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 4!
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 4 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.
Before we jump ahead to Gameweek 4, let's take a look back at how the Sleepers XI fared last time out: A defensive masterclass resulted in a much-improved score of 93.25 points. Malo Gusto (27.5) led the way with his two assists, but Lucas Digne (12.5), Max Kilman (13) and Micky van de Ven (11.75) all delivered commendable double-digit scores. Jefferson Lerma (10.5) was the only other player in the squad to do so, continuing his excellent ghost point output to begin the campaign. A surprise return to fitness for James Maddison meant Giovani Lo Celso (2) could only make a cameo from the bench while, as hinted at, Leon Bailey (0) wasn't fit enough to manage three starts in a week. That score brings the season tally to 199.75 points and gets the weekly average back on track, bringing it up to 66.5 points. Hopefully, that average will continue to climb as the season goes on.
We'll finally arrive at the end of the summer transfer window just as Gameweek 4 begins and we'll head into the first international break of the season following its conclusion. With the window still open and domestic cup competitions kicking off, there's still a lot of uncertainty around who the preferred starters are for quite a few teams -- particularly those that have just been promoted or that have new managers in place. Hopefully we'll start to get a clearer picture once we return from the international break, but for now I'm hopeful the players I've selected will be in the starting lineup and deliver a score that helps you on your way to a GW4 victory.
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 4. 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.
Thomas Kaminski (G, Luton v. West Ham)
As ever, my logic for my goalkeeper selection is based on who I believe is likely to make more saves than the number of goals they allow rather than chasing a hopeful clean sheet. Just ask fantasy managers who rostered Ederson how they feel after last week if you're looking for an explanation. While Luton look like they may end up being the league's punching bag, there is good evidence to support Kaminski as a viable fantasy option regardless of opponent. Despite conceding 7 goals across the Hatters' opening two matches, he's managed scores of 9.5 and 4. His 6.5 saves per match is second best in the league, behind only the set-and-forget Bernd Leno. A fixture against top-of-the-table West Ham may not result in a victory, but Kaminski should be kept busy enough to hopefully offset any negative points from goals conceded.
Jarrad Branthwaite (D, Everton @ Sheffield United)
Sean Dyche's patience with Michael Keane appears to have finally run out, with the former Burnley boss abandoning his former Burnley CB in favor of a younger (better?) model against Wolves in GW3. Branthwaite spent last season on loan with PSV Eindhoven and has come back a much-improved player. The 21 year-old very nearly helped lead the Toffees to their first clean sheet of the season in his first start and earned praise for his performance alongside James Tarkowski. From a fantasy perspective, he performed pretty admirably as well, with the -4 from a goal conceded and a yellow card denting his 9.5 ghost points. If he keeps his spot for this weekend's trip to Sheffield United, he could be locked in as first choice for the rest of the season. Outside of their match against Arsenal in GW5, Everton have a favorable run of fixtures up to their match against Liverpool in GW9, so Branthwaite could be a good player to roster for the short- to medium-term to establish how good of a fantasy asset he'll be. You could luck into a free pick-up that ends up offering season-long value. If not, it's an easy enough drop.
Joel Ward (D, Crystal Palace v. Wolves)
Ward was a surprise fantasy stud during the second coming of Roy Hodgson at Palace last season, transforming from a last-resort pick to a set-and-forget fantasy option for the final months of the 22/23 campaign. The veteran right back hasn't quite kept up his ghost point production to begin this season (10 points with a clean sheet in GW1 followed by a 2-pointer in the 1-0 loss to Arsenal in GW2), but there were some signs of promise against Brentford last week, with Ward contributing 8.75 points from peripheral stats (including 5 aerial duels). The match between Palace and Wolves is a difficult one to predict, but neither team has proven to be an attacking powerhouse so far so you'd hope for a bit of damage limitation if defenders from either side are going to concede. If Sasa Kalajdzic makes his way into the Wolves lineup, the strategy may be to send in a bunch of crosses, which could see Ward and his fellow defenders contesting for those precious aerial duel points as they did against Brentford last time out.
Rayan Ait-Nouri (D, Wolves @ Crystal Palace)
Similar logic applies to Ait-Nouri as Ward, though the Wolves fullback has another potential advantage to factor into his attractiveness as a streamer this week. The French youngster was deployed out of position on the left wing when he subbed on in GW3. There is, of course, the fact that he didn't start the game in the first place to consider. With Wolves scoring the match-winning goal while he was on the pitch and the man he replaced, Hwang Hee-Chan, suffering a hamstring injury, it's a good possibility we'll see him restored to the starting lineup for the trip to face the Eagles this weekend. Just make sure you have an option available to pivot to in the event he's benched again. RAN has historically been a pretty frustrating fantasy asset, with his scores rarely matching the exciting displays he generates on the pitch, but the opportunity for him to play with more freedom and less defensive responsibility may offer up more favorable results.
Vladimir Coufal (D, West Ham @ Luton)
West Ham has been the surprise package of the season so far, with David Moyes' side currently topping the table. The Hammers have yet to keep a clean sheet so far this season, but have only conceded once in each of their opening three matches against Bournemouth, Chelsea and West Ham. Luton have only scored once in their two Premier League matches this season, and that was from the penalty spot. This isn't to say a clean sheet is a guarantee or that you should only be banking on that for your streaming options in defense this week, but there is a point where factoring in the fixture pays dividends. Coufal hasn't been as effective as his fullback counterpart Emerson (he's worth picking up if he's available in your league), but he's been serviceable without having to do a whole lot just yet. One reason for his inclusion this week is how well Chelsea's right flank was able to operate against the Hatters in GW3. Gusto and Sterling dominated the right side and Moyes could look there as a potential avenue for success as well with Coufal and Bowen generating the attack.
Gustavo Hamer (M, Sheffield United v. Everton)
There was quite a lot of hype around Hamer in the DraftPL community following his signing from Coventry City, to the extent that a bit of a bandwagon has formed in his early days in the Premier League. The central midfielder was pivotal to Coventry's success last season and will be a key figure for the Blades as well, but it's worth tempering expectations a bit. He scored from an incredibly low percentage chance against Nottingham Forest on his debut, but didn't do a huge amount on the pitch otherwise. The same is true of his performance against Man City last week, but that's to be expected. Hamer will likely be a streamer or lower-end midfield option for fantasy purposes, but does possess the potential to crop up with a goal contribution here and there. He also has a share of set pieces, which boosts his potential points ceiling. This week's home fixture to bottom-of-the-table Everton is a good time for a run-out to see whether he can be trusted to be more heavily involved in matches moving forward, or if he's not going to be reliable enough to roster consistently.
Jeffrey Schlupp (M, Crystal Palace v. Wolves)
Someone we know we can rely on is Jeff Schlupp. Time and time again, the Ghanaian has shown that if you need a surefire 6-10 points, he's your man. The issue with Schlupp has always been whether or not he's going to be a starter, but with the departures and injuries Palace are currently dealing with, he's been a nailed-on starter for Roy Hodgson to begin this campaign. He's also lived up to his Steady Eddie reputation, contributing scores of 10.5, 7 and 7 in his first three matches. As a known quantity, there's not a huge amount else to touch on, so I'll leave it at this: Favorable fixture, guaranteed starter, reliable and high floor of points. Hopefully that means you can't go wrong by picking him up and starting him.
Kevin Schade (M, Brentford v. Bournemouth)
It's taken some time for Schade to acclimate to life in the Premier League following his signing for a club-record fee back in January, but it looks like he's finally starting to make his mark at Brentford. The 21 year-old attacker scored his first Premier League goal in last week's 1-1 draw with Crystal Palace and at least for the time being appears to have staved off the advances of Keane Lewis-Potter for the starting role on the left wing. Thomas Frank has historically utilized his 4-3-3 formation for matches against opponents outside of the traditional Big 6 and I expect he'll follow suit against the Cherries. Given Bournemouth's tactical approach to push their fullbacks forward for their attacking sequences, I expect Schade to find plenty of joy down the left flank given his pace.
Ryan Christie (M, Bournemouth @ Brentford)
Despite the most fervent wishes of the DraftPL community that we see Hamed Traore return to the starting lineup, we may have to remain patient a little longer, as Andoni Iraola bemoaned his decision to take off Christie for the Ivorian against Spurs last week. The Scottish midfielder has regularly been replaced about the 60-65 minute mark, but given his manager's comments he could be in line for an extended run if he plays well again this week. Christie is averaging 8.2 PP90 so far this season, all of which have come from ghost points. If he can stay on the pitch a bit longer and/or contribute an attacking return you'll likely be looking at a much better score than he's delivered so far, but even without them there are promising signs in his underlying numbers.
Antoine Semenyo (F, Bournemouth @ Brentford)
Doubling up on Bournemouth may not be wise, but there are few low-rostered forwards with higher potential than Semenyo. The 23 year-old winger was electric against Liverpool in GW2, earning him comparisons to former fantasy favorite Allan Saint-Maximin. However, he was completely shut out against Spurs last weekend. Are we looking at a goal-dependent, boom-or-bust option, or was one of these performances more indicative of the type of fantasy output we should expect moving forward? At the moment, the jury's still out. Given the question around starts (Kalajdzic) or lack of upside (Foster) among other forward options though, he's worth a punt if you're looking for a likely starter with the potential to score well.
Oliver McBurnie (F, Sheffield United v. Everton)
After missing all of pre-season and the opening two matches, we were finally treated to an appearance by the aerial duel legend himself in GW3. McBurnie only made an 18-minute cameo against Man City last week, but started and played the first half of the Carabao Cup match against Lincoln City midweek. He has been labeled as "in contention" to start against Everton in the early fixture on Saturday, though it's worth noting he also said Oli wouldn't be able to play the full 90 minutes just yet. Blades manager Paul Heckingbottom has also shared his plans to run with a "big man, little man" forward setup with McBurnie and new signing Cameron Archer in hopes of offering more support to the tall striker. It's not quite the same scenario, but Everton also struggled to deal with a two-forward setup against Aston Villa. If Heckingbottom can replicate what Unai Emery achieved in GW2, McBurnie could be in for a bumper score even if he does face an early substitution. The Blades have a challenging schedule after the international break, so this is likely a short-term play if you have a gap to fill up top (perhaps due to stashing some players who could switch clubs before the end of the transfer window?).
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