Our Gameweek 9 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 9 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.
The Sleepers Squad went into the International Break on a high, securing 104.5 points and taking the season tally to 670.5 (around 96 points/week). This team continues to outpace my own team in the Community League, which I am simultaneously proud of and disappointed with. Hopefully these recommendations have worked out well for you as you've navigated the waiver wire and free agent pool in search of players who can win you the game week.
Coming out of an international break is always a bit tricky, with injuries and late returnees wreaking havoc on our best laid plans. Thankfully, the pool of low-rostered players is deep enough that you should be able to find some joy to offset any unforeseen circumstances, or to fill some gaps in your squad.
One final note before we jump to the recommendations is that you should pay particular attention to the Reserves this week. It's difficult to recommend players in the last few fixtures of the slate, particularly if they're not nailed on starters, but there are a few players on the "bench" this week who have much higher upside than some of my selections in the main team this time around. If you have the flexibility to pick up someone like Liam Cooper or Patson Daka this week on the off-chance they do get a start, I would definitely do so.
And with that out of the way, here's who I'm backing to deliver the goods in Gameweek 9:
GK: Illan Meslier
Team: Leeds United
Opponent: Aston Villa (Home)
Points Last Gameweek: -3.5
Prospects: So far this season, I've opted for the safer options in net, as goalkeepers don't tend to rack up many ghost points to offset the negative points that accompany any goals they allow. As you'll see, though, I'm taking a bit more conservative approach further up the pitch, so I'm taking a gamble on the boom-or-bust Meslier between the posts against an Aston Villa side that has struggled to find its attacking form so far this season. Jesse Marsch's charges have been leaking goals recently, but with club captain Liam Cooper returning to fitness there's the hope of righting the ship and adding some defensive solidity to go with a promising attack. This is a risky pick, but intuition is drawing me to the young Frenchman with the hope of hitting the crest of a scoring wave rather than a trough.
DEF: Antonee Robinson
Opponent: Newcastle (Home)
Points Last Gameweek: 1.25 (GW7 v. TOT)
Projected GW9 Points: 6.6
Prospects: While international breaks can bring us unfortunate news of injuries (particularly frustrating when they're meaningless friendlies), it can also afford players who were struggling for form or fitness beforehand to recover and come back fresh. Such will be the hope with Robinson, who was reportedly close to being involved against Nottingham Forest in GW8. It's perhaps telling that Marco Silva turned to center back Tim Ream to fill in for the American that he doesn't see Layvin Kurzawa as being ready to compete for a starting role. Robinson's starting status should be secure, then, so long as he's fit to play. Newcastle are facing a bit of an injury crisis in attack. Alexander Isak has picked up an injury on international duty for Sweden, Allan Saint-Maximin is unlikely to recover from a hamstring injury, Chris Wood is dealing with a knock and Callum Wilson is never more than a misplaced step or awkward landing away from his next spell on the treatment table. The Cottagers have only kept a single clean sheet this season, against Wolves, but should have a decent shot at another one here. Robinson has a history of delivering decent ghost point scores, in any case.
DEF: Mohammed Salisu
Opponent: Everton (Home)
Points Last Gameweek: 7.75
Projected GW9 Points: 9.0
Prospects: A former fantasy favorite, Salisu got off to a slow start this season, with his Saints side struggling to keep their opponents at bay. Southampton has yet to keep a clean sheet in the Premier League this campaign, but will look to change their fortunes against an Everton team that looks like they'll still be missing their star striker in Dominic Calvert-Lewin. One of the reasons Salisu was such a stalwart in fantasy teams last season was his ghost point output, and he showed signs of rediscovering that form with a very respectable 9.75 ghost points against Aston Villa in GW8. He and Armel Bella Kotchap appear to be solidifying their partnership in central defense, so you could do worse than bank on either for this match before kicking them to the curb ahead of their next fixture against decidedly more difficult opposition in Manchester City.
DEF: Kostas Tsimikas
Opponent: Brighton (Home)
Points Last Gameweek: 10.25 (GW7 v. EVE)
Projected GW9 Points: 11.5
Prospects: It's a pretty rare occasion that a fantasy-relevant player from either Man City or Liverpool meets the requirements for this article, usually due to a regular starter not being available. In the case of Tsimikas, he's set to extend his run in the Reds' starting eleven for at least another week as Andrew Robertson remains out with the knee injury he picked up at the end of Liverpool's Champions League defeat to Napoli a few weeks back. We have yet to receive a definitive timeline for the Scot's return to the first team, but his Greek counterpart has been pushing to earn the long-term starting role and will be eager to build upon his promising displays in a home match against a Brighton side that will be working under new management. Tsimikas is always worth streaming when he's expected to be in the lineup, so if you happen to be in the 67% of leagues where he's currently available, open a new tab, go to Fantrax and claim him before someone else beats you to it.
MID: Douglas Luiz
Team: Aston Villa
Opponent: Leeds United (Away)
Points Last Gameweek: 6
Projected GW9 Points: 9.4
Prospects: Another player who stands to benefit from an injury to a teammate is Luiz, who should be called on to step into the holding midfield role at Aston Villa in the place of the stricken Boubacar Kamara. The Brazilian midfielder isn't typically the most attractive pick given his role and a penchant for yellow cards, but he does have the benefit of taking some set pieces. He's also somehow mastered the art of the Olimpico and appears to have free reign to attempt to score directly from corners as often as he pleases. Coming off of a 6-point performance in 45 minutes last time out, I like his prospects for positive contributions against a Leeds side that allows a lot of points (about 10.7 per game) to opposition midfielders.
MID: Morgan Gibbs-White
Team: Nottingham Forest
Opponent: Leicester (Away)
Points Last Gameweek: 3.5
Projected GW9 Points: 8.0
Prospects: Just barely sneaking in under the 60% rostership bar, Gibbs-White earns a recall into the Sleepers Squad, following a 16.5 point haul as part of the team in GW6. The record signing at Forest hasn't lived up to expectations outside of that match against Bournemouth, though, especially for fantasy purposes. The 22 year-old hasn't scored more than 5 points in any other match since joining from Wolves. That said, he is set to come up against the only defense in the league that rivals the Cherries' woes in the Premier League as Forest travel to take on the Foxes on Monday evening. MGW is at the heart of all of the attacking play and on set pieces, which Leicester have struggled mightily to deal with, so the hope for the Englishman to start delivering on his abundant potential is there for Steve Cooper and for any fantasy managers who roster him.
MID: Idrissa Gueye
Opponent: Southampton (Away)
Points Last Gameweek: 7
Projected GW9 Points: 9.8
Prospects: I promised last time around that I wouldn't recommend Alex Iwobi for the foreseeable future after beating a dead horse about picking him up, so I'm staying true to my word and calling on Everton teammate Gueye instead. The Senegalese midfielder has reintegrated to Premier League life seamlessly in his second spell on Merseyside, anchoring a surprisingly good midfield trio with the aforementioned Iwobi and fellow summer signing Amadou Onana (all of whom are less than 60% rostered...just saying). Gueye probably has the lowest ceiling of the three, but also offers a solid floor with points primarily coming in the form of interceptions and aerial duels, something Southampton tend to offer plenty of (hat-tip to Drafterthoughts for this very interesting statistic). I'm expecting this to be a back-and-forth type of game, so expect plenty of opportunity for Gueye to get involved.
MID: Joao Moutinho
Opponent: West Ham (Away)
Points Last Gameweek: 4
Projected GW9 Points: 6.4
Prospects: Before the season started, it appeared to me like we could be seeing the end of Moutinho as a regular starter in the Wolves midfield. Over the course of the last season or so, we've seen age catch up to the long-serving Portuguese midfielder and diminish his once-stellar fantasy returns. The one thing he has going for him right now is that he's still in the first-team picture and displaying the type of form that will keep youngsters like Boubacar Traore and Luke Cundle waiting in the wings. The return to fitness of Pedro Neto and the arrival of Goncalo Guedes means that Moutinho has fallen down the pecking order for set pieces, but he's still capable of delivering solid ghost points (6.8 gPPS this season) with a higher ceiling in favorable matchups, which West Ham can be considered a part of given their extremely poor start to the season.
MID: Mateo Kovacic
Opponent: Crystal Palace (Away)
Points Last Gameweek: 4.5
Projected GW9 Points: 9.5
Prospects: Graham Potter has had to wait a long time before his first Premier League fixture in charge of the Blues, and we've yet to see his preferences take shape for his team. We were given some clues as to how he'll be setting up his side in the 1-1 draw in the Champions League against RB Salzburg. The former Brighton manager stuck with a familiar system, running with the 3-4-2-1 formation that worked to great effect for the Seagulls this season before his departure. The midfield two of Jorginho and Kovacic may end up mapping closely to their Brighton counterparts in Mac Allister and Caicedo, respectively. Chelsea's Croatian midfielder could flourish in this role, having a bit more freedom to link play and join in attacking sequences similar to his time at Real Madrid. You may need to keep an eye on lineups for this match, with N'Golo Kante nearing a return, but the match is early enough that you should have plenty of options to pivot to if Kovacic doesn't get a start. If he can establish himself as a long-term starter, though, he could be a very valuable MID4 type player for the rest of the season.
FWD: Goncalo Guedes
Opponent: West Ham (Away)
Points Last Gameweek: 5
Projected GW9 Points: 8.4
Prospects: Wolves have fallen off sharply from their early performances under Bruno Lage, with the Portuguese manager now in the hot seat given his team's dreadful run of results dating back to the end of last season. The talent is there, even in the faltering attack; it's just a matter of fitting the puzzle pieces together the right way. In Lage's defense, he's had terrible luck with strikers staying fit, but there's still the feeling an attacking trident of Neto, Podence and Guedes should be capable of scoring goals in the Premier League. With Diego Costa still short of match fitness, it's looking likely to be that front three again in the match against West Ham. If Lage is to keep his job, he'll need his team to start scoring, and quickly. Guedes offers plenty of attacking threat, though admittedly it would be better to have a more traditional striker to work with than Podence to play the ball into and receive it back to shoot from the edge of the area. Still, the former Valencia winger shoots on sight and is on a fair share of set pieces, so could be a worthwhile punt even without a goal contribution.
Opponent: Newcastle (Home)
Points Last Gameweek: 15.5
Projected GW9 Points: 8.0
Prospects: I will be the first to admit I didn't see Willian having any real fantasy value at Fulham, but the 34 year-old Brazilian came straight in and rolled back the clock in his first start with an assist in the victory over Nottingham Forest in GW8. That performance should stave off challenges from Neeskens Kebano and Dan James, particularly given the winger's proficiency with set pieces. Any excitement around Willian is automatically tempered for me based on his ill-fated stint at Arsenal that began in even more spectacular fashion, only to fall apart in the blink of an eye, but the forward pool is shallow and I can't in good conscience add Patson Daka here with Leicester playing in the final match of the gameweek and the uncertainty around his starting status, so here we are. There likely isn't a very long window where Willian will offer value, so don't view this as a long-term investment, but anyone delivering set pieces to Aleksandar Mitrovic right now has a fair shot at picking up an assist (or three, if history is to repeat itself), so you can't fault anyone who takes a chance.
If you're playing on Fantrax with Live Lineup Changes, you should definitely 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 does get a start for their team, snap them up and plug them into your starting eleven!
Liam Cooper, Defender, Leeds United. Opponent: Aston Villa
Nelson Semedo, Defender, Wolves. Opponent: West Ham
Hakim Ziyech, Midfielder, Chelsea. Opponent: Crystal Palace
Dwight McNeil, Midfielder, Everton. Opponent: Southampton
Patson Daka, Forward, Leicester. Opponent: Nottingham Forest
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