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Gameweek 23 Sleepers XI: Fantrax EPL

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 23!

An aerial view of Craven Cottage stadium with the River Thames behind it

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 23 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.

Consistently scoring above the weekly average was never going to last forever, and the streak finally came to an end in Gameweek 22. It certainly could have been a lot worse considering the results of some of the matches, but thankfully Jose Sa (1.75), Jayden Bogle (6) and Jan-Paul van Hecke (2.75) ghosted well enough to keep them in the black despite conceding 11 goals between them. The less said about the 0.5 points the midfield trio collectively scored, the better (apologies if you followed my lead in picking any of them). There were a few bright spots, at least, with Oliver McBurnie (12.5) and Tosin Adarabioyo (15.25) dragging the team to a weekly score of 59.25 points. That brings the season total up to 1,531.25, dropping the weekly average to 69.5 points.

There's no time to waste, as the next round of fixtures is already upon us. Given the short turnaround, this gameweek could prove a bit tricky in terms of rotation and/or early substitution risks, so I'll call out where some of the riskier plays are among my selections.

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 23. 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.

James Trafford (G, Burnley v. Fulham)

The only reason for Trafford being available in so many leagues right now is that he was dropped en masse prior to the match against Man City in GW22. That decision was both warranted and justified given the negative score the Clarets keeper put up against his former employers, but outside of that match the young shot-stopper has been a stellar option for fantasy purposes. With less imposing opponents coming to Turf Moor this weekend, he should be a safe bet to return to positive scores and potentially double digits with a handful of saves and a clean sheet both possibilities against the Cottagers.

Gonzalo Montiel (D, Nottingham Forest @ Bournemouth)

Given the bedding in process for new Forest manager Nuno Espirito Santo coincided with call-ups for AFCON, there have been some lingering question marks over who his preferred starters would be once his international players returned from the tournament. The right back berth is looking a bit more secure for Montiel with Serge Aurier making a move to Galatasaray at the end of the transfer window. The World Cup winner has done himself no harm in recent weeks, providing a couple assists and generally passing the eye test. Bournemouth will pose plenty of attacking threat, but I like Montiel's involvement in the offensive build-up and feel he could crop up with another attacking return. His only competition for the spot now, Neco Williams, is another to keep an eye on in case he starts either in place of or in front of the Argentine.

Malo Gusto (D, Chelsea v. Wolves)

Following a disastrous defensive display against Liverpool, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Benoit Badiashile benched for the home match against Wolves on Sunday. That would likely see Axel Disasi shift to CB or Levi Colwill come in, though he may still be struggling with the injury that kept him out against the Reds. Gusto was an injury doubt himself heading into GW22, which is likely why he wasn't risked from the start. However, the French fullback was called upon at halftime and managed 2.5 points despite conceding twice in that time frame. Pochettino should call on his services from the start this weekend and I expect him to be busy dealing with Matheus Cunha and Rayan Ait-Nouri. Gusto does have a bit of rashness in his nature so don't be surprised if he's booked, but hopefully he can offer enough through his defensive actions and attacking endeavors to make up for any negative points he picks up along the way.

Tim Ream (D, Fulham @ Burnley)

I make a habit of not selecting players in back-to-back weeks for this column, but if last week's top-scoring Sleeper pick Tosin is still available in your league, swap his name in for Ream here. In the more likely event that you missed your window to pick up Adarabioyo, his CB partner for this week could be a passable alternative. The American replaced the injury-stricken Issa Diop in the second half of Fulham's match against Everton and should keep his spot to start against Burnley. Similar to the team as a whole, the veteran defender can be pretty hit-or-miss when it comes to his fantasy output, but the Clarets have been one of the lowest scoring teams in the league, so there's hope for a second consecutive clean sheet or at least not too many negative points if that's not on the cards. Keep an eye out for lineups if you can to see if Kenny Tete gets another start at fullback, by the way - he's another who, like Tosin, I'd prefer over Ream.

Jacob Murphy (M, Newcastle v. Luton)

With the news that Alexander Isak's groin injury isn't as bad as first feared, there's a possibility that Murphy will return to the bench for the home fixture against Luton on Saturday, so if you're in a Lineup Lock league you'll likely want to look elsewhere. If you can make live lineup changes, however, Murphy is one of the more attractive midfield options that could be available in your leagues this week. Newcastle have been much better at St. James Park and Luton have not been nearly as strong on their travels away from Kenilworth Road, which should help offset the difference in form and confidence between the teams at the moment. Murphy is a player who can deliver huge scores when he's on top of his game, and if he gets another chance from the start I wouldn't be surprised to see him outperform his projected score.

Mario Lemina (M, Wolves @ Chelsea)

If you're like me, you've held on to the notion that Lemina is a defensive midfielder with limited upside for far too long. Gary O'Neil has managed to transform the Gabonese central midfielder from a "Steady Eddie" 5-9 point fantasy player to one far more capable of delivering double-digit scores on a regular basis. Case in point, Lemina has 4 Premier League goals this campaign. Even without the attacking returns, though, he's scoring well enough that he'll find himself outside of streamer territory in the near future if he keeps on his current trajectory. Scores of 8.5 and 8 in his last two outings make him an attractive option for a reliable MID4 or MID5 option on your roster. I expect another all-action display in the heart of the Wolves midfield against Chelsea, and we've seen that the Blues can offer up plenty of attacking opportunities to their opponents so the bonus of another attacking return isn't out of the question.

Scott McTominay (M, Manchester United v. West Ham)

He's not currently in United's predicted lineup for Gameweek 23, but I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest McTominay could come into the starting lineup at the expense of either goal-scoring hero Kobbie Mainoo or, more likely, the recently returned Casemiro. Given the quick turnaround between fixtures, it wouldn't be a surprise to see the Brazilian given a bit of a breather to ensure he doesn't suffer a recurrence of either the ankle or hamstring injuries that kept him sidelined for nearly three months. The Scottish midfielder made a difference off the bench against Wolves with a goal of his own and his ability to support the Red Devils' attacking sequences could be key in breaking down a West Ham team that's only conceded 3 goals in its last 6 Premier League outings. With the game not taking place until Sunday, just be prepared with a backup option in case McTominay is asked to make an impact from the bench yet again.

Tom Cairney (M, Fulham @ Burnley)

I included Cairney in my Sleepers XI picks in GW21 following some strong ghosting in the weeks leading up to the Cottagers' match against local rivals Chelsea. Unfortunately, the captain only managed 3.5 points on the day, leading me to drop him from my roster in a couple leagues where I had followed my own advice (a rarity) and picked him up. Cue Cairney delivering a 16-pointer without an attacking return against Everton last time out. His 5 key passes in the 0-0 draw is a testament to his scoring potential and a reminder of why I was excited to recommend him and add him to my roster. Hopefully there isn't a repeat of the last time I recommended him and we see another double-digit score against Burnley.

Bobby De Cordova-Reid (F, Fulham @ Burnley)

Part of my rationale for recommending Trafford in goal this week is due to the number of shots Fulham peppered at Jordan Pickford last time around. There were plenty of attacking chances created, but the Cottagers struggled to make the most of them. I think they have a better chance of breaking through against Burnley this week, but even if they repeat their performance from last week I wouldn't be upset about having De Cordova-Reid on my roster. The Jamaican forward has been playing on the right wing in the absence of Adama Traore and Harry Wilson, and has put up double digits in his last two starts including his 11-pointer without a goal or assist against Everton. Burnley have allowed nearly 14 points on average to opposition forwards at Turf Moor, so there's a good chance of BDCR adding another double-digit haul against the Clarets.

Luis Sinisterra (F, Bournemouth v. Nottingham Forest)

With Antoine Semenyo available again after his Ghana team was unceremoniously dumped out of AFCON, the forward got the start against West Ham in GW22. However, he wasn't able to make much of an impact after missing an early opportunity and appeared to be flagging by the time he was replaced after the hour-mark. Sinisterra came on in the Ghanaian's stead and while he didn't contribute too much from a points perspective, he did generally look the more dangerous player of the two. The Colombian could return to the starting lineup at Semenyo's expense for the match against Forest, though it must be said that Andoni Iraola has been pretty steadfast in his selection of Semenyo when fit and hasn't given Sinisterra as much play time as many fans and fantasy managers would have hoped. If Sinisterra does get the start, he offers a lot of attacking upside with his pace, ability to beat opponents and a lethal strike.

Taiwo Awoniyi (F, Nottingham Forest @ Bournemouth)

Following the 2-1 defeat against Arsenal, Nuno Espirito Santo admitted he wasn't planning on giving Awoniyi even the 45 minutes he played. However, Chris Wood was struggling with hamstring tightness and the Forest boss didn't want to take the risk of it turning into an injury. Awoniyi acquitted himself very well on his return to action after a long spell on the sidelines, using his strength to brush aside William Saliba (no easy feat) and slot home his first goal since November. Given the manager's comments and the fact that Wood was spared the injury, it's possible that we see Awoniyi from the bench again this week. However, I think it's more likely that he starts and gets at least an hour as he works to build back his match fitness. The Nigerian forward is a handful and offers plenty of long-term value if you're in need of a forward for the rest of the season. Even if he doesn't start this week, he's still worth an add and a hold if you've got the space.

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