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 12!
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 12 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.
Gameweek 11 was largely one to forget, with Amadou Onana picking up a late injury and Rhian Brewster stricken by halftime - a couple goose eggs ensued. Cheick Doucoure (1), Craig Dawson (2) and Timothy Castagne (2.75) had off days as well. Silver linings come in the form of excellent scores for Harry Maguire (18.25) and Sam Johnstone (18) who stepped in to save the rest of the squad from embarrassment. The weekly score of 64 points is right in line with the season average so far, so perhaps I need to start considering this as the norm this season rather than a disappointment. The season total is now 713.5 and the weekly average around 64.75 points. I'm still holding out hope for a couple high-scoring weeks to drive the weekly average closer to my expectations.
This week is the first time all season where each of the starting eleven is from a different team. Injuries and suspensions have opened up some places for some lesser-seen players from some of the league's top teams, while some other players are beginning to make the case for their long-term inclusion in their teams' respective starting lineups. This is the final gameweek before yet another international break, so hopefully we'll go out on a high with some solid scores across the board.
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 12. 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.
Jordan Pickford (G, Everton @ Crystal Palace)
The last time I chose Pickford for the Sleepers XI, he picked up his first clean sheet of the season and a tidy 17.5 points against Bournemouth. The only issue is that it seemingly came at the expense of the rest of the team, with none of the outfielders breaking double digits. With a host of goalkeepers available under the 60% rostership threshold this week, you should be in pretty good shape to stream. I'm opting for the England number one given Everton's improved form over the past month. The Toffees have picked up 7 points from a possible 12 and have only conceded 3 goals across their last 4 Premier League matches. Pickford is also averaging nearly 3 saves per game in that timeframe. Palace are beginning to recover from their injury crisis, but I don't see them scoring multiple goals against Sean Dyche's disciplined defense.
Emerson (D, West Ham v. Nottingham Forest)
West Ham are currently top of our Fixture Difficulty Tracker for defenders over the next 6 gameweeks. With some question marks over Kurt Zouma's availability, I'm instead looking to Emerson to offer a positive route to fantasy points this week. The left back began the season in excellent form, ghosting very well despite the Hammers failing to keep a clean sheet in the opening month of the campaign. A bright August was followed by a dismal September, however, with the defender scoring in the negatives for three consecutive games before a clean sheet against Sheffield United got him back on track. It's been a mixed bag since then, but a match in front of the home crowd against Nottingham Forest could see the Brazil-born Italian get back to his best, especially with the full contingent of midfielders and forwards available for him to supply.
Eric Dier (D, Tottenham @ Wolves)
Having not made a single appearance this season, Dier was called upon in desperately unfortunate circumstances against Chelsea, where he was asked to camp out on the halfway line with Spurs' 8 other outfielders to try and keep Chelsea's pacy attackers at bay. He likely won't have to rely on such a strange tactical approach against Wolves this weekend. While Spurs are depleted across all areas of the pitch and could have a difficult time replicating their pre-Chelsea form in this match, Dier is a player who can step into a leadership role and galvanize the squad. He's also a more than capable defender when it comes to aerial duels and clearances, which he may be called upon to contribute a fair amount of, particularly if Ben Davies doesn't recover in time to partner him in central defense.
Joel Veltman (D, Brighton v. Sheffield United)
The "who's playing Sheffield United" narrative was turned on its head last week following the Blades' first League victory of the season over Wolves. But the temptation is still there to buy in on players from their opposition given their performances so far this season. While Brighton still haven't managed to keep a clean sheet this season, I like Veltman as an option due to his ability to score well even when his team concedes. The Dutch defender managed an impressive 6.25 points in just 18 minutes against Fulham in GW10 and has racked up 5 tackles won on two occasions so far this season. If the Seagulls are ever going to keep a clean sheet this campaign, this week is the time. Consider it a bonus, but Veltman should provide a respectable score even if the Blades do get on the scoresheet.
Raphael Varane (D, Manchester United v. Luton)
This recommendation may be ill-advised given Manchester United's form right now and the fact that Luton are starting to look comfortable in the Premier League, but I am expecting Varane to steady the ship and help the Red Devils earn a much needed result in front of some very anxious fans at Old Trafford. While Maguire will likely be expected to contest the majority of aerial duels with Carlton Morris, there should still be plenty of crosses for the French center back to contend with given the Hatters' style of play. There's a possibility that Jonny Evans could recover from the injury he suffered in the midweek Champions League defeat to Copenhagen, but I think it's pretty likely we'll see Varane called upon despite seemingly not being first choice for Erik ten Hag this season. Add in a bit of goal threat from set pieces and Varane has the potential to deliver a 20+ point performance, as he did in the season opener against Wolves.
Takehiro Tomiyasu (D, Arsenal v. Burnley)
While he was substituted at halftime due to a knock in Arsenal's midweek match against Sevilla, it sounds like Tomiyasu was taken off as a precaution and should be available for the weekend fixture against Burnley. On paper, this should be one of the most attractive fixtures of the season for the Gunners, so if you have the chance to bring any of their players into your team I'd advise it. The challenge, of course, is figuring out which of the fringe players who could be available in your league is set to start. With the international break on the horizon, it's unlikely that Arteta will use this match as an opportunity to rest key players. But Tomiyasu has been working his way into the first-team more frequently of late and if he recovers he could get the nod over Zinchenko at left back yet again. Outside of his late goal against Sheffield United in GW10, the Japanese international hasn't done a whole lot this season from a fantasy standpoint, but we shouldn't overlook the value he provided fantasy managers during his first campaign in North London in the 21-22 season when he put up double-digit scores in more than a third of his appearances.
Harvey Elliott (M, Liverpool v. Brentford)
It's safe to say Elliott can feel a bit hard done by to find himself so far removed from the first-team setup for Liverpool this season given how frequently Jurgen Klopp called upon the then-teenager last season. The midfield overhaul for the Reds has been so successful that it's seen the English youngster relegated to the bench and making late appearances as a substitute all season. That all could be set to change this week, though, with Curtis Jones and potentially Ryan Gravenberch set to miss out through injury. Elliott made an excellent cameo against Luton last week, supplying the cross for Luis Diaz's dramatic late equalizer. It remains to be seen whether Klopp will reward the youngster with a start against Brentford or take the more conservative approach with Wataru Endo in a holding midfield role, but it's well worth taking a chance on Elliott if you have the ability to make live lineup changes as there are plenty of other teams playing at the same time or later than the Reds on Sunday.
Jean-Ricner Bellegarde (M, Wolves v. Tottenham)
Given the shock loss to Sheffield United last time around, it's safe to say Gary O'Neill will be looking to make some adjustments ahead of this weekend's match against Spurs. Bellegarde has had a stop-start introduction to life in the Premier League, thrown into the starting lineup immediately upon his arrival from Strasbourg, serving a 3-match suspension and picking up a knock in training after serving it. The French midfielder was only fit enough to make the bench last week, but came into the match and provided the lone goal for his team. With Sasa Kalajdzic and Tommy Doyle failing to make the most of their rare opportunities in the starting lineup, I expect Bellegarde to be reinstated. He took set pieces when he came on against the Blades and I expect him to keep that responsibility in the absence of Pedro Neto. Given Tottenham's makeshift squad for this week, he could finally make the case for long-term inclusion in fantasy managers' squads as a viable MID4 with the potential for more -- especially for as long as Neto remains out.
Joe Willock (M, Newcastle @ Bournemouth)
The majority of the "Big 3" leagues have already latched on to Willock following his return from an injury layoff against Wolves in GW10, so he may not be available in your leagues. But if he is you have to like his chances against Bournemouth. The Cherries have offered up an average of 11.7 points to opposition midfielders on their travels this season and are the second most favorable team to target this week after Sheffield United. Eddie Howe likely would have preferred to continue easing Willock into the lineup (he's been introduced with 17 and 27 minutes remaining in the past two matches), but Newcastle are deep in the throes of an injury crisis at the moment and don't have many other options to call upon at the moment. Willock can be very streaky and is a boom-or-bust type of fantasy asset, but given his high upside potential and the favorable fixture he's got to be one of the first names you look to add to your roster if you still can.
Chiedozie Ogbene (F, Luton @ Manchester United)
A slow introduction to the Premier League for summer signing Ogbene, coupled with the sub-par results to begin the campaign, has meant the Irish winger has flown under the radar as a worthwhile fantasy option. In a time where starting forwards -- regardless of their fantasy viability -- are hard to come by, looking to a player who has started every match for the Hatters since GW6 and who has put up scores of 7, 8, 9.5 and 18 in that time is not a bad decision at all. Ogbene's pace is one of his best attributes that he can exploit to get into the box to set up an attacking chance. He's not the traditional winger type to charge to the byline and throw in a cross, but he does offer attacking output by way of successful dribbles, key passes and shots on target. An out-of-sorts Manchester United team, particularly defensively, could offer an avenue for Ogbene to build upon his promising recent scores and establish himself as a solid FWD4 option for your team.
Luis Sinisterra (F, Bournemouth v. Newcastle)
If there's anyone in the fantasy community with more expectation on his shoulders than Sinisterra, I'm not sure who it is. The Colombian has been heavily hyped since his transfer to Leeds last season, but for various reasons has very rarely followed through on the promise of his potential. Injuries have hampered his progression into the first-team picture for Bournemouth so far this season, but he returned from an injury absence to score a goal against Man City last time around and must be in Andoni Iraola's thinking for a start against Newcastle this weekend. Facing the Magpies is a tough prospect, but now may be one of the best times to face them with so many of their regular first-team players unavailable. Having not started yet this season, there's still every possibility Sinisterra is on the bench for this one, but he could be worth stashing with Bournemouth's upcoming fixture run that includes games against Sheffield United, Crystal Palace, Luton and Fulham before the end of the year.
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