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Gameweek 38 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 38!

A game of soccer being played at night under a single floodlight

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 38 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.

I'm back from my Scottish excursion just in time to close things out for the final Sleepers XI of the 23/24 campaign. Special thanks to Totti for covering for me while I was out (and doing an excellent job of it, too, I might add!). Gameweek 37 brought in 92.75 points, despite a couple no-shows in the Everton camp by Godfrey and Harrison. Callum Hudson-Odoi (21) led the way again, with a further four players cracking double digits. That score brings the season tally up to 2780 points and pushes the weekly average above the 75-point target for the first time in recent memory. Totti may have found his calling for next season! This puts the pressure squarely on my shoulders this week, with the squad needing to score 70 points or better to hit our target.

Whatever the case may be, this will be my final Sleepers XI post and my last contribution as an official member of the Draft Society team, as I will be stepping down after this season to dedicate more time to my non-fantasy life. It's been a pleasure to provide these recommendations and share other advice over the past two seasons, and for any of you who have taken the time to read my various ramblings I want to extend my heartfelt gratitude. I hope you've found success in following these suggestions. Lest you worry too much, I won't be leaving completely; I still plan on competing in the community leagues and being an active member of the DraftPL community moving forward. Looking forward to joining the ranks as a fellow reader and TDS superfan starting this summer!

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 38. 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.

Stefan Ortega Moreno (G, Manchester City v. West Ham)

Let's kick things off with a controversial pick, shall we? If you've followed TDS for any amount of time, you've surely heard at least one of us yelling from the rooftops not to start defensive players from City. While that advice has largely been appropriate, situational context can sometimes outweigh historical precedent. That may be the case this week, with the Champions-elect needing only to equal Arsenal's result to claim a fourth straight Premier League title (you're welcome to add an asterisk here, if you'd like). With Ederson confirmed out for the match against West Ham, Ortega will be deputizing between the posts. To his credit, the German keeper hasn't looked at all like a step down from the #1 when he's been called upon, and even produced what may be called a title-winning save to prevent Son Heung-Min from equalizing for Spurs midweek. The Hammers will be looking to spoil the City party, but if City can maintain their current form they'll find it difficult to produce much. That could mean a clean sheet for Ortega (which I still don't recommend chasing, for what it's worth), or it could mean a handful of low-quality shots that result in easy save points. There's a risk of the dreaded one shot, one goal result here, but there's plenty of upside potential here as well.

Dara O'Shea (D, Burnley v. Nottingham Forest)

I haven't looked, but I wouldn't be surprised if O'Shea is among the top-3 most frequently selected players for the Sleepers XI squad this season. It feels only fitting, therefore, that the Irishman should be included in this ultimate edition. With Burnley officially relegated and facing a Nottingham Forest team that is still mathematically at risk of joining them in the Championship (however unlikely), you couldn't be faulted for steering clear of the Clarets' CB here, but he's proven time and again that he can score well even in matches where his side loses heavily. Outside of the red card he received against Everton in early April, O'Shea hasn't put up a negative score since February, a run in which Burnley failed to keep a single clean sheet. The final fixture of the season is often a time where managers (especially those with nothing to play for) make some changes and give their youngsters or fringe players an opportunity to earn some game time in the Premier League. I could see Kompany doing this with some of his players, but O'Shea should be a near certainty for a start at the heart of the defense. He should be a reliable pick for a solid floor of points with some moderate upside from set piece situations.

Ola Aina (D, Nottingham Forest @ Burnley)

Willy Boly has been the star man in defense for Forest in recent weeks (which has earned him a feature in this week's Waivers article), but Aina has also been quietly impressive since working his way into Nuno Espirito Santo's plans back in March. At least, he's been impressive in real life. The fantasy numbers haven't been stellar by any means, but the Nigerian has been racking up the ghost points. Across his last five starts, Aina has delivered 11, 7, 13, 8.25 and 10.25 ghost points. The fact that Forest have conceded 10 goals across those matches has masked some of that output, but with the team only needing to avoid a massive swing in goal differential this week to officially secure their survival, there may be more of a focus on defensive stability over attacking abandon at Turf Moor on Sunday.

Takehiro Tomiyasu (D, Arsenal v. Everton)

The left back role has been one of the very few problem areas in the Arsenal squad this season, with Mikel Arteta having to contend with a combination of injuries and poor form among his candidates for the role. Since returning to full fitness, however, Tomiyasu looks to have established himself as first-choice. Arteta rarely makes too many unenforced changes when his team is playing well and has a stake in the match, and with both of those elements factoring into his selection this weekend there should be little question surrounding the Japanese defender's involvement. The Gunners sit atop the table for defenders in our Fixture Difficulty Tracker this week and are among the teams with the highest clean sheet odds via the bookies as well. Outside of the strong clean sheet potential, Tomiyasu also offers surprising aerial prowess and anticipation of the game, which helps him deliver a solid floor of points to build from.

Teden Mengi (D, Luton v. Fulham)

If I'm being completely honest, I have no idea what to expect from Luton on Sunday. It's all but a foregone conclusion that they'll be relegated, but there could be just enough of a glimmer of hope at kickoff that Rob Edwards has his charges play without the handbrake to provide the Kenilworth Road faithful a worthwhile send-off. If the Hatters do go all-out in search of goals to make up the gap to Nottingham Forest, my recommendation of Mengi could end in disaster with the Cottagers more than capable of punishing open defenses on the counter attack. That said, the center back is just one gameweek removed from delivering 19 ghost points in a 1-1 draw against Everton. That may be an anomaly in the grand scheme of things, but it does showcase the defender's capabilities when dealing with a high volume of attacking sequences from his opponents. Even when the Hatters conceded 5 against Brentford a few weeks back, Mengi managed to stay (just barely) in the black. So long as Luton don't completely collapse as they chase survival (or don't), we should see a decent enough score from the defender to count it as a win.

Danilo (M, Nottingham Forest @ Burnley)

Finding starting midfielders who aren't heavily rostered at this stage of the season is proving to be a real challenge (hence the 4-3-3 formation this week), but I like the upside potential on offer with Danilo. The Forest midfielder spent most of the first half of the campaign either sidelined through injury or as an impact sub, but has found a new lease on life under Nuno Espirito Santo having started each of the last 7 Premier League matches. The Brazilian is an interesting profile of player, not quite an attacking midfielder but not quite a box-to-box playmaker, either. This can lead to some inconsistent results in terms of both his on-the-pitch performances and his fantasy output. Across the aforementioned run of starts, Danilo has delivered three scores of 18 points or better, but has scored 3 points or less on three occasions as well. He's a boom-or-bust play, but if you're in the market for a player who can crop up with a 20-pointer to win you your final gameweek, he could be the man to do so.

Marcus Tavernier (M, Bournemouth @ Chelsea)

A six-week hamstring injury has resulted in one of Bournemouth's fantasy studs, Tavernier, finding himself available for selection in the Sleepers squad to close out the season. The versatile winger made his return from the treatment room in a 20-ish minute cameo against Brentford last weekend and with a full week of training in his legs he should be in contention to start against Chelsea on Sunday. His involvement in set pieces has often been a major contributing factor to his fantasy success, but he's also more than capable of creating chances for himself or his teammates from open play. Given the dearth of available, fantasy-relevant midfielders to choose from, Tavernier is likely your best bet in terms of scoring potential. With all the matches kicking off at the same time, you can likely afford to wait until team news comes out to see if Tavernier is passed fit. If not, his teammate Lewis Cook could be a good alternative to pivot to if he's available in your league.

Thomas Partey (M, Arsenal v. Everton)

In a similar vein as Tomiyasu, Partey has quickly established himself as the first-choice option at the base of Arsenal's midfield now that he's returned to full fitness. The Ghanaian is not the type of player who will put your fantasy team on his back and carry you to victory on his own, but a home match against Everton should afford him plenty of opportunities to contribute across a variety of scoring categories. The match against the Toffees shouldn't be anywhere near as cagey as the affair against the Red Devils in GW37, where Partey only managed 3 points. With Sean Dyche's men potentially "on the beach" here, this could even end up being one of those rare occasions where Partey is able to step forward and join the attack with a shot from distance or even a simple through ball that could translate into key pass and/or assist points. It's not likely, but stranger things have happened.

Danny Welbeck (F, Brighton v. Manchester United)

Despite being tested from the start against Chelsea for the second of Brighton's DGW 37 fixtures midweek, Welbeck found himself on the scoresheet. The late goal wasn't enough to earn the Seagulls any points, but it was the source of great celebration or consternation among fantasy managers whose matches hinged on Chelsea keeping a clean sheet. Surprisingly, the goal was Welbeck's first of the season at the Amex, and the former Arsenal and Manchester United striker will have an opportunity to immediately replicate that result against his previous employers on Sunday. Welbeck scored a goal in the reverse fixture against the Red Devils back in September, so there's no hoodoo for him to deal with on that front. He does tend to be quite reliant on goal contributions for his points (~40% GACS reliance, which isn't too bad for a central striker to be fair), so you'll likely need him to come through with a goal or assist here to warrant bringing him into your squad. The good news is that he's done so in each of his last two matches, so he'll be high on confidence to close out the campaign.

Elijah Adebayo (F, Luton v. Fulham)

There was a run from early December to mid-February where Adebayo was a fantasy powerhouse, providing seven goals and an assist for the Hatters. He only scored less than 9 points on one occasion during that stretch, which was cruelly cut short by an injury that kept him out for the subsequent 11 matches. Luton fans will be left to wonder what might have been had the striker remained fit and firing. While his return is almost certainly too late to help secure his side's survival, there's still time for him to play the role of hero for our fantasy squads. The big man is a threat on set pieces as well as from open play and could cause problems for a Fulham defense likely to be without their best center back, as Tosin Adarabioyo is wrapped in cotton wool ahead of a potential summer transfer.

Jacob Bruun Larsen (F, Burnley v. Nottingham Forest)

It's unlikely that even Vincent Kompany would have predicted that Wilson Odobert and Larsen would be among his most effective and frequently used wingers at the start of this season, but that's what has come to bear as we approach the end of the latest chapter of Burnley's life in the top flight. Kompany will certainly be glad that there was so much transfer investment into wide forwards over the summer given the struggles the Clarets have faced through injury, poor form and trouble adjusting to the demands of the Premier League. Larsen, for whatever reason, rarely survives beyond the 75-minute mark of matches he starts but that doesn't prevent him from being an effective fantasy asset. The Dane has scored 4 goals in his last 9 matches, showcasing his attacking threat from wide areas. He should earn another start to see out the season and will be a handful for the Forest defense to contend with as they work to keep the score line as low as possible.

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