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Gameweek 7 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 7!

Manchester United defenders Raphael Varane and Victor Lindelof celebrate a goal

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 7 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.


A painful look back at Gameweek 6 reveals a score of just 51.75 points. Having a goalkeeper concede 8 goals (to be fair to Foderingham, a score of -1.75 in the circumstances is very solid), a player sent off (Bellegarde; -4.5) and two zeroes (Van Hecke, who didn't play and worse: Semedo, who did) certainly makes for unpleasant reading. Hopefully you were able to bring in Alfie Doughty (16) or Sean Longstaff (18.5) instead of any of the aforementioned misses. The overall score is now up to 387.5 points, for an average weekly score of 64.5 points. We've got some work to do to match last season's 80+ point average, but I'm keeping the faith.


Gameweek 7 is a DGW for promoted sides Burnley and Luton Town, but nearly all of their players worth rostering this week were already covered in this week's Waivers article (also worth consideration if they're available in your league are the goalkeepers, Josh Brownhill and possibly Ros Barkley). Since there has already likely been a rush to pick up the double gamers in your leagues, I'm going to focus instead on players who only have one game but are more likely to be available for you to bring into your team this close to the deadline.


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 7. 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.


Sam Johnstone (G, Crystal Palace @ Manchester United)

With Dean Henderson picking up an injury in the Carabao Cup match midweek, it looks like Johnstone will keep the number one shirt for the time being at Palace. I've had a soft spot for the keeper going back to his West Brom days when he was the quintessential "good shot-stopper on a team that gives up a lot of shots" player I look for in a goalkeeper. The early evidence this season is that Roy Hodgson's defensive nous won't regularly deliver the same sort of results for Johnstone, but there's reason to believe he'll face a fair number of shots this weekend coming up against the same opponents that put three goals past them in midweek. It was admittedly a much-changed side for the Eagles, but the Red Devils managed 14 shots against them in the cup game even without Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes in the mix. I expect Johnstone to make a handful of saves and ideally concede fewer goals than he did when subbing on in place of Henderson on Tuesday.


Nayef Aguerd (D, West Ham v. Sheffield United)

Following their heavy defeat at Newcastle in Gameweek 6, it makes sense that there would be a rush to bring in players facing Sheffield United this week, and unless you managed to bring in the likes of Kurt Zouma and Vladimir Coufal on waivers, they're not likely to be available in your league (go ahead and pick them up if they are, though). One player who may still be sitting in the free agent pool is Aguerd. While the Moroccan isn't as much of an attacking threat from open play like the fullbacks, or as frequent a target on set pieces as his CB partner, he is still more than worthy of consideration this week. The Blades are suspect when defending set pieces and Aguerd is one of many giants for James Ward-Prowse to aim at, and they're also a team that relies on playing it long out of the back from clearances or build-up play into target man Oli McBurnie. That's a recipe for those valuable aerial duel points. Add in a few additional points from peripheral stats and a potential goal and/or clean sheet and Aguerd could come through with a gameweek-winning performance for you. Even without the clean sheet or goal contribution, he's been averaging 7.6 ghost points per start, which is a very solid foundation.


Serge Aurier (D, Nottingham Forest v. Brentford)

After missing out in GW5 through injury, Aurier made his return to the Forest starting lineup to captain his side against Man City last week. The Ivorian was sacrificed early in the second half as Steve Cooper looked for a way back into the game after Rodri was sent off, but the damage had been done and he ended up on -4.25 points. In different circumstances (i.e. not facing the best team in the league and chasing a two-goal deficit), Aurier probably plays the full match and does anything at all on the pitch. I'm banking on that being the case this week when Forest host an inconsistent Brentford side at the City Ground. Aurier can be very boom or bust when it comes to fantasy output, so be aware that you could just as easily find yourself looking at 2 points as 20, but I think he'll have a fair number of opportunities to get up the pitch to join the attack against a left flank of Keane Lewis-Potter and Aaron Hickey.


Jarrad Branthwaite (D, Everton v. Luton)

He's no James Tarkowski, but young Branthwaite has acquitted himself very well since breaking into the first team at Everton this season. The tall center back is good in the air, and won 6 aerial duels in a match earlier this season against Sheffield United (who, as I mentioned previously, tend to send a fair number of balls into the box). Luton are a team that also rely heavily on deliveries into the penalty area, particularly via crosses from their wingbacks, so there should be plenty of aerial duels to contest with Carlton Morris. Last week, Max Kilman dominated the aerials for Wolves, leaving very few for Craig Dawson. It will be interesting to see if that pattern repeats itself for Everton or if the duels are split, but in either case Branthwaite has been coming through matches with a solid floor of points. If the Toffees can keep a rare clean sheet, we could see the youngster's points edging close to the 20-point mark.


Victor Lindelof (D, Manchester United v. Crystal Palace)

Jonny Evans stole the spotlight in GW6 with his clean sheet, assist and disallowed goal, and he perhaps deserves a spot here on the back of that performance. I just don't see his scoring being particularly sustainable given his long history as a substandard fantasy asset. Lindelof hasn't exactly lit the world on fire himself, but should still be ahead of Evans in the United defensive depth chart and with Raphael Varane returning to play in midweek I think the Swede is the safer bet for a start than the Northern Irishman (and the Frenchman, for that matter). United were untroubled by a weakened Palace side in the Cup midweek and while the Eagles will have some of the regular starters back, they'll still be missing the likes of Odsonne Edouard and Michael Olise to add some bite to their attacks. This match kicks off a strong run of fixtures for United and while Lindelof is likely third choice at best, he could remain in the lineup for a good chunk of it given the injuries elsewhere in defense.


Elliot Anderson (M, Newcastle v. Burnley)

I wasn't sure whether Anderson would get the start against Sheffield United last week, hence his placement in the reserves for the GW6 edition of this column. A goal scoring 19-point performance has earned him a call-up to the main squad this week ahead of a juicy home fixture against Burnley. With Sandro Tonali and Joelinton playing against City in the Carabao Cup and Bruno Guimaraes a slight injury doubt, Eddie Howe should turn to the youngster again in the engine room. Anderson offers a more direct attacking style than any of Newcastle's other fit options and I like his chances of putting in another strong fantasy performance against a Burnley side that has allowed an average of 11.2 points to opposition midfielders (third worst in the division) so far this season.


James Garner (M, Everton v. Luton)

Another player to score 19 points in GW6, Garner has started to deliver on the potential astute fantasy managers began picking up on toward the end of last season. The former Manchester United midfielder is going to give Sean Dyche a welcome selection headache with the rest of his charges (including Garner's assumed competition, Jack Harrison) returning to fitness. Garner tallied an assist in the 3-1 victory over Brentford last week and split set pieces with Dwight McNeil, which will likely continue as long as both are in the lineup (with McNeil continuing to take the majority). Luton are just behind Burnley in terms of the points they're allowing to their opponents in midfield at 11.0, so the same logic applies for buying in on Toffees mids as those from the Magpies this week.


Kalvin Phillips (M, Manchester City @ Wolves)

With Rodri suspended, Phillips was finally given a chance to remind Man City fans that he exists with a start against Newcastle midweek. Reports on his performance were mixed, but given the massive boots to fill (Rodri is legitimately in the conversation as the world's best defensive midfielder right now) and the fact that City's hopes of an unprecedented quadruple came to a very premature end on Wednesday, he probably performed better than fans are giving him credit for. A second start in quick succession may be a challenge after warming the bench for so long, but a run of games certainly couldn't hurt the England international's confidence. Pep Guardiola will have to decide whether to keep the faith or turn to a less traditional holding midfield option like Mateo Kovacic or Matheus Nunes, but if Phillips is called upon I like his chances to meet or exceed his projected score of 8.5 points against Wolves.


Nicolo Zaniolo (M, Aston Villa v. Brighton)

The wide midfield roles a Aston Villa have been tough to predict so far this season, but with Leon Bailey coming off injured in the midweek match as well as the recent news that Jacob Ramsey is dealing with another minor setback in his own return from injury, Zaniolo should have a clear path to a starting berth against Brighton this weekend. It's not the most attractive match-up for Unai Emery's men with the Seagulls currently in third place, but there is at least hope for some attacking involvement as Roberto de Zerbi's side have yet to keep a clean sheet in the Premier League this season. Zaniolo's fantasy output hasn't yet matched up with his promising displays on the pitch, but he's got the opportunity to stake a serious claim on the starting spot and I wouldn't be surprised to see him come good on his potential with some additional game time. Villa have a favorable upcoming run of fixtures from GW8-12, so this could be a great opportunity to get in on the Italian and hope he remains in the XI once Bailey and/or Ramsey are fit again.


Keane Lewis-Potter (F, Brentford @ Nottingham Forest)

Kevin Schade is set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines following surgery to address an adductor injury picked up in the warmup to the match against Everton in GW6. Lewis-Potter was called in to deputize for the stricken German but failed to make much of an impression along with the rest of Thomas Frank's men. KLP has found adapting to the Premier League to be a real challenge, rarely being relied on during his first campaign with the club last season after a big-money transfer from Hull City. The winger will have his opportunity to prove his worth with a run of games now that Schade is out (as is Mikkel Damsgaard who can also play on the left flank, though just how much of a threat he would be is up for discussion). We're working on a very limited sample size for Lewis-Potter in terms of what we can expect for his fantasy prospects, but starting forwards that have the potential to be good fantasy assets are hard to come by at this stage of the season, so he could be worth a punt for a couple weeks to see if he's going to be worth rostering long-term.


Simon Adingra (F, Brighton @ Aston Villa)

Roberto de Zerbi is proving to be as much of a headache to figure out as prime Pep, regularly chopping and changing not only his starting lineups but also his teams during matches (including multiple instances of halftime substitutions). Similarly to City, though, you want a piece of whichever of Brighton's attacking players are playing given their potential to deliver excellent fantasy scores. Adingra has started the last two Premier League matches for the Seagulls and spent the entirety of the Carabao Cup match against Chelsea on the bench. It's certainly a possibility that RdZ returns to a more standard lineup this week and plays with Solly March and Kaoru Mitoma from the start, but it feels equally likely that we could see Adingra in the lineup against Villa on Saturday. Since this is the early match, it's worth picking up Adingra if he's available in your league (as long as you play with live lineup changes) and waiting to see if he's in the lineup. If not, you can drop him if you need to in order to stream your way through the gameweek. If you have the flexibility to keep him on your roster, though, he could see plenty of time in the upcoming run of matches for Brighton and is likely better than most replacement options you'll be able to find at forward.


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