning of February. And even though the goal streak ended, he managed 8 and 9.5 points in his last two starts, respectively. A double-digit projection is a bit of a rarity for Sleeper candidates in a single gameweek, but I wouldn't be surprised to see Solomon exceed the 10.7 point prediction.

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!

  • Cedric Soares, Defender, Fulham. Opponent: Everton

  • Raphael Varane, Defender, Man United. Opponent: Nottingham Forest

  • Fabio Vieira, Midfielder, Arsenal. Opponent: West Ham

  • Arnaut Danjuma, Forward, Tottenham. Opponent: Bournemouth

  • Anthony Martial, Forward, Man United. Opponent: Nottingham Forest

For all the latest from The Draft Society, follow @Draft_Society on Twitter!

And for more in-depth and exclusive resources, become a member of The Inner Circle.


Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page