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 2!
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 2 Sleepers XI
For this article, we use the % rostered metric 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 opening weekend wasn't a huge hit for the Sleepers XI, unfortunately. The Gameweek 1 squad only managed 66.5 points (for reference, the weekly average for the 22/23 season was around 85 points). Unexpected absences for Elliot Anderson and particularly Dango Ouattara hurt, but sub 5-point scores from Steele, Ahmedhodzic, Antonio and Welbeck didn't help, either. Joachim Andersen (23.5) was the star man. Hopefully he's the one you picked up!
Turning our attention to Gameweek 2, we've already hit our first blank gameweek of the season as the match between newly promoted Luton and Burnley has been postponed to allow for ongoing construction to take place to make Luton's stadium Premier League ready. Given that most players from these teams wouldn't have been drafted, they likely would have been fairly well represented here if this match had gone ahead as originally planned, but there are still plenty of viable options who are likely available for you to pick up ahead of the weekend's games (keep in mind there's a Friday fixture again!).
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 2. 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.
Wes Foderingham (G, Sheffield United @ Nottingham Forest)
With no Luton or Burnley players to turn to, I'm instead calling on the goalkeeper from fellow promoted side Sheffield United. Foderingham made 7 saves on his way to 12 points in the 1-0 loss to Crystal Palace last week. The high number of saves is a good indication that the man between the posts will be kept busy over the course of the season. So long as he keeps up the trend of saving more than he concedes, he'll be a good streaming option in goal when the Blades aren't facing the most prolific attacking teams. Nottingham Forest aren't one of those teams, generally speaking, but they should be willing to take plenty of shots at home. Streaming a keeper often means not pinning your hopes on a clean sheet, and that's absolutely the case here, though it's not out of the realm of possibility given Sheffield United's defensive display against the Eagles in GW1.
Axel Disasi (D, Chelsea @ West Ham)
You could be forgiven for calling my selection of Disasi a bandwagon pick or chasing the points following his goal against Liverpool in the season opener at Stamford Bridge, but it's actually a bit of a risk. He's certainly not going to score a goal every week, and there's a possibility he may even be benched for this week to move to a four-at-the-back formation (he's not currently projected to start). That said, I think we'll see Pochettino call on the French center back for one more game at least. The three-CB system worked very well against Liverpool and allowed James and Chilwell to get into the advanced positions where they're most dangerous. It may also be one week too early for Moises Caicedo to be thrown into the starting lineup, or we could see Carney Chukwuemeka drop out following a disappointing showing and Conor Gallagher pushed further up the pitch. In any case, Disasi rarely put a foot wrong in his debut and would be a welcome presence to deal with the aerial threat of West Ham's key set piece targets, not to mention adding some additional goal threat at the other end. This is the penultimate match of the gameweek, so make sure you have somewhere to pivot to in case Poch reverts to the back four and prefers a Thiago Silva - Levi Colwill partnership.
Jan-Paul van Hecke (D, Brighton @ Wolves)
Another young player has made his way into the starting conversation at Brighton. While he doesn't carry the same excitement as players like Joao Pedro or Julio Enciso, van Hecke may be a fantasy star in his own right. The Dutch center back had an impressive preseason, earning him a start ahead of Adam Webster and new signing Igor for the match against Luton. The 23 year-old continued his fine form against the Hatters, and if not for a very questionable late penalty he would have scored 18.5 points. Still, the 10.5 he delivered without a clean sheet is an excellent return. The 5 aerial duels he won showcased his prowess with headers, and he also had a shot on target. Given his performance, he should see off the challenge for his starting role for now and if he keeps his place, he could offer long-term value for your team. Based on their own opening match, Wolves will present a different challenge for van Hecke and his Brighton teammates to deal with, but it's worth taking a chance in the hope that the Seagulls have discovered another gem who's ready for the big time this season.
Takehiro Tomiyasu (D, Arsenal @ Crystal Palace)
With the unfortunate ACL injury ruling Jurrien Timber out for the majority of the season, Arsenal will be left with a decision over who to start at left back in his stead. Kieran Tierney is fit, but out of favor and could be leaving the club. Oleksandr Zinchenko has just returned to fitness from an injury he picked up at the tail end of last season and may not be ready to start just yet. That's where Tomiyasu comes in. The Japanese defender was, in fact, the man to replace the fallen Timber for the Gunners in GW1, and it's his versatility that affords Mikel Arteta the luxury of not risking an injury to his other left back option. Tomiyasu was a solid fantasy asset when he was a regular starter in the 21/22 season and offers a decent floor of points to go along with the potential clean sheet against a goal-shy Palace side. There is a caveat to this recommendation, however, as the match is the final game in this round of fixtures, meaning you'll be looking at the choice between a Palace defender or points off the bench if Tomiyasu doesn't start. Tread carefully.
Willy Boly (D, Nottingham Forest v. Sheffield United)
Forest faced a tricky opening fixture against Arsenal in GW1, but Boly came through the test with flying colors, at least from a fantasy perspective. The former Wolves CB put up 11.5 ghost points in a performance reminiscent of his glory days with his previous club. With Felipe still sidelined, Boly looks to have assumed the role of the aerially dominant center back that is worth rostering even when the team is unlikely to keep many clean sheets. It's too early to draw conclusions about how Sheffield United will fare for opposition players, but it's not too big a stretch to suggest that Boly could follow in the footsteps of the aerially dominant center back who played against the Blades last week (a certain Mr. Andersen, whose mix of stats wasn't too different to Boly's in GW1 - just more of them).
Amadou Onana (M, Everton @ Aston Villa)
By all accounts, Everton should have gotten something out of their match against Fulham. Even without the questionable overturned goal, the Toffees managed a staggering 19 shots in their 0-1 defeat to the Cottagers. Whether that statistic is more a sign of Fulham's defensive openness or an indication of some newfound attacking freedom for Sean Dyche's men is probably not an even debate, but the fact that Onana made three Key Passes on the way to his 9.5 points is a welcome sign. So, too, is the fact that he outscored his central midfield partner and assumed better fantasy asset, Abdoulaye Doucoure. Onana hasn't reliably shown he can offer the same high ceiling as Doucoure (only one score above 12 points last season), but he is someone who may establish himself as a set-and-forget "Steady Eddie" type that you can rely on for 6-9 points in a given gameweek. They'll face a similar debate this week against an Aston Villa side that shipped 5 to Newcastle...are they wide open defensively or was that performance just an aberration? Worth a gamble on the former being the case.
Christian Norgaard (M, Brentford @ Fulham)
Continuing on with the assumption that Fulham were to blame for the onslaught of Everton attacks in GW1, it could be a good play to look at bringing in a player set to face them in Gameweek 2. Norgaard wasn't particularly involved against Tottenham last time out, but he was just making his return from injury and getting up to speed. With another week under his belt and a presumably more forgiving opponent, I like his chances of returning to the better version of himself this weekend. Our Fixture Difficulty Tracker is largely based on last season's data at the moment and will become more accurate to this season the further we go into the campaign, but it's worth taking into consideration that Brentford have one of the best upcoming fixture runs for midfielders in the league, behind only Chelsea and Tottenham. Norgaard isn't the type of player who is going to rack up a ton of attacking stats on a regular basis, but compares pretty favorably to Onana from a fantasy perspective and we saw how that worked out last week.
Danilo (M, Nottingham Forest v. Sheffield United)
Nottingham Forest weren't able to recreate their heroics against Arsenal from last season that saw them survive the drop, but they did show some signs of promise. Danilo was one of the team's surprise breakout performers toward the end of the 22/23 season, delivering three goals and an assist in his last five appearances to close out the campaign. He may find the goals a bit harder to come by if he's deployed in a deeper midfield role (with Brennan Johnson coming back into the starting lineup), but the Brazilian is a tidy player and someone who should continue growing in importance to the team after his January arrival. This recommendation is largely based on the matchup and likelihood of starting given the uncertainty around starting lineups at this early stage of the season. If you are looking for a nailed-on starter with the potential to pop up with a goal or assist, look no further.
Matheus Nunes (M, Wolves v. Brighton)
Yes, Manchester United put in a subpar performance for their narrow (and controversial) victory over Wolves last week, but Nunes was imperious in the middle of the park for the West Midlands club. The Portuguese central midfielder showed glimpses of his potential last season under Julen Lopetegui, but his all-action display in his first match for Gary O'Neill was a great indication that he could be the man to take up the mantle of star man following Ruben Neves' departure this summer. Nunes scored 16.5 points against the Red Devils without a goal or assist, and also without set piece duties. That's a great sign of someone who can be fixture-proof and a long-term pick up for your roster. Brighton will most likely offer a sterner test than United did on opening day, but if Nunes is still available in your league, he's a player you should be able to count on for regular starts and a solid floor of points week over week in this Wolves team.
Arnaut Danjuma (F, Everton @ Aston Villa)
As discussed previously, Everton created a ton of chances against Fulham but were unable to convert them. Some of that is down to the heroics of Bernd Leno, but it also certainly wouldn't have hurt the Toffees to have a more clinical finisher than Neal Maupay on the pitch for most of the game. Danjuma missed the end of pre-season with a minor injury, but made his long-awaited Everton debut for the final 20 minutes of the match. With Danjuma and Dominic Calvert-Lewin closing in on returns to fitness, Dyche should have more firepower at his disposal to offset the injuries to Dwight McNeil and new signing Jack Harrison. The pool of forwards who are likely to start and less than 60% rostered is already shallow, especially with the absence of Burnley and Luton players, so while I'm not terribly excited about Everton's prospects against Villa, the former Spurs and Bournemouth forward offers the highest potential upside of those likely to be available for you to stream.
Taiwo Awoniyi (F, Nottingham Forest v. Sheffield United)
While he didn't start against Arsenal, Awoniyi was a difference-maker for Nottingham Forest, bagging a goal in his 18-minute cameo to put pressure on the Gunners as they looked to close out the match. There are some valid concerns that the striker isn't ready to start just yet as he makes his way back from injury, but he's developed into such a vital cog of Forest's attacking play that it would be a surprise not to see him from the beginning against the Blades. Maybe don't expect a 90-minute outing just yet, though. In any event, I expect Forest to show their quality in front of their home fans for this one and would expect the big man to be heavily involved in their attacking sequences. The drawback for Awoniyi, and a likely reason he isn't more highly rostered, is that he tends to be pretty dependent on attacking returns for his points and doesn't do a whole lot to warrant points from other sources (ghost points). He's a boom-or-bust option best called upon in favorable match-ups, which this one should be.
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