We look to the waiver wire and free agent pool each week to highlight some under-the-radar players who could be a short-term or even long-term solution for your Fantrax EPL fantasy teams. Our Sleepers XI provides fantasy managers with a full squad of differential picks, and some high upside options to plug in if they are in the starting lineup. Don't sleep on these underappreciated gems as you put together your roster for Gameweek 11!
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 11 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 "Big 3" -- the twenty 12-team divisions that comprise the ultra-competitive DraftPL Community League and International Genie League, as well as the eight equally competitive 10-team divisions in the Discord Super 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 expected, Gameweek 10 was a very tough week for streaming, with my Sleepers selection woes compounded even before a ball was kicked as an injury ruled Neto out of action. I could count his replacement Radu's points, but even with the additional 5 there's not much to write home about. Dara O'Shea (16.5) was the only player to crack double digits on the way to a disappointing 58.5 total points. That's not enough to shift the weekly average too far back in the negative direction following the good score in GW9. But a season tally of 649.5 leaves the squad about 10 points per week shy of the end of season target of 75.
Gameweek 11 doesn't look too much better in terms of prospective matches to choose from for streamers, particularly in the forward position, but with the promoted clubs looking like the best options to target each week there's decent representation from Wolves and Crystal Palace (Liverpool and City assets are much more highly rostered and the vast majority don't qualify for selection, but if they're available in your leagues you won't find many better fixtures than Luton and Bournemouth, respectively).
The Sleepers XI table below includes a full team of Starters, as well as 5 Reserves -- high-upside players with some question marks around whether or not they'll start in Gameweek 11. Keep an eye out when lineups drop and pick them up if you see them starting and need to fill a spot on your roster. Read on below for the rationale behind each of the Starter selections.
Sam Johnstone (G, Crystal Palace @ Burnley)
Crystal Palace have a nice upcoming run of fixtures kicking off with a trip to Burnley this weekend. The Clarets have been pretty anemic in front of goal, scoring just 8 goals across their opening 10 games of the season. That suggests a clean sheet for the Eagles is a strong possibility, which makes Johnstone an attractive candidate. Add in upcoming matches against similarly goal-shy Luton, Everton and Bournemouth and the former West Brom shot-stopper could occupy a place on your roster for the next month at least. Of course, banking on a clean sheet isn't always a viable strategy and generally one I advise against. But I do think there's a possibility of seeing a shift in tactics from the managers near the bottom of the table at this stage of the season as they seek results to keep them in their jobs. Desperation often leads to taking more low-quality chances, which in turn results in some easy save points. That's not a guarantee, but I'd feel confident rolling out Johnstone this week if you're playing the streamer keeper game.
Craig Dawson (D, Wolves @ Sheffield United)
As mentioned above, we're beginning to see the gulf in quality between the Championship and the Premier League has begun to establish itself at the bottom of the table, so it should be no surprise to see me promoting a defender coming up against bottom-of-the-table Sheffield United. I've opted for Dawson here to differentiate from our Waivers recommendation of Kilman and because the veteran center back is the most nailed-on to start, though you should be in good shape to pick up any Wolves defender and feel good about their prospects against the Blades. Dawson is also joint-best among Wolves defenders for ghost points per start (tied with Kilman on 8.1), so even if Paul Heckingbottom's men do manage to score a goal there's a good chance for Dawson to deliver a positive score. The Blades may not be as focused on playing long balls into the box with Oli McBurnie still out through injury, so there may be fewer aerial duels for Dawson to contest in the defensive end of the pitch, but he's still got the goal threat from set pieces to add to his arsenal of potential fantasy points.
Harry Maguire (D, Manchester United @ Fulham)
Despite Manchester United being in their worst form in recent history, Maguire has actually performed fairly well since his reintroduction to the starting lineup at the beginning of October. Two 3-0 losses on the trot and some serious pressure on his job may see Erik ten Hag ring the changes for their trip to Craven Cottage. But prior to those two defeats Maguire had been something of a good luck charm for the Red Devils, having not lost a Premier League match he'd started since the 4-0 defeat to Brentford in the opening month of last season. Granted, that was only 8 matches, but the point stands that if EtH is looking to bounce back with a victory against Fulham he'd be wise to include the English CB. For fantasy purposes, Maguire is generally a solid ghoster given his aerial prowess, and he has the potential to pop up with an attacking return as well.
Timothy Castagne (D, Fulham v. Manchester United)
As much as it looks on paper like Fulham should have a very difficult time against Manchester United, I think they have the potential to get something from this match. Their fullbacks have been a good source of points over the past few seasons, and with Kenny Tete still on the sidelines I think Castagne is worth considering (as is his opposite number, Antonee Robinson, who was just above the threshold for selection here). The former Leicester City fullback likes to join the attack, but also puts in plenty of defensive work. After a quiet game against Brighton last week, I'm backing the Belgian to get back to his best with a strong ghost point performance.
Amadou Onana (M, Everton v. Brighton)
I expressed some fears about Onana's position in the Everton team a few weeks back, with the returning Jack Harrison pushing James Garner into central midfield. Sean Dyche has managed to accommodate all three in his starting lineup and the Toffees have looked pretty good since then. Onana falls into the "Steady Eddie" category of players who is unlikely to deviate too far from his typical scoring range of 5-10 points but is generally pretty reliable to end up in that range. A match against Brighton may be tricky, but they're roughly in the middle of the pack in terms of how many points they allow opposition midfielders at 9.2 (tied, ironically, with Everton). With the Toffees rounding into form and the Seagulls not quite at full strength, this should be a hotly contested match with heavy importance on controlling the middle of the pitch. I think Onana will be very involved and can rack up the tackles and interceptions. Perhaps history could even repeat itself with Dyche getting the best of de Zerbi like he did back in May's 5-1 drubbing.
Cheick Doucoure (M, Crystal Palace @ Burnley)
Speaking of tackles and interceptions, Doucoure is one of the best in the league when it comes to these defensive involvements. He's currently second in the interceptions chart behind Antonee Robinson and in the top 10 for tackles won, despite only playing 9 of the 10 matches so far this season. The Malian midfielder is of a similar ilk to Onana for fantasy purposes, but has been delivering closer to the high-end of the scoring range so far this season, regularly putting up scores between 8 and 10 points. Palace are currently top of the Fixture Difficulty Tracker (now part of our Fantasy Toolkit) for midfielders across the next 6 gameweeks so if you're looking for a player you can rely on as a MID 4/5 on your roster you could certainly do worse. A trip to Burnley should afford him plenty of opportunities to match or better his projected score this week to begin the run with a bang.
James McAtee (M, Sheffield United v. Wolves)
While he may have been labeled as "Fantasy Fake" in a recent episode of the Key Pass Collective, I think there's still some hope for McAtee to offer some fantasy value for Sheffield United this season. The Man City youngster won't have the benefit of winning a penalty every week as he did when he put up 18.5 points back in GW9, but operating in a more attacking role on the right side of the Blades midfield affords him the opportunity to improve upon his decidedly less impressive scores from other matches this season. One other thing working in his favor is that Wolves typically commit their left fullback forward more frequently, meaning McAtee could find some joy down the right flank on the counterattack. You're likely better suited to streaming whoever fills Pedro Neto's spot in the Wolves lineup (likely Sasa Kalajdzic, though it could be Jean-Ricner Bellegarde or even forgotten man Pablo Sarabia) if you have the ability to make adjustments after lineups are announced. But in a situation where you are looking for a more assured starter, McAtee could come through with a respectable scores with the potential for a rare goal involvement.
Pablo Fornals (M, West Ham @ Brentford)
I'm making the case for Fornals to get the start over Said Benrahma this weekend, despite our projections suggesting otherwise. With both Edson Alvarez and Lucas Paqueta suspended, David Moyes has two holes to fill in his starting lineup for the trip to face Brentford. Tomas Soucek should be restored in central midfield in place of Alvarez after being benched for Mohammed Kudus last week, but who replaces Paqueta is a bit more up for debate. Brentford are a tough opponent this season and, coming off a loss against Everton, Moyes will be eager to get the Hammers back on track. I believe the manager will look to the defensive work rate of Fornals to help secure the midfield, where neither James Ward-Prowse or the aforementioned Soucek are particularly adept at playing a holding midfield role. The additional support will likely be needed and still affords Moyes the chance to include his more dynamic attacking players on the flanks. Given his treatment of Kudus up to now, it wouldn't shock me to see Moyes start both Fornals and Benrahma over the Ghanaian this weekend. In any case, Fornals is one of the names I'm always on the lookout for when lineups are announced, as he has huge upside potential. That said, he can be pretty boom-or-bust, so 2 points is just as realistic as 12.
Scott McTominay (M, Manchester United @ Fulham)
One of the few other Man United players to put in positive displays of late, McTominay should be called upon in central midfield for the match against Fulham. The Scotsman has enjoyed some of his best football recently in a more advanced midfield role where he can arrive late to the box to offer himself up for a scoring chance. It remains to be seen whether Erik ten Hag will keep the faith with Sofyan Amrabat as the holding midfielder, with McTominay able to deputize there to offer a more attacking midfield trio with Mason Mount and Bruno Fernandes. There are certainly some question marks surrounding the United lineup, but with Casemiro set to miss out through injury there's a good chance McTominay will be called upon as the Red Devils work to get back to winning ways. The fact that he was an unused substitute in Wednesday's Carabao Cup defeat bodes well for him to earn a recall. The good news is that this is the early match on Saturday, so if he is left out of the lineup you should have plenty of options to pivot to. Given the goal threat he offers, he's worth a punt if you've got space on your roster to add him before kickoff.
Anthony Elanga (F, Nottingham Forest v. Aston Villa)
The 4 points Elanga scored against Liverpool in GW10 doesn't do justice to how threatening he was. The former Manchester United winger (perhaps they should have kept him) was a menace for Trent Alexander-Arnold to deal with and on at least two occasions he was able to find space to get a dangerous shot away, one of which hit the underside of the crossbar. The Swedish forward delivered two assists in a 26-point performance against Luton in GW9 and easily could have managed double digits last time around. Aston Villa are difficult opponents, but I wouldn't put it past Elanga to come up with another goal contribution this week at their expense, especially with Taiwo Awoniyi set to return to the starting lineup to hold up play, open up space and offer himself as a target for crosses into the box. It's very difficult to find fantasy-relevant forwards in the free agent pool in competitive leagues right now (even Elanga is more than 75% rostered in the Big 3 leagues), so if you are looking for an upside play the Forest forward could be your man.
Rhian Brewster (F, Sheffield United v. Wolves)
Such is the state of the forward pool that I am here in 2023 recommending Brewster. Similar to my ill-fated recommendation of Raul Jimenez last week, I can only advise that you look elsewhere if possible and treat this as a Hail Mary option if you somehow find yourself without a starting forward this week. Brewster has become something of a joke at TDS given his failure to launch after his big-money move from Liverpool to Sheffield United in 2020. There is a player in there, though, and it's worth keeping in mind that he's still only 23 years old. With Oli McBurnie set to return to the starting lineup in the next couple weeks, Brewster needs to make his opportunities count if he's going to make the case for a starting role long-term. Surprisingly, Wolves are among the worst teams in the league when it comes to giving up points to opposing forwards on their travels (even worse than Sheffield United), so if ever there was a time for Brewster to come good it's now.
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