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Gameweek 5 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 5!

A photo of the exterior of Craven Cottage, home to Fulham Football Club

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 5 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.

All the way back before the International Break, we had a pretty decent showing from the Gameweek 4 Sleepers squad, which racked up 74.5 points for the week despite negative scores from Thomas Kaminski (-1) and Joel Ward (-2.25). Kevin Schade (18) and Oli McBurnie (17) led the way, taking the season score up to 274.25 and the weekly average up to 68.5 points.

As we head into GW5, we've got a few indicators that streaming will be necessary this week, with the inevitable influx of injuries, as well as late travel situations potentially impacting otherwise regular starters. Normally, this type of week would be one where there are plenty of options to look to, but the fixture calculator hasn't been kind to us, with quite a few teams that would typically be fertile ground for streaming options left with challenging matches (West Ham v City, Everton v Arsenal, Wolves v Liverpool, etc.). As a result, there are a few selections this week that are not as nailed on as I'd like them to be. If you're able to be active when lineups are announced, that may be your best opportunity to get a guaranteed starter, but there are some players you can potentially get a jump on ahead of time as well, with an understanding that you may need to be prepared to quickly jump ship if they aren't in the lineup.

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 5. 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.

Neto (G, Bournemouth v. Chelsea)

Despite it not working out as hoped last gameweek (goalkeepers have such high variability that streaming them always carries the risk of a negative score), I'm sticking by my approach of prioritizing keepers who I believe will face a high volume of shots rather than looking for a clean sheet. This week, the honor goes to Neto, who is averaging nearly 5 saves per game so far this season. The Cherries will host a Chelsea team that has been creating a ton of attacking chances without converting too many of their chances. Logic suggests that the Blues will eventually begin converting their chances at a rate more in line with the volume they're creating them, but as long as we're not faced with a repeat of the 9-0 scoreline Bournemouth faced early on last season, the Brazilian shot-stopper should be able to offset and potentially greatly exceed the negative points that come from conceding through his saves.

Dara O'Shea (D, Burnley @ Nottingham Forest)

Burnley have conceded 11 goals across their opening three matches, most recently shipping 5 to Tottenham before the international break. Despite the onslaught of goals, O'Shea is still in the black for total fantasy points this season. His scores aren't enticing at face value (-0.75, 6 and 0.5), but when you consider how many goals the Clarets have conceded you can start to see that there may be good value here in more attractive match-ups. The former West Brom defender has delivered some very solid ghost points so far (9.3 gPPS, to be exact). The hope here is that he continues to deliver the peripheral stats even when facing an opponent that isn't as likely to do as much damage as Tottenham, Man City or Aston Villa. I'm certainly not underestimating Forest after their victory over Chelsea in GW4, but I am feeling confident in O'Shea's ability to deliver some more promising scores in the coming weeks. With a double gameweek on the horizon for Burnley in GW7, he is one you may want to consider getting in on a bit early and sticking with for the two matches, as only Burnley and Luton will play twice.

Joe Gomez (D, Liverpool @ Wolves)

Liverpool were missing Virgil van Dijk for the match against Aston Villa in GW4 following his sending off for a foul on Alexander Isak the previous week, but they didn't miss the captain on their way to a comprehensive 3-0 victory. Gomez, in particular, put in an excellent display in his first start of the season and with VVD suspended an additional match for his comments to the ref after being shown the red card, the English defender will almost certainly keep his place in the starting lineup. There are some rumors that the hamstring injury that kept Trent Alexander-Arnold from participating in national team duty for England will keep him sidelined a bit longer as well, so there's a possibility we could see Gomez deployed as a right back with Matip and Konate (if fit) or the youngster Quansah lining up centrally. In any case, Gomez should be pretty much nailed-on. Liverpool have an atrocious recent record in early kick-offs, but I'm backing their quality to carry them through against Wolves, and for Gomez to deliver another solid display.

Willy Boly (D, Nottingham Forest v. Burnley)

Back to back performances of nearly 20 points (albeit with a goal and a clean sheet), and yet Boly remains significantly under our 60% rostership threshold. Perhaps too many people were burned by the French CB last year to get overly invested again. Whatever the case, he really should be on someone's roster in any 12-team League. Back in the Wolves glory days a few seasons back, Boly was an excellent fantasy asset due to his aerial dominance. After an injury-hit campaign last season, he appears to be back to full fitness and in excellent form ahead of the home match against Burnley this weekend. Outside of their match against City in GW6, Forest have a very attractive fixture run for defenders as well, so Boly could be a medium to long-term option for your team, or at least until we figure out whether Felipe's return to the team has a negative impact on his points.

Joao Palhinha (M, Fulham v. Luton)

Now a couple weeks removed from the deadline day fiasco that saw him travel to Bayern Munich and even take media photos in their kit, Palhinha is back ready to play for Fulham and has even signed a new contract (is it fair to assume it includes a pre-agreed release clause amount for the German giants to pay in January?). The Cottagers will certainly be eager to welcome him back into the lineup given how porous they've been without him acting as a disruptor in midfield. A fixture at home against fellow strugglers Luton will likely be a favorable reintroduction for Palhinha. The sample size for this season is too small to get a sense of how he'll perform, but the majority of the team around him is the same, so we can likely expect a similar range of 5-8 points with the potential upside of a goal involvement (he scored in his only start so far this season against Arsenal). Don't expect fireworks again, but as discussed, having a surefire starter in your team this week could be the difference between a win and a loss.

Josh Brownhill (Burnley @ Nottingham Forest)

Now we start getting into riskier territory. Brownhill was widely expected (at least within the DraftPL community) to be one of the first names on the team sheet for Burnley this season. The fact that he has yet to start a Premier League match this season has led many a frustrated manager to drop the fantasy favorite from a few years back. The central midfielder made a goal scoring appearance from the bench against Spurs in GW4, which has led to some renewed faith and optimism that he'll return to the starting lineup. Brownhill showed some very high upside potential the last time Burnley were in the Prem in the 21/22 season, delivering scores of 21, 26 and 27.5 in the back-half of that campaign as the Clarets pushed for survival. However, he was also prone to games in the 3-5 point range. Of course, we're comparing to a completely different team and manager, so for now there's a lot of uncertainty over what sort of fantasy asset Brownhill will be. If you have the room to take a risk (especially considering this is the final match in GW5) with an eye toward the DGW, Brownhill could work his way into the starting lineup and live up to his draft day value.

Marcus Tavernier (M, Bournemouth v. Chelsea)

Another pick on the riskier side considering he's coming back from an injury layoff and has extensive competition for a place in the starting lineup, I'm recommending Tavernier due to his potential to provide long-term value for your fantasy team more-so than I am advocating streaming him just for this week's match against Chelsea. That said, the winger was a regular set piece taker for the Cherries last season and could establish himself as one of the primary options again this season. We should all know by now that being involved in set pieces increases the likelihood of attacking involvements and helps to make a player more resistant to blanking completely in more difficult match-ups. Chelsea have only kept one clean sheet so far this season (at home to Luton in GW3), so it's not out of the question that the Cherries could get something from this game. If Tavernier is in the starting lineup this weekend, I expect him to keep the role for as long as he remains fit and be one of the first-choice options for Iraola moving forward.

Ross Barkley (M, Luton @ Fulham)

Brownhill, Boly and now Barkley...What year is it? Last GW we saw a blast from the past, with the former Chelsea and Everton midfielder delivering a double-digit ghost point performance against West Ham. Given Luton's upcoming fixtures (including a DGW) and the share of set pieces between them, I'm actually a fan of picking up any of Barkley, Giles or Doughty this week, if you can get your hands on them. I prefer Barkley for the time being as I don't see him facing as much competition for minutes as the other two. Giles, in spite of his crossing prowess, could be pulled in favor of a more competent defender to solidify the Hatters' backline. That could see Doughty shift across to LWB and Issa Kabore come back in, though it's potentially just as likely that Giles keeps his place and Doughty drops out to accommodate the Manchester City loanee. Barkley, particularly if he retains some share of set piece duties, should fall into the category of players that are much more attractive for fantasy purposes than their real-life output may suggest. At least until such a time exists when scoring more closely reflects on-field value, that makes him an attractive target to add to your roster.

Lyle Foster (F, Burnley @ Nottingham Forest)

Most of the pre-season attention on Burnley attackers was focused on Anass Zaroury, Zeki Amdouni, and Manuel Benson, but so far it's been Foster who has caught the eye with his performances. The South African striker has scored in back-to-back matches and looks like a real handful for opposition defenders. He struggled on the ball against Aston Villa in GW3, being dispossessed on four occasions and leaving him with a single-digit score despite his goal, but he showcased at least some ability to supplement his goals with ghost points in the 5-2 defeat to Spurs last time out, adding a key pass, an aerial and an additional shot on target to bring his tally to 15.5. If you're looking for more than that from a player who will likely be your FWD3 or FWD4, you probably need to lower your expectations. Foster could continue to build on his strong start, though, and is well worth keeping around through the DGW in a couple weeks to see whether he's a "Fantasy Fake" or "Fantasy Real" option to call upon long-term.

Manor Solomon (F, Tottenham v. Sheffield United)

When Solomon transferred to Spurs over the summer, the general consensus was that the Israeli would be utilized primarily as a depth option behind Heung-Min Son and Dejan Kulusevski. However, given the goal scoring struggles Richarlison has faced in the early stages of the season and Son's hat-trick in his first start as the #9, Solomon could earn an extended run in the starting lineup. His two assists in the win over Burnley certainly wouldn't have hurt his chances of doing so. There are certainly some question marks in terms of how Ange Postecoglou will incorporate his new signings (including the most recent arrival, Brennan Johnson), but the potential to bring in a piece of this exciting new Tottenham attack from the waiver wire or free agent pool is too enticing to pass up. The fact that Spurs host newly promoted Sheffield United this weekend is an added bonus.

Raul Jimenez (F, Fulham v. Luton)

I can't resist one more blast from the past to close out this edition. We may as well call it the Nostalgia XI this week. I didn't like the move to Fulham for Jimenez when Mitrovic was still in the picture, but I'm starting to come around to the possibility that it may have been a wise move for all of the parties involved. The Mexican striker has begun to show signs of getting back into form despite not yet contributing a goal or assist for his new club. Jimenez delivered three key passes and a shot on target against Man City in GW4. Against lesser opposition, one or more of those chances may have turned into an attacking return. Lesser opposition is exactly what he and his teammates will be up against this weekend as they host Luton and look to add another three points to their tally. The fact that Jimenez has played 85, 90 and 90 minutes across the last three matches is an indication of his fitness and I believe it's only a matter of time before we see him back on the score sheet.

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