We ain’t afraid of no ghosts. In fact, we seek them – ghost points, that is. Ghost points are fantasy points that do not come from attacking returns or clean sheets. These can come in the form of key passes, successful dribbles, interceptions, accurate crosses, and aerials, among others. Identifying these points is essential for your Fantasy EPL prospects, and our Gameweek 37 Ghost Point Hunters article is here to help!
Gameweek 37 Ghost Point Hunters
In this gameweek, the Double to End All Doubles (or DEAD, an acronym perhaps befitting a weekly column dedicated to haunted Fantrax stats), we found ourselves in the presence of greatness from numerous sources, both heralded and not. This DEAD gameweek, to be punctuated by a high-stakes North London derby (as of time of writing), has seen a bit of everything: notably, Manchester City producing ten goals and cartoonish overall totals for the likes of KDB and Raheem Sterling, and Leeds deciding to experiment with two-footed lunges - an adventure that nearly paid off against Arsenal (of course!) but backfired against Chelsea, leaving Jesse Marsch and co. staring down the barrel of life in the Championship come this August. As fate would have it, this week’s edition of GPH includes a pair of midfielders hoping to condemn Leeds to relegation, late bloomer Alex Iwobi and frequent ghoster Dwight McNeil, as well as two defenders whose inconsistent seasons may be set to end on a high: resurgent Timothy Castagne and old stalwart Lucas Digne. Elsewhere, we pause and recognize the performances of Martin Odegaard, Gabriel Martinelli, Reece James, Richarlison, Stuart Armstrong, Abdoulaye Doucoure, and Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall.
Ghost Points Per 90: 6.4
Ghost Points This Past 2 GWs: 7.5 & 21
Prospects: Has been in and out of the Everton XI this season, but appears to have earned the trust of Super Frank, starting and playing all 90 minutes in the past nine games. He contributed his first attacking return (an assist) since a match-winning goal against Newcastle in mid-March, but, disappointingly, was unable to help the Toffees puncture a makeshift Watford back-line.
Verdict: Pick him up and enjoy the double!
Yes, that Alex Iwobi! At the tail end of his third season at the Merseyside club, Iwobi is finally starting to reveal some of the qualities that convinced Everton to pay ~$34M for his services in the summer of 2019. From a fantasy perspective, he has been an afterthought much of the year, providing mid-tier, hope-to-catch lightning-in-a-bottle streamer value for those in desperate need of a midfielder. He recorded an assist in the opening match of the season against Southampton and scored against Wolves on All Saints’ Day, but had accomplished little of note until early April, when he began his current, welcome stretch of unexpected consistency. Iwobi has started and played every minute of the past nine matches, mustering at least five points in each of those outings. Those who took notice were richly rewarded in GW36 (the DEAD), when the Nigerian passed and dribbled his way to 35.5 points in matches at Leicester and Watford, a total that included a massive 22-point performance (21 ghosts!) at Vicarage Road. Having set up Mykolenko for a perfectly timed volley in a 13.5-point outing that helped Everton secure a critical three points at King Power Stadium, Iwobi rode 5 Key Passes, 4 tackles, 4 accurate crosses, 2 successful dribbles, and an interception - as well as a point for a clean sheet - to 22 points that will have thrilled any manager who brought him in ahead of the pair of fixtures.
While the anticipated return of DCL might usually provide a roadblock to minutes, expect Iwobi to start and remain on the pitch for all (or nearly all) of the minutes that remain in Everton’s quest to avoid relegation. If he is still on the wire in your league, pick him up now and start him for the friendly Brentford/Palace double. His total floor for the two fixtures should be 12-14 points, and, as he has shown, his ceiling is much higher than many would have predicted months ago.
Team: Leicester City
Ghost Points Per 90: 7
Ghost Points This Past GW: 17.25 & 9.5
Prospects: Highest upside defender in a Leicester back line that no longer requires rotation to accommodate European Conference League matches
Verdict: Pick up if available on your wire.
Much like his club, Belgian defender Timothy Castagne has endured a disappointing season; injuries and rotation have limited him to 19 starts through 35 games, and his points per start has fallen significantly Castagne did not start and end with a double-figure score until December 28 (!), when Leicester conjured a memorable 1-0 victory against Liverpool. Still, since joining the Foxes before the 20-21 campaign, he has occasionally displayed evidence of his upside, recording key passes, accurate crosses, and tackles in bursts of activity on the wing. Castagne showcased these attacking tendencies in GW36, finding multiple avenues to the supernatural world, especially during Sunday’s 2-1 home defeat to Everton. Despite the loss, the Belgian produced 3 key passes, 3 aerial duels won, 2 tackles, 2 accurate crosses, a shot on target, an interception, a blocked shot, and a clear for 17.25 ghost points (13.25 after subtracting for the two goals conceded). For an encore, he eased his way to 2 key passes, 4 tackles, an accurate cross, and 2 clears, which, coupled with a clean sheet against bottom club Norwich, came to 15.5 points for the evening - and a total of 28.25 for the gameweek.
A midweek trip to Stamford Bridge will provide a stern test of Leicester’s defensive mettle, but yet another matchup against a mathematically relegated side - step right up, Watford - means Castagne is likely worth a fantasy play in GW37 if he starts the first match. Rotation is always a concern for assets vulnerable to Rodgers’ tinkering, especially at a time of fixture congestion, but Castagne has proven himself to be one of the most nailed-on players at the club when healthy. He has started and played every minute of the past five matches, including two that transpired a mere three days after the previous game. Ricardo Pereira being out for the season with injury, also greatly increases the Belgian's chances of starting two. Unless superior options are available, start Castagne against Watford, enjoy a likely double-figure total of ghost points, hope for a positive result at Chelsea, and then consider starting him against an on-the-beach Southampton squad in GW38.
Team: Aston Villa
Ghost Points Per 90: 10
Ghost Points This Past 2 GWs: 11.25 & 15.75
Prospects: Quite possibly the top asset to target ahead of a friendly double in GW37; quite possibly one to bench in GW38 (away to Man City)
Verdict: If, by some miracle, he remains available in your league, pick him up this instant. If your league still allows trades, offer any defender not named TAA, Robbo, or Cancelo - and even then, might be worth consideration. He has the highest projection of any player in DGW37. If you missed out on picking him up last week, curse your fortunes.
Has any player produced more unpredictable fantasy results this season than GPH legend Lucas Digne? After an underwhelming first half of the season that included a public fallout with Rafa Benitez, faithful and opportunistic managers alike hoped for a resurgence under Gerrard, given Stevie G’s history of relying on attacking full-backs at Rangers. However, apart from a 25-point outing against his former club in late January, Digne disappointed managers, failing to produce (when he started), trolling them with consecutive early exits, and finally sustaining an apparent season-ending collarbone injury against Spurs.
But this series of unfortunate events merely set the stage for a final twist in the tale: a shock return to the starting XI against Norwich in GW35. Since that unforeseen green check appeared next to his name, the Frenchman has registered double-digit ghost points in all three fixtures. In GW36, he paired an assist with 27 ghosties across the two matches, recording a total of 5 key passes, 5 interceptions, 6 aerial duels won, 2 tackles won, 2 accurate crosses, 4 clears, and a successful dribble, offset only by an obligatory yellow card, two dispossessions, and three goals conceded. Favorable home matchups vs Palace and Burnley in GW37 should provide ample opportunity for the until-recently written-off defender to exceed this joint performance and end a difficult season on a high - at least until next Sunday, when Manchester City will look to make all Villa assets irrelevant during a probable coronation at the Etihad.
Ghost Points Per Start: 9.1
Ghost Points This Past 2 GWs: 18.5
Prospects: Having fought a surprising battle for his place in the side throughout the spring, he will be one of the leading contenders to top the ghost point table in GW37
Verdict: If you’re fortunate enough to count him among your midfielders, sit back and enjoy the show. Otherwise, offer a package including underperforming FWD1 or MID1, if trades are still an option. McNeil could win the gameweek for managers.
Burnley’s 22-year-old winger may be the least surprising inclusion in this week’s edition of GPH, but we would be remiss if we did not recognize an 18.5-point extravaganza highlighted by 7 successful dribbles that also featured 3 key passes, 2 shots on target, 2 accurate crosses, and a tackle won. Despite having registered 1 single goal involvement all season (away to Brentford in late October), McNeil has recently reestablished himself as one of the league’s most reliable sources of ghost points, delivering totals of 12, 12.5, and 18.5 in his last three matches. That McNeil was able to summon such an impressive haul in a losing effort for a desperate Burnley side, bodes well for his prospects in GW37, when they face Villa yet again (this time at Villa Park) after a trip to Spurs. Expect McNeil to play nearly every minute of both matches and produce a score between 18 and 25 - or more if he conjures an attacking return.
Martin Odegaard (Arsenal MID; 16.5 ghosts), Gabriel Martinelli (Arsenal MID; 14 ghosts): Both Arsenal midfielders cobbled together notable fantasy performances against Leeds, though they benefited from a numerical advantage that lasted two-thirds of the match, thanks to Luke Ayling’s inexplicable tackle on Martinelli.
Reece James (Chelsea DEF; 21.25 ghosts vs. Leeds): Sense a theme? Reece produced one of his patented 30-point outbursts against an opponent currently offering its foes points for fun.
Richarlison (Everton FWD; 14.5 ghosts vs. Watford): Everton couldn’t break down an unexpectedly strong Watford defense, but Richarlison once again found himself at the heart of nearly every Everton attack. A friendly double in GW37 will have his managers hoping for a haul.
Stuart Armstrong (Southampton MID; 14 ghosts): He has always had performances like these in his wheelhouse; we have given up trying to predict when they will arrive.
Abdoulaye Doucoure/Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall (Everton MID/Leicester MID; 15 ghosts each across the DGW): Neither produced a total worthy of inclusion in itself, but both could yet again have 180 minutes’ worth of opportunities to accumulate points in GW37.
Dr. Peter Venkman Award:
Emiliano Buendia (Aston Villa MID; 0.5 ghosts vs. Burnley): I know, I know. Not Emi. Darling of the draft community, former Fantrax god, second-round pick. But ask yourself: if someone told you Emi would start, score a goal, AND grab an assist against Burnley, what is the number of points in your head? If it’s 20.5, you’d be correct. In a plot twist that would make M. Night Shyamalan jealous, the industrious Argentine managed to avoid dead people for all 78 minutes of his cameo, adding a single measly aerial duel to a point total that should have been his highest of the season. Shocking? Absolutely. Sign of the apocalypse? Perhaps. Substitute or not, he will almost certainly exceed that half-point sum in the first match of the upcoming double.
***Click here to view the full Ghost Point Tracker table!***
For all the latest from Ryan Barnes, follow @CNFC82 on Twitter!
And for more in-depth and exclusive resources, become a member of The Inner Circle.