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Gameweek 26 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 26!


Fans wave gold flags at Molineux Stadium before a Wolverhampton Wanderers match.

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 26 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.


Even though the Gameweek 25 Sleepers XI lineup only included two DGW players, it still broke the triple-digit mark for the week with a score of 100.5 points. Callum Hudson-Odoi (22) kept up his hot streak with another goal-scoring performance and Thomas Kaminski (20.25) made 15 saves across Luton's two matches. Danny Welbeck (14.5), Amadou Onana (13), Jarrad Branthwaite (11) and Adam Wharton (10) also delivered double-digit fantasy scores. The season tally now stands at 1782.75 points, bumping the weekly average up to just over 71.25.


Looking ahead, four teams do not have a fixture this week: Chelsea, Liverpool, Luton and Tottenham. With a smaller field of available players to choose from, flexibility with your roster will come in handy and streaming players will likely be a necessity for many managers. Given the more competitive landscape this week, you may need to be more vigilant with team news and try to get a jump on speculative additions to your team in the hopes that they start. If you play in a lineup league, assess whether getting a result this week is worth dropping some of your more long-term players from your roster.


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 26. 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.



Ivo Grbic (G, Sheffield United @ Wolves)

In the vein of being flexible with roster spots this week, I'm kicking things off with a player who may not start. Chris Wilder made the surprising decision to hold Grbic back for the match against Brighton, despite being given the all-clear after serving his concussion protocol. With the Blades shipping 5 to the Seagulls, though, there's plenty of justification for the manager to make some changes. The former Atletico Madrid back-up was thrust straight into the starting lineup upon his arrival to the Premier League as well, so it's not as if Wilder is viewing him as second string to Wes Foderingham. As ever, this recommendation is made with the mindset that Grbic will be kept busy and given plenty of opportunities to make saves against a very good attacking Wolves outfit, and not with the hope of keeping a clean sheet. You'll definitely be running the risk of a negative score if the Blades don't tighten up at the back, however, so be sure to assess your risk tolerance when deciding whether to draft him into your squad.


Daniel Munoz (D, Crystal Palace v. Burnley)

With the news that Roy Hodsgon has officially stepped down and Oliver Glasner has been appointed as manager, there's the opportunity for renewed optimism at Crystal Palace. Glasner turned a traditionally lower table Bundesliga club in Eintracht Frankfurt into Europa League winners and Champions League qualifiers. He typically sets up in a wingback system and has expressed his desire to bring an attacking brand of football to Palace. All of this should be good news for Munoz and his fantasy managers. The Colombian right back has settled quickly into the top flight in England with some impressive performances, and has shown he has the potential to be a worthwhile fantasy asset -- especially if the Eagles can keep the goals conceded to a minimum. Munoz has offered some attacking output already, despite not playing in a more advanced wingback role, with 5 key passes across his first three Premier League matches. That attacking output, combined with a solid floor of defensive stats, should see him put up a strong score against Burnley this weekend. If he's available in your league, he's worth picking up with an eye toward holding for the rest of the season.


Lorenz Assignon (D, Burnley @ Crystal Palace)

Another right back brought into a struggling side during the January transfer window, Assignon has shown some glimpses of fantasy potential as well. You can safely discount the -8.25 score from last gameweek, as starting a Burnley defender against Arsenal was never going to be a recommendation. That said, Assignon put up a positive score at Anfield the previous week, despite conceding three goals. Add in an assist on his Premier League debut against Fulham and there's enough there to suggest he can come up with the goods in a more winnable match against Palace. The French fullback is a capable dribbler (4 CoS against Liverpool) and may be able to take advantage of an Eagles team still getting acquainted with a new manager and potential new system for this match.


Rayan Ait-Nouri (D, Wolves v. Sheffield United)

It should be pretty obvious by this point of the season that Sheffield United aren't up to Premier League standard and that targeting players who face them in a given week is a strong streaming strategy. So it stands to reason that Wolves players will be hot-ticket items ahead of their home match against the Blades this weekend. Ait-Nouri is a tricky player to nail down from a fantasy perspective, but should offer plenty of upside potential for this one. A quick look at his recent scores shows his volatility, however; he's just as likely to score -1 as he is 10. There's too much potential to ignore if you're looking purely for an upside play, though. A clean sheet and an attacking return or two are distinct possibilities. If you're looking for players with a more reliable floor, you may instead want to consider Waiver Wire suggestion Craig Dawson or his CB partner Max Kilman this week.


Kobbie Mainoo (M, Manchester United v. Fulham)

Despite not playing a particularly attractive style of football, Manchester United are on a run of four straight Premier League victories. One of the key contributors to their recent uptick in form has been the emergence of Mainoo as a capable central midfielder. The 18 year-old's stats don't look particularly promising on the whole of the campaign (just 5.8 PPS/5 gPPS), but with the reintroduction of Casemiro to the lineup he's had the opportunity to contribute more to the attacking play of late. To that end, Mainoo has delivered 6 key passes in his last two Premier League outings. A home fixture against Fulham could provide a platform for Mainoo to outperform his projection, considering they have offered up more than 10 points per match to opposition midfielders on their travels this season.


Mario Lemina (M, Wolves v. Sheffield United)

Another inconsistent Wolves player who offers plenty of upside, Lemina is worthy of consideration for this weekend's fixture at Molineux. The box-to-box role he fills in central midfield affords him opportunities to contribute attacking statistics to go along with a healthy floor of points from tackles and interceptions. Gary O'Neil's attack-oriented system and the inclusion of Joao Gomes as a more defensive player in central midfield has opened the door for Lemina to begin contributing in an attacking sense. The Gabonese player has scored 4 goals in the Premier League so far this season, more than he's managed across the rest of his EPL seasons combined. He'll relish the opportunity to add to his tally against the Blades.


Vinicius de Souza (M, Sheffield United @ Wolves)

One player who will be determined to keep Lemina and co. at bay is de Souza. The Brazilian midfielder has operated at the base of the Blades midfield all season, but has been given a bit longer leash since Chris Wilder's reappointment as manager in December. That additional license to roam has seen the destroyer up his fantasy output pretty considerably, transforming from a 4.4 PPS player under Heckingbottom to 8.7 PPS since the new manager came in. That average is perhaps a bit artificially inflated due to one 26.5 point performance, but even if you take out that outlier he's still averaging nearly 7 PPS. Tackles won are a major contributor to de Souza's points, but he's also proven to be proficient with aerial duels and clearances (many likely from defending set piece situations), which helps to build a solid floor of points. Don't expect him to be overly involved in the attack, but he may not need to be to meet or exceed his projected points this week.


Youri Tielemans (M, Aston Villa v. Nottingham Forest)

Unai Emery restored Tielemans to the starting lineup against Fulham following the injury to Boubacar Kamara, and given the positive result for the team and individual performance from the Belgian, he should keep his spot for the foreseeable future (famous last words?). The former Monaco and Leicester City midfielder provided an assist in the 2-1 victory over the Cottagers in GW25, making it two attacking returns in two starts after he scored in the 5-0 win over Sheffield United in GW23. Tielemans has always been a player who can pop up with a world-class strike from distance, but also offers up points from all over the stat sheet. Villa haven't been in great form of late, but they have historically performed much better at VIlla Park, while Forest have struggled on their travels this season. Not a bad time to buy in.


David Datro Fofana (F, Burnley @ Crystal Palace)

Considering the January transfer window was largely bemoaned as one of the worst in recent memory (at least for fantasy purposes), there sure are quite a few new arrivals who are making a difference for their clubs and offering up fantasy potential as well. Fofana is one of the most exciting transfers to come in during the winter window after his loan spell at Union Berlin was cut short. The Chelsea loanee made an immediate impression in his second match for his new club, coming off the bench to score a brace and earn a point against Fulham. The striker also looked promising in his first start against Liverpool in GW24, though was understandably quiet during the dominant display by Arsenal last time out. This is a good week to get a sense of whether Fofana is Fantasy Fake or Fantasy Real, and could prove to be a longer-term FWD3/4 option for your squad if he returns to form with a solid score against the Eagles. The Clarets have a favorable run of upcoming fixtures and will need the Ivorian to score goals if they're going to survive the drop.


Michail Antonio (F, West Ham v. Brentford)

Let me preface my recommendation for Antonio by saying that this is the final match of the gameweek, so there's a possibility the forward could find himself out of the starting lineup for this one. Also, remember that there are four fewer teams to select from this week. Antonio has not had one of his best seasons by any stretch of the imagination, but he does have a higher ceiling than many other players likely to be available in your leagues. Even in this substandard season, he's provided two goals and two assists from just 13 appearances. Treat the Jamaican as a last resort pick up in the event that you're scrambling from an unexpected non-start elsewhere in your squad. West Ham have been in dreadful form since losing Lucas Paqueta to injury, but Brentford haven't fared much better since the turn of the year so there's potential at least for the Hammers to get back to winning ways. Antonio was able to play 75 minutes on his return from injury, suggesting he should be match fit enough to play a full match with an additional week of training under his belt.


Rodrigo Muniz (F, Fulham @ Manchester United)

The Muniz ship has sailed in the majority of divisions in the "Big 3" leagues, but the Fulham striker is surprisingly still under 25% rostered across Fantrax. That's likely down to a lot of inactive or dead leagues on the platform, but in the event the 22 year-old is available in your league, you'd do well to snap him up as soon as possible. You only need to look at his scores from the past three matches to justify his addition. The arrival of Armando Broja on loan really seems to have lit a fire under the Brazilian, who had been made to wait for his chance as an understudy to Raul Jimenez. He's taken that chance with both hands, though, scoring four goals across three Premier League matches in the Mexican's absence. We haven't seen much of Muniz outside of this most recent run to know how he'll fare if he doesn't get on the scoresheet against United (scores of 3.5, 4.5 and 5.5 in his other league starts this season don't bode too terribly well), but it's worth taking the risk to see if he can keep his hot streak going.


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